Perched on a hillside between the San Francisco Bay and the Marin Headlands, Sausalito is a picturesque community and an artistic enclave popular with visitors to San Francisco and the Bay Area. Here you will find boutique hotels, restaurants which serve everything from seafood to Japanese cuisine, specialty shops, and art galleries. The town is easily accessible from San Francisco, via the Golden Gate Bridge (US101). There are also two ferry companies which serve the area:
Blue & Gold Fleet: Offers ferry service to/from Pier 41 in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf.
Golden Gate Ferries: Offers ferry service to/from the historic Ferry Building in San Francisco’s Financial District.
Sausalito is also a pedestrian/ cycle friendly community. Many tourists rent bikes and cycle over the Golden Gate Bridge into town. They can easily make the return back by ferry as ferries have ample room for bikes.
During your visit, plan a trip to the San Francisco Bay Model Museum located at 2100 Bridgeway. Although the address for the Bay Model Visitors Center is on Bridgeway, the building itself is actually located off of Marinship Way, which splits off of Bridgeway and runs down a small hill to the building. Once on Marinship Way signs will lead you to the parking facility for the Bay Model Visitor Center. The museum is home to a three-dimensional hydraulic model of the San Francisco Bay and Delta areas built and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Admission is free.
If you are visiting with children, stop off at The Bay Area Discovery Museum located at 557 McReynolds Road. This is a hands-on children’s museum geared to children from 6 months to 8 years of age. There are different areas of the museum tailored to a specific age group. Kids have the option of exploring the 6 different sections of the museum including the Art Studios, Bay Hall, Discovery Hall, Lookout Cove, Tot Spot, and that Wave Workshop. General admission is $11.
I mentioned that Sausalito was an artistic enclave. Every second Wednesday of the month the town hosts its Artwalk. Visitors and locals can tour art studios and various galleries along Bridgeway. Additionally, The Sausalito Art Festival takes place during Labor Day weekend offering musical performances, gourmet food and fine wines and some of the country’s best art. The event draws more than 30,000 visitors and has been a tradition in Sausalito for over 60 years!
If you are more of a history buff, like I am, take advantage of the Sausalito Wooden Boat Tour located at 2350 Marinship Way. The walking tour offers an in-depth insider’s guide to the historic Sausalito waterfront including the Historic Houseboats, WWII shipyards, Art Studios, and the Wooden Boat Center. After the tour, visitors can enjoy tea and cookies at the boat lettering shop next to the WWII ship way . Tours are offered every weekend and cost $50.
For you wine lovers, Sausalito offers wine tasting opportunities as well! Bacchus & Venus located at 769 Bridgeway, is an art gallery and wine tasting bar offering premium Napa and Sonoma wines. You can see the works of local artists featuring California Wine Country scenes, Sausalito seascapes, San Francisco cityscapes and wine still life. Real Napa located at 611 Bridgeway, is a rustic wine tasting room associated with the Fotsch Vineyards in Napa. The handmade iron chandeliers and the wood and copper bar really give you a sense of being in Napa. Wellington’s Wine Bar located at 300 Turney St., is a British style pub offering wine, beer and snacks. But you probably won’t find handcrafted humus and pita chips in a proper British pub!
Finally, take advantage of this pedestrian friendly town and stroll down Bridgeway lined with various shops and restaurants and make your way to the main town square called Viña del Mar Plaza. Few visitors may know that in 1960, Sausalito and the city Viña del Mar in Chile, became sister cities. To reflect this relationship, the main town square was named Viña del Mar Plaza. In 2010, the cities celebrated the 50th anniversary of their relationship and Alex Geiger, Chile’s Consul General in San Francisco, presented a plaque to commemorate this milestone. That plaque, is affixed to the base of one of the elephant statues at the entrance to the Viña del Mar Plaza.
If you want to stay overnight, Sausalito offers a range of overnight options. Whether it’s an intimate bed & breakfast, a main street hotel, or a waterfront inn you will find it in Sausalito.
Casa Madrona located at 801 Bridgeway is a three star, 11 room hotel inside of a Victorian mansion built in 1885. The hotel is implementing a multimillion dollar makeover which is scheduled to be unveiled this winter. They will be adding a 5,000 square foot suite and 1,700 square foot meeting and event center. They will also be renovating their hillside cottages.
Cavallo Point – The Lodge at the Golden Gate located at 601 Murray Circle offers both historic and contemporary lodging. Guests can choose to experience the rich history of Fort Baker, a former U.S. Army post, with a stay in one of the restored historic guest rooms. These buildings once served as officers’ residences.
Gables Inn Sausalito located at 62 Princess St., is a renovated historic boutique hotel located in the center of downtown Sausalito.
Hotel Sausalito located at 16 El Portal is across from Vina del Mar Plaza and has been in business since 1915. It features 16 rooms and suites furnished with custom-designed furnishings hand crafted by local artisans.
Inn Above Tide located at 30 El Portal offers 31 rooms and suites each facing San Francisco Bay.
Small, quaint, and artsy, Sausalito is a nice escape from the big city life of San Francisco and definitely worth the detour.