Mill Valley attracts tourists and visitors from around the world with its verdant and stunningly beautiful environs. Its attractions are as diverse as its many unique attributes: it may be the fresh flavorful food; a quiet hike in the Redwood groves or a crowded film festival with celebrities standing a few feet away. Mill Valley is one of those places where you can escape and enjoy the town regardless of your time or budget.
Food tastes better when it is fresh from the source. Marin's sustainable agriculture supplies ingredients to the best restaurants in Mill Valley and to those in the Bay Area. From unique artisan cheeses, oysters harvested daily from Drakes Bay and Tomales Bay, fresh fruits and produce, hand-crafted breads, fresh dairy and individually-crafted seasonal dishes, Mill Valley restaurants serves most of these gourmet foods.
If you are a cheese lover, you can follow the cheese (Trail). Recently, California cheeses have become known for their quality and variety. You can take the Sonoma-Marin Cheese Trail to all the cheese makers around the area where you can sample the cheeses and learn more about cheese making.
Farmers markets are a staple in Marin County. Mill Valley has two markets: Mill Valley Farmers’ Market and Tam Valley Farmers' Market. Mill Valley Farmers’ Market is held year-round, Friday 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at the CVS Pharmacy parking lot at 759 E Blithedale. The Tam Valley Farmers' Market is held May to October, Tuesday 3 p.m.-7.p.m. at the Tamalpais Community Center at 203 Marin Ave.
Arts, Entertainment, and Cultural Events
Marin County is well known for its arts, entertainment and culture. Mill Valley has The Mountain Play, one of the longest running theatre companies in Marin. The Mill Valley Film Festival is another famous event in the city.
The Mountain Play produces an annual, spectacular, outdoor musical in a huge amphitheatre at the top of Mt. Tam for its community and visitors. The Mountain Play is a Mill Valley tradition and has been producing theatres since 1913. You can pack a picnic and enjoy it while watching the performance. The Cushing Memorial Amphitheatre or The Mountain Theater is located in Mt. Tamalpais State Park at 801 Panoramic Highway in Mill Valley. Tickets can be reserved at the organization’s website.
Mill Valley Film Festival
The Mill Valley Film Festival celebrates and promotes film as art and education for the general public. This event runs for 11 days and some of the films are screened at the CinéArts@Sequoia and 142 Throckmorton Theatre.
State and Regional Parks
A visit to Mill Valley’s parks can be the highlight for the outdoors person in your group.
Marin County has almost 85 percent of its land protected from development through open space purchases, federal parkland, watershed lands and strict agricultural zoning.
The Point Reyes National Seashore and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area are accessible to the public year round. More than 2.5 million people both national and international visitors also visit Muir Woods to stroll through towering ancient redwood groves.
Muir Woods National Monument
Muir Woods is 12 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge on Highway. This ancient coast redwood forest stands untouched and tall. Even the sounds of people walking around you cannot dim the magnificence of the redwoods. Some trees are 1000 years old and are 260 feet tall. Muir Woods was set aside as a national monument in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt. The forest was named after conservationist John Muir.
Hiking trails wind through the forest, but no dogs, bicycles, picnics or camping are permitted. Bird watching, nature walks and interpretive programs are part of the activities within Muir Woods.
Historical Sites and Museums
Most of Mill Valley’s historical sites are in the greater Marin County area. For a full list of places to vist, check out our Museums and Historical Sites page.
Angel Island State Park
Angel Island was an Immigration Station from 1910-1950 used for processing Chinese immigrants into the county. Angel Island was also an entry point for prisoners of war during World War II. The Park occupies a 740-acre mountainous island in the San Francisco Bay that is accessible by ferry. Visitors can hike, bike, camp, picnic, and take tram tours. You can get some of the best views of San Francisco and the entire San Francisco Bay.
Bay Area Discovery Museum
The Bay Area Discovery Museum is a fun place for children and offers some of the best indoor and outdoor activities for little ones. The Museum programs focus on developing childhood creativity and nurturing creative thinkers and innovators from a tender age. Art, science and environmental exhibitions, performances, special events, cultural festivals and ongoing educational activities are some of the offerings.
Some of the must see sights outside Mill Valley within a short ride are:
Golden Gate Bridge
Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge if you have the time. This beautiful and historic bridge is 1.7 miles long and a landmark of the Bay Area. Pedestrians and bicyclists can use the bridge sidewalks during daylight hours. Manicured gardens on the southeast side of the bridge give you great views of the bridge from different perspectives.
Mission San Rafael Arcangel
A great historical site to visit is the Mission San Rafael. San Rafael is the county seat of Marin County. Mission San Rafael Arcangel is a 1949 replica of the original Spanish mission.
Point Bonita Lighthouse
This still-active lighthouse is perched on top of a rugged outcropping overlooking the Pacific Ocean in one of the most romantic settings on the coast. You can get to the lighthouse from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, down a one mile long road and across a suspension bridge. Schedule a tour to see the Lighthouse.
Point Reyes Lighthouse
Another beautiful lighthouse is The Point Reyes Lighthouse, located at the western-most point of the Point Reyes Headlands. In the winter months, the Lighthouse is one of the best places along the California Coast to view the California Gray Whales on their annual migration from Alaska to Mexico.