As amazing as New York City is 99.9% of the time, there is still that tiny .1% where it just completely sucks – mainly in the summer months when there’s 100 degrees of oppressive heat outside and the sidewalks become overcrowded with hordes of tourists who forget their ability to walk properly the minute they step off the plane.
By the time August hits your mind starts toying with the idea of pushing that annoying sightseer (you know, the one who’s too busy instagramming to notice they just abruptly stopped in the middle of a walkway causing you to slam right into them) into oncoming traffic. When your mind reaches that dark place, it’s time to get out of dodge.
I was about to hit my breaking point (which would have sent me straight to jail although I’m sure even the NYPD secretly wouldn’t have blamed me) when work asked me to head to California to attend a few client events over the weekend.
Always one to take advantage of work-paid flights, I chose to take the redeye from San Francisco back to NYC on my last day so I could have some time to play. As the weekend was incredibly exhausting, all I really wanted was some quiet and relaxation so I decided to skip the city and head over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito.
7 Things to do in 7 Hours in Sausalito
1. Bubble Street Gallery
I arrived in Sausalito around noon on Monday and did what I always do in small towns (well anywhere, actually) – I shopped. I’m a sucker for boutiques that sell one of a kind goods and I love weaving in and out of these shops collecting unique Christmas gifts for friends and family year round (I’m pretty certain I was Santa Claus in another life).
Sausalito is a small waterfront town with shops picturesquely dotting Bridgeway Street along the bay with sweeping views across to San Francisco. Bubble Street Gallery was the first place I popped into and was opened in 2012 by the surrealist artist, Daniel Merriam. The gallery showcases and sells his latest works of romantically imaginative art as well as a few pieces from local artists. It’s great for browsing and they have a beautiful array of unique jewelry (my weakness) that was surprisingly well priced and didn’t break the bank.
2. Nana’s Treasures
When I was a little girl and started to drive my mom crazy, she would send me to my room for an hour so she could get some peace and quiet. She gave me one of two options – either take a nap or read a book. Thus my reading obsession began and books became my most prized possessions. Growing up, I would never let my mom throw them out no matter how many times I had read them and my collection steadily increased until it eventually gave birth to my library (sadly I could not pack it away to my tiny Manhattan apartment. Now my precious sits in disrepair largely being used as a storage room in what is now my brother’s house).
When I saw the books in Nana’s Treasures storefront, it was like the mothership was calling me home. All throughout the store were vintage books, clothes, and knicknacks. But man, the books! A woman named Riza works with a book dealer and hand picks all the books for the shop. Her collection dates back to the 1500’s and when she found out I was from New York, she showed me this incredible Harper’s book from the late 1800’s NYC with illustrations of residential buildings, society dames, transportation, and even the polo matches. Unfortunately the price was a little too steep for me but it was a wonderful find and part of me wishes I would have bought it even though I would of had to starve myself for a month to afford it.
3. F3 (Fast Food Francais)
Despite the name, I in no way got the vibe that this was a fast food restaurant. It did not have the greasy smell of heavily fried foods or the bored employees that could care less what you want to eat. In fact it was quite the opposite experience.
I was directed to F3 by a local Sausalitoian (I think I just made that word up) who told me it’s missed by most tourists since it’s not on the main waterfront street. It was one of her favorite places so I decided to check it out.
Since it was 3pm on a Monday, it was mostly empty save two women having a business lunch so I posted up at the bar to hangout with the bartender. He immediately asked me if I liked whiskey (his psychic abilities amaze me) and then proceeded to make me the above cocktail. He had just received a new batch of Jack Daniels Honey and was trying to create a new specialty drink for the menu and I became his not-so-reluctant guinea pig (don’t judge – I was technically on vacation).
A couple (or more than a few) drinks later, I sloppy snacked on some delicious brussel sprout chips and a juicy BOS burger. F3 is known for cooking traditional American dishes and then ‘Frenching’ them up. The best part? Most menu items are $13 and under.
A store that only sells socks?! Not just any socks – seriously awesome ones. Mix crazy cool socks with strong drinks at lunch and you’ll walk out of the store $80 poorer (yes I spent that much on socks. Merry Christmas dad and Kyle).
5. Madrigal Family Winery
It’s a sin to be this close to Napa Valley and not try some wine. On my stroll through the city, I came across the Madrigal Family Winery tasting room (actually I was on my way to another tasting venue when I noticed that the guy working this counter was extremely hot so I scrapped my original plans). Turns out he’s from Sonoma and has worked in vineyards most of his life. He’s currently managing this venue along with the other Madrigal tasting room in Napa which is pretty impressive considering he’s only 26.
A local woman popped in after coming over on the ferry on her way home from work in San Francisco. She said her husband had told her about this new shop and it had only been open for three weeks. We all three chatted for a while and I learned a lot about the town and surrounding areas. With her stories and interaction with the proprietor of Madrigal, you could easily grasp the sense of local community in Sausalito. It was even more apparent when he gave her wine free of charge since she had to rush home to her husband who was stuck with his visiting 90 year old in-laws (I had to actually pay for my 5 flights of wine. Guess he knew I was a tourist).
6. Sausalito’s Floating Homes
About a 40 minute walk (or 8 minute cab ride) away from downtown, you’ll find several local communities made up of charming ‘Floating Homes’ (tip – the locals prefer this term rather than ‘houseboats’). This was the highlight of my trip to Sausalito.
I went to the Liberty Dock around 6pm when the fog was starting to roll in across the bay and I was the only one around except for the occasional resident walking their dog. It was quiet and serene and I absolutely fell in love. These individualistic homes are all connected to a series of docks which you can walk through. Their beautiful ‘front porches’ were decorated with art, benches, gardens. etc. It was well worth the trek out there. I found out later that about 90% of the people who own these homes live there year round.
7. Blue and Gold Ferry
All too early, it was time to take the Blue and Gold Ferry over to San Francisco to meet up with my boss and head to the airport. The ferry only takes about 30 minutes and the views are wonderful as you travel across the bay to Fisherman’s Wharf. I could even see the sun setting over Alcatraz.
What’s your favorite small town? I’d love to hear from you!
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