Sausalito what to see: an enchanting coastal corner in the San Francisco Bay

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Martí Micolau

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Our destination today takes us to California, a great state in which to choose from countless itineraries, classic and super-known destinations, as well as lesser-known but no less fascinating destinations. Today we go to the town of Sausalito in the Californian north-west, once a fishing village, then a shipyard during the Second World War and subsequently a popular tourist destination. Let's find out how to visit and what to see in this place so renowned that it has earned the title of Portofino of California...


  • Where is Sausalito located?
  • How to get there and how to reach Sausalito from San Francisco
    • San Francisco to Sausalito ferries
    • From San Francisco to Sausalito by bike
    • From San Francisco to Sausalito by bus
    • From San Francisco to Sausalito by car
    • Tour per Sausalito
  • What to see in Sausalito: a peaceful coastal village to visit
  • Sea life and houseboats in Sausalito
  • Sausalito Old Town e The Hill
  • Events in Sausalito
  • Advice on where to eat in Sausalito
  • Where to sleep in Sausalito and surroundings

Where is Sausalito located?

We are in San francisco bay area and the famous bridge Golden Gate bridge the first exit to the north leads right to Sausalito, in Marin county, a county between the Pacific Ocean, the hills and the redwoods of Muir Woods.

Here we are in one of the wealthiest areas in the United States. This town (which has about 7.000 inhabitants) is one classic excursion from City by the Bay and can certainly be combined with other Northern California attractions as well.

How to get there and how to reach Sausalito from San Francisco

To reach Sausalito the airport closest is the international one of Saint Francisco. Sausalito from downtown San Francisco is about 25 minutes by car along the US-101, the distance from the capital Sacramento is 1h30 along I-80 E and from Los Angeles almost 6 hours along the I-5 S.

Many visitors who are in San Francisco decide to reach it by bicycle crossing the bridge, others opt for the scenic ferry, still others rely on organized tours and of course many use the classic "4 wheels".

But one thing is certain, however you reach Sausalito, as soon as you enter the town you feel the embrace of the green hills dotted with picturesque houses on one side and the welcome of the bay on the other with its waterfront, the promenade that begins at height of Richardson Street and is part of the Bridgeway, the street that offers a magnificent combined view of San Francisco and the bridge, all in an immediately pleasant atmosphere. The view is on the Richardson bay six meters deep.

San Francisco to Sausalito ferries

Links away ferry from San Francisco to Sausalito there are essentially 2: Pier 41 (near Pier 39) and the Ferry Building, in the Embarcadero District. Both services land (and depart) in Sausalito at the terminal at the intersection of Humboldt Street and Anchor Street.

The cost of this service is an average of $ 13 (one way) and the duration of the trip varies according to the season, the company, and the ride of the single ferry. It is best to inquire here and here first.

Bicycles can also be taken on the ferries, which is why they are often also used by those who cross the Golden Gate by bike and do not want to return by the same route.

From San Francisco to Sausalito by bike

Crossing the Golden Gate by bicycle is certainly a beautiful experience and the effort of the crossing can be somewhat reduced by renting an electric bike and taking advantage of the aforementioned ferry on the way back. To better organize yourself, I refer you to our in-depth study on how to rent a bike in San Francisco.

From San Francisco to Sausalito by bus

To get around Marin County you can use the public transportation of the Marin Transit bus Services and Golden Gate Transit. The latter probably offers the best option as bus 30 will drop you off right in the heart of the village.

From San Francisco to Sausalito by car

The center of San Francisco is about 2 km from Sausalito and the trip includes the pleasant passage over the Golden Gate. The only problem to deal with in this case is the high cost of parking. If you choose to get around the city by car, I would like to point out XNUMX insights that may be useful to you:

  • How to rent a car in San Francisco
  • Where to park in San Francisco

Tour per Sausalito

As mentioned there are some organized tours available for visit Sausalito, these are combined packages which include the main ones things to see around San Francisco and for this reason they are particularly convenient in terms of logistics and useful for saving by accumulating attractions. Here are the 2 most popular tours:

  • Alcatraz tour with day trip to Muir Woods, giant sequoias and Sausalito
  • Half day excursion Muir Woods, Giant Redwoods and Sausalito

All tours organized for Sausalito

What to see in Sausalito: a peaceful coastal village to visit

Sausalito is the ideal place to relax, perhaps observing the fishermen struggling with their favorite activity in front of the curious balanced rocks Bill Dan Balancing Rocks along the Municipal Fishing Pier, the pier used for fishing. The cars that pass behind the fishermen and visitors have kayaks and surfboards on the roof, ideal companions for those who practice sports, but along this road there are also those who just want to relax and rest on the benches, or walk and shop observing the commercial activities that are in full swing; here are in fact some of the most coveted restaurants for both food and views and various shops along the cobbled sidewalks.

Il sunset it is not to be missed, with the magical colors that illuminate the landscape, the reflections of the sun's rays on the water and the light that envelops everything around. For early risers we also recommend enjoying the spectacle of dawn. For an even more evocative view, the promenade is ideal when the typical haze of the bay envelops, sails and then discovers the landscape.

If possible, the bay is worth a flyby just when it is surrounded by fog and if you are arriving or departing from San Francisco airport you can happen to fly around the Golden Gate when the bridge is subject to changes in the mist, the spectacle is remarkable.

Continuing north along the waterfront near the ferry pier area (the ferry pier at the intersection of Humboldt St. and Anchor St.), you enter downtown, the city center where you are greeted by the Vina del Mar park, named in memory of the Chilean city with which Sausalito is twinned. This small triangular tree-lined park is the best known and most photographed in the country. It is famous for its fountain and two stone elephant statues from the Expo held in nearby San Francisco in 1915.

The center of Sausalito abounds with specialized shops and is a shopping paradise for unique pieces, from clothing to leather, from ceramics to wines. Leaving the downtown and continuing the ascent along the waterfront, you meet the historian Yacht Club (100 Humboldt Ave.) founded in 1942, where courses are held, races and boat excursions are organized following a pre-established calendar. Further north of the club is the scenic area Yatch Harbor with countless boats of different types.

Sea life and houseboats in Sausalito

Sea life plays an important role for the community and visitors, which is why we highlight three activities to enjoy the bay and the ocean by boat: Modern Sailing Lessons (2310 Marinship Way), in addition to providing sailing lessons, organizes tours of the San Francisco bay led by a captain.

Another chance to see the San Francisco Bay by sea is through the field experience of 5 Star Yatch (85 Liberty Ship Way) with which you can choose to sail in a group or customize the tour for a private event. The three-storey yachts where you are welcomed are equipped with a main living room with kitchenette, a master bedroom and a catering service on request. San Francisco Bay Adventures is an agency expert on water adventures. Among catamarans, yachts, boats and ships you can admire whales and sharks, take tours around the Golden Gate bridge, admire the sunset on a cruise or rent a boat for private events such as weddings or photo reports.

Selection of bay tours from Sausalito

In the bay, in addition to various types of nautical means, there are the houseboat, almost 500 boat-residences, real floating houses customized to taste (some liked to recreate the appearance of the Taj-Mahal). To animate these creations was above all the possibility of living even more in contact with the environment, the water, the ocean and the splendid bay.

In September, the Sausalito Floating Homes tour allows you to visit about twenty of these particular houses. This tour costs $ 50 per person and must be booked in advance. Alternatively there is theHistoric Sausalito Houseboat Walking Tour a walking tour accompanied by a professional and helpful guide, which is quite rare, even in Spanish.

Staying on the subject of water and boats, the Richardson Bay Marina (100 Gate 6 Rd.) Is the ideal place to place your float or simply observe the sea life and the panorama of the bay dotted with boats. Near the Marina shoppers can go to the complex called Marin Gateway shopping center (190 Donahue St.) and Starbucks fans will find their piece of heaven right here.

Sausalito Old Town e The Hill

The area south of Sausalito called Old Town is the original whale fishing village, with the first houses and streets of Sausalito, it is an area where the hill was exploited to extract manganese in the mid-1800s. It is now a residential area with a restaurant and a market. North St., East St., West St. and South St. mark the borders of Sausalito over a century ago. This area, where the people are very friendly, is also known for the strong afternoon wind that often blows along the narrow valley.

The hilly area called The Hill it is the most prestigious in Sausalito; here there are many houses of wealthy people with a beautiful view of the bay, but also more accessible houses inhabited by the middle class.

Some places on the east bank of the peninsula are noteworthy. Whether you are traveling with or without children, the Marine Mammal Center (200 Bunker Rd. – Fort Cronkite) is a splendid place dedicated to rescue, rehabilitation and scientific research with a view to safeguarding marine life (with the possibility of adopting seals!).

Then, to complete an already remarkable picture of panoramas, we point out the Vista Point (Golden Gate National Recreation Area US 101) e Rodeo Beach (at the end of Mitchell Rd. between Sausalito and Mill Valley). It's a strip of beach from which to enjoy the charm of the ocean, spot dolphins, relax or indulge in recreational activities.

Events in Sausalito

We report some events that take place in Sausalito starting from the celebration of 4 July, American Independence Day. The event begins with the morning parade which begins in the Old Town along Second St. and Main St, and ends at Dunphy park, along the waterfront, near the City hall. Everything is cheered by the inevitable band. As soon as the parade is over, a picnic is held in the park with music and games for everyone. In the evening, you can watch the fireworks at Gabrielson park between Humboldt Ave and Anchor St. next to the ferry dock. In addition to this, the evening is enlivened by live music.

In weekend and Labor day, the workers' day which in the States takes place on the first Monday of September, takes place the Art Festival (2400 Bridgeway - waterfront), a prestigious event in which art in all its forms is the basis of the event. Admission is subject to a fee and tickets can be purchased online or directly on site. In addition to the inevitable food, wine and stalls, more than 260 international artists exhibit works of art while on the three stages great artists perform in important rock, pop, folk, swing, blues, jazz and classical music concerts.

Then, on October 31st you shouldn't miss the Halloween Parade, a parade along Caledonia Street where monsters, skeletons, witches, ghosts and masks of all kinds parade. The canine challenge is fun where the "four-legged friends" can participate in a costume competition. The town hall is transformed into a haunted house and Robin Sweeny park becomes the place to participate in the trick or treat.

The holiday season is also celebrated big here. You can have breakfast with Santa in the event called Breakfast With St. held at the Sausalito Yatch Club, near the ferry dock. Also during the Christmas period, on the waterfront, the Sausalito Winterfest. You can watch the evocative parade of illuminated boats with the addition of fireworks, participate in the Hollywood-style Christmas party or a charity run.

Advice on where to eat in Sausalito

In the village there are various restaurants and we point out a few. The Spinnaker (100 Spinnaker Dr.), thanks to the construction on a pier directly on the water, it can boast a great panoramic view of the San Francisco bay with the skyline of “Frisco” and the waterfront of Sausalito. To better enjoy the view, glass windows have been created that reach from the floor to the ceiling. The menu offers meat and fish dishes but also pasta, sandwiches and vegetarian foods, excellent desserts and wines.

Overlooking the Richardson bay it is located The Trident (558 Bridgeway) with a “stellar” past; during the first run, actor Robin Williams worked as a teen-ager as a busboy, Woody Allen shot scenes in the movie “Play It Again, Sam” and Clint Eastwood was a regular at the bar. After the concerts of 1972 and 1975, the Rolling Stones organized private parties in that venue which at the time represented for San Francisco what the Studio 54 night club represented for New York. Times have changed now but there is good live music on Saturdays. The menu offers excellent fish and meat dishes.

Still on the bay, the Salito’s Crab House & Prime Rib (1200 Bridgeway) offers a menu of meat, fish, pasta, salads and desserts to be enjoyed comfortably seated inside the restaurant or on an outdoor patio. For a Californian-Mexican touch, decor and menu, the right place is Saylor’s (2009 Bridgeway) where chef and owner Sean Saylor is personally committed to delighting his guests. In our opinion, a very nice peculiarity is the possibility to bring your own fish and have it cooked in the way you prefer. Then, to accompany the dish, there are sauces and vegetables. In addition to the internal rooms, there is a shaded patio where puppies are welcome.

Lovers of Japanese and peaceful cuisine cannot miss it Sushi Ran (107 Caledonia St.), one of the best Japanese restaurants in the United States and one of the highest rated in the San Francisco bay area. Its strengths are the fish caught daily and the use of the best seasonal ingredients. There are also vegetarian dishes on the menu. The list of wines and sake, the typical Japanese alcoholic drink obtained from the fermentation of rice, is also very interesting. The restaurant also offers a catering service.

Anyone wishing to spend a cheerful evening can go to Smitty’s Bar (214 Caledonia St.) to spend carefree hours in a place with a family atmosphere. You can relax with a drink, strictly from 21 years old (bring a document with you, usually it is required), play pool, darts and shuffleboard. Sports lovers will be able to enjoy matches, matches and competitions on television …… .. oh yes, just like at home.

Where to sleep in Sausalito and surroundings

Hotel Sausalito

Most likely, if you find yourself in visit Sausalito, it is because you have chosen to spend a few days of vacation in San Francisco and therefore you will stay overnight in this city. In this regard, we recommend our guide on where to sleep in San Francisco. In any case, I will sleep in Sausalito it can be a decidedly out of the ordinary experience, as well as an unusual (and quite expensive) base for visiting the more popular nearby town.

In Sausalito there are high level hotels. We point out a few. Near the Viña del Mar park there has been, since 1915, theHotel Sausalito (16 El Portal) with its 16 luxurious rooms and suites. The rooms are furnished by local artists and the hotel's décor evokes the French Riviera. The hotel does not have parking spaces but it is possible to park your vehicle in a public garage at a cost of $ 20 per day.

Prices and availability

La Madrona House Hotel & Spa (801 Bridgeway) is a luxurious mansion with patio and spa, built in 1885 and refurbished to give a modern touch to this Victorian property. It is possible to book the entire house, use it for meetings, or celebrate weddings. From its position you can enjoy a beautiful view of the surrounding landscape.

Prices and availability

The luxury is not lacking either Cavallo Point Lodge (601 Murray Circle) where you can choose whether to sleep in rooms with a more modern touch or with a historic charm. Depending on the room you are staying in, you have a view of the bay, the hills or the city of San Francisco.

Prices and availability

If you want cheaper accommodation we recommend staying overnight in Marin County, for example in Mill Valley, homeland of Muir Woods park, oa San Rafael City, the county capital. Another option, as already mentioned, is to stay in San Francisco, with multiple choices.

Our tips on where to sleep in San Francisco

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