Sometimes the nicest little adventures are ones that are close to home. One thing about not being a San Francisco native is that every new town or museum we visit is a sightseeing discovery, as if we were on holidays every weekend. Last weekend with not much planned we did exactly that, and decided to catch a ferry and visit Sausalito for lunch.
Sausalito is a small coastal town on the north side of the bay (where the Golden Gate Bridge connects on the other side) with homes built up the hill from the water surrounded by Giant Coastal Redwoods of the Muir Woods. Sausalito – Small Willow Grove, a derivative from the Spanish sauzalito(from Mexico, Chile and Panama) of the Bandit Wars settling on the north side of the Bay, banned from settling in San Francisco. The town was named in honor of their leader Joaquín Murieta, who was born in a district of the main Chilean port, Valparaiso, called Sausalito. Once the refuge for the defeated and castaway, today it is a must-see place for anyone visiting San Francisco, for people to go and have lunch, browse the shops, buy art and stay on the famous house boats.
The quickest (and nicest) way to get to Sausalito is by ferry across the Bay from the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero. A small ferry terminal today, prior to the completion of the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge that connects San Francisco with the East and North Bay respectively, the Ferry Terminal was the second largest transit terminal in the world, second only to London’s Charing Cross Station. Today as well as being the port for San Francisco’s ferry services, the Ferry Building is more renowned as a food hall, office space and San Francisco’s best known Farmer’s Markets. Walking through the market at lunchtime, it was extremely difficult to not be tempted by all the delicious food on offering, but we resisted and boarded the ferry in the shadow of the 245ft clock that sits atop the beautifully refurbished building. The Clock itself is quite a sight as you pull out from the terminal. Designed based on the 12th century Giralda Bell Tower in Seville, Spain, the clock is the largest wind-up, mechanical clock in the world, with the original Special #4 Clock made in 1898 by the Boston clockmaker E. Howard.
Braving the cold we sat on the outside deck, scarves wrapped firmly around my ears and watched the Bay go by. On the way to Sausalito you cruise pass the towering Bay Bridge on your right and the Transamerica Pyramid towering over the city of San Francisco on your left. Further out into the Bay you pass the infamous island of Alcatraz, and if the famous ‘Karl the Fog’ isn’t too thick you may glimpse the Golden Gate Bridge. All we could see was the very top of the 2 red towers peaking through the thick fog that engulfed the Bay, even at 1’o’clock in the afternoon. Reaching Sausalito we were greeted by the hundreds of tired-looking people waiting to board the return trip to the city with their bikes in hand. On my very first weekend here in San Francisco I remember being one of them, having ridden a bike across the Golden Gate Bridge and into the little town on the North side of the harbour. It’s one of the top 5 things to do when you visit the city really. But riding across also took all of my energy (and time) and so I was glad we were back exploring the town on foot this time. But first was lunch.
There are hundreds of dining options in Sausalito whether you want waterfront seafood dining at Scoma’s Seafood, a tasting from Napa Valley Burger Company or just a coffee and cake at Sausalito Bakery and Cafe (which we indulged in after some window shopping). For lunch though, we decided on a lovely Bistro right near the ferry called Cafe Tutti which served up delicious sandwiches, salads, quiche, pasta and of course Clam Chowder. Following lunch we wandered through the picturesque town, browsing through the boutique shops and art galleries there on the waterfront. Much of the art was for sale but we chose not to adorn any of the walls of our tiny shoebox apartment with any pieces for the time being. I also have a weakness for homewares and there were some beautiful boutiques there we visited – though every time I looked at something I was reminded of all the nice things I have packed away in boxes in a storage container back in Sydney. It’s hard to buy more when you already own it! All the same it was a lovely way to spend an afternoon, and explore another little piece of San Francisco. I will definitely be returning to Sausalito sometime soon.