From the pleasure boats bobbing up and down in the spacious harbor to the hillside bungalows surrounded by bougainvillea, Sausalito has the look and feel of the French Riviera. This impression is enhanced by a warm, mild climate most of the year.
The best way to get here is by the 30-minute ferry ride from San Francisco. Ferries leave from Pier 41 at Fisherman's Wharf and also from the San Francisco Ferry Building toward the southern end of the Embarcadero. The ride from Fisherman’s Wharf includes wonderful views of Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge from closer quarters. Be sure to bring a warm, wind-resistant jacket, as a cold breeze kicks up from the water even on the warmest days.
As Sausalito gradually comes into view, pick out the details of the impressive cliffside houses and charming early 20th-century cottages. Admire the town’s setting flanked by the forests and fields of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
After you disembark, take a stroll along the waterside esplanade lined with restaurants along picturesque piers. Wander through the downtown plaza, browsing in the smart boutiques and art galleries, and sip a café latte in one of the open-air cafés or bistros.
Though distinctly upscale today, Sausalito still has something of a bohemian vibe. It harks back to the 1950s and ’60s when it was known as an artists’ colony. Enjoy a look through some of the galleries, which sell locally made arts and crafts.
Sausalito is also famous for its houseboat community. It was here, while staying in a houseboat, that Otis Redding got the idea for his hit song, (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay. Today, there are hundreds of houseboats ranging from quirky and rundown to plush and expensive.