It’s easy to see why Sausalito is such a popular daytrip from San Francisco. Just beyond the Golden Gate Bridge, the quaint seaside village has an artsy vibe, postcard views of the bay and San Francisco skyline and plenty of options for dining and shopping. The ferry ride from the city is one of the most beautiful in the world, and the trip also makes for a scenic bike ride over the bridge. In town, you’ll find colorful houses spilling over the rolling hillsides, a photogenic yacht harbor and a quirky houseboat community.
From San Francisco, rent a bicycle or hop a ferry across the bay, and then start your day with a stroll along Sausalito's waterfront promenade before getting in a little shopping. Perfect for gifts, Studio 333 Gallery carries a rotating inventory of jewelry and art from local artists. Designer-favorite Heath Ceramics, one of the last active mid-century American potteries, is headquartered here. Take a factory tour (offered Friday-Sunday) and shop the overstock merchandise.
After the browsing and buying, treat yourself to an hour or two of relaxation at the serene, maritime-themed Spa at Casa Madrona, which overlooks the bay and majestic Marin Headlands. The most popular treatment here is a Meyer lemon and shea butter body wrap dubbed the Solar Flare.
Break for lunch at celebrity chef Joanne Weir's restaurant Copita, a fresh, upscale take on Mexican food served in a colorful setting. Be sure to order a cocktail—the restaurant is known for its outstanding tequila list. Afterward, make your way over to the sleek Barrel House Tavern, where you can order an artisan cocktail or build your own soda to sip while taking in the view from the waterfront bar seats.
Or, if the kids are in tow, opt for Fast Food Francais (nicknamed F3), a casual, family-friendly joint serving American classics with a French twist. Then take the clan to the Bay Area Discovery Museum, 7.5 acres of hands-on, indoor and outdoor exploration for kids of all ages. (There’s even a Tot Spot for the littlest ones.)
Indulge at the luxe California Caviar Company tasting room, where you can sample flights of sustainable caviar—sourced without sacrificing any fish—paired with wine, beer or sake. When dinnertime rolls around, get a table at Poggio, an elegant neighborhood staple serving excellent Northern Italian fare including squid salad and extra creamy polenta. Families with kids will want to do dinner at Bar Bocce, popular for its pizza and waterfront patio that features seating, a brick fire pit and a lit bocce ball court. End the evening at The Trident, the revived former haunt of 1970s rock legends Janis Joplin and Mick Jagger. Order an Irish coffee (of Buena Vista fame) and sit back and enjoy the sunset from the expansive deck over the water.