On the Pacific

A Morning in Sausalito

sausalito, california, ca
Photo by eyeImage on Pixabay

Heading back to Atherton from Sonoma after some wine tasting there, I decided that we should take advantage of the opportunity to make a stop in another of my very favorite locations along the coast: Sausalito. That’s Spanish for “little willow grove”. It has long been a favorite of mine for a number of reasons, but mostly because it seems to be so laid back and easy going. Some have described Sausalito as a struggle between the “rich on the hill” and the waterfront people. If that is the case, the struggle certainly does not openly show. To me, Sausalito is a perfect blend of ocean and shore with something for everyone, whether they be “day-tripping tourists”, occasional visitors or locals who live there.

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Excellent Views, Restaurants and Hotels

fountain in Sausalito CASausalito boasts excellent yacht harbors that are filled to the brim with the white masts of sailboats. There are five hotels, a wide range of first-class restaurants — many that are built out over the water — and a long cement walk along the waterfront where one can listen to the barking sea lions or the sounds of the water of San Francisco Bay as it laps against the rocks along the shore. The views of San Francisco, by the way, are tremendous.

Or one can go a bit inland and enjoy myriad opportunities for shopping in unique boutiques. Or browse the original art galleries. And there are the ever-present hikers and bikers making their way to the hiking and biking trails. Sausalito also is very close to Muir Woods and Mt. Tam (Mt. Tamalpais) with its redwood groves, oak woodlands, and spectacular views from the 2,571-foot peak there. On a clear day, visitors can even see — among other things –the Farallon Islands 25 miles out to sea.

On My Last Visit

Main street through SausalitoMy last visit to Sausalito was many years ago when my sister brought my mother and me there one sunny day to enjoy an incredible breakfast followed by some shopping. Consisting of some indescribably delicious Eggs Benedict at a marvelous hotel called the Alta Mira, up on the hill and overlooking the bay, it was a scene almost right out of a movie…

Speaking of which, numerous movies have been either partially filmed here or make reference to to it (for instance, the Cetacean Institute in Star Trek IV, the Voyage Home, was supposedly located in Sausalito… but I digress). In any case, I have never forgotten that day. Unfortunately the Alta Mira is no longer there… but the fine memories certainly are. Infrequent as they may be, visits to Sausalito have always been enjoyable for me! By the way, there are numerous, excellent hotels in Sausalito at which to stay and enjoy some very fine dining… For instance, try The Inn Above Tide for for an elegant experience!

Since we had some extra time on this particular morning, I was happy to bring my wife to Sausalito for a brief stop following our wine country trip, proud to show her several of my old and favorite “haunts” like The Spinnaker, the “No Name” bar and several other watering holes from my younger days as we strolled the waterfront and main streets. It was a Saturday and I expected that, even in the month of December, the sleepy town would soon be quite busy. I had necessarily planned for only a brief stop.

A Toast to the Stop in Sausalito

The Spinnaker restaurant in SausalitoWalking along the shoreline, we noticed a small bistro-type café that was situated right next to the bay with some outside tables that faced the water. Although the air was quite chilly, there was a great table that took full advantage of the warm and rising sun. We stepped inside and ordered two glasses of Chardonnay. They were to serve a dual purpose: first, to toast a successful and very fun trip to Sonoma Wine Country and second, to toast the stop in Sausalito, where the smell of salt water and the sound of the waves against the shore were as calming and refreshing as I had remembered.

As we sipped the wine, discussed the trip and basked in the sunshine, the owner of Il Piccolo came out and presented us with some just-made bruschetta. The warm and toasted bread rounds were topped with a a piquant mix of garlic, fresh basil and tomatoes that did in fact make for an excellent snack. I thought it to be a mistake – we had not ordered the appetizer. The man just smiled and said: “No, it is for you… it goes well with the Chardonnay.” And he was of course correct. It was an excellent pairing! This is the kind of friendly hospitality that I have come to know in the little town by the Bay. It was the perfect addition to the morning and the perfect salutation to our excursion.

Glass of wine and plate of bruscetta in SausalitoTime to Say “Adieu”

With fresh-baked breads, Italian pastries and even ice cream to accompany the appetizers and other items, I would recommend that you take the time to enjoy both the food and the scenery at this waterfront venue. Unfortunately, Il Piccolo is now permanently closed. There are however, many other, equally scenic and wonderful venues at which to stop and enjoy the food, wine, and views while in Sausalito!

All too quickly, the time had come to head back across the Great Bridge and return our rental car to the airport. We eased away from our parking space with the reluctance of one who had abandoned his only meal of the week, skulking back to the road that led back up to Route 101 and the Golden Gate. Merging with the southbound traffic I smiled and promised that my next trip to Sausalito would not be so long in the making.


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