Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Day Trip- Mount Tamalpais and the Charming Mill Valley

Last weekend it was my dear husband Max's birthday. He is one of those guys who is happiest outdoors and would rather have a hike or a kayak trip than a material gift.  I really try hard to come up with ideas that are new and fun.

 One place he hadn't experienced before, was Mount Tamalpais, just north of San Francisco. The four of us planned a little hike and picnic lunch for him.

Mount Tamalpais is easily accessible, just a bit North of San Francisco. There are hikes for all levels. The most popular is a 10 mile hike that takes about 4 hours or more. Since this was our first time, it was lightly raining, and one of our sons was experiencing horrible Spring allergies, we decided to do an easy trail.

 You can drive almost to the top. We stopped at the East Peak Summit, where there is a Visitor Center and a museum/barn with relics from the former gravity car railroad that closed in the 1930s.

Can you imagine hiking in those corsets and heavy skirts?

Seems dangerous!

From this point we hiked about half a mile up to the Lookout.

The views were unbelievable from the 2,571 foot peak. The trail is a bit rocky, but easy and once you get up, you can grab a boulder and have a rest.

With the amazing San Francisco Bay spread out before us, we ate our picnic. Up here one overlooks Sausalito and Tiburon to the left, the Golden Gate ahead and over to the far right, ships entering San Francisco Bay loomed. On a clear day you can see 25 miles out to the Farallon Islands, and on rare days all the way to Yosemite and the Sierras.

I look goofy with my 2 jackets and scarf. Can you tell I hate being cold?

We found this cool bus in the parking lot. SO Marin County and Northern Cal! Loved it.

After taking in the views, we drove down to the nearby little town of Mill Valley.

 I adore how Mill Valley is nestled in between the hills here and yet so close to the beach.

The streets meander around canyon homes that make for some great house gawking.

Love the abundant plants that grow in this climate.

Downtown is a treasure trove of cafe's, unique shops and coffee stops.

Griffin and I had fun checking out the goods this surf wear store. (Sorry couldn't find or remember the name if anyone knows I'll add it!)

 I want that sweatshirt!

I also stumbled upon a wonderful home store- Summerhouse. Gorgeous pillows and accessories here as well as beautiful antiques mixed in.

Tyler Florence's Store and Kitchen is in town as well, but under renovation right now.

Many charming and unique shops!

Nary a chain store to be found here, which is so cool.

One of my musts here is the old train depot, which has been turned into a bookstore/ coffee house. . .

You can sit out on a sunny day and a center plaza connects to this. Perfect for kids to run about while you have a latte, if you have young ones.

This bookstore is small, but holds some fun picks and also uniquely California items. I bought cards with Redwood woodcut drawings that were so pretty.  I'm smitten with anything Redwood inspired. (Though, that exempts chain saw sculpted bears and the like, thank you.)

Mill Valley is a wonderful stop for lunch or a coffee break if you get up this way.

Other spots not to miss up this way are Muir Beach, and it's fabulous Pelican Inn, with it's authentic pub food, that can be enjoyed on the lawn on a sunny day.

Muir Woods is a must do and also has easy hikes if you aren't up for mountain trails, but want to see old-growth Redwoods. The pretty towns of Sausalito and Tiburon are wonderful destinations as well and all are bordered by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

All of these are within a short drive of San Francisco, just North of the Golden Gate.

I never tire of driving over this bridge. It's always a little thrill to me.

Hope you are enjoying your Spring Break if you are on it. I'm popping over to the beach for a little bit. Love to hear what you all are doing too.



  1. So pretty Kim! A day trip is such a great escape and refreshes the mind. This is a beautiful spot and it looks like you had a wonderful family day. Hope you are enjoying your week! xxleslie

  2. I love this post!! Mill Valley is simply amazing, as well as all the spots you got to visit. I had a central coast spring break, but this post makes me want to adventure to mt. tam this weekend! Glad you got to drive over our golden bridge, its a little thrill for me too :) Xx, Tiffany { }

    1. Tiffany, Just saw the photos on your blog of the Central Coast. Amazing as always!! I hope you get to Mt Tam because I'd love to see you pics. I know funny about our bridge..We are so lucky! xx

  3. Wonderful post Kim! We absolutely adore Mill Valley too. Summerhouse is always a lovely stop. Have you been to El Paseo? Fabulous food and ambiance. I've been a fan for years, before Tyler Florence purchased it. What a fun family outing and happy birthday to Max!!
    See you in a few days!xx, Heath

    1. Thanks Heath! Haven't been to El Paseo yet! Can't wait to see you. x

  4. Now that is a perfect day! I've never been to Mill Valley. It looks as charming as I imagined.

  5. Mill Valley - the perfect little town in America! It was my favorite place to live.....and Mt. Tam - there are no words to describe it! You just have to go there and experience the beauty and so many different levels of hiking. One of my favorites is to start at Pan Toll (?sp) and hike down to Stinson Beach, have lunch and relax on the Beach before hiking back up the mountain. Thank you for sharing the beauty of Northern Cal! Sounds like a perfect birthday!

    1. Thanks so much. I have heard that is a fabulous hike too! The beach there is so lovely. You were so lucky to live there. I can only imagine.

  6. OH wow that looks like you had so much fun! What beautiful countryside. This is what the real Calif. looks like. I had no idea Mill Valley is that beautiful!

    1. Thanks Kim. I know it is truly one of the most gorgeous areas and I discovered it only lately! Now one of my favorite destinations.

  7. Gosh your photos are just so gorgeous, Kimi! And I think you look adorable, even in two coats! OXOX

    1. Lol! Thanks Dawn. I think I'm a bit Michelin Man. Does anyone even remember him? x

  8. What a beautiful and fun day you had, with your family. The views are gorgeous and looks so refreshing. Then Mill Valley is so lovely. It reminded me of Carmel.

    1. Pam, Yes similar as both are so charming and near the sea and so much beautiful natural spaces to hike and explore!

  9. Beautiful photos! It seems that you all had a lots of fun! :)
    Which is always nice!
    I`m new on blogging, hope you don`t mind me commenting. :))

    1. Debbie, Thanks so much! I really appreciate your comment. Welcome! :)

  10. I lived in Mill Valley from 1991 - 1996 and loved every minute of it. I often hiked Mt. Tam with my friends and would also drive to the top to see the sun set. You've captured MV and Mt. Tam so well in your photos. What a great way to celebrate your handsome husband's birthday.
    See you in 24 hours! xoxo

  11. What a CUTE post :) and your blog is so fab and fun.

    Check out my new post....How you decorate a small space to look bigger :)

    Have a great weekend dear

    LOVE Maria at inredningsvis - inredning it's, Swedish for decor :)

  12. Incredible views Kim, I would have loved that hike. To sit at the summit and have a picnic looks like such good fun. I have walked the trails through Muir woods which is lovely if you get there early before the coaches start arriving when it feels so enchanting albeit a little chilly!

  13. Reading this brought me back to Marin :) I miss living there so much (I grew up in Fairfax until I moved to LA for college)!! I used to go up to Mt. Tam all the time and watch sunsets (even sunrises sometimes). There's an easy 30-40 min drive up the opposite side of the mountain from Fairfax. Thank you for bringing me back home through your images and words!