How to Visit Sausalito from San Francisco (+Photos)

San Francisco is one of those cities that could keep you busy for months, if not years, on end. As soon as you think you’ve hit all the hippest neighborhoods and eaten at the best restaurants, more opportunities for adventure pop into the scene.

One of my favorite things about the city is how well it is positioned for day trips into nearby cities and towns, hiking spots, and even ski resorts. Tucked between the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay/Estuary and connected to the mainland via a land bridge and two of the most iconic bridges in the world, there really is no excuse not to explore the surrounding Bay Area.

The View of San Francisco from Tiffany Park

By far one of my favorite day trips has to be to Sausalito. I love this trip so much; I’ve taken it no less than five times. Not only is Sausalito a stunning seaside village but it’s also just a quick half-hour journey from San Francisco. Of course, the consistently sunny weather and wind-protected beaches don’t hurt the cause, either.

Having visited Sausalito by ferry, bike, and car, I feel well-equipped to tell you when to visit, the best spots to check out, and what to do in Sausalito. So, let’s get into it.

Catching the Ferry

Catching the Ferry

By far, the best way to get to Sausalito is taking the ferry, which is not only convenient but also the most gorgeous way to travel. A few lines operate between the two locations, including the Golden Gate Ferry and the Blue and Gold Fleet. The schedule differs depending on the day of the week and season, with vessels traveling back and forth between the cities from 7:05 a.m. until 7:15 p.m.

Ferries depart the city from either Pier 41 or the San Francisco Ferry Building. The Blue and Gold Fleet operates from Pier 41, while the Golden Gate Ferry operates from the Ferry Building in the Embarcadero. Both ferry trips take around 30 minutes and cost $14 if you purchase them on board. To save some cash, pay with your Clipper card and receive a significant discount for a total of $7.75 one way.

One of the most recommended ways to experience Sausalito is to cycle one way over the bridge and catch the ferry in the other direction. The ferries are bike-friendly, with a special section to store your bikes.

Pro Tip: Dress warm. Even when the sun is shining, temperatures plummet when traveling across the exposed section of the bay. On the note of weather, Sausalito experiences banana belt weather, which means it is usually warmer than San Francisco (and not as windy).

Arrive half an hour before your scheduled departure. Figuring out where to take the ferry from can be confusing. This is especially important if you’re catching the last ferry back to San Francisco. You don’t want to miss the boat—literally.

Other Ways to Get to Sausalito


As I’ve mentioned, Sausalito is super accessible from San Francisco. Geographically, it is located just on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge – making it not only conveniently close but also a gorgeous drive from the city.

By car, driving from the city to Sausalito takes around 25 minutes to drive the 11 miles. Parking in Sausalito is limited on weekends especially, but not impossible to find. One thing worth noting is that when you drive back over the bridge into the city, you will be charged a toll fee of around $8.75.

For those after a budget-friendly option, taking the bus from San Francisco is another scenic way to travel. It takes a bit longer than other modes of transport (around one hour) and costs $8 per direction. The most direct bus leaves from Mission Street and Fifth Street every thirty minutes.

Walk The Bridgeway Promenade

Bridgeway Promenade

On arrival in Sausalito, the first thing you’ll want to do is walk through the city. Small and easy to explore on foot, distances between the main attractions aren’t far, and when they are, the views will surely keep you occupied.

Start by walking along the Bridgeway Promenade. This stretch of coastal road is the town’s main thoroughfare, lined with shops, galleries, and restaurants on the one side and the bay on the other. The ferry drops you off in the middle of the town, so to see most of the promenade, I recommend you cut back and start at the beginning around Tiffany Park. If you catch the bus, you’ll be dropped off close to this park.

Walking north, you’ll pass by a few of the best restaurants in the city – to be discussed later. I recommend walking all the way through Downtown Sausalito towards Dunphy Park, which passes the iconic floating houseboats of Sausalito.

Dunphy Park is also a few minutes’ stroll from Sausalito Beach, which is a gorgeous protected area with golden sand overlooking the docks and bay towards Belvedere Island.

Galleries and Boutiques

Galleries and Boutiques

Sausalito has long been a haven for artists and creative minds, and once you see the stunning town and views yourself, you’ll understand why. Artistic inspiration will strike even the least creative here.

Antique store
Antique store

There is no shortage of art galleries and pop-up exhibitions throughout the town. You’ll find everything from contemporary art exhibits to handcrafted jewelry to antique stores hosting an eclectic mix of art, hand-blown glass, and carved wooden furniture from the last century.

Lunch with a View

Lunch with a View

One of the major highlights of any trip to Sausalito is the food scene. Like its neighbor San Francisco, Sausalito is lined with incredible restaurants serving world-class seafood and Californian cuisine.

Bar Bocce and the Joinery Beerhall are two of my favorite spots for lunch. The two restaurants are located next to one another by the houseboats and have a relaxed, casual feel to them. Other than craft beer, Joinery is known for its rotisserie chicken. I can recommend the fried chicken sandwich with chili aioli (for $15.25). Pair that with fried brussel sprouts or the burrata and English pea starter ($14.50) for the perfect midday meal.

If you’re in the mood for pizza, Bar Bocce is your place. Do yourself a favor and go for the sweet pear pizza with candied walnuts and gorgonzola cheese for under $20.

For dessert, Lappert’s Sausalito is the town’s most famous gelato shop. With Hawaiian roots, this ice cream and frozen yogurt shop is always buzzing when the sun is out.

Pro Tip: If you visit on the weekend, these two restaurants are likely to have a waiting line. Get your name on the list before you get too hungry, and explore the surrounding area while you wait for your table.

Parks of Sausalito

Parks of Sausalito

Other than Dunphy Park, there are a few other gorgeous green spaces worth checking out if you want a bit of quiet time within the buzz of the town.

Gabrielson Park is a small green space between the Yacht Club and the ferry dock. It has a few benches and excellent bay views, especially of the ferry arriving and departing. It’s right next to the Plaza Vina Del Mar Fountain and Park, which is a triangular-shaped grassy area known for its fountain and elephant statues.

That said, there aren’t too many big parks in this small town. If you’re in the mood, you could catch a cab to the surrounding Marin Headlands and follow one of the hiking trails the area is famous for.

View of houseboats from Sausalito Beach
View of houseboats from Sausalito Beach

Slacker Hill via Morning Sun is a moderate 4.4-mile hike through the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It’s known for its unrivaled views of the Golden Gate Bridge across into San Francisco. The Bobcat Trail Loop is a three-mile loop closer to Sausalito that takes around an hour and a half to complete.

For an easy, flat, but long walk, you could walk from Sausalito to Mill Valley, nine miles along the waterfront. Stopping to check out different sites along the way, this walk should take around three hours in one direction.

Pro Tip: You can always pick and choose which sections of the hikes and trails to do, creating your own route through the headlands.

Dinner on the Sea


If you’re still around for dinner, Scoma’s of Sausalito is one of the most sophisticated places for an early bite. Open for lunch and dinner between 11:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. (9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays), it is located on a dock that juts out into the bay.

Fresh seafood caught in the surrounding area is the highlight of this old-school restaurant, which is most well known for its gorgeous views of the bay and Bridgeway promenade.

Scomas interior

I like to indulge in a house cocktail made fresh at the bar, which is so aesthetically pleasing that I recommend you arrive early and enjoy a drink before taking your seats. For dinner, choose from sesame ahi tuna to salmon and Pacific cod. For a rich treat, order the lobster risotto for $33.

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