Everything You Need To Know Before Visiting Sausalito

Thinking of visiting Sausalito? Here is everything you need to know about San Francisco’s favorite getaway.


Visiting Sausalito is a favorite afternoon, weekend, or anytime activity for locals and tourists alike. And for plenty of good reasons! With such a charming destination just across the Golden Gate Bridge, it’s a no-brainer to add Sausalito to your San Francisco itinerary.

From getting there to Sausalito activities, here is your ultimate guide to planning a Sausalito trip!

a view of the houses rising up the hill in sausalito from the water

What is Sausalito?

One of the most accessible and scenic San Francisco day trips is the beautiful waterfront town of Sausalito. Grown by artists and hippies, this quirky collection of restaurants, shops and galleries has a breathtaking view of the water and the San Francisco skyline. It’s the perfect place to head to for a stroll along the waterfront, great food, or a break before venturing further away from the city.

How far away is Sausalito from San Francisco?

Sausalito, a little town just across the Golden Gate Bridge, is only a stone’s throw from San Francisco. To get there, you can cross the bridge, which is a 10-mile trip and takes around a half-hour with typical city traffic. You can also opt for a ferry that takes a little less than an hour. 

Each option offers stellar views of The Bay and a journey almost as exciting as the destination.

see the golden gate bridge on the best san francisco tours

History of Sausalito

One of the intriguing parts of visiting Sausalito is seeking out the many historical easter eggs you can find in the area. 

Sausalito grew with the completion of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937, which jump-started the initial popularity of the beautiful area across The Bay. Quickly, World War II brought a need for a space to house resources for the war effort. A major shipyard was constructed on the northern waterfront, growing Sausalito’s tiny population to 30,000.

At the end of the war, there was a rapid influx of artists, actors, and hippies to Sausalito, who were attracted by the area’s striking beauty and cheap rents. Famous artists like Sterling Hayden, Alan Watts, Shel Silverstein, and Otis Redding have all called Sausalito home.

While you can still find remnants of Sausalito’s war efforts today, Sausalito is known more as the artsy, quiet younger sibling of San Francisco.

Visiting Sausalito with Dylan’s

Join a Sausalito tour with much to offer! We have multiple excursions that include a long lunch break and exploration in Sausalito, including Bike the Bridge with Muir Woods and Dylan’s Famous Tour with Muir Woods. Each tour offers unique conveniences to anyone who wants to visit Sausalito. 

Below are some benefits of visiting Sausalito with Dylan’s.

Maximize Your Time Exploring San Francisco

When you only have a finite amount of time to explore San Francisco, adding day trips out of the city can seem like a time-waster. That’s why we created (and perfected) Dylan’s Famous Tour! 

We explore the best San Francisco neighborhoods, cross the Golden Gate Bridge, enjoy Sausalito, and visit Muir Woods in a single day. You can even add on an Alcatraz tour to extend the adventure. After all of this fun, you will have a solid understanding of the San Francisco area, having crossed off many iconic activities from your bucket list—all in one trip! 

You can experience all of San Francisco’s coolest areas and still have time to revisit and focus on the places that interest you.

Dylan’s Will Plan All of the Confusing Logistics

One of the most challenging parts of navigating a new city is not understanding the best way to do things. From knowing the best transportation to choosing the right restaurants, we design our tours to be as convenient as possible. Our guides are all local experts that will give you the best San Francisco advice, stories, and history as you explore the city.

Easy Transportation to Sausalito

It can be tough to get around San Francisco, especially if you want to get outside of the city. Sausalito requires crossing The Bay, and Muir Woods is notoriously hard to reach. That’s where our luxury minibuses come in. Skip the parking disaster, navigational missteps, waiting for Ubers, and hoping to snag a spot on a hop-on/hop-off bus. With Dylan’s Famous Tour with Muir Woods, you will be on the same comfortable bus the entire trip. 

Fun Transportation to Sausalito

San Francisco may be known for bikes, but the hills and long trek across the bridge will have you sweating by the time you get there. The good news is that with our luxury e-bikes, travel is a breeze!

Enjoy the best of all modes of transportation and skip the bad. Our Bike the Bridge Tour lets you have your adventure cycling across the Golden Gate Bridge. Then, you can enjoy a relaxing lunch break in Sausalito and head to Muir Woods via luxury minibus.

Enjoy Iconic San Francisco Activities on Either Side of the Sausalito Visit 

Sausalito is the gateway to so much adventure, and it would be a shame not to venture out a little further!

Luckily, our tours do just that. Muir Woods is just up the road from Sausalito and is a memorable experience to everyone who witnesses the towering redwood forest. Both of our Muir Woods tours include a long lunch break in Sausalito before visiting Muir Woods for over an hour of hikes and jaw-dropping views. After that, we can drop you off right back in the city or at the ferry dock if you’ll be visiting Alcatraz Island.

There’s no easier way to see it all and still have a relaxing time in Sausalito!

looking down at the coast of sausalito

Reasons for Visiting the Sausalito Waterfront

An Easy Escape From the City Life

The Sausalito waterfront has earned a reputation for being a sleepy, quaint escape from the fast-paced bustle of San Francisco. The city may have eclectic culture and exhilarating experiences around every corner, but the Sausalito waterfront is a spot for rest, leisurely picnics, and strolling down the waterfront. 

Less than 8,000 people live in the Sausalito town limits, so the area has an intimate, Mediterranean feel to the cozy streets and small establishments. 

Great Local Shops and Restaurants to Enjoy

On one side, you have small bright buildings selling coffee, sweets, and small souvenirs. On the other, a sparkling bay peppered with boats paints a lovely scene. There is no shortage of adorable shops to peruse as you take in views of The Bay!

A Chance to Feel Some Warm Sun

As if the dense San Francisco fog agreed to a compromise with Sausalito, the small town is almost always warmer and sunnier than the city. Both locals and tourists head to Sausalito to escape the mist and soak in some beautiful rays of sunshine.

A Flourishing Art Scene

Thanks to the original artists that nourished the free-thinking and creative mindset of the town, Sausalito is the perfect day trip for art lovers. Whether it’s poetry, painting, music, or acting that calls to you, you can find exciting areas and stories of how Sausalito was an inspiration to artists of every stroke. If looking to scratch your artistic itch, you will surely be able to do so in Sausalito.

Beautiful Waterfront and San Francisco Skyline Views 

Of course, it’s impossible to visit Sausalito without spending time taking in the expansive waterfront view. With the San Francisco city skyline in the background, it’s no wonder that the fog doesn’t reach Sausalito as often, as it would be a crime to cover up such fantastic scenery. 

With more than a million tourists visiting Sausalito each year, it’s no wonder how all of these accolades have helped this town become the top destination it is. Even though Sausalito is a popular San Francisco day trip, you will rarely feel overwhelmed by the crowds. 

This open space makes Sausalito the perfect place to stop and enjoy lunch before heading out on a more extended day trip to the wine country or Muir Woods.

san francisco skyline as seen from sausalito

Things to Know Before Visiting Sausalito

Sausalito is not a challenging activity to add to a San Francisco trip schedule, but some things can significantly improve or simplify your experience.

You Need to Cross The Bay

Whether by driving over the bridge or sailing under it, you must cross The Bay to get to Sausalito. There are several modes of transportation to get there, and each comes with its pros and cons. But once you reach Sausalito, you won’t need anything to get to many of the best spots. Thanks to the proximity of the tourist spots, the town is easily navigable. 

Whether you want to travel from San Francisco by ferry, car, bus, bike, or (not for the faint of heart) feet, you will have some fantastic bay and bridge views to enjoy during the journey. 

It Can Get Busy During High-Tourist Traffic Times 

There is no wrong time to visit Sausalito! Just know you’ll see more crowds during the summer, holidays, and weekends. 

One of the best parts about Sausalito is while the busy tourist season can bring in bigger crowds, the influx of people never feels overwhelming. 

For visitors who travel by car, it may mean having a tough time finding a place to park. For people who came by ferry, bike, or tour bus, it may mean waiting in line for your favorite snacks and seeing more people picnicking along the coast. 

You Can Fit A Lot Into a Quick Trip

Other San Francisco day trips may require significant time to get the whole experience, but Sausalito doesn’t need to be a big time commitment.

While you can dedicate a whole day to exploring Sausalito, you don’t need the entire day to take in the best of it. If you have limited time in San Francisco, even a long lunch in Sausalito would be well worth it. 

That’s why our day tours always include a lunch break in Sausalito. It’s the perfect stop en route to Muir Woods, the wine country, and other destinations north of the city! 

It’s Warmer Than SF, But Bring Layers

One of the benefits Sausalito boasts is being several degrees warmer and much sunnier than even right across The Bay. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its fair share of weather mood swings. We don’t recommend putting all of your eggs in the “good weather” basket!

Sausalito can experience fog and cold weather like San Francisco, even in the summer. If you’re taking the ferry, you’ll want some cover from the sea spray, so bring layers.

Come Hungry!

Thanks to the navigability of Sausalito, you have several excellent choices right at your fingertips. Finding something delicious for a nice snack break doesn’t take much time or energy. While you can bring your food to save a little time, exploring the shops and restaurants in the area is a part of the fun when visiting Sausalito.

a wooden boardwalk on the sausalito waterfront

Getting to Sausalito

Sausalito is an easy and quick trip from San Francisco, but not all forms of transportation offer similar benefits. 

Visiting Sausalito With a Tour

A tour like Dylan’s makes traveling from San Francisco to Sausalito and Muir Woods easy, and it’s perfect for groups who have to fit a large San Francisco itinerary into a short amount of time. So hop on the Dylan’s Famous Tour minibus to explore the greater San Francisco area without worrying about parking, driving, managing the trip, or running out of time.

Visiting Sausalito by Car

Driving to Sausalito is a good option if you don’t want to continue to Muir Woods. You can choose how long you stay and have more freedom exploring past the walkable areas, but you can also run into issues finding parking. 

Visiting Sausalito by Ferry

The ferry is a convenient and beautiful way to take a trip to Sausalito. Just be aware of the time it can take, and look at the ferry schedule ahead of time to plan your return. 

While crossing The Bay to Sausalito via ferry provides excellent views, it can take about an hour to make it from one end to the other. If you decide to take the ferry, make sure you can fit it into your schedule. 

Visiting Sausalito by Bike

If you’re looking for a little workout before your Sausalito picnic, biking the Golden Gate Bridge is a great choice. Biking the bridge is an iconic activity for both locals and tourists alike. 

We offer quality San Francisco e-bike rentals for those who want to pave their way. Our Bike the Bridge Tour is perfect for those who wish to have the best of both worlds by biking the bridge and heading to Muir Woods via minibus.

Visiting Sausalito by Foot

It’s not the most popular option, but it’s possible! This walk is no simple stroll, but some people enjoy making the long trek across the bridge into Sausalito. If you plan to get there by foot, make sure you have one of the alternate options for getting home, as you’ll most likely be tired from the day.

San Francisco bike tour through Golden Gate State Park

What to Do and See in Sausalito

Sausalito is a place for relaxation, but it’s the opposite of boring. There are tons of things to do in Sausalito, and you don’t need to travel far to find them.

For a Quick Visit:

Walk the Sausalito Bridgeway Promenade

The second you climb off the ferry, hop off a bus, or park your bike, you will have a good view of the Bridgeway Promenade. With stores, restaurants, and a view of the city skyline, this is the best first impression of a new area you will come across. 

For more views and boat-watching, head to the boardwalk near Sausalito Books By The Bay, which is just a couple of blocks from the ferry landing. 

Check Out the Art Scene

Sausalito was born from art, and it leaves hints of that everywhere you look. From galleries showcasing beautiful sculptures to sidewalk art fairs, people from near and far gain creative inspiration from Sausalito. 

Some of our favorite artistic spots in Sausalito:

Visit Local Shops

Sausalito is full of great taste, so make sure to experience it for yourself! Local shops sell quality clothing, adorable souvenirs, books, and more. Whatever you want to bring home for loved ones (or yourself), you will find it here!

Some of our favorite local shops include:

Try Some of the Best Lunch Sausalito Offers

We already told you to arrive hungry. Now it’s time to find some good food! 

Some of the best lunch spots in Sausalito are either right on the waterfront or just a short walk away. There are options for a quick bite or some fantastic sit-down spots if you want to savor the moment. 

Here are some of our favorite lunch spots in Sausalito:

Find Something Sweet to Enjoy

For after lunch, Sausalito is home to some of the most delicious ice cream money can buy. Head to the famous Lappert’s Ice Cream for some Hawaiian-inspired flavors that seem bizarre but taste oh-so-right.

Where to Find the Best Sausalito Ice Cream

For a Longer Visit:

Marine Mammal Center

The Marine Mammal Center is an animal lover’s ideal activity in Sausalito. See rescued marine mammals and learn essential conservation and marine mammal protection knowledge. 

Rodeo Beach

Rodeo Beach is a Golden Gate National Recreation Area perfect for reflection, nature walks, and enjoying breathtaking beach scenery. At about 2 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, it is too far to walk but close enough to enjoy if you have a car. 

Visit Rodeo Breach for lagoon, cove, and pebble beach views that will make you believe that paradise is real.

Check Out the Sausalito Houseboats 

Sausalito is known for boasting an alternative form of home: the houseboat! Walk around the houseboat docks and peek into the history of Sausalito. All of these floating homes have character, but some are genuinely memorable. Keep an eye out for the Taj Mahal houseboat.

See a Miniature San Francisco

The Army Corps of Engineers built the Bay Model in 1957 to explain what would happen if the city dammed the South Bay.

From studying currents to the shape of each water feature, this impressive 1.5-acre installment is an intriguing and educational experience. So bring your thinking cap and experience San Francisco on a small scale!

colorful houseboats in sausalito

What to Do After Visiting Sausalito

If you took an early trip to Sausalito, you might still have some gas in the tank for more exploration! Here are some activities we’d suggest.

Continue to the Other Adventures in Marin County and Beyond

Sausalito is the gateway into many great San Francisco day trips. We suggest you venture out to them.

Visiting Muir Woods requires traveling just a few more miles up the road, and some of the best wine country in the world is a short drive beyond that. Both of these destinations are well worth your time if you have the proper transportation. Make sure to check out Dylan’s Famous Tour with Muir Woods if you want a day trip without worrying about any of the confusing logistics!

Stretch Your Legs on a Bike

E-bike rentals are the perfect way to navigate the city without worrying about parking or losing steam. Our bikes will propel you wherever you want to go without breaking a sweat—explore as long as you want! With both half-day and full-day rentals, you can decide if you’re going to take the bike to and from Sausalito or enjoy a little ride after your excursion. 

Plan Your Trip to Sausalito

Ready to have a one-of-a-kind experience visiting Sausalito and beyond? Check out our Bike the Bridge tour or our Muir Woods Tour to have a full, seamless day of adventuring and exploring our favorite San Francisco getaway!

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