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Guidebook for San Rafael

Kathleen

Guidebook for San Rafael

Food Scene
This is my favorite Thai restaurant in Marin County, and it's only 3 minutes from my house! Excellent food and service, you can't go wrong here.
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My Thai Restaurant
1230 4th Street
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This is my favorite Thai restaurant in Marin County, and it's only 3 minutes from my house! Excellent food and service, you can't go wrong here.
One of the best Indian Restaurants in the Bay Area, hands-down. My local favorite. A warm, bright, cozy place, with excellent service and lots of vegan and gluten-free items! Very close by. Good service. They even open up the roof in the summer!
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Lotus Cuisine of India
704 4th Street
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One of the best Indian Restaurants in the Bay Area, hands-down. My local favorite. A warm, bright, cozy place, with excellent service and lots of vegan and gluten-free items! Very close by. Good service. They even open up the roof in the summer!
One of Marin's most popular spots. There is always a line out the door. Yummy Puerto Rican food for under $10-20, depending on what you order. Share tables, vibrant, youthful urban feel. Take out option as well. Very close by. TIP: To avoid the line and eat in a nice garden setting, order from the to go counter, and tell them you want to eat outside, and walk down Lincoln about 100 feet, and hang a left to find the small patio with palm trees, etc.
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Sol Food
901 Lincoln Avenue
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One of Marin's most popular spots. There is always a line out the door. Yummy Puerto Rican food for under $10-20, depending on what you order. Share tables, vibrant, youthful urban feel. Take out option as well. Very close by. TIP: To avoid the line and eat in a nice garden setting, order from the to go counter, and tell them you want to eat outside, and walk down Lincoln about 100 feet, and hang a left to find the small patio with palm trees, etc.
Best breakfast in Marin, just a 10 minute drive! A huge, cool converted barn with high ceilings and patio seating. Be prepared for a short wait to be seated, but it's worth it. The tofu scramble is tasty, egg dishes are great, and they are known for their delicious pastries, made there daily.
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Half Day Cafe
848 College Avenue
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Best breakfast in Marin, just a 10 minute drive! A huge, cool converted barn with high ceilings and patio seating. Be prepared for a short wait to be seated, but it's worth it. The tofu scramble is tasty, egg dishes are great, and they are known for their delicious pastries, made there daily.
This place is a 5 minute drive from the house. While the food choices here are more limited than the other San Anselmo coffee shop, this place has the best outdoor seating for sipping your morning latte!
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The Coffee Roastery
701 San Anselmo Avenue
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This place is a 5 minute drive from the house. While the food choices here are more limited than the other San Anselmo coffee shop, this place has the best outdoor seating for sipping your morning latte!
This coffee shop has good coffee and food, and live music on Sat and Sun mornings! Right in the middle of downtown San Anselmo, 5 minutes from the house, this place is where lots of locals go for their morning cuppa joe.
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Marin Coffee Roasters
546 San Anselmo Avenue
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This coffee shop has good coffee and food, and live music on Sat and Sun mornings! Right in the middle of downtown San Anselmo, 5 minutes from the house, this place is where lots of locals go for their morning cuppa joe.
I like Cafe Del Soul smoothies and wraps, which are vegan and gluten free friendly. They've got soups, salads, & basic sandwiches. A quiet lunch spot with a few tables out front which you can usually score! Very close to the house.
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Café del Soul
1408 4th Street
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I like Cafe Del Soul smoothies and wraps, which are vegan and gluten free friendly. They've got soups, salads, & basic sandwiches. A quiet lunch spot with a few tables out front which you can usually score! Very close to the house.
Comforts is an intense gourmet deli on one side, and a sit-down restaurant with table service on the other. The deli is known for its delicious chinese chicken salads, but they have a tofu version for vegans or vegetarians. The deli is intense because there are always a ton of people in line, and the place is kinda chaotic with not the best customer service, but if you can handle that and gear up for it, you will enjoy it. There are tables inside and outside on a covered patio for diners of both the deli and the restaurant. Yummy desserts and smoothies, plus a full deli selection of meats and salads to choose from.
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Comforts
335 San Anselmo Avenue
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Comforts is an intense gourmet deli on one side, and a sit-down restaurant with table service on the other. The deli is known for its delicious chinese chicken salads, but they have a tofu version for vegans or vegetarians. The deli is intense because there are always a ton of people in line, and the place is kinda chaotic with not the best customer service, but if you can handle that and gear up for it, you will enjoy it. There are tables inside and outside on a covered patio for diners of both the deli and the restaurant. Yummy desserts and smoothies, plus a full deli selection of meats and salads to choose from.
Delicious Italian restaurant that’s always hopping busy. Be sure to call ahead for reservations.
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Il Davide
901 A Street
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Delicious Italian restaurant that’s always hopping busy. Be sure to call ahead for reservations.
Vegan and Gluten free muffins, extremely affordable, friendly service.
Muffin Mania
2 Bayview Street
Vegan and Gluten free muffins, extremely affordable, friendly service.
The perfect place for a quick bite- morning, noon or night! This is the place to fire up your laptop or meet a friend before catching a movie next door at the Rafael Theater. Soups, salads, sandwiches, desserts. Good vegan options.
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Aroma Cafe
1122 4th Street
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The perfect place for a quick bite- morning, noon or night! This is the place to fire up your laptop or meet a friend before catching a movie next door at the Rafael Theater. Soups, salads, sandwiches, desserts. Good vegan options.
Organic ice cream, including vegan flavors. Be prepared for a line out the door, but it’s typically worth the wait for a scoop of delicious ice cream for our local Strauss Family Creamery.
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Fairfax Scoop
63 Broadway
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Organic ice cream, including vegan flavors. Be prepared for a line out the door, but it’s typically worth the wait for a scoop of delicious ice cream for our local Strauss Family Creamery.
This is a fun place in downtown Fairfax with a nice outdoor patio. Try the cauliflower taco for an interesting vegan twist!
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Más Masa
31 Bolinas Rd
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This is a fun place in downtown Fairfax with a nice outdoor patio. Try the cauliflower taco for an interesting vegan twist!
This place is a seafood lover’s dream.
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Fish.
350 Harbor Dr
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This place is a seafood lover’s dream.
The original restaurant in a burgeoning Bay Area chain- Indian fusion food. Delicious.
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Avatar's
2656 Bridgeway
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The original restaurant in a burgeoning Bay Area chain- Indian fusion food. Delicious.
Delicious, elegant restaurant with tasty food. Always lively.
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Piazza D'Angelo
22 Miller Avenue
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Delicious, elegant restaurant with tasty food. Always lively.
Relaxing ambience, good food.
LaVier Latin Fusion Restaurant
1025 C St
Relaxing ambience, good food.
This small gluten-free bakery has delicious pastries, and some are also vegan. They have delicious soups, salads and lunchtime dishes as well.
Flour Craft Bakery
702 San Anselmo Avenue
This small gluten-free bakery has delicious pastries, and some are also vegan. They have delicious soups, salads and lunchtime dishes as well.
Drinks & Nightlife
A Marin landmark, the Sweetwater is a great local music venue with fabualous sound. The club hosts both local bands and major out of town names every night of the week. Just 15 minutes down the road in Mill Valley. They have a decent menu there as well, if you want to eat, drink and dance!
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Sweetwater Music Hall
19 Corte Madera Avenue
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A Marin landmark, the Sweetwater is a great local music venue with fabualous sound. The club hosts both local bands and major out of town names every night of the week. Just 15 minutes down the road in Mill Valley. They have a decent menu there as well, if you want to eat, drink and dance!
Former bassist for the Grateful Dead Phil Lesh and his wife Jill turned this former seafood restaurant into a thriving music club and restaurant. Tickets for music can be on the pricey side, but there is often free acoustic and electric music in the bar. When the weather is nice, you might try their weekend brunch, which also draws great music to the lovely outdoor patio that overlooks the canal.
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Terrapin Crossroads
100 Yacht Club Drive
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Former bassist for the Grateful Dead Phil Lesh and his wife Jill turned this former seafood restaurant into a thriving music club and restaurant. Tickets for music can be on the pricey side, but there is often free acoustic and electric music in the bar. When the weather is nice, you might try their weekend brunch, which also draws great music to the lovely outdoor patio that overlooks the canal.
This gorgeous new facility attracts some of the nation's best jazz musicians. Impeccable sound.
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SFJAZZ
201 Franklin St
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This gorgeous new facility attracts some of the nation's best jazz musicians. Impeccable sound.
Parks & Nature
Mount Tam has literally hundreds of hiking and mountain biking trails to explore, and I've got a map here at the house that you can borrow as long as you promise to bring it back! My favorite Mt. Tam trailheads start in Fairfax (Yolanda Trail, Cascade Falls, Lake Lagunitas), the warmer side, but there are also some worth checking out from Mill Valley and Ross (Phoenix Lake).
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Mount Tamalpais
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Mount Tam has literally hundreds of hiking and mountain biking trails to explore, and I've got a map here at the house that you can borrow as long as you promise to bring it back! My favorite Mt. Tam trailheads start in Fairfax (Yolanda Trail, Cascade Falls, Lake Lagunitas), the warmer side, but there are also some worth checking out from Mill Valley and Ross (Phoenix Lake).
The Visitor Center is staffed with Rangers that can provide you with detailed maps, camping permits, and any other info you might want about the pristine Point Reyes National Seashore. There are loads of hiking trails and beaches to explore. Be sure to check out Bass Lake, if you want to swim!
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Point Reyes National Seashore
1 Point Reyes-Petaluma Rd
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The Visitor Center is staffed with Rangers that can provide you with detailed maps, camping permits, and any other info you might want about the pristine Point Reyes National Seashore. There are loads of hiking trails and beaches to explore. Be sure to check out Bass Lake, if you want to swim!
Limantour is my favorite beach in west Marin because it's less known by tourists, has nice sand dunes and lots of room to roam on long walks, and most important to me, it has a dog-friendly part. It's about 40-45 minutes from my house. Bring an umbrella or pitch a tent and go out for the day! NOTE- it can sometimes be foggy and cool out at the beach when it is warm and sunny in San Rafael, so check the weather online before heading out, and bring lots of layers to be safe. There is a short 1/4 mile walk from the parking area to the beach, but it is flat and easy to walk. Driving toward the beach, you should take the last left hand turn from the main road to find the dog-friendly section.
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Limantour Beach
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Limantour is my favorite beach in west Marin because it's less known by tourists, has nice sand dunes and lots of room to roam on long walks, and most important to me, it has a dog-friendly part. It's about 40-45 minutes from my house. Bring an umbrella or pitch a tent and go out for the day! NOTE- it can sometimes be foggy and cool out at the beach when it is warm and sunny in San Rafael, so check the weather online before heading out, and bring lots of layers to be safe. There is a short 1/4 mile walk from the parking area to the beach, but it is flat and easy to walk. Driving toward the beach, you should take the last left hand turn from the main road to find the dog-friendly section.
Phoenix Lake is one of the closest hiking trails to my home, and it is beautiful, mostly level walk. Most people can make it around the lake in about 45 minutes to an hour, so it is a great hike if you don't have a lot of time but want to get a nice dose of Marin County's natural beauty. The only challenge about this hike is that the parking lot is small and there is no parking on nearby streets, so you may need to sit in your car and wait for someone to leave in order for you to be able to park.
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Natalie Coffin Greene Park
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Phoenix Lake is one of the closest hiking trails to my home, and it is beautiful, mostly level walk. Most people can make it around the lake in about 45 minutes to an hour, so it is a great hike if you don't have a lot of time but want to get a nice dose of Marin County's natural beauty. The only challenge about this hike is that the parking lot is small and there is no parking on nearby streets, so you may need to sit in your car and wait for someone to leave in order for you to be able to park.
There a number of great hiking trails accessible from this school parking lot! I particularly like the Yolanda Trail!
Deer Park School
There a number of great hiking trails accessible from this school parking lot! I particularly like the Yolanda Trail!
This moderately challenging hike has some of the most sweeping panoramic views of the Bay Area once you get up to the top of the small hill. This is a gorgeous place to walk and take in the unique beauty of the Bay Area.
Ring Mountain
This moderately challenging hike has some of the most sweeping panoramic views of the Bay Area once you get up to the top of the small hill. This is a gorgeous place to walk and take in the unique beauty of the Bay Area.
A more remote area, but still fairly popular is Little Carson Falls near Pine Mountain. Start at Azalea Hill and take Pine Mountain Fire Road to Oat Hill Fire Road. Head west on Oat Hill Fire Road and you will see Little Carson Trail starting off on the right. Follow the trail about half mile downhill to reach the falls. Continuing on the trail past the falls will take you down a steep hill towards Kent Pump Fire Road above Kent Lake. Keep a sharp eye for the Yellow Legged Frogs that call the falls home.
Pine Mountain Fire Road
A more remote area, but still fairly popular is Little Carson Falls near Pine Mountain. Start at Azalea Hill and take Pine Mountain Fire Road to Oat Hill Fire Road. Head west on Oat Hill Fire Road and you will see Little Carson Trail starting off on the right. Follow the trail about half mile downhill to reach the falls. Continuing on the trail past the falls will take you down a steep hill towards Kent Pump Fire Road above Kent Lake. Keep a sharp eye for the Yellow Legged Frogs that call the falls home.
For panoramic vistas of San Anselmo & San Rafael, try our neighborhood hiking trail on the ridge overlooking Sun Valley! Walk there by heading right on 5th Ave past Andy's. The Sun Valley trailhead is just past the school, which is a block from the market. It's a vigorous switchback. Or the ridge is a 4 min drive from here. Take Solano past the Park, go left on K St. Make a right on Forbes, then take your next left on Elizabeth Way. Take Elizabeth up the hill & veer left at the top. Make a right on Ridgewood Dr. Take it until it ends at the trailhead. Park & walk in. Enjoy a 30-60 min walk. Be sure to climb the hill on the left for stunning panoramic vistas, about 15 mins in!
Terra Linda-Sleepy Hollow Divide Northern Preserve
For panoramic vistas of San Anselmo & San Rafael, try our neighborhood hiking trail on the ridge overlooking Sun Valley! Walk there by heading right on 5th Ave past Andy's. The Sun Valley trailhead is just past the school, which is a block from the market. It's a vigorous switchback. Or the ridge is a 4 min drive from here. Take Solano past the Park, go left on K St. Make a right on Forbes, then take your next left on Elizabeth Way. Take Elizabeth up the hill & veer left at the top. Make a right on Ridgewood Dr. Take it until it ends at the trailhead. Park & walk in. Enjoy a 30-60 min walk. Be sure to climb the hill on the left for stunning panoramic vistas, about 15 mins in!
Sightseeing
Sausalito is a quaint little town that hugs the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge and sits on the San Francisco Bay. Lots of tourists roam the streets and take the ferry over from San Francisco, but there are some beautiful walks along the waterfront with spectacular views! This little town also has lots of cute local shops to buy gifts in, and there are some nice restaurants worth checking out as well (Poggio's, Sushi Ran). There are outdoor concerts during the summer, but they can be on the cool side, especially in August, because when the fog rolls in, Sausalito becomes the refrigerator of Marin County. It's a great place to cool off when you need a break from the heat at my house!
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Sausalito
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Sausalito is a quaint little town that hugs the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge and sits on the San Francisco Bay. Lots of tourists roam the streets and take the ferry over from San Francisco, but there are some beautiful walks along the waterfront with spectacular views! This little town also has lots of cute local shops to buy gifts in, and there are some nice restaurants worth checking out as well (Poggio's, Sushi Ran). There are outdoor concerts during the summer, but they can be on the cool side, especially in August, because when the fog rolls in, Sausalito becomes the refrigerator of Marin County. It's a great place to cool off when you need a break from the heat at my house!
Of course, no trip to the San Francisco Bay Area would be complete without a stop and a walk along the world's most beautiful bridge. You can park on either the Marin or the SF side. Be sure to bring a warm coat, as it can get windy and chilly there, depending on what time of year it is!
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Golden Gate-brúin
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Of course, no trip to the San Francisco Bay Area would be complete without a stop and a walk along the world's most beautiful bridge. You can park on either the Marin or the SF side. Be sure to bring a warm coat, as it can get windy and chilly there, depending on what time of year it is!
If you want to be a tourist in San Francisco, then you won't want to miss a trip to Fisherman's Wharf, an iconic SF neighborhood spot. Watch them make Ghirardelli Chocolates and stroll along the waterfront!
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Fisherman's Wharf
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If you want to be a tourist in San Francisco, then you won't want to miss a trip to Fisherman's Wharf, an iconic SF neighborhood spot. Watch them make Ghirardelli Chocolates and stroll along the waterfront!
If you find yourself over in the East Bay for any reason, be sure to stop onto the UC Berkeley campus, an historic spot where the Free Speech Movement was born! Sproul Plaza is still home to a variety of protests, speakers and entertainers, so check it out and see how Berzerkely got it's nickname!
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University of California, Berkeley
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If you find yourself over in the East Bay for any reason, be sure to stop onto the UC Berkeley campus, an historic spot where the Free Speech Movement was born! Sproul Plaza is still home to a variety of protests, speakers and entertainers, so check it out and see how Berzerkely got it's nickname!
Essentials
For health conscious guests, you can shop at Whole Foods, less than a 10 minute drive away. This store makes yummy smoothies, and it has a coffee bar, a salad and a hot bar with a choice of daily soups that makes this a great spot for lunch on the run, or for stocking up for a road trip. Trader Joe's is just across the street as well!
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Whole Foods Market
340 3rd Street
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For health conscious guests, you can shop at Whole Foods, less than a 10 minute drive away. This store makes yummy smoothies, and it has a coffee bar, a salad and a hot bar with a choice of daily soups that makes this a great spot for lunch on the run, or for stocking up for a road trip. Trader Joe's is just across the street as well!
This all-organic, locally owned grocery store is about a 10 minute drive away and hosts a fabulous, hot bar of delicious foods, including build your own stir fries, soups, pizzas, etc. They make smoothies as well, and have lots of vegan and gluten free options to choose from. The groceries are VERY expensive, so I like to go for a quick meal at the hot bar and shop elsewhere for groceries. They have nice indoor and outdoor seating if you want to eat there and watch all of Marin's "cool hipsters" shopping in their yoga or ecstatic dance pants.
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Good Earth Natural Foods
720 Center Boulevard
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This all-organic, locally owned grocery store is about a 10 minute drive away and hosts a fabulous, hot bar of delicious foods, including build your own stir fries, soups, pizzas, etc. They make smoothies as well, and have lots of vegan and gluten free options to choose from. The groceries are VERY expensive, so I like to go for a quick meal at the hot bar and shop elsewhere for groceries. They have nice indoor and outdoor seating if you want to eat there and watch all of Marin's "cool hipsters" shopping in their yoga or ecstatic dance pants.
Walk 2 short blocks to our neighborhood market! Nice outdoor seating. Get your basics here, not real vegan-friendly, but they do offer coffee drinks, side salads/hot items, fresh pizzas & sandwiches, plus lots of grocery items. Prices are a little inflated because it is a small store.
Andy's Sun Valley Market
2202 Fifth Avenue
Walk 2 short blocks to our neighborhood market! Nice outdoor seating. Get your basics here, not real vegan-friendly, but they do offer coffee drinks, side salads/hot items, fresh pizzas & sandwiches, plus lots of grocery items. Prices are a little inflated because it is a small store.
Getting Around
Driving into San Francisco can be STRESSFUL due to traffic delays and expensive parking garages. If you want to explore the City during the day, you might enjoy the ferry as a fun, stress-free way to explore San Francisco by foot. The last boat back is rather early in the evening, so it is still best to drive into SF if you are planning to stay long past dinner. The Larkspur Ferry is the closest terminal to my home (about a 10 minute drive), and it has the best parking lot if you want to drive there and leave your car for the day while you take a ferry into San Francisco. To see the schedule, visit http://goldengateferry.org/schedules/Larkspur.php.
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Larkspur
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Driving into San Francisco can be STRESSFUL due to traffic delays and expensive parking garages. If you want to explore the City during the day, you might enjoy the ferry as a fun, stress-free way to explore San Francisco by foot. The last boat back is rather early in the evening, so it is still best to drive into SF if you are planning to stay long past dinner. The Larkspur Ferry is the closest terminal to my home (about a 10 minute drive), and it has the best parking lot if you want to drive there and leave your car for the day while you take a ferry into San Francisco. To see the schedule, visit http://goldengateferry.org/schedules/Larkspur.php.
Buses are always an option into and out of Marin, and this transit center is the closest drop-off point to my home. If you want an affordable way to get to or from the San Francisco airport, check out the Marin Airporter for $22 (cash only) each way at http://www.marinairporter.com/index.php/sfo-airporter-service. Buses leave every half hour, and if you decide to come that way, let me know and I can try to pick you up if I know when you'll be there!
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San Rafael Transit Center
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Buses are always an option into and out of Marin, and this transit center is the closest drop-off point to my home. If you want an affordable way to get to or from the San Francisco airport, check out the Marin Airporter for $22 (cash only) each way at http://www.marinairporter.com/index.php/sfo-airporter-service. Buses leave every half hour, and if you decide to come that way, let me know and I can try to pick you up if I know when you'll be there!
Arts & Culture
A perfect destination on a rainy winter day! SF MOMA was recently renovated and expanded, so be sure to check out all of the amazing permanent and temporary exhibits.
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San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
151 3rd St
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A perfect destination on a rainy winter day! SF MOMA was recently renovated and expanded, so be sure to check out all of the amazing permanent and temporary exhibits.
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Berkeley Repertory Theatre
2025 Addison Street
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