Marin County Guide: An Epic Day Trip to Sausalito and Mill Valley
The ultimate guide to things to do, restaurants, and the best places to visit in Sausalito and Mill Valley, just north of San Francisco.
By Katherine Harris
August 28, 2021
Just beyond Karl the Fog and his domain over the Golden Gate Bridge lies Marin County, a land filled with houseboats, redwoods, historic spots and dream-worthy drives. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite stops for a day trip in Marin and also consulted a few of our friends at Equator Coffee and Palace Market.
Read on for some tips on where to stock up on Maker, pick up a picnic and indulge in some retail therapy along the way.
Pop over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito
First up is the recently renovated Golden Gate Market, which now includes an open-air coffee bar to peruse the morning paper while you sip. Some insider tips from Sausalito local and Maker Co-Founder Kendra: you can’t leave without trying their breakfast burrito, and the grab-and-go deli in the back is an excellent lunch option.
Pick up a can of wine and a sammy, stroll along the Bridgeway Promenade and if you’re feeling adventurous, rent a stand up paddle board from Sea Trek.
Flowers, donuts, and yes, coffee
If you need a few minutes to rest in between your first and second cups, or a stop on your bike ride, Equator Sausalito is the answer. On Sundays, you can catch Elise Schultheis Franklin, a former digital marketer who ran campaigns for companies like Patagonia, pulling up in The Flower Wagon with locally grown, organic flowers.
But back to the java. The local, women-led coffee roaster got its start in a Marin County garage back in 1995 and since then, has grown to 6 locations, prioritizing quality sourcing, sustainability and social responsibility along the way.
Equator has a new private label line of treats to stash in your bag like financiers and, for the Beyoncé inside all of us, bottles of hot sauce. There are also Johnny’s Doughnuts for the sweet tooth, and great news – you can sit down to enjoy one in their recently reopened indoor café. You can find Maker in the cold case under the register.
Indulge in some retail therapy
Fully caffeinated, head next door to meet Dennis Green, owner of KARL the Store, named after the city’s “most mysterious resident.” From perfume to vintage champagne buckets and embroidered jean jackets, everything in this eclectic, curated shop has a story. If you’re lucky, you may even catch his wife Kate stopping by with their 6-month old puppy Vinny.
Mill around in Mill Valley
About 15 minutes north of Sausalito, the wooded suburb of Mill Valley, named for a sawmill built in the 1930’s, is bustling with shopping, food and drink. Mill Valley Market was started as a produce store by Italian immigrant Frank Canepa in 1929, and today Frank’s grandchildren are involved in the business. Once you head inside, hang a right and you’ll see the well-stocked wine and spirits area featuring Maker cans.
If you’re feeling more adventurous than just a stroll through town, our two favorite hikes in the area are Muir Woods (reservations are required, as is offsite parking) and Tennessee Valley Trail. Be sure to pack multiple layers, plenty of water, snacks and of course, a few cans of Maker to enjoy. To fuel back up after a day out on the trail, take it from Equator General Manager Ariel Mahon and head to Sol Food in Mill Valley for unmissable Puerto Rican favorites like sweet fried yellow plantains and arroz con pollo.
Brunch and learn at Farmshop
On Sunday mornings, brunch is in full swing at Farmshop, located in the Marin Country Mart in Larkspur. There’s a large outdoor patio to enjoy favorites like the avocado hummus, and on your way out, don’t miss the highly curated marketplace in the front of the store celebrating California’s farmers and artisan producers with olive oils, pantry staples, and of course, plenty of wine to stock up on. If a lazy afternoon at the beach is on the agenda, take a spin through local bookseller Copperfield’s, or the Saturday Farmer’s Market to scoop up some fruit for dessert. To sweat out last night’s wine, Soul Cycle has popped up in the parking lot, and for the yogis out there, Love Story Yoga is a new addition to the Mart.
Giddy up to Palace Market
From downtown Mill Valley, head up Lucas Valley Road for about 45 minutes, which twists and turns past rolling hills and the Nicasio Reservoir. Once you arrive at the charming, food-centric town of Point Reyes Station, it’s hard to miss Palace Market. Founded in 1898, the market originally offered wagons and dynamite, but these days, it’s known for something much more delicious: gelato made with buffalo milk. (Pro tip: pay at the register first, then go to the back and show your receipt.)
To cap off the afternoon, we can’t think of anything better than chatting up the cheese counter for some picnic suggestions, scooping up a few cans of Maker in the cooler to the right, and then heading out to Limantour Beach. To stretch your legs before heading home, our friend Ariel at Equator loves walking the beach on the path along the edge of the dunes.
For even more ideas on how to spend the day in Marin, we chatted with Palace Market Wine & Spirits Curator Lawrence Sander, who suggests stopping into Blue Waters Kayaking across the street for a tour or a rental. If you’re feeling adventurous, plan ahead to get a permit and reserve a spot at the Tomales Bay boat-in campsite in the Point Reyes National Seashore.
Also, check out local boutique Sea to See to scoop up one of their ball caps embroidered with the names of beaches in the area.
Stay the night in Sonoma County
Not ready to call it quits on your adventure just yet? Hop on the 101 and head up to Flamingo Resort, a mid-century marvel with 170 newly remodeled guest rooms. Head to the pool to enjoy the Hot Bird, their signature spicy fried chicken sandwich, and cool it down with a can of Maker Rosé of Grenache before dreaming of your day trip in Marin.
The next morning, head out to Valley Ford’s Estero Cafe, another favorite of Ariel’s, to make your bottomless brunch dreams come true. Post pancakes, she also recommends taking a walk around the fishing pond in Helen Putnam Regional Park in Petaluma and keeping your eyes peeled for hawks before heading back to reality (and perhaps, Karl the Fog).
Have more local favorites that we should know about? Or know of a spot Maker should be? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.