From the untamed Marin Headlands to the quaint downtown waterfront, Sausalito’s charms are legendary.
For over a century, the tiny town abutting the Golden Gate National Recreation Area has attracted city-dwellers and tourists to its shores, where colorful house boats float like jelly beans on the water. Come for a day filled with oysters, sea lions, and kayaking—the ferry takes just 30 minutes from San Francisco—or outsmart the rest of the daytime visitors with an overnight stay. Our guide to Sausalito will help you plan it all in advance, from casual eats and high-end dining to shopping and outdoor fun.
Where to Stay in Sausalito
A harbor view from Casa Madrona's hillside suites.
(Courtesy of @casamadrona)
The statelyCasa Madrona (801 Bridgeway) weaves Victorian elegance with clean, modern decor at its landmark mansion, hillside cottages, and harborside courtyard. Fluffy four-poster beds, deep blue textiles, and old brass maritime instruments give the rooms a subtle nautical feel, although the priceless views of the bay really drive the point home. If you’ve got a squad, try the luxurious, 5,000-square-foot Alexandrite suite, complete with professional kitchen, expansive outdoor patio, and private fitness center. // The Inn Above Tide (30 El Portal) is a coastal charmer with killer views well worthy of a romantic staycation. Both the elaborate suites and more modest rooms are full of tasteful seaside splendor—think grey silk wallpaper, heated tile bathroom floors, rainwater shower soaking tubs, expansive patios, indoor/outdoor fireplaces, and cozy lounge chairs that swivel so you can choose your favorite among the jaw-dropping views of the city and the Bay. // The lodge at Cavallo Point(601 Murray Cir.) is about as close as you can get to the Golden Gate Bridge without actually setting foot on it. Choose from historic Colonial Revival accommodations with front porches and panoramic windows or modern rooms with cozy fireplaces, floor-to-ceiling windows, and certifiably green architecture. If that’s not enough to sell you on the iconic location, their Healing Arts Center & Spa, which offers treatments, wellness events, and integrative medicine consultations, will complete the job.
Where to Eat + Drink in Sausalito
At Cavallo Point, stylish Sula is the newest-comer to Sausalito's restaurant scene.
(Courtesy of Sula)
Inhale precious dollops of caviar and roe from near and far at The Bump Bar(1403 Bridgeway). The sophisticated seafood spot sells its briney delights by the ounce or in flight format, along with a curated selection of plates like black cod with miso, carrot, sunchoke, and salmon roe. // Sula (602 Murray Cir.), which opened at Cavallo Point in late 2022, takes a deep dive into seafood-forward small plates like charred Monterey octopus and top-shelf mains like grilled rack of lamb. Though the chic restaurant, with its shades of mid-mod decor, is only open Thursday through Saturday, they serve drinks and bites daily in the fireplace-warmed Sula Lounge. // Also at Cavallo Point, American bistro Farley(601 Murray Cir) specializes in elevated farm-to-fork fare like sesame crusted swordfish and Niman Ranch New York steak with truffle-scented potato puree. Reserve a table on the terrace for views for days. // Tucked off the tourist route,Le Garage(85 Liberty Ship Way) is Sausalito’s answer to refined French food. The lively bistro has classics like bouillabaisse and beef Bourguignon, and is oh so good at weekend brunch when they trot out plates of quiche Lorraine, croque monsieur, and pain perdu. //Poggio (777 Bridgeway), Sausalito’s exceptionally delicious Italian trattoria, is a charming location for rich ragus, pillowy gnudi, and creamy risottos. // Don't be fooled by the row of rental bikes parked on the sidewalk outside Scoma's (588 Bridgeway)—this iconic, decades-old seafood restaurant isn't just for tourists. Come for the fresh seafood dishes including a rich lobster risotto and a tangy cioppino, and stay for the view of the Bay. // Celebrity chef-author Joanne Weir's Copita(739 Bridgeway) is hailed for its margaritas, ceviches, and lamb birria, plus a refined weekend brunch menu that includes the oddly satisfying Yucatecan favorite, huevos motuleños. // If you're in the mood for some of the best sushi in the U.S., Sushi Ran(107 Caledonia St.) is the place to be. One of the first in the Bay to take Japanese food upscale over 30 years ago, the restaurant remains at the top of its game.
Casual Eats, Treats, and Coffee
Beach club vibes rule the day at Bar Bocce(1250 Bridgeway) where patio seating, a bocce ball court, and a swath of warm sand make for a fantastic mini-escape from the city on a sunny day. Grab a beer or a glass of rosé, order a crispy pizza. and spread out your blanket for an extra-special picnic. Go early—space fills up quickly. // For a laid-back lunch that promises soft naan dipped in buttery masala sauce, Sartaj(43 Caledonia St.) has a menu full of tasty classics such as saag paneer, chicken tikka masala, samosas, and hot lamb curry. // Ask anyone where to find the best Dungeness crab roll and they'll most likely point you toward Fish(350 Harbor Dr.), a restaurant known and loved for its sustainable sourcing practices. Don't sweat the line—it's worth the wait. // You can almost smell the Mediterranean breeze wafting through sunny, blue-tiled Zalta (39 Caledonia St). On the menu, find dishes from around the region, which include everything from Lebanese- and Moroccan-style mezze to Roman-style pinsas (pizzas), along with a hearty list of Mediterranean wines and an immensely intriguing feta-brine vodka martini. // Located in the unassuming industrial part of town, Sausalito Seahorse(305 Harbor Dr.) serves such Tuscan coastal dishes as octopus steamed in seafood broth, and their signature cacciucco, a seafood stew that hails from owner Mauro Dosolini's birthplace of Viareggio. Go on the weekends for live music and DJ sets, as well as Sunday afternoon salsa classes out on the patio. // The menu at Joinery(300 Turney St.)—a cavernous beer hall, biergarten, and rotisserie on the waterfront—doesn’t stop at its perfectly roasted free-range chicken. The killer view pairs well with the eatery’s porchetta sandwiches, fattoush salads, and frosty cold pints of craft beer, too. // Mexico meets Nantucket atSalsalito(1115 Bridgeway), a colorful snack shack where lunch means simmered pork or Baja-style fish tacos, as well as fajitas, chicken and goat cheese–stuffed chiles. Cool the spice with a homemade agua fresca. // At the unassuming Avatars(2656 Bridgeway), Punjabi cuisine goes global. Look for border-hopping mash-ups like Punjabi enchiladas and Indian-style pastas and raviolis alongside more traditional curry and rice dishes. // Start your day with artisan coffee,and Cibo Bakery pastries and focaccia at the Angelino Bar(621 Bridgeway). Special occasion? Put in an advance order online for a Saturday seasonal pie pick up. // Just around the corner from the crowded Bridgeway shops is Driver's Market(200 Caledonia St.), a local grocery store with well-curated products from small-batch olive oil to local cheese and handcrafted chocolate. Fresh deli menu features sandwiches, wraps, and bagels, plus juices, smoothies, and kombucha on tap. Take it to go or grab one of the handful of tables on site. // There’s nowhere better for a homestyle breakfast than the Lighthouse Cafe(1311 Bridgeway), where the pancakes are fluffy, the omelets are cheesy, and the stuffed hash browns are overflowing. // Munchies of Sausalito(607 Bridgeway) will draw you in with barrel after barrel of fresh saltwater taffy in an eclectic assortment of flavors, from mango to molasses. There are other confections from which to choose—jawbreakers, circus peanuts, and Sunkist fruit gems—so be sure to stock up.
Get Drinks in SausalitoWith a classic name for a classic dive bar,Smitty's(214 Caledonia St.) is the place to get your jug of ale amongst the locals. Dating back to the 1920s, the town's oldest bar keeps us coming back for the shuffleboard, billiards, jukebox, and all-around carefree vibe. // A home away from home for musicians, writers, and artists for over 50 years, the friendly neighborhoodNo Name Bar(757 Bridgeway) has live music every night of the week and a lush back patio for warm weather imbibing. // Inside the original, pre-Golden Gate Bridge ferry terminal, the Barrel House Tavern(660 Bridgeway) serves up new- and old-school cocktails, craft beer, and local wines day and night on its bayside patio or in front of picture windows peeking out from the modern, quonset hut-like dining room. They have a full menu of (mostly) seafood delights but we like to stop by at happy hour when oysters are just two bucks a pop and drinks are on special.
The Best Shopping in Sausalito
Sausalito's Heath Ceramics factory and seconds shop is worth the trip alone.
(Courtesy of phylonthego.com)
Heath Ceramics’(400 Gate Five Rd.) mid-century design heritage, plus the glorious heft of each lovingly handcrafted piece, elevates even burnt Pop Tarts. Swing by the Sausalito factory to browse the seconds—priced at a 20 percent discount. See what goes on behind the scenes on a factory tours held Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30am. // Who knew that Karl had style? His manifestation in shop form, Karl the Store(1201 Bridgeway), stocks an eclectic and attractive combination of mid-century furniture, home goods, jewelry, and art. // Part spacious studio, part shop, and part events space with an outdoor lounge, Studio 333(333 Caledonia St.) is a good place to pop in for a cocktail party or trunk show to admire work from local designers. In the boutique and at their downtown location (803 Bridgeway), you’ll find everything from beachy accessories and handmade jewelry to soaps and homewares. // Tivoli Decor(333b Caledonia St.) is stuffed to the rafters with bespoke furniture, vintage decor, and contemporary oddities. Hunt through their treasure to find the perfect off-beat gift or that bingo ball spinner you’ve always wanted. // If you're in the market for a lovely piece of handmade jewelry, check out local designer Sarah Swell(215 Caledonia St #102) for baubles inspired by California nature. Each creation takes up to four weeks to make, but a one-of-a-kind hammered band is worth the wait. // Get thrifty at Willow Grove Consignment(1001 Bridgeway, Ste. C-1), which carries casual and upscale pieces from the likes of AG Jeans, Madewell, and Theory.// Find socks to match any style at the adorably named Soxalito(771 Bridgeway).
Fun Things to Do in Sausalito
A hike in the Marin Headlands is rewarded by unbeatable views of the city and San Francisco Bay.
(Photo by Intricate Explorer on Unsplash)
Arts + Culture
If you haven't seen the floating homes(1 Issaquah Dock), you haven't been to Sausalito. Perched on pontoons and connected with jetties full of plants and DIY art, Sausalito's famous houseboats comprise one of the most unique neighborhoods around. While some are gated off, several of the piers are open for a stroll to peepers—just be sure to respect the natives. //The Marine Mammal Center(2000 Bunker Rd.) in the Marin Headlands researches, rescues, and rehabilitates marine mammals—mainly seals, sea lions, and otters—from all over Northern and Central California. You can visit any time for free (advanced online reservation required), or join a docent-led tour ($15, Fridays through Mondays). // With their artist residency programs, the Headlands Center for the Arts(944 Simmonds Rd.) nurtures creativity across multiple disciplines. Come during open hours to see their work in progress and to visit completed exhibitions and installations. Keep an eye on the calendar for public events, which can include everything from intimate artist talks to dinners. // If you’ve got kiddos to entertain, head to the Bay Area Discovery Museum(557 McReynolds Rd.) where the interactive exhibits include treehouses, iceless skating, cardboard construction, and a spot just for tots.
Rise, shine, and arrive at the Morning Sun Trailearly for a short but steep 0.4-mile climb to one of the Bay Area's best views of the sunrise, looking east toward Angel Island. // On most days, Sausalito’s bay is calm enough for a nice stand-up paddle excursion or a kayaking adventure. Rent boards and boats or take a tour (bird watching or photography, anyone?) withSea Trek(2100 Marinship Way). // For a winning combination of wilderness and walking (or jogging), head to Tennessee Valley, for a 1.7-mile hoof to the ocean through the beautiful, wild Marin Headlands. // You're probably not going to be tempted to swim at Rodeo Beach—water temps hover around 55 degrees—but don’t worry, you'll be plenty distracted by the scenery: a lagoon, funky rocks that jut gracefully out of the water, old military forts on the surrounding hilltops, and uniquely colorful minerals shining in the sand at your feet.