Be careful though. You’ll probably visit and want to stay forever. Sausalito, a 30-minute ferry ride across the bay, nestled at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, is simply breathtaking. Its mediterranean character and bohemian spirit become intrinsically apparent in the slope of the land, the style of the boats, the warm greetings from the deck hands, the open-air cafes giving way to the ocean views, the endless trattorias and gelaterias dotting the main street, and the jovial expressions of passersby.
While visiting a couple weeks ago, I learned a few things about this charming town:
1) Avoid visiting during the summer months. The seasonal crowds crush the sidewalks and the traffic makes the ferry look like a god-send. Instead, postpone your visit to later fall. The late-October air is clearer and fresher, crowds are thinner and pumpkin is infused in everything.
2) Discover Sausalito gradually. The 30 minute, 6-mile voyage from Fisherman’s Wharf at Pier 41 to Sausalito’s main ferry building is an experience to be treasured. From the middle of the bay, you can catch a glimpse of Marin County, Muir Woods and wineries. In seconds, your taste buds start salivating.
Sausalito becomes enticing, yet still hidden beneath the 4pm lifting fog. A mirage, almost, that leaves you searching for more familiar landscape. From the succession of marinas and working boat yards stretching along its waterfront, you get a hint of the town’s maritime influence and fishing-village atmosphere. As you reach the port, you hear the boat’s last blow horn and realize Sausalito has something more to offer than just shopping with a view. A life unlike America and so much like Italy exists.
3) Pick something off the main path. There are two main streets leading from the ferry pier that are “ground zero” for Sausalito’s tourist district. Plenty of over-priced galleries, shops and restaurants will beckon you to try a sample or buy a souvenir, but don’t be fooled. The gems are down and over five blocks. Walking or the town’s taxi service are the best way to get around.
4) Do as the “Sausalitans” do and chow down on the fish. Any fish, it’s all excellent.
A few Yelp-worthy ones looked satisfying but the Sausalito Taco Shop was a winner.
5) And finally, if you don’t believe me, take a ferry ride and see for yourself.