Sausalito Attractions & Activities: What to See & Do in this Adorable Waterfront Town

Sausalito, a charming coastal town positioned just across the bay from San Francisco, is a beloved destination for day-trippers who flock here for retail therapy or to savor a pleasant meal.

Nonetheless, Sausalito has more to offer beyond just shopping and dining experiences. Its assortment of intriguing sights and activities is extensive, from indulging in the local wine to the fascinating history-laden houseboat walking tour.

Also, the town offers an array of adventurous pursuits such as embarking on a kayak expedition across the bay or pedaling on a bicycle all the way to or from San Francisco. Here’s an inventory of the best experiences to look forward to during your sojourn in Sausalito.

Sausalito Shopping

Please note: I earn a modest commission from some of the hyperlinks on this page.

Prime Attractions & Activities

Retail Therapy

As noted earlier, shopping is a prime attraction in Sausalito. A series of shops, numbering in dozens, adorn the picturesque waterfront, which serves as a hub for the majority of visitors.

The central shopping avenue is Bridgeway, home to captivating art galleries, various chic clothing boutiques, and enjoyable niche stores (including my go-to, Munchies Candies).

Wine Sampling at Bacchus & Venus

Imbibing local wines is yet another way to enrich your Sausalito visit. A handful of venues that offer wine tasting are scattered along Bridgeway.

Bacchus and Venus, located at 769 Bridgeway, is my recommended spot. They provide a range of flights for all types of wine lovers – be it reds, whites, or even the sweeter varieties. Tasting charges vary from $12 to $35 per flight.

Bay Area Discovery Museum

If you’re accompanied by children, a visit to the Bay Area Discovery Museum at 557 McReynolds Rd in Sausalito is a must. This museum is a veritable hub for igniting creativity in kids.

Situated on a sprawling 7.5-acre land, blessed with natural charm and backdropped by the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the museum allows children to engage in art creation, outdoor interactive exploration across 2.5 acres, or expand their knowledge about the bay’s flora and fauna.

Sausalito Art Festival

The Sausalito Art Festival is an annual highlight and is one of the most attended events each year, taking place over the Labor Day weekend.

The festival showcases live performances by internationally renowned musicians and presents a collection of unique arts and crafts from nearly 300 artists. Add to this the availability of gourmet food and beverages to make your festival experience more memorable. Further details on what to anticipate at this yearly event can be found here.

Waterfront Dining

Scomas Fish Tacos

The dining scene in Sausalito is vibrant and diverse, with an array of restaurants ranging from budget-friendly, cozy eateries to high-end establishments boasting unobstructed views of San Francisco.

A pocket-friendly option situated north of Casa Madrona hotel serves burgers, ice cream, and fish & chips and has an unassuming ambiance. For a luxurious dining experience, I recommend Scoma’s, positioned on the southern end of Bridgeway.

Bay Model Visitor Center

The Bay Model Visitor Center, tucked away at 2100 Bridgeway in Sausalito, is a hidden gem that’s often overshadowed by more renowned attractions. Administered by the U.S. Army, this center offers a complimentary educational experience.

Upon entering, you’ll encounter an impressively large, three-dimensional hydraulic replica of the San Francisco Bay. Stretching across more than 1.5 acres, the model meticulously illustrates the bay’s flow, from its Pacific Ocean origins, through the Delta, and all the way to Sacramento.

Kayaking in the Bay

Sausalito’s tranquil waters provide an idyllic setting for your inaugural kayaking adventure. In addition to offering an introduction to the sport, kayaking here also unveils magnificent panoramas of San Francisco, Tiburon, and Sausalito itself.

Among the numerous local providers, Sea Trek stands out for their expert guidance, fair pricing, and impeccably kept equipment.

Historic Houseboat Walking Tour

Venture to the northern shores of Sausalito and discover an enchanting enclave of wooden houseboats. This distinctive community, renowned locally but often overlooked by outsiders, offers a truly unique experience.

During a two-hour guided tour, you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in this aquatic neighborhood, explore historic vessels, and learn about the WWII Liberty Ship Yards. The tour runs on Saturdays and Sundays and costs $65 per person, with a requirement of at least six participants.

Sausalito Ferry

Among the myriad attractions in Sausalito, the ferry service stands out, not as a conventional tourist destination but as a platform for breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay.

Operating multiple daily journeys between San Francisco and Sausalito, the approximately 30-minute ferry ride offers unparalleled vistas of Alcatraz Island, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, and San Francisco’s stunning skyline.

Headlands Center for the Arts

Another underappreciated attraction in Sausalito is the Headlands Center for the Arts. Perched on a cliff edge beyond the town limits, this center sits where the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean converge.

Featuring an ever-rotating art exhibit, your experience here will largely depend on the time of your visit. They welcome the public from Sunday to Thursday, between 12pm and 5pm. You can find them at 944 Simmonds Road.

Jazz & Blues by the Bay

For an authentic taste of local culture, don’t miss the Jazz and Blues by the Bay. This free event takes place every Friday evening from late May through August.

From 6:30pm to 8pm, Gabrielson Park, located near Bridgeway and Pine Streets, comes alive with the vibrant sounds of local musicians.

Semi-Day Excursion with Stops at Muir Woods and Sausalito

Though Sausalito can be easily reached independently, if you intend to visit Muir Woods as well, I’d suggest opting for a guided tour. This picturesque redwood forest is the sole home to coastal redwood trees in the bay area. Reaching Muir Woods independently can be challenging, even with a rented vehicle.

This combined 4-hour excursion is amongst the finest. It allocates approximately an hour at each site. Plus, if you’re inclined to spend extra time in Sausalito, you have the freedom to do so.

The journey also provides a scenic photo opportunity at the Golden Gate Bridge. Overall, it’s a hassle-free method of visiting these two highly popular attractions, rather than arranging a trip on your own.

Reservations for this tour can be made online via GetYourGuide. With departures both in the morning and afternoon, you can choose the time slot that best fits your schedule!

Accommodation Recommendations

If tranquility and the charm of a small town appeal to you, consider spending a night or two in the serene village of Sausalito. The town has a few hotels that provide a peaceful retreat from the city’s chaos.

My top recommendation is The Inn Above Tide. Overlooking the waterfront, it offers stunning views of San Francisco and the bay’s waters. Moreover, it’s conveniently located a few steps away from Sausalito’s eateries and shopping venues.

As the town quiets down at night, it provides a well-situated yet cozy refuge. Whether you’re planning a romantic weekend or simply seeking a break from the city’s hustle, it’s the perfect choice.

Alternative Transportation Options

There are several ways to reach Sausalito. The most common being the Sausalito ferry, which I have already discussed. Here are a few other viable alternatives.

Golden Gate Transit #130 Bus

The Golden Gate Transit provides a direct service from San Francisco to Sausalito downtown. The #30 bus is what you need to board. It conveniently drops you off at the town’s center.

From Union Square, the #130 Golden Gate Transit bus can be boarded at Mission and 3rd Streets. The journey takes roughly 50 minutes and charges $8.00 per person each way.

From Fisherman’s Wharf, take the 28 MUNI bus to the stop at Lombard at Fillmore. You can then board the northbound #130 at the corner. This journey also costs $8.00 per person each way and takes about 40 minutes.


Cycling is another favored method to reach Sausalito. You can hire a bike at Fisherman’s Wharf and cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. The ride typically spans between 2 and 3 hours.

Upon arrival, secure your bike, grab a bite, and explore the top attractions in Sausalito. Afterwards, either cycle back to San Francisco or board the Sausalito ferry. The ferry will drop you off close to the bike rental services at Fisherman’s Wharf.

Should this appeal to you, bike reservations can be made online via Get You Guide beforehand or directly at one of the bike rental shops at Fisherman’s Wharf upon arrival. The costs and services are similar across the board.

Car Travel

Another option to explore Sausalito is by driving. This mode is particularly essential if you wish to visit the Bay Area Discovery Museum or the Headlands Center for the Arts.

However, if these sites are not on your itinerary, I’d advise using one of the public transport options. They are more economical and simpler than searching for a parking spot upon arrival.

Leave a Comment