Guest Post by Samantha at Reading The Road
When visiting a place, it’s not often you’ll find me “wastin’ time.” Yet, the waterline in the tiny town of Sausalito in Marin County, California begs one to sit on “the dock of the bay” and do a little of just that.
When Otis Redding penned the lines to his famous song while staying on a houseboat in Sausalito, he must have felt the inevitable lull in tempo that arises from the ebb and flow of the tide and takes hold of anyone near. No visitor can resist the urge to stop a while to marvel at the beauty of the “Frisco Bay” from this enclave.
Sausalito was established nearly 200 years by European settlers who eventually used it as a major shipyard and ferry dock. Since then, wealthy patrons to bohemian artists alike have made this dock their home.
My husband and I chose to spend our much-deserved day “off” from parenting duties at this waterfront.
We set off north across the Golden Gate Bridge. No matter how many times I’ve traversed it and whether it’s length was hidden behind a dense fog or its red towers rose majestically against the blue sky, this beautiful feat of engineering always takes my breath away. As a beacon of the San Francisco Bay Area, its Golden Gates lure travelers from all around; they stream back and forth and stop for photo ops along the pedestrian path as we drive by.
Picturesque Sausalito is found at the first exit, a sharp right turn at the end of the bridge. Many tourists or weekenders like to bike around this area. The bridge plus the winding road down into the town that continues along the water offer a fun and scenic route.
A day to ourselves in which we didn’t have to chase a toddler meant we were feelin’ Otis Redding and entrenched in relaxation mode, so no bikes for us this time. However, with the numerous bike rental shops in both Sausalito and on the San Francisco side in the Marina, any visitor will should find it easy to rent a few if desired.
Once in Sausalito, there isn’t much move-around room. Since an open parking spot is a miracle, we parked way past the main tourist section and walked the rest of the day. Sausalito remains a small place. For those searching for a leisurely stay, this aspect only adds to the allure. The inherent tranquility that comes from being closely nestled between sea and mountain make a visit to Sausalito lovely.
We had booked a night at The Gables Inn Sausalito, a historic bed and breakfast well-located in the tourist hub, a three-street downtown crowded with small shop.
The Inn, built by an Australian wool merchant family in the mid 1800s, is believed to be the first commercial building to have sprung up in Sausalito. Historically, Gables once served as a hotel for shipyard workers, a town hall, an influenza-era hospital, and a Christian Science Church. Based on that list, you might think its haunted! Yet, we found it quaint and lovely with not a single bad vibe. Many a bay admirer overnights in one of its cozy 13 rooms.
Classical music played as we came through the front doors into the reception. The comfortable dining and fireplace area were in the same spacious room. Fresh ice water in a glass pitcher with lemon sat on the reception desk to quench new arrivals. Everything was perfectly laid out.
The recently renovated hotel is situated a block from the water on a small hill, so some suites have panoramic bay views. We enjoyed the Redwood Room, with a gas fireplace and spa jets in the bathtub. I loved the trees in the original vintage windows and appreciated the choice of having the fireplace on for atmosphere. Though we got a sunny winter’s day during our stay, I imagine that on a night full of the more usual cold fog from the bay, the fireplace would add invaluable warmth. Our room was spotless. The Aveda toiletries were a bonus, and the mini-bar was stocked with specialties such as Toblerone and Napa wine.
A cement path for strolling and cycling lines the major stretch of the city, and we made use of it plenty. We spent the afternoon walking along the boat docks, looking for houseboats, and returned to the main section of town for dinner. The Trident restaurant perched on the water has held its enviable location since the late 1800s. This historic building that once housed the San Francisco Yacht Club, and later was a music venue/gathering place with Janis Joplin as a regular patron, offers stunning views of San Francisco just across the bay and waterfront dining.
I loved the 60s California feel of the original decor, including curved, wooden walls. Even their current menu features the psychedelic design of decades ago.
Our dishes were tasty. Nothing excellent but nice. I thought they were a bit overpriced, but we’re definitely paying for the world-class view, which we enjoyed immensely. Yeah, it took three tries to get a decent mojito out of the bartender, but I should have known better—with Sausalito’s proximity to Napa Valley—and gone with wine anyhow (my tip to you).
At the suggestion of our honest server, we skipped dessert and headed to Lappert’s Ice Cream down the street. This company, originating in Hawai’i, crafts exotic island-influenced flavors that give Ben & Jerry’s some solid competition.
With our cones in hand, we found a seat at the edge of the water and let our feet dangle. We sat “watchin’ the ships roll in” and happily remembered that it was a full moon night as she began her ascent out of the clouds and lit a glistening path on the bay.
Upon returning to the hotel from our nighttime stroll, we found the complimentary wine and cheese spread around the fireplace. It was too impressive to pass up. Though still full from dinner and ice cream, I grabbed a tasty glass of vino to sip through the evening and some olives and cheese for the midnight snack we usually crave.
Even though the houses in Sausalito, including the Gables Inn, stand close together given the scarcity of land on the hillside, we were relieved to hear nothing but silence through the night and got some much-needed, undisturbed rest. We enjoyed delicious coffee and picked from the replete complimentary breakfast buffet before heading out the next morning. I chatted up the front desk receptionist who was especially fun to talk to about the exploring we had done the day before. He told us that the floating home we found at the end of a boat dock is known to locals as The Taj Mahal and was excited to hear we had ventured past downtown—where one can truly enjoy the calm of “watchin’ the tide roll away” from the docks—which was the highlight of this trip.
You can follow Samantha’s adventures on her blog: http://readingtheroad.com