Calvinia is famous for a spectacular display of flowers in early spring after good winter rain. The region has a climate of relative extremes. The original name of the region and the village was Hantam. The name has its roots in the Khoi people who lived here. The mountain was referred to as !Han=ami by these early hunter gatherers. It is believed that the name refers to “the hill where the red nut sedge grows”. The name, as many other in the country, became colloquial and changed to Hantamsberg. It was only in 1851 when the first minister, Reverend NJ Hofmeyr renamed the town after the early Protestant Reformer John Calvin.
The Calvinia Museum is housed in a building with a Jewish synagogue at the core. The displays reflect the lifestyle of the Hantam people and have good examples of old tools made by Cape silversmiths, furniture of cedar- and stinkwood and photographs and documents of the history of wool farming in South Africa.
Akkerendam Nature Reserve is located just outside the village and lies at the foot of the Hantamsberg. It is popular for hiking and a variety of plant species can be seen. The reserve also offers good views of the surrounding area.