Sausalito Day Trip Itinerary: Top Things to do, Where to Eat, & More
Sausalito offers some of the best views in the Bay Area that you do not want to miss. Located only a short trip across the Bay, a Sausalito day trip from San Francisco is the perfect destination to add to your Bay Area bucket list.
What’s So Special About Sausalito
Sausalito has some serious Amalfi Coast vibes. After canceling our honeymoon to the Amalfi Coast in May 2020, we decided to take a day trip to the next best thing. That would be the charming coastal town of Sausalito in Marin County.
The rolling hills of colorful seaside houses and stunning views are comparable to Italy’s quaint town of Positano. So if traveling abroad is not in the cards for you right now, Sausalito’s picturesque views will make you feel like you have been teleported to a different country.
Is Sausalito Worth Visiting?
Sausalito is a popular destination to visit for both residents of the city and visitors alike. We have been to Sausalito many times and enjoy taking our out-of-town family and friends there for a day trip.
The town of Sausalito is known for its beautiful views of the Bay and San Francisco’s skyline. Even on a foggy day, which we tend to get many of, the views are spectacular.
How to Get to Sausalito From San Francisco
To get to Sausalito from San Francisco, you have a few options. Your choices are to either bike, drive, bus, or take a ferry boat. The distance from San Francisco to Sausalito is about 11 miles.
Driving to Sausalito
Depending on what district you are coming from in the city and traffic, it should take about a half-hour to get to Sausalito from San Francisco.
Coming from Oakland, this is the form of transportation that we usually would choose to get to Sausalito. Having a car provides you with a lot more freedom and flexibility in your schedule. There is plenty of street parking and paid parking lots for you to park your car for the day.
🚗 If you plan on renting a car during your stay in the Bay Area:
✅ Avoid the hassle and book your car rental ahead of time for the lowest rate by clicking here!
Know before you go: There is metered parking downtown. Or you can pay to park at one of the four parking lots, which is what we usually do. The rate is around $4.00 per hour.
Biking to Sausalito
For a unique and adventurous experience, you can rent a bike or Ebike and cruise across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. There is nothing like biking or walking along the iconic Golden Gate Bridge!
It is a must-do when visiting San Francisco. The wind is whipping through your hair and you are surrounded by gorgeous Bay views.
🚲 This popular tour starts at Fisherman’s Wharf where you will meet your guide who will take you across the Golden Gate Bridge to the charming downtown of Sausalito.
Book the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito Guided Tour here
Travel by Boat
Take the scenic route to Sausalito and arrive by Ferry boat. If you have never been on one of the San Francisco Ferry boats, take this opportunity to sit back and relax with a glass of wine, and enjoy the views of the Bay by ferry boat.
You can catch the Ferry from Ferry Building in San Francisco. The ferry boat ride is about 30 minutes; it will drop you off right in the middle of Downtown Sausalito. For an updated ferry schedule you can go here.
How Much is the Ferry to Sausalito: a one-way ticket on the ferry boat is $14
How to Get to Sausalito From San Francisco By Bus
The Golden Gate Transit and Marin Transit bus services link Sausalito to San Francisco and other locations in the Bay area.
Current Sausalito Bus Fare: Between Sausalito and San Francisco it’s $7.50 for adults, $6.00 with a Clipper card. Here you can find the latest bus schedule.
Things to Do on Your Day Trip to Sausalito from San Francisco
After you have chosen your mode of transportation, it is now time to start enjoying everything Sausalito has to offer. Start your Sausalito day trip at one of my favorite locations to see the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.
Battery Spencer Trail
Battery Spencer Trail is hands down one of the best viewpoints of the Golden Gate Bridge and the perfect location to add to your Sausalito day trip. I was surprised by how many locals have never heard of this location.
We recently stumbled across this hidden gem. I am going to share with you all of the deets because it is a must to do when visiting Sausalito.
For these instaworthy panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, you will find a short drive through the Marin Headlands along the steep Conzelman Road. There you will reach the parking area for Battery Spencer.
Battery Spencer Parking
- Parking at Battery Spencer is Free
- Parking is limited, so I do recommend arriving early.
- If you are unable to snag a spot outside of the trail, there is parking along Conzelman Road. Just a short walk from Battery Spencer.
- Don’t leave anything valuable in your car
Once you get to the Battery Spencer parking area, the trail is an easy 0.5 hike to the viewpoint.
At the vista point, you feel so close to the Golden Gate that you can almost reach out and grab it. If you are brave enough, you can walk down a small hill along the cliff to get even closer views.
Some tips on visiting Battery Spencer Trail:
- 0.5-mile paved trail to the viewpoint
- Bring a jacket with you. It’s very windy!
- It is about a 15-20 minute drive from San Francisco
- Parking is free and available, but arrive early because spots are limited
- Battery Spencer is an old military bunker from World War II
When you think of Sausalito, downtown is the area you are most likely imagining. It is the heart of Sausalito.
After your exhilarating hike at Battery Spencer Trail, it is less than a 10-minute drive to the quaint and charming downtown of Sausalito. Here is where you will find a stretch of local shops and restaurants that line the beautiful waterfront.
Sausalito is a very walkable location. Once you arrive downtown, you’ll easily be able to park your car and get around most of the town on foot.
Downtown Sausalito Shops
The main area of shops is on the bustling waterfront area on Bridgeway Street. Most of these shops are owned and operated by locals from the Sausalito community.
You can find a little bit of everything shopping in Downtown Sausalito. Including many art galleries, boutique stores, artisan-crafted jewelry, homemade chocolates and fudge, and other unique finds.
Insider Tip on Sausalito Shops: Head towards Caledonia Street for a more authentic and local experience of Sausalito. It is one block away from Bridgeway and is the lesser-known Downtown of Sausalito.
Sausalito Restaurants With a View
Many of the restaurants located in Downtown Sausalito share the incredible view of San Francisco. We have eaten at multiple restaurants in Sausalito and have always had a delicious meal. Our personal favorite waterfront restaurants in Sausalito that we would recommend would be:
Scoma’s Sausalito: Fresh seafood on the waterfront with a San Francisco skyline view.
Bar Bocce: Perfect spot to go with a group to hang out and enjoy some great food. They have an outdoor patio that has beautiful views of San Francisco Bay and Harbor.
There are bocce ball courts, fire pits, and they have pitchers of sangria.
Insider tip: they do not take reservations. So you need to arrive before the lunchtime rush or plan on waiting for a seat outside.
Barrel House Tavern: If you are looking for a delicious meal, stunning views, and a sophisticated California vibe? Barrel House is the spot for you. This restaurant is the whole package.
Request to sit on the deck, which boasts sweeping views of the Bay. Barrel House is also Michelin Guided, so you know that you will have incredible food and drinks.
Venice Pizzeria: A family-run pizzeria in Downtown Sausalito. Great spot for a quick bite to eat along Bridgeway. They have a couple of tables outside that sit across from the San Francisco skyline.
🍷 Sausalito Food & Wine Tour
If you can’t decide which incredible restaurant to have your meal, I love this idea of a food and wine tour in Sausalito. A local guide will take you through the adorable streets of downtown Sausalito.
After learning a little history, you will get the opportunity to visit four renowned restaurants and taste delicious dishes and sip on paired wine. It is a small group tour, so you will be able to enjoy a more intimate and memorable experience.
✅ Book the Sausalito Food & Wine Tour here
Lappert’s Ice Cream & Plaza Vina del Mar Fountain and Park
Hopefully, you have saved some room for dessert because your day trip to Sausalito would not be complete without some Lappert’s homemade ice cream.
You can choose from unique Hawaiian-inspired flavors, such as Kaui Pie, Kona Coffee, and Caramel Coconut Macadamia. Or order our go-to, affogato, which is a scoop of ice cream that has been smothered in hot espresso.
We never visit Sausalito without getting a scoop or two of Lappert’s Ice Cream. The best way to enjoy your delicious ice cream is by walking across the street to the Viña del Mar Park.
The Vina del Mar Park is hard to miss. It is a small park near the ferry terminal and in the center of downtown Sausalito. Two 14-foot-tall elephant statues stand outside of the plaza, surrounded by giant palm trees.
The plaza showcases a beautiful fountain in the center. There are several benches and a grassy area for you to relax, do some people-watching, and enjoy your ice cream.
Walk off your lunch by strolling along the Bridgeway Promenade, which boasts, some would say, the best views in the Bay Area. The path runs along the waterfront with views of the bay and the San Francisco skyline. The Bridgeway Promenade stretches for 0.3 miles from Yee Tock Chee Park in the north to Tiffany Park in the south.
Sausalito’s Floating Homes
Besides its views of San Francisco, Sausalito is also famously known for its vibrant and eccentric waterfront community of floating homes. Each houseboat is so unique from another from the architecture, colorful art, and years of history. The historic Richardson Bay houseboat community has been around for over 100 years.
Sausalito has about 400 floating home docks in five residential marinas. However, you should only admire the boats from shore. These are people’s homes, and you do not want to disturb any of the residents.
How Much Time Do You Need in Sausalito
You can do most things in Sausalito on a day trip. Only a half-hour from San Francisco, a Sausalito day trip is easy to plan and a great way to get out of the city for the day. This quaint and charming town is one that you do not want to miss when visiting the Bay area.
Add These Bonus Activities to your Sausalito Day Trip
If you would like to spend more time in Sausalito, find out other things to do and where to stay the night.
Wellness day in Sausalito
Sausalito is the ideal place to escape the city and plan a day of relaxation. For a couple of hours of pampering, you can book a visit to one of Sausalito’s incredible spas:
- Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa
- Cavallo Point Lodge
Sausalito Water Sports
Not afraid of getting a little wet in the San Francisco chilly Bay? You can book an adventurous day kayaking or a stand-up paddleboard tour to cruise along Sausalito’s waterfront.
Seatrek is a well-known company that has great reviews on TripAdvisor. You can find their selection of tours, prices, and availability here.
Sailing on the San Francisco Bay
Sailing in San Francisco is a unique and adventurous experience. My husband loves sailing, so much so, that he recently bought a sailboat. More about that later, but we have sailed around the Bay numerous times. If you are new to sailing, I suggest booking a tour with a captain and not chartering your own boat.
The Bay can be risky and intimidating to sail, especially because of the high winds. During your boat trip, you will get to see so many iconic landmarks, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island, Alcatraz, Ciot Tower, and San Francisco.
SF Bay Adventures offers a variety of sailing trips, such as a sunset cruise, that leave from Sausalito.
Wine Tasting in Sausalito
If relaxing with a glass of wine is more your speed, there are a couple of tasting rooms you can find right there in Downtown Sausalito.
Bacchus & Venus Wine Tasting: Bacchus & Venus is a wine tasting room located on Bridgeway Street in downtown Sausalito. They serve a variety of California boutique wines and are also a small shop and art gallery. After your tasting, take some time to browse the store for small gifts or one-of-a-kind art.
Continue Your Day Trip of Exploring Other Bay Area Favorites
- Muir Woods: Famously known for its giant coastal redwood trees.
- Napa Valley: World-renowned wine, beautiful hillside vineyards, and farm-to-table restaurants.
- Alcatraz Island: An island off of San Francisco that use to be a maximum security prison. Find the top 10 tours to Alcatraz here
- Jack London Square: Oaklands waterfront that is bursting with culture, restaurants, tasting rooms, and breweries.
- Angel Island: An island off of San Francisco with many hiking trails and beaches.
- Pescadero: A small town known for its beaches, farms, and famous artichoke bread.
- Monterey: Located along California’s stunning rugged coast. Known for its famous aquarium and marine life.
- Mendocino & Fort Bragg: Mendocino showcases the absolute best of northern California. It’s known for its unbelievable natural beauty of soaring redwood trees, stunning coastal views, rolling hills of vineyards, and famous Glass Beach.
- Other California destinations: for all of my California guides and posts.
Book A Combo Tour of the Best Bay Area Attractions
Too much to see and not enough time? A great way to explore as much as you can of the Bay Area is by booking a combo tour. This way you can get an adventure-packed day of three of the best Bay Area attractions: Sausalito, Muir Woods, and Alcatraz.
The best part is, it is hassle free! You don’t have to worry about any of the planning or transportation to these destinations. The tour company will take care of everything for you.
The Alcatraz with Muir Woods and Sausalito Tour is a full day of exploring the Bay Area with a small group of only 11 people. On your tour, you will explore the lush and magical redwood forests at Muir Woods and grab lunch with gorgeous views of the Bay in Sausalito. Lastly, you will board the ferry from San Francisco to the infamous prison on Alcatraz Island.
✅ Book the Alcatraz with Muir Woods & Sausalito Tour here
Where to Stay in Sausalito
There are plenty of options of places to stay in Sausalito. You can splurge for a spa getaway at one of their 4-star hotels, rent a unique floating home on Airbnb, or stay Downtown in the heart of Sausalito.
In my personal opinion, I do think it is a little pricey to stay in Sausalito. If you are looking for a hotel that is a little more budget-friendly, you will have to book a couple of miles outside of Sausalito.
Cavallo Point Lodge
For a luxury stay: Nestled at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, Cavallo Point Lodge is the most luxurious hotel you can stay at in Sausalito. Cavallo Point offers numerous outdoor activities, such as biking, hiking experiences, and kayaking.
You can also relax at their spa, take a cooking class at their prestigious culinary school, or enjoy a meal at one of their two restaurants.
✅ Book your stay at Cavallo Point Lodge
Mid to high range hotel: Casa Modrona Hotel & Spa is a gorgeous hotel along the hillside of Sausalito with breathtaking views of the bay and San Francisco. They offer a wide range of amenities such as a fitness center, highly rated spa, Italian restaurant, and they are dog friendly.
✅ Book your stay at Casa Modrona Hotel & Spa
Budget-Friendly Option: A boutique hotel in a historic building that was built in 1915. Hotel Sausalito is the ideal location if you plan on spending most of your time in downtown Sausalito. You will be within walking distance of shopping and plenty of restaurants.
✅ Book your stay at Hotel Sausalito
Weather in Sausalito
Sausalito weather reflects a Mediterranean climate, with dry warm summers and mild, wet winters. The summer months are very comfortable averaging a pleasant 70 degrees Fahrenheit. However, even in the winter months temperatures rarely go under 37 degrees Fahrenheit
Sausalito is typically a little warmer than nearby San Francisco. It can get chilly on the bay, so I suggest wearing light layers during your Sausalito day trip.
Pros & Cons of a Day Trip to Sausalito
Pros of Visiting Sausalito for a Day Trip
- The most obvious pro of Sausalito is the beautiful views of the Bay Area.
- Located only across the Bay, Sausalito is very different from San Francisco. Sausalito has its own unique and quirky personality.
- With multiple ways of transportation, a day trip to Sausalito from San Francisco is very easy to plan.
- It’s the perfect spot for lunch or to get away from the city for the day.
Cons of Visiting Sausalito for a Day Trip
To do this little day trip to Sausalito from San Francisco is going to cost you. Sausalito is not the cheapest town to visit. Between transportation, lunch, and shopping on Bridgeway Street, you will be spending some money. If you do plan on staying the night, accommodations in Sausalito are more on the expensive side.
In Conclusion: Sausalito Day Trip
A Sausalito day trip from San Francisco is 100% worth the adventure across the Bay! Sausalito is an easy-to-plan trip by either ferry, car, boat, or bicycle, where you will also find some of the best views of San Francisco.
California Travel Planning Guide
🗓 What is the best time to visit California? You can’t go wrong when planning your visit to California, it is known for year-round incredible weather ☀️
However, the fall months from September to October, are the best time to avoid crowds and the summer fog, and perfect for spending time on the beach.
🚗 Should I rent a car? My answer is almost always YES! There are some big cities you can get away with not having a car, like San Diego, San Francisco, & LA. But California has so much more to offer outside of the big cities, such as Napa Valley, Monterey, Palm Springs, and Death Valley. It is also an epic location for a road trip!
✔️ Compare the best rate for car rentals in California here
🏨 What’s the best way to book my accommodation? Booking is a reliable site to book at thousands of hotels in California. They also have a great and flexible cancellation policy for no extra fee.
If you are traveling with a larger group, Airbnb & VRBO, have numerous unique options of accommodations throughout the state.
🧳 What do I pack for California? Layers are EVERYTHING in California. We have no humidity here, so expect chilly mornings and nights even during the summer months. Always pack a jacket and other layers for your trip.
💸 Budgeting for your trip to California California is an expensive state to travel to, so be prepared to spend a minimum of $100 a night for a budget hotel. The prices of restaurants and activities also add up. And California has the highest gas prices in the country, so shared car (Uber & Lyft) prices will be more expensive as well.
✈️ Booking your flight to California As you know, visiting California can be pricey! Save where you can and look for the best rate for flights on Skyscanner