Mill Valley, in lovely Marin County, Northern California, is one of the most attractive cities of the San Francisco Bay Area. You enjoy the ambience of a charming small European town, with the finest amenities of an upscale urban area, while being just 15 minutes away from San Francisco and within easy reach of many delightful cities of this beautiful region. You can make fun day trips and short excursions to Sausalito, Berkeley, Oakland, San Ramon, San Rafael and many others which are—under an hour—away.
The first place to visit is, of course, San Francisco. On a clear day, you can take in the breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the Marin headlands, and take a refreshing walk in bracing wind across the Golden Gate Bridge. If the characteristic San Francisco fog rolls in, there’s so much to see and do that you won’t notice it. Go to Fisherman’s Wharf for a bread bowl filled with delicious clam chowder, looking out on the way for its many street entertainers – the intriguing Silver Men, and the Bush Man who leaps out at unsuspecting passers-by, and others. See the Painted Ladies, a row of Victorian houses on Alamo Square, made famous in numerous movies and TV shows, and walk or drive down “the most crooked street in the world”, Lombard Street. For a taste and feel of Asia, visit Chinatown and Japantown and enjoy great food, shopping and distinctive ambience.
Sausalito, only 15 minutes away by car, is a coastal town with its nautical heritage stamped on every facet of its attractions. You can take a boat to go fishing or simply to enjoy the ocean, or go sailing, kayaking or touring the marinas. SF Bay Whale Watching will take you near a pod of whales, with a chance to take close-up photos and videos of these fascinating animals. Interactive learning and marine activities to engage the minds of kids make the Bay Discovery Museum and The Bay Model (run by the Army Corps of Engineers) a must-see.
You will enjoy a trip to beautiful San Rafael, also just a 15 minutes drive from Mill Valley. You could start the day wandering through the art galleries – Garzoli Gallery, Art Works, and Aurora Arts Studio. San Rafael’s Fourth Street is the heart of its urban culture, with theater screenings, arts festivals, road shows, parades, and a weekly Farmers’ Market, through the year. You can savor fine dining at gourmet restaurants, and dip into the shops and boutiques. Finish with a night out at the Broken Drum, George’s Nightclub, Sabor of Spain, and the Open Secret, with live music, dancing and drinks.
Another city close by worth a visit is San Ramon, for the many natural preserves and parks that surround it. Besides the activities for nature lovers, San Ramon offers fine dining with local produce and shopping.
Berkeley and Oakland are known as centers of culture and diversity, well worth a visit for the fine dining, shopping, boutiques with wide-ranging styles, and theater. Oakland Museum and Chabot Space and Science Center, and Jack London Square are other places you can visit. Children will love Fairyland, a theme park. Oakland Zoo, one of the best in the area, with over 660 native and exotic animals, is always fascinating for youngsters.
A different kind of trip would be to Livermore – in the heart of California’s oldest wine growing country, it is a must for wine aficionados. Livermore remains close to its ranching and rural past, and the annual rodeo is an exhilarating event for adults and children alike. The beautiful downtown offers fine dining, boutiques, and much more. There is a lively arts scene with several festivals through the year, and a farmers’ market where you can get local handmade products and produce.
In Santa Clara and Sunnyvale in Silicon Valley you can visit the historical buildings and museums for a history of the area. Kids will like the interactive areas in the museums. Santana Row is the place to be seen at, with stylish boutiques and fashionable restaurants. If you want a real thrill, California’s Great America has the most hair-raising roller coaster rides.
These are just some of the places to visit while at Mill Valley. Other day trips can be to Santa Cruz, Walnut Creek, Danville, Napa, and Calistoga, all with something unique to offer you and give you a day that is relaxed and enjoyable.