Middletown, which began as a stagecoach stop midway between Calistoga and Clearlake, became a town in 1870. It has suffered two devastating fires – the most recent in 2015 – yet still retains its old-fashioned western charm. Most of the original buildings in the downtown business district survived the recent “Valley Fire.” Community spirit is strong, as evidenced by the turnout at the Mustang’s first High School football game after the fire, even though many of the faculty and students had lost their homes. Though decimated by the Valley Fire, nearby historic Harbin Hot Springs will be rebuilt.
Shop, dine, wine taste, and explore locally – and support Middletown as it rebuilds. Middle – town’s unique gift shops, antique stores, toy store, nurseries, and a new a community art center and gallery are still open for business. Relax with a leisurely massage at one of the inviting day spas or beauty parlors. If you’re adventurous, take to the skies in a glider. Hot air balloons take advantage of fog-free, clear blue skies—a wonderful sight during the warmer months.
Middletown is the place to stop for food as well, boasting old-fashioned breakfast places, a juice bar, a wine tasting room, several WiFi capable coffee and tea shops, a brew pub, and delicatessens, as well as sit-down Mexican, American, Thai, and Chinese cuisine. A restored drive-in offers take-out or sit-down dining. If you plan to stay over, try out the clean, friendly, local motel, or check out the local casino’s beautiful, rustic lodge-style hotel, restaurant and nightlife.
Just south of town, Calpine’s Cartwright Geothermal Visitor Center offers fascinating interactive displays explaining how geothermal energy is generated locally, using steam from deep within the earth. A picnic area and facilities for meetings and community events complete the center’s offerings.
A senior center, library, and tree-shaded park with a gazebo and picnic tables grace the east side of Highway 29 just south of the center of town. Across the street, Middletown’s Gibson Museum & Cultural Center features both permanent and changing exhibits on the history of South Lake County in the town’s original 1930spublic library, now beautifully restored; see www.cgibsonmuseum.com for more details.
Middletown also is a hub of a variety of denominations, including Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Seventh-day Adventist and community churches, all with warm, welcoming congregations.
Special events include Earth Day in April; Middle town Days in June with a parade, dance, barbecue, vendors and rodeo. Christmas in Middle – town features a Tree Lighting, carolers, vendors, and Santa Claus, and an annual Christmas Renaissance Pageant and Feast takes place the first two weekends in December. Visit www.middletownareamerchants.com for more information.