BAY AREA — If you feel like heading north for a change of scenery and climate, what could be better than visiting eclectic picturesque Sausalito, Calif., located on a hillside between the San Francisco Bay and the Marin Highlands? I had been hearing a lot of buzz about a boutique hotel called The Inn Above Tide, so I decided to check it out.
After a long pleasant drive, with several stops along the way to investigate different wineries and visit friends, I got my first view in many years of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was breathtaking. I had forgotten how much I love the Bay Area. It was exciting to cross the bridge knowing Sausalito waits on the other side. The Inn Above Tide is a charming Northern California chic hotel located in a prime location, situated both in the heart of Sausalito and directly on the bay. It is the only Sausalito hotel that is actually on the bay, and all of their 31 rooms have spectacular views.
We stayed in the aptly named “Panorama Suite.” Despite the fact that the suite was beyond spectacular (the tub and shower were a wonderland), we found ourselves spending most of the time on our deck enjoying the magnificent view of the bay. We made good use of the binoculars that were supplied to get close-ups of the Golden Gate Bridge, the San Francisco skyline, Tiburon, Calif., Angel Island and Alcatraz. Watching the moon rise over the San Francisco Bay was absolutely the highlight of the trip. The dramatic moon rise and the sparkle of the moon beams onto the water are unforgettable. I can’t imagine ever taking this for granted.
Of course there is much to do in Sausalito besides bay gazing. I decided there are two ways to enjoy and experience Sausalito. One is shopping, eating and gallery hopping. The shops range from quirky to upscale, and the art galleries are a treat to peruse. There are so many restaurants to choose from that it is worth asking a local or a seasoned tourist which ones are the best. We got a tip and tried and loved Salitos for their outstanding seafood. Sausalito also has a respectable night life, utilizing local and national talent; but there is the option of going to nearby San Francisco for a broader scope of evening activities.
The other way to experience Sausalito is by biking and hiking as it is truly a haven for bikers. The inn provides bicycles, so you don’t have to rent or bring your own. It is one of the best ways to take in the shoreline and the hillsides. Seriously, biking those hillsides is not for the faint of heart. Many thanks to the incline treadmill at my gym! I never really appreciated it before. Do not fear; there is much to see if you choose to skip the hillsides and bike along the shoreline. For example, aside from the amazing bay views, Sausalito has a large houseboat community with hundreds of houseboats. As a matter of fact, Otis Redding wrote his hit song, “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” in Sausalito when he was living in one of the houseboats there back in 1967. You also might want to take the popular option of biking across the Golden Gate Bridge to San Francisco and taking the ferry back to Sausalito. The pier is just a few steps from the inn and there’s regular ferry service between Sausalito and Pier 41 in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf (approximately 30 minutes) or to the historic Ferry Building in San Francisco’s Financial District (a 25 minute trip).
Another must is to see the giant redwoods at Muir Woods. It does get a lot of traffic, so be sure to check out the times and ways to get there and tour this treasure. Muir Woods encompasses redwood groves within the 560-acre park with trees that measure over 252 feet tall. One is 14 feet wide and some are at least 1,000 years old.
One last piece of advice, since this is northern California, where they actually do have weather, it’s important to check out the best time of year to make the trip. I’ve been told that weather-wise the best times to visit are March, September and October; although there are activities year-round and some people choose to come when there are less tourists. Whatever you choose, be prepared for an exciting challenge. Despite my undying loyalty to SoCal, there are many adventures waiting in NorCal. I’ll keep you posted.
If you go
The Inn Above Tide
30 El Portal
(415) 332-9535; (800) 893-8433
CAROLE can be reached at Carolesorlin@yahoo.com.