Sausalito California Guide
Sausalito, located just north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge, is a small town that boasts spectacular views of the city and the surrounding bay. Built into the hills of the Marin Headlands, Sausalito is often compared to the picturesque Positano along Italy’s Amalfi Coast, because of it’s quaint architecture and beautiful scenery.
How To Get There
For those of you really wanting to make a day of it, try hiring a car or limo from one of the many limousine companies in San Francisco. You can then tour Sausalito and the surrounding areas, including some fabulous wineries, while enjoying the area worry free. Many will also offer Sausalito tours, which can save you the time of having to investigate the area yourself prior to going.
If you are staying in the city, you can get to Sausalito in a variety of ways. If you have a car it’s a quick drive across the Golden Gate Bridge. Take the exit towards Alexander Avenue and follow the signs. It is really well marked, and if you follow the road signs from there, they will take you right to the parking lot on Bridgeway and El Portal where the ferry landing is. This is a good spot to park your car as the Visitors Kiosk, and the Visitors Center are located there, and they can provide you with tourist information and brochures.
If you are the truly athletic type, you can rent bicycles in the Fisherman’s Wharf area and ride across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. It’s a beautiful ride, but it can be long and might not give you much time in Sausalito itself.
By far, the best way to travel to Sausalito is by the ferry. The best bets are either the Blue and Gold Fleet, (415/773-1188), or the Golden Gate Ferry Service, (415/455-2000). They offer ferries throughout the day departing from either the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero at the foot of Market, or from Pier 41 at Fisherman’s Wharf. Go to either website and you’ll find complete information including schedules and online purchasing. If you are going to go on a busy day, I would highly recommend purchasing tickets ahead of time online. There are electronic kiosks around the terminal where you can print out your tickets when you arrive at the ferry, and there are generally no lines at them. Otherwise the lines can be quite long waiting to buy tickets at the normal ticket window. You can also buy tickets on board, but again, if it’s a busy day, they might already be sold out when you get there.
Where To Stay
If you don’t want to stay in San Francisco, and would prefer to stay directly in Sausalito, or just want to spend a night out of the city, there are some very cool hotel choices. For in or just around Sausalito you can choose from:
Restored Army base turned into luxury hotel in a tranquil nature preserve.
Alta Mira Hotel 125 Buckley Avenue (415) 331-1350 Charming hotel located on the hills above Sausalito. This hotel ranges from $175-250 per night, with views of Sausalito, the bay and San Francisco.
Casa Madrona Hotel 801 Bridgeway This hotel has an award winning spa for those that want to get away and be pampered. You have to call and get a rate quote for room prices as they don’t have a standard price guide.
The Gables Inn 62 Princess Street Touted as being the first hotel in Sausalito, it is a quaint bed and breakfast, but offers no views. Rooms range from $135-$325 per night.
The Inn Above Tide 30 El Portal (’ This hotel is for those that want to stay in the lap of luxury. It offers incredible views and magnificent rooms, but you’ll have to pay for it. Rooms start at $285 per night and can go up to $895 per night for the penthouse.
Hotel Sausalito 16 El Portal This is for those looking to stay the night without paying a fortune.Beautiful hotel with very nice rooms that has rates starting at $155 per night.
What To Do When You Get There
Sausalito is very small, it only covers approximately 2 ½ miles, so it is easily a day trip. Whether you are driving or taking the ferry, the first thing I would do is stop by either the Visitors Kiosk or the Visitors Center located in and around the parking lot at the ferry landing on El Portal and Bridgeway. They can provide you with all the information you need about the area, including maps and various rental information.
For touring around the city and the surrounding areas, renting bicycles in Sausalito is a great way to see the small town. You will be provided with bike path maps to get you around along the water and through the town.
Sausalito also provides a free shuttle service called SALLY, (Sausalito Area Local Land Yacht). It starts at the ferry landing and loops around the city every 15 minutes or so. It’s a great way to get around without having to worry about parking or paying for a cab.
There are many rental opportunities available for water lovers also, including boat charters, bay tours and kayak rentals. To find out more, contact one of the various agencies listed at the end of this article.
Other areas of interest include:
Angel Island State Park (415) 897-0715. You can take the ferry to Angel Island and camp, rent bikes, kayak, hike or tour the island.
Bacchus & Venus (415) 331-2001. Provides wine tasting, wine making tutorials and wine purchasing.
Bay Area Discovery Museum (415) 487-4398. Museum and activity center for children and adults.
Bay Model Visitor Center (415) 332-3871. The Bay Model is a hydraulic model measuring 1.5 acres, representing a large portion of the bay and surrounding areas.
Marine Mammal Center (415) 289-SEAL. They work to sustain and protect marine mammals and preserve their natural environment.
Shopping Because Sausalito is known for it’s local artisans, the streets are lined with various shops including art studios, galleries, and handmade crafts like jewelry, clothing and decorative items.
Events Many events happen throughout the year in Sausalito, but pay special attention to the Jazz & Blues by the Bay and the Sausalito Art Festival. Jazz & Blues by the Bay is run at the park near the ferry landing on Bridgeway, and on Friday nights from May August, they will have live concerts at night featuring local musicians. The Sausalito Art Festival is held on Labor Day weekend and has been rated the number one outdoor art festival in the country.
Dining If you are coming from the city, you are most likely not coming to Sausalito for the dining experience, but if you plan to have a meal while your there you can find some nice restaurants. For the casual diners, there are lots of cafes and coffee shops, but I would most likely suggest a restaurant with a view of the city. These include:
Horizons 558 Bridgeway (415) 331-3232 Boasts one of the best outdoor patios in Sausalito with a sweeping view of the bay. The menu includes everything from fresh seafood to sandwiches to filet mignon. There will be no problem finding something for everyone on this menu.
Scoma’s 588 Bridgeway (415) 332-9551 Also right along the water, has a full view of the city and bay. If you are looking for a little more of a fine dining atmosphere and incredible seafood, this is the place.
The Spinnaker 100 Spinnaker Drive (415) 332-1500 It has a fine dining feel when you enter, but everyone is welcome. Offers a very extensive menu and an incredible view of the city.
Though those restaurants have views of the city, a few restaurants that don’t have views, but are worth mentioning are:
Buckeye Roadhouse 15 Shoreline Hwy (415) 331-2600 Located just outside Sausalito, it offers great ambiance. Though it feels like a steakhouse, and they do have great steaks, the menu also offers fish, pasta and sandwiches.
Saylor’s Landing 305 Harbor Drive (415) 332-6161 It doesn’t have an ocean view, but it is still worth stopping into, particularly if you are staying in Sausalito. Located a little farther down on one of the marinas on Richardson’s Bay, they’re known for their food. They have patio dining, as well as fireplaces for those colder days. When calling to make a reservation check to see if they have any events, as they have live entertainment most nights.
Sushi Ran 107 Caledonia Street (415) 3323620 If you are in the mood for fresh sushi, this is the place. Though it’s not right on the water, it’s sushi can rival any you’d find in Japantown in the city.
The area of Sausalito was first settled in 1838 after William Richardson received a Mexican land grant for the Marin Headlands. He named it Rancho Del Sausalito, meaning ’Ranch of the Little Willow Grove’. Unfortunately for Richardson, when gold was discovered in 1848, his land was used as a thoroughfare for people seeking their fortune, resulting in his land being over run and his property stolen. Because of the decline of his land, Richardson sold off 160 acres to Charles Botts, a San Francisco attorney, who hoped the area would help him cash in on the traffic that was steadily passing through there, but wasn’t able to. After Richardson’s death, the bulk of the land was sold in 1868 by his lawyer to a group of businessmen who called themselves the Sausalito Land & Ferry Company. They also failed to make the area thrive until in 1871 they made a deal with the North Pacific Coast Railroad to extend the new railroad system into Sausalito. This brought more growth to the area and in 1893 the city was officially incorporated.
Though city has seen it’s share of ups and downs since it’s incorporation, it has still maintained much of the history and original architecture throughout the years, and Sausalito has now established itself as an art community and tourist hot spot.
For all visitors, you should consider contacting one of the visitor information areas either before you go, or as soon as you get there. They can provide you with lists of events and maps for your trip.
City of Sausalito (415) 289-4100
Sausalito Chamber of Commerce (415) 331-7262
Historical Exhibit and Visitor Center (415) 332-0505
Visitor Information Kiosk (415) 331-1093
By: Colleen Kelly – Copyright SFTRAVEL LLC