I have read many travel articles about San Francisco and all that it has to offer; I love all that SFO has to offer, too. However, one of the best kept secrets in the Bay is Sausalito, located north of the Golden Gate Bridge up Highway 101.
Try to imagine a place that has art galleries galore, funky little shops with clothes and jewelry you won’t be able to find anywhere else, a panoramic view that includes the Golden Gate, the Bay Bridge, Alcatraz, Angel Island and San Francisco. Sail boats, yachts, kayaks, paddle boards, frigates and ferries populate the water parading too many colors and shapes to name. It is not even unusual to see brave/crazy swimmers.
There are several vantage points, but one of my favorites that I have been visiting for over 40 years is Spinnakers. There is not a bad seat in the house in this restaurant and the professional staff is comparable to the finest hotels in New York or New Orleans.
The food is California cuisine at its finest. One delightful feature is that boats can go under the restaurant as well as all around it to add to the spectacle. If you go for lunch instead of dinner, it is very affordable and well worth the treat.
Sausalito is an artistic community with residents primarily located on houseboats think “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” (Otis Redding dangling his feet in the water singing away) or Jack Kerouack (writing out on the deck of his boat). There is a fascinating wooden boat tour, which tours the grandest of boats to the ones which rightfully belong in a junk yard but have too much charm to go. There are art festivals that bring local artists out to share their creations. There are cyclists speeding through the town as if being chased by ghosts.
The pace of the visitors/residents, however, is laid back, unhurried and totally different from those in San Francisco, Oakland, or other cities by the bay. Sit at the outdoor restaurant at Casa Madrone and feel like you are sipping wine at a French sidewalk caf.
Although the hotels are very expensive in Sausalito, I treat myself once or twice a year because the stay at Inn Above the Tides includes a room with a fireplace, a patio right over the water, skylights, free breakfast in the morning and cocktails and appetizers in the evening. It is my “go-to” healing place after a rough day. Most of the time, I can’t afford to stay over in Sausalito, so I take Amtrak to Emeryville, a bus from there to the Ferry Building, walk to Union Square and stay in the SFO Hostel.
It is affordable, safe, and located in the heart of San Francisco. To get over to Sausalito for the day, I take a bus at 3rd and Mission which goes straight into downtown Sausalito and ferry back to SFO later in the day.
Recently I spent 4th of July in Sausalito and enjoyed a local parade, a live band well into the evening, the local fireworks, and then, as a bonus, I got to see the SFO fireworks as well from a whole new position. It was a very special visit. In fact, every visit there is magical to me. I hope you will check it out for yourself.
Written by Rita Tyk.
Tyk is the ASI Board Associate and has been with Associated Students for over 25 years.