Meadowlark Country House & Resort, Calistoga, California
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We used to live in the the Napa Valley. For a while, Charlotte even worked in Calistoga. So it seems ironic that we actually drove past Meadowlark Country House dozens of times over the years, only vaguely aware that there was a clothing-optional destination resort right in our own backyard. To be fair, that was back in the early 90s when we scarcely had enough money to pay the rent and feed the children, so I’m pretty sure we couldn’t have afforded as much as a day-visit back then. Even by our standards today, the place is pretty pricey. Consequently, innkeepers Kurt and Richard have cultivated a loyal and discerning clientele who enjoy the finer things in life. Hard to imagine what could be finer than this place! Officially, the only area that’s clothing optional is the expansive patio around the pool – including a gorgeous state-of-the-art hot tub – though you could certainly be nude on the veranda of your room, and in some of the more secluded “relax areas” up the hill. Otherwise, you will need clothing to and from your room and in the other public spaces on the property. Kurt (one of the owners) is of German descent, and simply doesn’t understand why Americans have such a hang-up with casual nudity. (I agree with Kurt!) They don’t care if people get naked at the pool or not. Clothing is optional, and that is that. We simply wish there were more innkeepers that had such open minded sensibilities. But in the meantime, Meadowlark Country House has moved way up on our bucket list.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO GET THERE? Calistoga is the last stop on the winery trail at the top of the Napa Valley, situated on the northern end of Highway 29. Meadowlark is located just outside of town off a connecting highway, so while you could possibly get there with an Uber, you would most definitely want a car if you have any designs on visiting the wineries or local attractions. The nearest airports are in Oakland, San Francisco, and Sacramento, each of which are about 90 minutes away.
WHAT’S THE FAMILY VIBE? While the clothing-optional status at Meadowlark is very much in the family-friendly tradition, the owners have designated the property as adults only simply to maintain a sense of tranquility and sophistication. Apparently there are times when a family or group will book the entire resort for a wedding or some such celebration, but short of that, this is a place that caters to grown-ups relaxing by the pool. Note that they are explicitly LGBTQ+ friendly, which you will sense the moment you arrive. This is a very chill, relaxing environment.
HOW ARE THE ACCOMMODATIONS? STUNNINGLY GORGEOUS! While we have yet to stay here, Kurt was kind enough to show me a couple of the rooms when I stopped by a few weeks ago. Accommodations are spacious, furnishings are beautiful, and the walls are adorned with tasteful artwork. For us, this would be a special occasion kind of place, though they do have a provision for day passes should you simply want to take a day off from wine-tasting and lie out – naked or not – by the pool.
ANYTHING ELSE WE SHOULD KNOW? A quick climatology lesson might be helpful for the uninitiated visitor to the Napa Valley. Temperatures around the San Francisco Bay rarely climb above the mid-60s, even at the height of summer, and the famous Bay Area fog makes its way up the Sonoma and Napa valleys most every night of the year as a source of natural air-conditioning. Since Calistoga is at the northern tip of the Napa Valley, it is the last place to receive the cooling cloud-cover, and the first place where the fog burns off in the morning. Knowing that, if your main purpose for choosing this destination is the potential of naked time by the pool, simply know that the sunniest hours of the day are typically between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm – beyond that, it’s anybody’s guess. Calistoga will always be warmer than Napa, but even 90° days will likely fall into the 60s by sundown.
Other than that, simply know this is a one-of-a-kind, super classy place. If you want to do the Napa Valley in style with the provision for naked time along the way, you simply couldn’t do better than the Meadowlark Country House & Resort.
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