Balcony at Casa Madrona — Photo courtesy of Casa Madrona
Many people think of Sausalito as just a pass-through city as they head to the Wine Country from San Francisco. But the town is actually the perfect staycation if you live in San Francisco, or a quieter, more peaceful getaway option than staying in the city, only 15 minutes (could be 45 minutes with traffic) from the San Francisco International Airport. Sausalito is a hidden gem and a perfect spot for anyone who loves the outdoors, beautiful views, galleries, shopping, amazing food and wine, and more.
Daylight Kitchen at Alexandrite Suite — Photo courtesy of Casa Madrona
Where to Stay
If you're wondering where to stay, look no further than Casa Madrona Hotel and Spa, which is nestled on the hillside overlooking breathtaking bay views. This resort combines contemporary design with casual sophistication and bayside charm, while still managing to feel homey.
With 125 years of history under its belt, this timeless hotel exemplifies innovation, technology, luxury, service and style. After a renovation in 2014, a renewed energy exists in its standout Alexandrite Suite and the 1,700-square-foot meeting and event space.
In addition, seven upper hillside cottages have all been updated by a world-renowned design team paired with cutting-edge technology, the finest amenities and brilliant views of Richardson Bay and the San Francisco skyline. The hotel is also dog-friendly, and Sausalito is the perfect city for bringing along your pooch.
The property offers 64 guest accommodations including 31 bayside guest rooms, many boasting harbor views; 15 lower hillside cottages, many with private decks, fireplaces and San Francisco Bay views; 7 upper hillside cottages; and 11 hillside mansion guest rooms, including the 5,000-square-foot Alexandrite Suite located atop the property within the historic mansion originally built in 1885 (this is a must-see). The large suite includes a chef kitchen, outdoor patio where 10 can do yoga, private gym, office, 50-inch TV and more.
Sausalito's Waterfront — Photo courtesy of Casa Madrona
What to Do
Known throughout the Bay Area as an art town, downtown Sausalito has one of the highest concentrated areas for art galleries. Most of the galleries are located near the water in a two-mile gorgeous walk on the waterfront. You will find works from world-renowned artists to local artists and a variety of clay, wood, metal, glass, photography and unusual crafts.
On the Water
Discover the beauty of the bay in a different way by trying various water sports and exercise.
Kayak from a beautiful sandy beach in Sausalito. You can rent a single or double kayak even with no previous experience. You can also take a guided tour and explore the waterfront and eclectic houseboats.
Try stand-up paddleboarding and even stand-up paddleboard yoga in the calm waters of Richardson Bay. Learn to balance while adapting to the motion of the board and observing the amazing bay views!
For boat excursions, head to SF Bay Adventures. Their headquarters is located on the Sausalito waterfront. If you come with a small group or large party, SF Bay Adventures offers a variety of sunset cruises, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Other options include shark- and whale-watching tours, eco tours and wine tastings on the bay.
Many people in this area use bicycles as their daily transportation, so you'll find plenty of paved bike trails and paths. When you cycle in Sausalito, you'll notice great variety with access to both the San Francisco Bay shoreline and the nearby Pacific Ocean. Sausalito provides ample opportunity for those looking for different scenery and exercise at the same time.
If you're up for a bit of exercise and some climbing, the 28-mile ride out to Stinson Beach is one of the prettiest and most exciting rides from downtown Sausalito. With climbs come views, and you won't be disappointed in the soaring views over the Pacific Ocean. Stop at Stinson Beach in time for lunch and a little relaxing, and you'll still have time to make it back to Sausalito before nightfall.
A variety of tours can be found in Sausalito, including the two-hour Sausalito Walking Tour. Stroll by shops and restaurants, gaze at hillside homes and learn about some of the town’s history of gambling halls, brothels and more. Take the Heath Ceramics tour (available each Friday, Saturday and Sunday) in a 1950s factory where ceramics are made. Spend the afternoon with some storytelling and maybe even dancing on the Sausalito Wooden Boat Tour.
Because it’s so close to many of the most scenic parks and trails in California, Sausalito is ideal for hiking. Short hikes, weekend backpacks and trail runs can be found right in Sausalito, so it just depends if you’re looking for easy or more strenuous options.
Muir Woods is a spectacular old-growth redwood forest that is under National Park Service guardianship. Inside of Muir Woods and along adjacent properties, there are a series of hiking trails that provide magnificent scenery, peace and quiet and possibly some wildlife.
Enjoy California wine at Bacchus and Venus where you can try the flight of wine during their daily tasting bar from 11 am to 7 pm. Each flight features four different wines from different wineries and different appellations within California. Gain information on winemaking techniques, food pairing suggestions and more. Another option is the Madrigal Family Winery Tasting Room, where three generations of the Madrigal family have farmed some of Napa Valley’s finest vineyards since the late 1930s.
Where to Eat
Sausalito offers a variety of restaurants from global cuisine to farm-to-table dining.
If you’re a sushi lover, don’t miss Sushi Ran, a fresh blend of Japanese and Pacific cuisine. They receive fresh fish daily, either from the local catch or hand-picked at the Tsukiji market in Tokyo. The menu is a combination of creative and classic Japanese sushi and innovative Pacific cuisine prepared with the freshest ingredients.
Enjoy a taste of Northern California in every glass, on every plate, in every bite at this culinary beacon, located a few miles away in Marin. Experience style, finesse and comfort at one of the best dining establishments in California.
This Sausalito waterfront hangout offers a fair-priced menu of garden salads, one-of-a-kind sourdough pizza and a vast selection of local beer and wine. Enjoy the outdoor setting elevated by a fire pit-enhanced back patio, bocce court and sweeping views of Richardson Bay.
No Name Bar
If you like history, you'll love the colorful one at The Sausalito No Name Bar. This neighborhood hangout has been in the same location since 1959. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, this location was one of the favorite watering holes for famed musicians when in town on business or for vacation. Today, this small establishment is a hot-spot for live music and a cool, eclectic atmosphere.