Mill Valley is a city in Marin County, in the North Bay region of the Bay Area of California. The city begins in the canyons and ridges at the base of Mount Tamalpais and extends into a broad valley that reaches the Richardson Bay portion of the San Francisco Bay.
By carMill Valley is easiest to see by car. From Highway 101 take the Mill Valley/Tiburon Blvd exit or the Mill Valley/Stinson Beach exit.
By busBuses from San Francisco drop off along the highway. Commuter buses run into downtown as well as to and from the ferry in nearby Tiburon.
Mill Valley is served by Golden Gate Transit route 4, a commuter route to San Francisco, and by Marin Transit route 17. Note that (as of September 2019) Google Maps displays stops on both sides of the street as a single stop — make sure you are at the correct side for your destination.
While downtown is nice to see on foot, the parks and woods are best reached by car. Mountain bikes were invented near here, and remain a popular way to get around.
Mill Valley MillNot much remains of the original structure, but it's a pretty spot in a redwood lined riverbed. A railroad car from the Old Railroad Grade—the main route up Mt. Tamalpais for sightseers in the early-1900s—stands opposite the mill.
is home to 560 acres (2.2 km 2 ) of unlogged stands of old-growth redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens), and is one of the few remaining places where these trees (the tallest living things on the planet) can be seen in their full glory. Many of the redwoods are over 200 feet (60 m) tall and over 600 years old. The woodland is served by a number of trails which weave between the redwoods - wheelchair-accessible boardwalks as well as hiking trails. The sunlight filtering through the redwood canopy to the valley below is incredibly beautiful and peaceful. In fact, when the UN was being founded in 1945, the delegates were taken to Muir Woods in order to inspire them with the peaceful ideal which the UN was intended to have.
Park entry costs $10. Address: Frank Valley (Muir Woods) Road, Phone: +1-415-388-2596. Hours: 8AM-sunset every day.
Despite being close to the San Francisco Bay Area, access can be difficult. There are several options, ordered from best to worse (when available):
- Muir Woods Shuttle (Marin Transit route #66 and #66F) is the cheapest option at $3 round-trip, but tickets must be bought in advance online or by phone: 1-800-410-2419. Route 66 serves the Pohono Park & Ride just off the Highway 101 exit for Highway 1/Mill Valley/Stinson Beach, while route 66F serves the Sausalito ferry terminal. Be aware that the shuttle only runs on limited dates. On weekends and holidays, both #66 and #66F run year round. Weekday service only runs from June to August, and only on route #66F. Be sure to check your exact date very carefully to make sure the shuttle is available. The public transportation options for reaching routes 66/66F are themselves scenic: Golden Gate Transit #4 connects downtown San Francisco to Pohono Park & Ride over the Golden Gate Bridge (you will travel in the reverse commute direction, so check the schedule ahead of time). Ferries to Sausalito operate from San Francisco (Ferry Building or Fisherman's Wharf) and have a beautiful view of the bay, the surrounding hills, the San Francisco skyline, and the Golden Gate Bridge.
- A number of tour companies run organized tours to Muir Woods. See list.
- Driving to Muir Woods is possible all year round, but parking is extremely limited, costs $8, and requires a reservation online or by phone: 1-800-410-2419 (using the same system as for shuttle tickets). You are recommended to carpool, and to come at the beginning or end of the day.
- There is no cell phone service in and near Muir Woods. You can order an Uber/Lyft to take you to Muir Woods, but you won't be able to order one back, unless arranged ahead of time. Sometimes there are taxis waiting in the Muir Woods parking lot, but don't assume this will be the case. The park office can call a taxi for you, but it might take a long time to come. Taxi fare to Sausalito Ferry is about $40.
- From the park entrance, you can hike about 2 miles, mostly uphill, to Panoramic Highway where the bus 61 runs - just 4 times a day in each direction.
HikingMill Valley is the starting point for a number of long hikes in the redwood forests of Mount Tam and beyond to the coast.
Green Gulch Farms & Zen Centerphone: +1-415-383-3134address: 1601 Shoreline HighwayDaily Meditation 8:30AM. Weekend and longer retreats and various workshops in Zen practice and organic farming.
Mill Valley Fall Arts Festivaladdress: Old Mill Park
phone: +1-415-388-5200address: 397 Miller Avenue
Depot BookstoreA famously nice spot with a cafe and excellent selection of books.
Two NeatNovelty products shop, along with movies, CDs and cards.
phone: +1-415-326-5159address: 31 Sunnyside AveFor great breakfast foods where the locals eat.
Piazza D'Angeloaddress: 22 Miller AvA Marin institution, D'Angelo's is no simple pizza place. Casual-dressy Italian food. Reservations recommended on weekends or holidays.
La Ginestraaddress: 127 Throckmorton AvGreat family-style Italian food including pizza and ravioli.
Joe's Taco Loungeaddress: 382 Miller AvHealthy Californian-Mexican. Seafood tacos and burritos are their specialty, but the decor is worth the trip. $5–10
El Paseo Restaurantaddress: 17 Throckmorton AveFor a delicious, and rather expensive, dinner out, try this upscale Italian/California cuisine restaurant and Mill Valley institution.
Pearls Phat Burgerphone: +1-415-381-6010address: 8 E BlithedaleGreat burgers.
Sol FoodPuerto Rican food that's very popular with the locals.
phone: +1-415-388-3850address: 19 Corte Madera AveLocal bar and music venue with a surprisingly Big Name shows.
The 2AM Club
Buckeye Roadhousephone: +1-415-331-2600address: 15 Shoreline Hwy
phone: +1-415-381-9000address: 810 Panoramic Hwy
Alpine Lodgeaddress: 730 Panoramic HwyAnd Echo Summit Lodge. Located on Mt. Tamalpais are open to California Alpine Club Members and their guests, Alpine Lodge is open as a hostel-style B&B on some weekends in July and August.
phone: +1-415-383-8716address: 508 Shasta Way
phone: +1-415-332-5700address: 160 Shoreline Hwy
phone: +1-415-380-0400address: 555 Redwood HwyPart of the Joie de Vivre Hotels collection of boutique hotels. Easy highway access and rooms with a view of Richardson Bay.
phone: +1-415-389-6608address: 165 Throckmorton AveAn intimate, small hotel tucked away in a redwood grove at the foot of Mt. Tamalpais, just steps away from the bustling town plaza.
phone: +1-415-332-5700address: 160 Shoreline HighwayLocated in Marin County and recently remodeled, this hotel offers complimentary trail bicycles, S'mores kits and have free fanny packs for your hike.
Common sense should prevail, though. Do not hike alone when rambling across the trails in Mill Valley and Mt. Tamalpais. The likelihood of having a negative encounter during a hike is minimal, but you will benefit greatly with the aid of another person should you meet an unsavory character—animal or human—along the way.
- Tiburon and the ferry to San Francisco
- Corte Madera. Home to a major shopping center and some nice parks.
- San Francisco. The toll for the Golden Gate bridge is $6.
- Stinson Beach. Try to avoid the mid-day crowds. Leave early, and take backroads instead of Highway 1.