Swing by the Equator Coffee kiosk and gear up for a day at Stinson Beach at Proof Lab Surf Shop. (via Facebook)

A Perfect Day in Mill Valley: From Coffee to Cocktails, With Much Nature in Between

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From the peak of Mt. Tam to the marshland and creeks around Richardson Bay, there is a lot of spectacular ground to cover in Mill Valley.

Of course, there are also equally notable eats and drinks. Here's how to make a terrific day of it in this rustic-chic Marin County town.


Morning in Mill Valley

(Equator Coffee & Teas/Facebook)


Breakfast + Coffee

A day in Mill Valley means a fair amount of physical activity—you'll want to fuel up. Dig in at Mill Valley's beloved, 30-year-old homestyle diner, The Dipsea Cafe (200 Shoreline Hwy.), where the banana-walnut pancakes are always a smart order. If it's not your first rodeo, you might venture into new territory with the fried chicken and waffles served with jalapeño honey butter, or a mammoth gravlax and portobello mushroom Benedict. // Whether you waited for coffee or are in want of a second cup, a stop at one of Equator's two Mill Valley locations (244 Shoreline Hwy., and 2 Miller Ave.) is pretty much required. The homegrown roaster supplies beans to some of the Bay Area's finest restaurants—if the cappuccinos are good enough for The French Laundry, they're good enough to take to go—you have a winding drive ahead. If you choose the Equator kiosk inside Proof Lab Surf Shop on Shoreline Highway, you can gear up for a future outing at Stinson Beach.

The Scenic Route

When it comes to breathtaking vistas and hikes, it's always a coin flip between Muir Woods or Mount Tamalpais. You can't go wrong—unless of course you didn't make advance reservations for a visit to Muir Woods. For a top-of-the-world panorama, drive up to the East Peak summit of Mt. Tam, pay $8 to park, and stroll the paved three-quarter-mile Verna Dunshee Trail. Wave at the now-diminutive skyline of San Francisco. During the summer, time your visit to see whatever play is being being staged at the spectacular Cushing Memorial Amphitheatre.

Do Some Shopping

Wind your way back down the mountain and into town to check out one of Mill Valley's newest attractions: The 126-year old Mill Valley Lumber Yard (129 Miller Ave.) has been given new life as a mixed use space housing artsy shops—including the all-American Makers Market, the ever-so-chic Guideboat Co., and florist Bloomingayle's—as well the gluten-free bakery Flour Craft. Grab a hazelnut brown butter brownie to snack on as you browse.

A Mill Valley Afternoon

Bird watchers can spend a happy afternoon at Bothin Marsh.

(Fabrice Florin/Flickr)

The Sight to See

Pay homage to Mill Valley's namesake: the former saw mill in Old Mill Park, situated amid towering redwoods along the Old Mill Creek and near the popular Dipsea Steps trailhead. Make sure to come back for one of the park's free movie nights, held one Friday evening monthly between June and October.

Grab a Book

Just down the road from Old Mill Park you'll find the historic Depot Bookstore & Cafe (87 Throckmorton Ave.), housed in 1889 train depot Greyhound station. Pick out a few books to read in the next few months and you'll remember that there's nothing quite like holding an actual book with pages to turn.

Tacos + Beers + Fro Yo

Ok, it's time for lunch—and a beer. Head back toward the Bay and settle in for salmon poke tacos on handmade corn tortillas or a roast chicken platter at Parranga (800 Strawberry Village), which also styles itself as a cerveceria. Pair your meal with a Baja Brewing IPA or one of the hard-to-find Mexican craft beers. // Save room for dessert because you're just steps away from local favorite Woody's Yogurt Place (802 Strawberry Village). It's a tough choice between frozen yogurt, custard, ice cream milkshakes, and ice-free fruit smoothies, but you can't go wrong with a chocolate custard with crumbled peanut butter cups on top.

Get Some Air

You've hiked far above Mill Valley today; now it's time for some exercise at sea level. To rent a kayak, you'd have to head into Sausalito. Instead, lace up your hikers and hit the trail along Bothin Marsh for bird-watching and chill time along the water.

Dinner, Drinks, and a Show in Mill Valley

At Buckeye Roadhouse, the signature oysters Bingo are a must.

(Courtesy of Buckeye Roadhouse)

Cocktails, Oysters + More

Who's ready for a cocktail? Buckeye Roadhouse (15 Shoreline Hwy.) has been a Mill Valley icon since 1937, perched above the 101 and luring hikers into the bar for hearty burgers as well as couples in the mood for romantic dates. The dark, Western-style bar mixes some of the finest cocktails in Mill Valley and has one of the strongest wine lists. Order the Napa Negroni and a round of the signature oysters Bingo, drenched in cheese and spinach. // If elevated pub fare are more your speed, veer toward Mill Valley Beerworks (173 Throckmorton Ave.), where you can enjoy brews from the Presidio's Fort Point Beer Co. (don't miss the Manzanita-smoked altbier) alongside such dishes as rainbow trout with French lentils or delicata squash with medjool date butter.

Go to the Theater

When it comes to culture, Mill Valley is best known for its annual Mill Valley Film Festival (Oct. 4-14, 2018). But, the town is also home to one of the finest mid-sized theaters in the country. At Marin Theatre Company (397 Miller Ave.), most shows begin at 7:30pm, allowing for a quick bite before or a late, post-show supper. This fall, catch Oslo (Sept. 27 through Oct. 21), the 2017 Tony Award winner for Best New Play.

Dinner and a Nightcap

The crowd at Playa (41 Throckmorton Ave.) may have started to quiet down by the time the play is over. The contemporary Mexican eats and drinks here are stellar, served in a hip atmosphere that doesn't seem like typical Marin. Start with some local halibut ceviche before moving onto oxtail with mole negro and octopus tacos. // Nightcaps in Mill Vally are had at the classic dive bar 2am Club (380 Miller Ave.). Even if you don't make it till last call, come for a round of pool or darts and Moscow mules in a space where Huey Lewis based the cover photo for his album Sports.

(Courtesy of Marin CVB)

Located just one famous bridge away from a world-class city, Marin County is the Bay Area's outdoor entertainment center for those who like blue skies. For more information, go to visitmarin.org. Thank you to our partners at Marin Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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