Sausalito CA – a whimsical town on the bay full of beautiful houses, sailboats, seafood and sunshine. Whenever we need to escape the San Francisco fog, we pop over to Sausalito for lunch or a walk along the water. I just got back from an early birthday weekend relaxing here and since I’m still gushing over how dang cute this town is, I’m sharing with you all my favorite things to do in Sausalito! (Becuase I low key wished I lived here!)
Sausalito looks like a seaside East Coast town and Positano had a baby.
Whether you are coming for a day trip, an easy weekend getaway from San Francisco or a longer stay, these are all the best things to do in Sausalito aka your ultimate city guide! Keep reading for my recommendations on where to stay, where to eat, what to do, what to pack and more!
I’ve been to Sausalito, California a few times on day trips, but have driven past it even more as it’s the first town you pass on your way to Napa Valley from San Francisco. It never ceases to amaze me how San Francisco will be foggy and cold, but the second we pass that second tower on the Golden Gate Bridge and cross over into Marin County, the fog suddenly clears and the sun peaks out.
For my (early) 28th birthday, Robin and I decided to trade a long drive for a quick 15 minute dash across the Bay from our apartment to Sausalito for a weekend eating icecream, stuffing ourselves with seafood, lounging with wine at sunset and low-key plotting to buy a Sausalito houseboat and live in it (I don’t think our cat would be a fan, though!)
Things To Do in Sausalito CA
Once you arrive via ferry or drive over the Golden Gate Bridge, put on that straw hat and sunglasses: it’s time to explore! These are all my favorite things to do in Sausalito.
Shopping Sausalito Downtown: so cute and charming! Nautical shops, crafts, clothing and more!
Ice Cream at Lapperts: Lapperts is the most popular ice cream shop in town and it’s probably due to their unique flavors (like Ube!) Grab a cone and take a stroll along the docks while looking at sailboats.
Look at houseboats: On the note of sailboats, I love these little floating homes and sailboats. (They are the most popular free Sausalito attractions!) If a dock has a rope on it or a “private” sign, don’t enter but if there’s no rope, you’re clear to walk on that dock!
Hiking in Marin Headlands: I adore the Marin Headlands! If you love nature, hit the trails! A lot of California visitors want to do a day trip to Muir Woods and you *may* be tempted to do one during your Saulait visit, but save Muir Woods for another time. That’s like a trip in itself! Instead, I recommend you just hike the nearby headlands like Rodeo Beach, Kirby Cove to Point Bonita Lighthouse.
Sunset Sail: When the weather is nice, there is nothing more romantic and memorable than a sunset sail around the Bay! Cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge while the sun sets over the ocean, sip bubbly while gazing at the city twinkling in the distance.
San Francisco Bay Model: The San Francisco Bay model visitor center has a model of the city!!! It’s pretty big and really fun to look at, especailly if you are familiar with or live in San Francisco. Find your house!
Fort Baker: There are tons of old military forts and housing area all over the bay area. This one has a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge and is right on the water! Come wander the grounds, see the old houses and soak up history.
Bike or Walk the Sausalito Boardwalk: Skip the guided tours and instead do your own bike or walking tour of the city!
- Other Sausalito points of interest are the Bay Area Discovery Museum and The Marine Mammal Center. I think these would be really fun for kids but aren’t exactly my cup of tea.
Heath Ceramics Shop: Heath is legendary in the Bay Area for beautiful handcrafted ceramics. This spring I stood in line for close to 2 hours just to shop their sample sale. Stop by their store while in Sausalito!
Our favorite eats!
Poggio: OMG is pretty much the best way to describe Poggio. We tried a lot of their menu and while and everything is tasty, I’m still daydreaming about the pizza we had. Gorgonzola and figs *cue drooling* Sit outside for fresh air, order a house craft cocktail, tarte to share and at least one pizza for the table. You’ll have the best dinner in town!
Fred’s: I went here on a previous trip with some girlfriends. We swung by before heading on to a weekend trip to wine country. We LOVED this little hole in the wall – they have simply the best classic American breakfast around, and it’s a good bang for your buck.
Scoma’s: Scoma’s is probably the most famous seafood restaurant in Sausalito. It’s that blue building right on the water! We haven’t eaten hear personally but have heard good things about the menu.
Cibo: Looking for a quick coffee shop to grab breakfast in the morning? Cibo is a local’s favorite for craft coffee and quick eats!
Le Garage: I love brunch here! Located right next to the docks, I adored filling up on eggs benedict on a patio just steps away from cute sailboats. No better way to fuel up for a fun day exploring Sausalito!
I highly recommend spending the night in Sausalito! After a dinner stuffing myself with seafood and drinks, it’s easier to just stay put for that famous Bay Area sunset and cozy up in a hotel instead of heading back into San Francisco.
Located in downtown Sausalito, Casa Madrona is THE place to stay overnight in the city! We’ve never stayed at a place like Casa Madrona before, it’s utterly unique. Sausalito is a hilly city so this hotel built their rooms up along the hillside, meaning almost every room has some sort of view of the bay.
We stayed in a room with a sweeping patio – I loved drinking wine on it in the afternoon and sipping coffee while watching sailboats in the morning. The hotel constantly has specials for the seasons – we took advantage of their chocolate and wine special (it was waiting in our room on arrival!) Casa Madrona also has a spa, which we didn’t get to try this time around.
We love using Airbnb when we travel to find super unique spots. Why not sleep like a local in a houseboat while visiting Sausalito? It would be so cool to wake up literally on the water. Try this cute one with a rooftop.
- PS- use THIS LINK to get $40 off your Airbnb booking!
Sausalito is small but beloved, which translates to: it can get busy, especially on holiday weekends like the one we visited on. Any time it’s extra foggy & gross in San Francisco, the locals will hop over to Sausalito for ice cream from Lapperts and warmer weather on the Richardson Bay.
How To Get To Sausalito
- Sausalito Ferry: If you don’t have a car, consider taking the ferry to Sausalito! IT takes about 30 minutes and picks up downtown
- Driving The Golden Gate Bridge: Depending on where you live in the city (or where your hotel is) the drive over can take just 15 minutes to closer to 45 if there’s a lot of city traffic. You get stunning views of the city and bay (if it’s clear that day!)
- Bike Over: I don’t recommend this one, but I have seen tourists bike over from San Francisco. It’s not fair, but extremely hilly. I can’t imagine the return trip would be very easy or fun! The Bay isn’t like other major cities like New York City where it’s mostly flat. We have hills for dayssss.
I hope this helps you figure out what to do in Sausalito! I love this tiny charming city and I hope you go explore it for a day, a weekend or longer! If you have any tips to add, leave a comment below so everyone can see. If you have questions, comment or DM me on Instagram @thewhimsysoul and I’ll be happy to help!
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