Guide to Visiting Sausalito
This post is a guide to visiting Sausalito, a small town just north of San Francisco. Sausalito is a popular destination for both tourists and locals as it boasts beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay, as well as an impressive food scene. Below we have listed the top attractions to see/do in Sausalito, as well as how to get there, where to eat, and which walking tours to take. Additionally, we compare the various bus tour companies that travel from San Francisco to Sausalito so that guests can determine which one works best for them.
Visit Vista Point. Though not located in Sausalito, per se, Vista Point is a beautiful lookout spot that offers stunning views of San Francisco and the Bay Bridge less than an hour’s walk (or 15 minute drive) from Sausalito. Many bus tours that visit Sausalito will stop at Vista Point along the way so that guests can capture the beautiful view.
Stroll along the boardwalk. The Sausalito Boardwalk is a charming stretch of the city featuring several locally owned shops and restaurants. Though this area can get very busy during the summer, it is well worth a visit.
Take a walking tour. Sausalito is host to a couple highly esteemed walking tours that share with guests the city’s history and incredible food culture. Check out our Walking Tours section to learn more about which tours are on offer.
Go to Rodeo Beach. This is a small, black sand beach with beautiful views. Several visitors report seeing dolphins during their time here. A perfect spot for a picnic or casual stroll.
Enjoy Sausalito’s incredible food culture. There are several impressive restaurants that feature a wide range of cuisines. Guests who are especially interested in sampling the best of what Sausalito has to offer should consider taking a food tour.
Sausalito is located approximately 10 miles north of San Francisco, just across the Golden Gate Bridge.Visitors can choose to drive there by car, take the ferry from North Beach, use public buses, or travel with a private bus tour company.
By foot: Many visitors do not realize that pedestrians can walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. However, it is a LONG way to travel! To walk from Fisherman’s Wharf to Sausalito, it will take you about 3 hours.
By bike: Biking across the Golden Gate Bridge is an easy way to reach Sausalito and enjoy beautiful views of the Bay. For full details on how to do so, check out our post on cycling across the Golden Gate Bridge.
By car: The drive to Sausalito takes approximately 22 minutes from central San Francisco. Guests must simply cross the Golden Gate Bridge and take the 101 towards Sausalito/Marin County.
By ferry: Visitors can also choose to travel via ferry. There are several different companies that depart from both the Ferry Building/GGF and Pier 41/B&G throughout the day. The trip takes approximately 25 minutes and costs $10 each way. In addition to being quick and relatively cost effective, the ferry route also offers stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Learn more about traveling to Sausalito via boat tour or ferry.
By public bus: Guests looking to seriously save on cash can opt to use the public bus system to travel between San Francisco and Sausalito. The trip takes roughly 1 hour and can include multiple transfers, depending on your specific departure point.
By bus tour: There are several different tour companies that feature stops in Sausalito. Below we have listed the best tour companies, comparing each by price, tour itinerary, and reputation.
There are several different companies that offer bus tours to Sausalito. All of those listed below are combined with another destination, such as Muir Woods or Golden Gate Bridge. Read more about visiting Muir Woods. The cost of all the Muir Woods + Sausalito tours range between $59-$74, while City Sightseeing’s Golden Gate + Sausalito Tour is $30.99. All of the companies allow guests to choose to travel back to San Francisco by ferry or with the bus tour company.
City Sightseeing – (1) Golden Gate + Sausalito; (2) Muir Woods + Sausalito; (3) 2 Day Hop-On, Hop-Off; (4) 3 Day Hop-On, Hop-Off
If you would like to visit Sausalito, there are 4 different ways to do so with City Sightseeing. Primarily a a hop-on/hop-off bus tour company, City Sightseeing offers 2 combo tour packages that feature visits to Sausalito, as well as 2 multi-day bus passes that also include routes that stop in Sausalito. Of their combo packages, the first tour visits the Golden Gate Bridge, Presidio, Ghirardelli Square, and the Palace of the Fitne Arts, in addition to Sausalito. The second tour visits Muir Woods, a nearby wooded area with the famed California redwood trees, as well as Sausalito. Both are fully narrated by a professional tour guide. As guests are free to hop-on/hop-off the bus at any point within a 24 hour period on the Golden Gate + Sausalito Tour, that one is ideal for those who want to be able to determine exactly how long they spend in Sausalito. Alternatively, you can opt to purchase either their 2 or 3 day Hop-On, Hop-Off Tours of San Francisco, which gives you unlimited access to their 4 different tour routes — one of which is of Sausalito.
Length of Tour:
- Golden Gate + Sausalito – Approximately 1.5 hours, though guests are allowed to hop-on/hop-off at anytime in a 24 hour period.
- Muir Woods + Sausalito – Approximately 4 hours, departing from San Francisco everyday at 8:30am and 2pm.
- 2 Day Hop-On, Hop-Off Tour of San Francisco – Includes 48 hour access to 4 Open Top Bus Tours; 40+ stops throughout San Francisco and Sausalito.
- 3 Day Hop-On, Hop-Off Tour of San Francisco – Includes 72 hour access to 4 Open Top Bus Tours; 40+ stops throughout San Francisco and Sausalito.
- Golden Gate + Sausalito – $30.99 for adults; $19.99 for children
- Muir Woods + Sausalito – $59 for adults; $57 for seniors; $37 for children
- 2 Day Hop-On, Hop-Off Tour of San Francisco – $57.99 for adults; $32.99 for children
- 3 Day Hop-On, Hop-Off Tour of San Francisco – $72.99 for adults; $42.99 for children
Reviews: CitySightseeing’s Golden Gate + Sausalito Tour receives generally positive reviews, with many guests praising the ease of transportation. The quality of the guided commentary varies depending on the driver, though most visitors find it informative and enjoyable. Some guests had trouble hearing the driver due to a poor PA system on the bus. Overall, visitors who traveled with CitySightseeing found the experience very enjoyable and straightforward. TripAdvisor Rating: 3.5 stars.
Tower Tours – Muir Woods + Sausalito Ferry
In addition to their many other tours, Tower Tours also offers a Muir Woods + Sausalito Ferry Tours, which departs 3x daily. The tour is fully guided, though guests are free to explore on their own for “up to 1.5 hours” once dropped off at Muir Woods. The tour concludes with a stop in Sausalito, from which point guests can take the ferry back to San Francisco at their own preferred time. They too offer complimentary hotel pick up from most hotels.
Length of Tour: Approximately 4.5 hours, departing daily at 9 am, 11 am, and 2 pm
Cost: $74 for adults; $72 for seniors; $44 for children
Reviews: The Muir Woods + Sausalito Ferry Tour by Tower Tours is a highly rated tour with excellent reviews. Though this company maintains a 4 star rating on TripAdvisor, most of the reviews for their Muir Woods Tour are 5 stars. Commentators describe Muir Woods as “beautiful” and the guides as “excellent” and “entertaining.” Guests also praise their visit to Sausalito, complimenting the beauty and quirkiness of the area. TripAdvisor Rating: 4 stars.
Best Bay Area Tours – Muir Woods + Sausalito
Best Bay Area Tours offers several tours of San Francisco and the surrounding areas, including one that visits both the Muir Woods and Sausalito. The day begins with a drive to Muir Woods, followed by 90 minutes to explore, and then finishes with a 30 minute driving tour through Sausalito and 1 hour to walk around and have lunch in the area. Guests can then return to San Francisco with the bus, or opt to take the ferry on their own time.
Length of Tour: Approximately 5 hours, departing twice daily at 8:15am and 1pm
Cost: $60 for adults; $45 for children
Reviews: This company receives excellent reviews for all of their day trips, however their Muir Woods and Sausalito Tour is particularly highly rated. In addition to praising the guides, guests also comment on the beauty of the park, and compliment this company for allowing adequate free time to explore on their own. Those who wish to spend additional time in Sausalito should opt to take the ferry rather than travel back with the bus, as some guests who chose the latter felt rushed during their time in Sausalito. TripAdvisor Rating: 5 stars.
Gray Line Tours – Muir Woods + Sausalito
Gray Line’s Muir Woods + Sausalito Tour brings guests to Muir Woods for 1.25 hours and then to Sausalito for another hour. Guests can choose to extend their stay and pay for their own ferry ride back, if they wish (4 hour tour). This ticket includes the $10 adult admission fee to the park, so as it stands, it’s a better value than City Sightseeing’s similar tour.
Length of Tour: Approximately 5.5 hours, departing several times daily.
Cost: $62 for adults; $60 for seniors; $35 for children
Reviews: The Gray Line Tour reviews are very positive, as many compliment the quality of the guides and the ease of transportation. Some guests complain about confusion regarding the hotel pick-up location, so be sure to check your confirmation email ahead of time. Others comment that there wasn’t enough time at Muir Woods, but the length of time depends on the tour that you select. TripAdvisor Rating: 4 stars.
Incredible Adventures – Muir Woods + Sausalito Half Day Tour
Similar to many of the other tour companies listed above, Incredible Adventures offers a combined half day tour to Muir Woods and Sausalito. The tour includes complimentary pickup/dropoff from most San Francisco hotels, 90 minutes to explore Muir Woods, and a 20 minute in-coach tour of Sausalito. The Sausalito Ferry is not included in the price of tour, but guests can choose to travel back to San Francisco via ferry if they prefer additional time in Sausalito.
Length of Tour: Approximately 4 hours, departing daily at 9am, 11am, and 2pm
Cost: $68 for adults; $38 for children
Reviews: Reviews for Incredible Adventures are very positive, as many guests compliment the quality of the guides and the ease of transportation. In fact, several reviewers reveal that their favorite part of the tour was the time they spend in Sausalito. Guests who request it can often be dropped at the Golden Gate Bridge, which is perfect for those looking for a beautiful photo opt. TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars.
Blue & Gold Fleet offer a regular ferry service between Sausalito and San Francisco. The route runs regularly between approximately 9am-5pm. Though there is no audio tour or guided commentary provided during the ride, you do get to experience stunning views of the city — making this a cheap and easy way to travel to Sausalito AND take in the beautiful San Francisco skyline.
- From San Francisco: Ferry Service to Sausalito
- 1 hour ferry that operates from 9:40 AM – 5:20 PM
- One Way – $11.50 per person
- Round Trip – $23 per person
- Purchase tickets here
Reviews of Blue & Gold Fleet
Everyone who has used the ferry service between Sausalito and San Francisco seems thrilled with their experience (read the reviews). Many were especially happy with how convenient it was to travel to Sausalito via ferry, as it allowed them to avoid battling crazy San Francisco traffic. This is also a great alternative for those who are hesitant to pay for a a fully guided tour, but still want the experience of cruising through the Bay.
Though walking tours are not nearly as popular in Sausalito as San Francisco, there are still 2 highly regarded walking tour companies operating in the area. Both are small and relatively new companies with excellent reputations. The first, Travels with Teri Walking Tours, offers a historic walking tour and a wine tasting tour of Sausalito. The second, Gourmet Food and Wine Tours, is a food and wine tour of the area that includes tastings at 4 different restaurants/wineries.
Travels with Teri Walking Tours
Travels with Teri Walking Tours is a small, boutique walking tour company owned and run by Teri Goldstein, a 16 year veteran in the travel industry. She currently offers 2 tours in Sausalito: (1) History Walking Tour and (2) Love to Imbibe: Wine Tasting Tour. The company is very small and doesn’t have a standard tour schedule, but instead allows guests to make their own private booking up to 72 hours in advance.
Length of Tour: Approximately 2 hours; guests must call to schedule tour
Reviews: Though the company is small, Travels with Terri Walking Tours boasts a 5 star rating on TripAdvisor. Guests compliment Teri’s knowledge, as well as her impressive ability to make Sausalito’s history accessible and interesting. In addition to visitors raving about her company, Teri’s tours also garner praise from Sausalito locals. TripAdvisor Rating: 5 stars.
Gourmet Food and Wine Tours
This specialty food and wine tour company offers tours of Napa and Sonoma Valley, in addition to Sausalito. The latter is promoted as an all-inclusive culinary experience with a 1/2 glass of local wine on each savory stop and a French Press coffee with gourmet dessert. There are a total of 3 wine pairings at different stops, plus coffee and dessert to finish the experience. Additionally, a list of the top 100 Bay Area restaurants and a Michelin Guide is included. Group size averages 4-6 people.
Length of Tour: 11:30am-3:00pm (3+ hours)
Cost: $155 per person; $135 for non drinkers
Reviews: Though this is a relatively new company, it has already earned an excellent reputation. Guests compliment the guides for being incredible hosts and exceedingly knowledgable. Others describe the tour as a “real 5 star experience” that shouldn’t be missed. TripAdvisor Ranking: 5 stars.
For those who are short on time or who prefer to explore on their own, a self-guided tour of Sausalito is an excellent alternative. Sausalito Chamber of Commerce publishes a detailed map of the area, helping visitors determine where to go and what to see.
Planning your trip in advance. How to spend 2 hours or 2 days in Sausalito.
Sausalito is known for its up and coming food culture, which boasts a wide selection of cuisines and restaurants. Seafood is especially renowned in the area, with several restaurants located directly on the water.
Scoma’s of Sausalito – Perhaps the most famous eatery in Sausalito, Scoma’s is one of the few restaurants that still operates its own fishing vessel. Scoma’s offer beautiful views of the city skyline, as well as incredible dishes such as their Lazy Man’s Cioppino and Dungeness crab.
Avatar’s – Avatar’s is a small, family-run restaurant known as the “Purveyors of ethnic confusions since 1989.” The food is an interesting mix of both Indian and Mexican. They are most famous for their specialty dessert of almond gelato cake with chocolate, pistachios, mango, and rose petal sauce.
Fred’s Coffee Shop – Fred’s Coffee Shop has been around since 1966 and is an absolute staple in Sausalito’s food scene. Their impressive breakfasts are the perfect way to start the day. In addition to eggs benedict, lemon ricotta pancakes, and bottomless mimosas, this restaurant is also famed for its “millionaire’s bacon.”
Barrel House Tavern – Barrel House Tavern offers one of the best seaside views in Sausalito. The menu is relatively high priced, but is worth every penny. Additionally, this restaurant also boasts one of the widest ranges of microbrews in the area.
Lighthouse Cafe – This inviting breakfast and lunch cafe is known for its Scandinavian classics. Their curried herring pair with an open-face Copenhagen burger is one of the most ordered dishes on the menu, in addition to their Danish meatballs, Norwegian salmon, and pickled beet.