While in San Francisco after a bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, a man asked, “aren’t you cold?” It was brisk and windy, quite unlike Sausalito across the water. Smiling, I said I didn’t feel the cold at all, which was mostly true. The exertion, coupled with the joy of being outside, warmed my spirit.

I discovered Sausalito around 2016 by accident, and I’m happy I did. I see the city as a mix between the Amalfi Coast and the Hamptons. Its relaxed vibe is one of many features that makes it different from its larger, busier neighbor. Getting there is easy by car, ferry or bike, and it’s immaculate and safe.

Photo Credit: David McElwee
Photo Credit: David McElwee

The Scenic Journey

After renting a bike, I passed the Maritime Museum, Crissy Field and Fort Point, a fortress from the Civil War era. I had to walk the bike up some of the hills, but that was no less a workout.

After about 30 minutes, I arrived at the Golden Gate Bridge. If the fog doesn’t obscure the view, you can appreciate what a masterpiece this iconic bridge truly is. When taking pictures, be sure to pull over so others can pass. Sometimes, depending on the day, cyclists and pedestrians have to share space. Once you’ve crossed over to the other side, the bike lane merges with the freeway. You’ll have to hug the side of the road, but I wouldn’t recommend this to less confident riders.

Discovering Sausalito

Sausalito is a postcard city of colorful houses and condos bunched together in the hills. The tranquil waters are perfect for paddle boarding, kayaking and sailing. You also can appreciate the catharsis of the water without making contact.

The main stretch of Sausalito is Bridgeway, where most of the shops, hotels and eateries are. Oysters, lobster and other seafood are prominently featured on menus. I had lunch at Salsalito Taco Shop. The fish and chicken tacos were fantastic. I paired these with a margarita, which was a refreshing treat after an 8-mile bike ride.

I sampled a few other standout restaurants during my stay. Barrel House Tavern is a converted ferry terminal, offering American fare and water views. If you want wood-fired pizza, Bar Bocce is a sexy little spot. Napa Valley Burger Company specializes in gourmet burgers, and there’s a decent drink selection. I had the Sausalito Sunset Cocktail with coconut rum and pineapple vodka. This is the perfect summertime drink, but it can creep up on you if you have more than one.

The guest suite I rented on Dutton Court was removed from the action without being too remote. The winning feature was the terrace, where I could meditate, sunbathe and take in the views.

There’s something endearing about the Bay Area. Whether you go for a few hours, or a few days, the magic of Sausalito is worth experiencing at least once.