Two Enchanting Escapes in Marin County
Just a short ferry ride across the bay or a quick jaunt across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, Marin County is a world away from the city. A haven for hikers, cyclists, surfers, and nature lovers, Marin is surrounded by water on three sides and nearly 85% of its land has been protected from development through parks, open space, and agricultural zoning.
Visitors can explore the expansive windswept headlands and isolated beaches at Marin Headlands and Point Reyes National Seashore, hike the majestic redwoods at Muir Woods National Monument, and enjoy the panoramic Bay Area views from Angel Island State Park. Boutique hotels in two of Marin’s most enchanting small towns—Tiburon and Mill Valley—make for idyllic bases from which to explore Marin’s attractions.
Waters Edge Hotel in Tiburon
In Tiburon, you couldn’t stay any closer to the water than the Waters Edge Hotel. This dreamy, coastal-inspired boutique hotel juts out over the harbor providing glittering panoramas of San Francisco Bay and the city skyline. The hotel’s grand waterfront deck is an idyllic to spot to relax around the fire pit and soak up the views. Each of the hotel’s 23 light-filled rooms feature wood-burning fireplaces, luxurious beds, and modern nautical décor with crisp white linens and navy blue accents. Some of the rooms also offer soaking tubs and private decks with seating for two.
Upon arrival, guests are welcomed with snacks and a bottle of local wine. A complimentary continental breakfast is delivered to the room each morning. The hotel also offers complimentary bicycles for exploring town.
The hotel’s enviable address on Main Street places it at the center of this charming, picture-postcard town and just steps to upscale shops and restaurants. Pick up a scoop of gelato and check out the storefronts along Main Street and historic Ark Row. Or, opt for a stroll along Shoreline Park with panoramic views of the bay, Golden Gate Bridge, the San Francisco skyline, and Angel Island.
The 10-minute ferry ride to Angel Island is a must. The island is a former military installation turned state park with stunning vistas. Visitors can explore the island on foot or by bike along the paved six-mile Perimeter Trail, climb to the top of the island’s 788-foot summit, or just laze on the beach or in a secluded cove with a picnic.
Mill Valley Inn in Mill Valley
Nestled at the base of Mount Tamalpais and ringed by lush hills, Mill Valley is an enchanting small town steeped in the good life. In downtown, the streets are lined with upscale boutiques, bookstores, bike shops, wine shops, and vibrant cafes spilling out onto the sidewalks. Hidden stairways lead to trails that wind through redwood-covered canyons and up to the ridgelines above town.
The most legendary of the trails is the 7.4 mile Dipsea Trail, which is the course for the second-oldest footrace in the United States. First run in 1905, the Dipsea starts at Old Mill Park and takes runners up a total of 688 stairs, through Muir Woods, over Mount Tamalpais, and then down to the ocean at Stinson Beach. Visitors can run or hike the trail out to the beach and then catch a bus or car service back to town. They can also string together a shorter loop that includes Cascade Falls, Cypress Trail, and the fabled Dispea Stairs.
The best place to stay to explore both town and the trails is the Mill Valley Inn. This charming boutique hotel is located just steps from shops and restaurants as well as trailheads for hiking and biking. The hotel features 23 guest spacious guest rooms with French doors that open to private balconies with views of either town and the surrounding hills or peaceful redwood groves. Guests will find fresh orchids and luxurious beds in each room. Many of the rooms also have large soaking tubs and wood burning fireplaces. In addition to the guest rooms, the hotel offers two freestanding cottages nestled in the redwoods alongside a trickling creek.
A complimentary continental breakfast is delivered to the room each morning. Stays also includes free covered parking and complimentary the use of Trek mountain bikes for exploring the trails. Room service is available from Piazza D’Angelo, which serves fresh Italian cuisine in a bustling trattoria just a block from the hotel.