Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs • Tour Travel Hotels
Those of you who are into holistic wellness treatments will not be new to Calistoga California. The place is filled with motels and resorts that offer healing mineral waters in their pools and mud baths, both of which I have experienced in Calistoga about half a dozen times over a twenty year span. A few years ago we reviewed the Roman Spa Hot Springs Resort, which is one of the oldest properties in Calistoga but the oldest, or you could also say that the original wellness center is going To Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs, which is located along the main drag, Lincoln Street.
When I crossed the country in 2004 I stayed with the property, but Calistoga has changed over the past two decades. Many people may have heard of the much larger and more comprehensive Indian Wells Resort, which is also located along Main Street. If you are traveling in a group this is a great place to try.
They’ve been providing wellness to visitors since 1952, so you imagine that might change a bit. Recently they have undergone a design overhaul in their rooms and outside on the grounds. Although their mud baths were not yet open to the public during our stay in July, they anticipate that they will be available to guests from late summer. If you are traveling with the family, Dr. Wilkinson’s is a fun option; their renovation has an upbeat vibe that is truly appealing to kids as well as millennials.
We stayed in one of their standard king rooms – note that some rooms face the main street while others are closer to the pool, so be sure to note your preference when you book.
There’s more of a modern motif to their new design – clean lines with orange accents against white painted walls on one side and white painted bricks on the other.
Below, our King room. Each room has a Mid-Century style, natural wood furniture and a walk-in shower. The other thing I would add is that their internet is blazingly fast – six times faster than our home service, a godsend for me as I uploaded videos and photos from our day.
Retro is what it’s all about with their new look-and-feel, so Smeg tea kettles are part of the vibe. They offer Copper Cow coffee and infusion flower tea bags. If you want Earl Gray or some other black tea you can head to their beer garden which is right next to the pool and reception. There is also a retro Galanz fridge so you can keep your old food, water or, in our case, wine that we picked up from nearby vineyards.
For an additional fee, you can purchase some of their wellness samples, such as creams, scrubs, or oils from their apothecary medicine cabinet. Malin & Goetz is their “go to” brand of shampoo, conditioner, hand cleanser and creams.
There’s the air conditioning you need during the hottest summer months in Calistoga – it’s desert territory although it doesn’t look like it at first glance. Calistoga is one of those California towns you can easily imagine from the Gold Rush – a small town with storefronts and cafes that were probably once lounges and motels for the weary original travelers.
The gardens are lovely – there you will find lime trees, flowers and several hammocks on which you can relax to spend the day when you are not at the pool.
Below is an outdoor area where you can relax after a spa treatment, which will be open to guests later this summer. Massages are available inside or outside under one of these cabins and I chose the latter. Who doesn’t love a good outdoor massage?
If you have kids, they’ll love Doc’s swings that hang from a tree right next to the beer garden.
There is still this fabulous Buick.
Although the property was sold to new owners in August 2020, the message is that they plan to stay “true” to the original character of the resort that original founders Doc and Edy Wilkinson created.
There are 50 renovated rooms and apparently all renovations will be completed by October. You can also lie down in one of the cottages and let’s not forget the lovely Victorian house.
There are a lot of flowers on the property, an added bonus.
Nature is always so healing, so why not incorporate as much of it as possible into a wellness motel?
Below are some extra chairs you can use around the property and for the kids don’t forget the pie maker where you can grab some candy.
There are two swimming pools on the property, both open to adults and children, so if you want total peace and quiet you can opt for a Calistoga property that offers adult-only pools or larger grounds. One of the pools was in the 80s and the other in the 90s so you have your choice of temperature.
Because we were visiting during a transition period as businesses slowly open after Covid, not everything was open in the spa. The hot tub was still under renovation, as was the lounge outside the spa and the mud baths. Below are the areas where you would rest after treatment, something I experienced at this same resort almost twenty years ago. My outdoor massage was absolutely lovely and if you choose to have it outside book one in the morning or at the end of the day if you are there during one of the warmer months.
Below, inside the spa at Dr. Wilkinson’s Resort.
These are the tubs where you would have your mud bath, which is oh so calistoga. In other words, many nearby resorts have similarly styled tubs and lounging areas after your treatments.
The outdoor area for massages.
They also had a few tubs outside for mud treatments which I don’t remember being available on my last stay.
The indoor pool (below right) was not open during our stay, but they expect it to be available to guests later this year (between August and November).
The evening is wonderful for walking around the city – there are several places where you can dine outside. A few steps from the Doc’s Resort is the Calistoga Inn Restaurant & Brewery where we hung our hats on one of our parties. Good wine, great service and outdoor music to boot. Be sure to also read our review of Fleetwood, a newly opened restaurant in town, about a mile and a half outside of town, which has both indoor and outdoor dining options.
Below is our healthy dinner at the Calistoga Inn while listening to live music in their backyard. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to review other restaurants during this stay, but be sure to read our 2018 food guide for some fun options.
Dr Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort
1507 Lincoln Avenue
Calistoga CA 94515
Note: we were hosted by the establishment but all opinions expressed are entirely ours.