With a vibe that’s somewhere between a New England seaside village and a hilly Mediterranean town, Sausalito feels like a world of its own. But, it’s just 30 minutes across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, making it the perfect day trip.
Morning Start your day with a filling omelet or raspberry pancakes at Lighthouse Café, a popular breakfast and lunch spot run by a local Danish couple.
The water and winds are often calmer in the mornings, making it a good time to paddle out. For a solo adventure, rent a kayak or standup paddleboard plus all the gear from Sea Trek (near the Bay Model at Liberty Ship Marina) or join one of their half-day tours, like a paddle along the Sausalito waterfront to spot pelicans and other wildlife. (Be sure to call ahead and book.)
If you’d rather stay land-bound, check out the Marin Headlands—part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area—by car or bike. You’ll find trails, cliffs, beaches, and sweeping city and ocean views.
Lunch After you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the Napa Valley Burger Company (near the Ferry Terminal) for tasty truffle fries and giant gourmet burgers in a comfortable, brick-walled dining room. If you’re really hungry, try the Crush Burger topped with bacon, a fried egg, and mac and cheese.
Afternoon Head to Waldo Point Harbor to see the more than 400 famed floating homes (the preferred name for houseboats). In the 1950s and ’60s, this eclectic collection of homes served as residences for artists, writers and musicians including Otis Redding, who was inspired to write (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay while staying there.
To relax and recharge, stop by the Healing Arts Center & Spa at Cavallo Point—a former military base turned luxury resort hotel that overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge. The spa has an outdoor meditation pool and offers treatments ranging from mud wraps and massages to hypnotherapy and acupuncture.
Evening Before heading back across the bridge, go for dinner at Poggio Trattoria, which specializes in classics from Northern Italy. The menu changes daily and features herbs and veggies from the on-site garden. There are plenty of options, but you won’t be disappointed by the pizzas or house-made pasta.