There are few towns in California that offer a fully-immersive bay-front experience, and Tiburon on a peninsula of the Bay Area in Northern California is one of them. Tiburon is the charming, sophisticated neighborhood of Marin County, where luxury yachts are docked on the marina and miles of deep blue water are perfectly met with the foggy outline of the San Francisco cityscape. There are many different things to do in Tiburon from hiking and biking, to wining and dining, making it the perfect place for a relaxing getaway. While only a thirty-minute drive or ferry ride to San Francisco, and one hour to Napa Valley, Tiburon is a destination in and of itself and one worth visiting, even if only for a weekend. If you’ve ever traveled to the maritime water-front town of Mystic, Connecticut, Tiburon, with its quaint seafaring feel is like the Mystic of the West.
To Stay: Waters Edge Hotel – Bay-Front Views at the Greatest of Tiburon Hotels
Waters Edge Hotel is the premiere lodging destination in Tiburon, California. If the name doesn’t give it away, this 23-room boutique hotel is built right on the water and overlooks the Corinthian Yacht Club while offering impressive views of the bay and San Francisco skyline. The design at Waters Edge is equal parts nautical and rustic luxury, while staying true to its surroundings with attractive seafaring decor in shades of ocean blue. Each room is equipped with plush beds, deep soaking tubs, and its own wood burning fireplace to bring on an element of romance to an already intimate and cozy atmosphere. Furthermore, Waters Edge is a Certified Green Hotel, and is involved in a number of sustainability and conservation efforts — always a major plus in my book (or blog). The location of Waters Edge is also incredibly ideal. The hotel is conveniently located in the heart of downtown Tiburon, just seconds away from restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, and attractions. The area is extremely walkable; however complimentary bikes are also provided by the hotel to discover this extremely bike-friendly town.
At Waters Edge, hospitality is the priority above all else. A complimentary daily continental breakfast is served directly to your room complete with fresh baked pastries from Marin County’s famed Rustic Bakery. Here you can truly relish the luxury of having breakfast in bed, or enjoy it out on your in-suite balcony above the water before touring the town. After spending the day exploring Tiburon, return to Waters Edge for the complimentary wine reception held every evening as the sun sets. A selection of fine wines and cheese await you in the lobby, however are best enjoyed al fresco on the hotel’s large deck overlooking the bay. The back deck is the ideal place to watch the incredible bay sunsets over the San Francisco skyline, as lounge furniture, a fireplace, and light music are all in place to keep you cozy as you enjoy your evening glass of wine. The service doesn’t stop there; fresh baked cookies are served every night after dinner hours to finish your evening off with something sweet. At Waters Edge, you will truly feel spoiled during your stay.
To Do: Tiberon to Angel Island Island Ferry to Explore the Natural Gem of the Bay
Tiburon is the closest point to Angel Island, a beautiful hidden gem of the bay. The Angel Island Ferry is found directly next to the Waters Edge Hotel and operates 7 days a week. Angel Island and the encompassing Angel Island State Park offers panoramic views of San Francisco skyscrapers, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the surrounding Bay Area. Tiburon houses stacked high on top of one another on the cliffs across the bay will make you question if you’re still in California, or if you have been transported to the Italian coast or island of Sardinia.
Just a quick 10 minute ferry ride from Tiburon for $15 per adult will bring you to Angel Island, where you can enjoy the beaches, hiking, a cafe and cantina, sunset cruises, and various tour offerings. Angel Island is a motor-less island except for the tram which provides guided tours, but is very walkable. A two-mile hike will take all around the island offering amazing 360 views. Those feeling extra adventurous can even camp overnight on the park’s camp grounds and enjoy the serenity of the unique beach/forest terrain. Natural beauty aside, Angel Island serves as an important landmark of US history for its role as a United States Immigration Station from 1910 – 1940. A beautifully resorted museum details the history of those who came through Angel Island 100 years ago, and buildings from the civil war era still remain on the island making it a fascinating place for history buffs and nature-lovers the same.
5 More Things to do in Tiburon: Nature-Lover’s Paradise on Tiburon Hikes and More
- Rent an electric bike from Pedago and take it on the Tiburon bike path which hugs the Richardson Bay.
- Hike Old St. Hillary’s Open Space Preserve: a pleasant hike with rewarding views and an iconic horse statue on a rare wildflower preserve.
- Find the secret swing at Hippie Tree: To get there, drive all the way up Gilmartin Drive and look for the fire road on your left with a small turnout to park your car. It is the last trail before hitting the dead end. A quick 10-15 minute will bring you to a sweeping lookout with 2 swings to enjoy.
- Go wine tasting at Tiburon Wine: sample a flight of California wines at this small wine shop with outdoor seating options, then pick up a bottle to enjoy on a picnic after your preferred hike.
- Drive or walk through the neighborhood of Belvedere: where enormous houses with enormous views will make you rethink your entire life goals or retirement plan.
To Eat: From Fine Italian to Fresh Seafood at the Tastiest Restaurants in Tiburon
Sam’s Anchor Cafe
With a fun and vibrant outdoor patio set right on the Bay, Sam’s Anchor Cafe is the perfect place for a boozy weekend brunch with a waterfront view. The atmosphere is lively, which could be partially attributed to the bowls (yes, bowls) of Aperol spritzers and other types of alcoholic confections freely flowing among friends. The service is as fantastic as the food, where fresh seafood is the star of the menu. With the smell of salt in the air, there isn’t anything better than a plate of fish and chips paired with a zesty Bloody Mary or a crisp bottle of rosė. Other classic seafood favorites such as fresh ceviche, ahi poké, and crab cakes are found among more innovative offerings such as a salmon bahn mi served on a thick French roll, or a savory seafood frittata. As for libations, if a giant bowl of booze isn’t quite your speed, a wine list featuring bottles from all along the California coast are sure to not disappoint. Don’t forget to try the bread pudding (my personal favorite) or the chocolate mousse for dessert; with a view like Sam’s, you’ll want any excuse to linger.
Self-proclaimed as “the most non-exclusive yacht club on the bay” Sam’s Cafe isn’t exclusively great for brunch. With week night specials such as “wine and dime” Tuesdays (get a second glass of wine for only ten cents) or live music and karaoke on Thursdays, Sam’s Cafe is sure to deliver seafood favorites cooked to perfection in a fun and lively setting any time of the week. If fresh seafood, great drinks, and a bustling environment is what you crave, there is no better place than Sam’s Anchor Cafe in Tiburon.
Servino is a family-owned fine Italian restaurant set right on the water in the heart of Downtown Tiburon. A wood-burning oven and impressive wine list of both Italian and California wines are what make Servino a truly stand-out restaurant. For lunch and dinner, a menu of Southern Italian classics such as hand-made pastas and thin crust pizzas are met with fresh and sustainable seafood and served in a mellow and classy ambiance with impeccable service. A beautiful back patio also makes Servino a dreamy spot to enjoy happy hour or Sunday brunch. There is even an upper deck and salon for private dining, perfect for those special get togethers. All dishes at Servino are prepared with fresh, local ingredients in support of local Marin purveyors. With hometown family recipes, it seems as though anything ordered at Servino will be sure to impress, from appetizers like carpaccios and crudos to mains such as spaghetti and pappardelle (which can also been made gluten-free upon request.)
A few star dishes found at Servino starts with the burrata and grilled eggplant with mint and Sicilian extra virgin olive oil. The eggplant is served cold and combined with the nuttiness of the olive oil and creamy burrata makes for a combination that is both bright and savory, and pairs perfectly with a light glass of prosecco. Next, the raviolacci, a handmade ravioli-type pasta filled with braising greens and sheep ricotta served with a black truffle sauce is truly one-of-a-kind. This dish brings about flavors of umami and earthiness from the truffle and greens, making it feel hearty and satisfying without any meat. The baked eggplant deserves an honorary mention, too which cooked right in the wood-burning oven might just be one of the best eggplant parmigiana found in the Bay Area. These dishes all pair perfectly with one of the Italian white wines curated by the in-house sommelier.
Many people often judge an Italian restaurant by the quality of the pastas, but I always go straight to the branzino. At Servino, the branzino is exactly what it should be: light, flakey, and decadent. The fish is deboned and filleted then baked in the wood-burning oven on a cast iron skillet, and served on a bed of arugula, capers, olives, and fresh tomato. The tartness of the tomatoes and olives balances the richness of the fish perfectly, while satisfying the tastebuds with the combination of savory with slightly salty and tart. As for dessert, among the list of Italian favorites all made in-house, are two not-to-be-missed: the family recipe of a classic tiramisu served at Servino since 1978, and the more rare find, sable di mandrel which is comprised of a Tortino short dough with almond frangipani, and served with fresh berries and pastry cream. Both these desserts are the perfect way to end an Italian feast, with a glass oaky chardonnay to top it off.
For a morning coffee or a quick and casual lunch, Caffe Acri is the go-to serving all day breakfast, pastries, and sandwiches. Large open seating and good strong coffee make it a nice place to stop by for either a quick eat, a leisurely hang, or a place to bring your laptop and hunker down on work. They even have a small beer and wine menu for when you’re looking for more than just coffee for an afternoon pick-me-up. Tip: Pick up some coffee and pastries before heading to the ferry and enjoy your treats on the beautiful Angel Island.
Whether you are visiting Tiburon for a romantic getaway, a relaxing weekend with friends, for business, or passing through on Northern California road trip, there is so much to be admired about this pristine, waterfront beauty in Marin County. With trails that lead to aw-inspiring views at every turn, a variety of waterfront dining options, access to the best wines of California, and the stunning Angel Island a stone’s throw away, Tiburon is a little slice of heaven in Northern California. Next time you find yourself in the Bay, take some time to appreciate the beauty of Tiburon, because it is truly one of a kind.