LivingTravelDiscovering Sausalito: An Easy Day Trip to San Francisco

Discovering Sausalito: An Easy Day Trip to San Francisco

Many cross the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito from San Francisco just for the view. From the Sausalito boardwalk, you can see Alcatraz, the Bay Bridge, the San Francisco skyline, and the boardwalk. At night, San Francisco shines when looking at the city across the bay.

Sausalito is also worth getting to, whether you take the ferry or cross the Golden Gate Bridge. While the views of San Francisco are breathtaking, Sausalito has its own magic. Sausalito is a small town of just 7,500 residents, whose homes cling to a steep, wooded hill above the tidal flats of the coast. It is full of restaurants, art galleries, and scenic trails.

Sausalito is a quiet and charming city reminiscent of the mountainous towns of the Mediterranean. This art-filled city offers a break from the hustle and bustle of San Francisco and offers visitors a chance to escape the San Francisco fog and bask in slightly warmer weather, just across the bridge.

Things to do in Sausalito

Art is always present in Sausalito. Add in the culture of living in the San Francisco Bay and you have an interesting place for a day trip from San Francisco. It’s certainly enough to keep you busy.

The art galleries and souvenir shops along the Bridgeway Promenade are Sausalito’s most visited attractions. Stroll and enter art galleries where doors are usually opened on sunny days. Visit the little shops and stop for ice cream. When you need a break, cross the street and lounge on a bench overlooking the bay or enjoy a relaxing meal at one of Sausalito’s seafood restaurants. Scoma’s, on a pier that juts out into the bay, has been a favorite for years. The views are incredible and the seafood is fresh and local.

For a different vantage point, walk north along the coast, past the yacht harbor. It is one of the few gated marinas in the Bay Area where you can walk on the docks near the boats. About a mile north of the ferry terminal, you’ll find the Bay Model, a three-dimensional hydraulic model of San Francisco and the Delta that covers more than 1.5 acres. It’s fun to watch the tidal action in the miniature bay.

About a mile north of Model Bay, you’ll find the Sausalito Houseboats . They are one of the least known and fascinating places in the city to visit. In fact, it’s the quiet place where musician Otis Redding wrote his hit song The Dock of the Bay while staying on a houseboat in late 1967 to get some peace and quiet. You’ll love houseboats so much that you’ll want to rent one through a vacation rental site and stay for a few days.

You may have seen Heath Ceramics in contemporary design magazines like Dwell and Architectural Digest. Heath is one of the last remaining potteries from California’s mid-century era and is located in Sausalito near the houseboat community. You can tour their factory and visit their factory store.

If you have kids, the Bay Area Discovery Museum, a children’s museum located in Sausalito within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which is right at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, is a good place to take them.

Best time of year to visit

As Sausalito is known as an art city, heading there to one of its main art festivals is an ideal time to visit. The annual Sausalito arts festival, held on Labor Day weekend, attracts a wide selection of artists and artisans. Twice a year, in May and December, the Industrial Center Building houses the Open Studios of Artists.

Otherwise, Sausalito can be charming year-round. You can watch the weather and plan to go on a clear day. Visiting Sausalito is truly spectacular when the air is clear, and San Francisco is visible across the bay. Sausalito is a popular day out or excursion for those visiting San Francisco, so the summer will be more crowded.

Some people wonder if you can take the ferry to Sausalito in winter, and they ask if it is difficult or if it is too cold. In fact, winter temperatures are only 10 degrees lower than summer, so it feels warmer than on a foggy June day.

Where to stay

While Sausalito is rich in charm, it has few places to stay and is generally visited as a day trip from San Francisco. If you want to stay overnight, consider Cavallo Point Lodge. Other popular spots include Casa Madrona, The Inn Above Tide, Hotel Sausalito, and the Gables Inn. And, there are always houseboats for vacation rentals.

Check prices and reviews of all guests at once with Tripadvisor.

Getting to Sausalito

An easy way to get to Sausalito is by ferry. You can take the Golden Gate Ferry from the San Francisco Ferry Building (Embarcadero at the Market) or the Blue and Gold Fleet from near Pier 39. The scenic ferry ride takes about half an hour. The ferry is also a good alternative to a lower priced San Francisco Bay cruise.

By car, your trip will take about half an hour if you avoid rush hour traffic. To get there, take US 101 north across the Golden Gate Bridge. Exit at the first exit past the North Viewpoint (Alexander Avenue) and follow the road downhill to Sausalito. Cyclists can follow the same route.

The trip north across the bridge is free, but if you plan to drive back to San Francisco over the bridge, read the guide to the Golden Gate Bridge tolls for visitors to find out how to pay your toll.

Public parking is available at the parking meters and in the paid lots near Bridgeway, on the north side of downtown.

Big Bus Tours out of San Francisco has a sightseeing tour from San Francisco to Sausalito.

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