Traveling to Sausalito is like winning a golden ticket---you get to travel into an island filled with stunning panoramic views across the Golden Gate Bridge; which is more than just the glimmering, color boosted subject of countless instagrams.
The hills and trails of the Marin Headlands in San Francisco are my favorite reason to visit the area, and most weekends I make my way across that famous Golden Gate Bridge for some adventure or another. Mill Valley is home to the legendary Dipsea Race, one of the oldest footraces in the country, which has taken place every June for more than 100 years.
Golden Gate Bridge.
For the outdoorsy type, it’s essential to stop at the San Francisco Running Company. The store is staffed by experienced ultra-distance runners, who will cheerily chat about the latest shoes and basically more running knowledge than you ever cared to know. For the best panoramic views of San Francisco, take my favorite route: the singletrack trail, which winds along the coast above Pirates Cove. Here, you’ll encounter sun-drenched golden grasslands, cascading waterfalls and moss-covered redwoods. You should also pop in to Equator Coffee across the street from SF Running Co. For running aficionados, this is certainly a place to see and be seen when it comes to the running scene, which apparently exists.
While in Sausalito, I also headed to the Casa Madrona hotel, one of the most upscale lodging options in the area. I went to check out some additions to the property, including new Mansion guest rooms and the gigantic 5,000-square-foot Alexandrite Suite with sweeping views of the bay. I had passed by the property countless times, given hotel’s prime location on Bridgeway, the main thoroughfare through downtown Sausalito, and was eager to see the renovations.
Foreshadowing: California has been in the midst of a severe drought for a few years, so I was happy to see rain in the forecast, even though it overlapped with my scheduled trip.
Casa Madrona in Sausalito.
When I arrived early on a Wednesday evening, I was greeted by a crackling fire in the lobby fireplace and twin bookshelves filled with books and decorative knickknacks. As I checked in, the front desk manager warned me “we have you in a room with a great view, but it’s a bit of a hike to get there.” I chuckled and assured him that I was up for the challenge.
The Mansion guest rooms are separate from the rest of the hotel and, like many of the homes in Sausalito, the building is terraced into the hillside. This meant we had to climb up several sets of stairs to get to my sleeping quarters for the evening. It’s great if you’re looking to burn your lunch, not so much if you have a bad knee. The reward for the climb, however, was a room with incredible views of the Bay Bridge and the Bay Lights art installation glittering in the distance.
My favorite features of Casa Madrona are its location, in the heart of Sausalito and directly across from the ferry terminal, and the decor, which is simple; classy and nautical-inspired. The Mansion rooms feel like they are nestled away in a luxurious private home. The hotel doesn’t have a bar or restaurant of its own, but room service is offered from Poggio’s----an Italian restaurant next door. There is also an extensive in-room list of all the dining options within walking distance.
I settled in for the evening with an early alarm set, intending to take advantage of my proximity to the headlands, by going for a morning trail run. This is when the trip took a turn for the...interesting.
Tennesse Valley in Sausalito.
Very, very early the next morning, I heard a loud bang and saw a flash of light and sparks outside my window. The hotel went dark. It seemed the rainstorm had damaged some nearby power lines. The sun wasn’t up yet, but luckily I had packed a headlamp. No biggie! I got dressed as usual and headed out for a beautiful run in the rain to Tennessee Valley Beach, an activity sans with no voltage requirements.
When I returned a few hours later, the power in my room was still out, but electrician crews were hard at work. The hotel staff was helpful and courteous, and nothing makes you appreciate a building’s natural light like a power outage. I wandered outside onto Bridgeway Street, typically bustling with shoppers and cyclists and energy, but the normally crowded sidewalks were subdued by the morning rain.
My golden ticket was up! Afterall, it was never a one-way ride. After much adventure in Sausalito, I decided to grab a quick cup of coffee and make my way back to the Golden City.