If there's one thing the movies have taught us, it's that arriving by boat always makes the destination more romantic. Give picturesque Tiburon that advantage by starting your weekday hike with a quick trip on the Blue and Gold ferry from Fisherman's Wharf. Once you've arrived, brace yourself for a breathtaking stroll around the historic homes of both Corinthian and Belvedere Islands.
How to Get There
Get yourself to Fisherman's Wharf, and then hop on The Blue and Gold ferry to Tiburon from Pier 41. See the full schedule here.
What You'll See
The ferry ride is well worth the ticket price, with outstanding views of Alcatraz Island, the GGB, Angel Island, and SF. Channel your inner tourist and enjoy.
A view of Tiburon from Beach Road. (via Wikipedia)
Arrive in Tiburon
The view from the water of this charming little town is much different that it was nearly 100 years ago. Then, it was a busy harbor with a bustling railroad yard and a downtown lined with brothels and bars. The ferry boats carried cattle and sheep, not tourists and commuters.
Tiburon, and adjacent Belvedere, are well worth a leisurely stroll. Here's the step-by-step for a fairly easy two-mile jaunt.
1. Leaving the ferry dock, amble to your left onto Main St. and follow its curving route through old town Tiburon. You'll pass by many enticing shops and eateries.
2. Cross the street as you pass Corinthian Island (on the left) and head towards Belvedere along the seawall sidewalk. You'll note an interesting home on pilings as you stroll towards the yacht club – look closely and you'll see it's a ship's cabin, originally from the S.S. China, which sailed the Yokohama, Hong Kong route in the early part of the 20th century.
3. Continue on Beach Rd. heading past the San Francisco Yacht Club.
4. As the road narrows and the sidewalk ends, keep your eyes and ears open for traffic while you cut across to Pagoda Lane.
5. At first this path between streets will seem easy-peasy, but after the second switch back it's 157 steps up to the aptly named Bayview Ave. and may leave you a little breathless. The reward? A great view to the northwest of the Tiburon Peninsula.
6. Turn left and enjoy the many beautiful homes on either side of the road.
7. As we proceed, you'll notice more stepped paths going off both left and right. Many are worth taking to extend the hike for a more thorough exploration of old Belvedere – check this map or consult the same, mounted on a placard on Beach Rd. opposite side of the S.S. China cabin.
8. When Bayview merges with Beach turn down for the return leg.
9. Keep an eye out on the right hand side for a staircase down to the water, the Harry B. Allen Stairs. Keep in mind as you descend that the only way back is to climb back up them!
10. As you head back towards Tiburon along Beach Rd., enjoy the Mediterranean-like view of Corinthian Island across the cove.
11. Turn right on Main St. and then another right on Bellevue Ave. as you climb to the top of Corinthian Island. The million dollar view of San Francisco from the end the road costs nothing from this spot.
12. Continue counter-clockwise onto Eastview, looking down on old Tiburon. Upon reaching Alcatraz Ave. turn left to enjoy more views from higher up or instead turn right and descend back down to Main St. and find your culinary reward for a hike well earned.
Take in the breathtaking views of Angel Island, Alcatraz and the San Francisco skyline at Sam's Cafe. (Courtesy of Sam's Cafe)
Where to Eat
Dining choices include the classic Sam's Anchor Café, serving burgers, chowder, and beers from the back deck, dueling Italian restaurants, in Don Antonio Trattoria and Luna Blu, and the relaxed outdoor dinner at Tiburon Tavern.
Other Things to Do
Tiburon Railroad & Ferry Depot Museum(via Vimeo)
Should you have the time, stroll down the waterside path on the northeast side of the ferry dock to the Donahue House, home of the Tiburon Railroad & Ferry Depot Museum, where you'll find a very interesting diorama of the rail yard, as well as the nicely preserved home, circa late 19th century. Great views of San Francisco and Golden Gate Bridge are a bonus.
A longer walk across the former rail yard will get you to historic St. Hilary's Church which overlooks Tiburon, Belvedere, and the first-rate public library.
This post was originally published in August 2015.