Tiburon, California: The Fundamentals of Marin County

Tiburon is a peninsula parallel to Sausalito, jutting four miles into San Francisco Bay. It faces the city of San Francisco, Alcatraz and Angel Island. Once the terminus of the Northwest Pacific Railroad, it shipped the redwood that built and rebuilt San Francisco. In 1967 the trains stopped running and activist locals stopped over-development of the peninsula. They preserved Blacky’s Pasture, named for a beloved horse. Rail beds were turned into a bay front park for bikers and hikers. Hills above town were conserved as open space. Ark Row and the shortest Main Street in America were lovingly preserved.

On Friday nights in summer, Main Street is the site of a public celebration. Restaurants tables move to the street. Crowds of kids swarm around the town fountain. A fortunate local ordinance allows open beverage containers. Two bands play. Couples dance as tweens commune. It’s a tender idyll for all to enjoy.

Where to Go:

Sam’s provides seafood, drinks and a seat on the Bay. Guaymas has long been celebrated for fine Mexican fare. Happy hour there is legendary, as is the Tiburon Lodge’s. Servino’s bar is hoppin’, there’s always music on Fridays and their Italian food is pleasant. Ginza has extraordinary sushi; the Dragon Roll is a masterpiece. Bistro 55 is new and draws crowds. Pancho’s on Ark Row serves yummy home-cooked Mexican food for under $10.

Take a ferry to the city – but be aware: they stop running early most nights. The last one to San Francisco on Friday is at 8:45. But talk about a sunset ride…

What to Do:

Sample the best Italian wines, cheeses, chocolate and espresso at Prima Palate on Ark Row. Shop Koze’s or plant your nose on the windows of other boutiques for some of the finest threads west of Paris. Take in a flick at the triplex theatre, a town treasure, also on Main. Enjoy the music, face painting, outdoor dining and streaming happy crowds at Fridays on Main. Wander the shops on Ark Row. Sample wine at the Art Bar or the Windsor Tasting Room. Take a promenade along the waterfront past the site of the old train station and on to Caprice for a splurge with a view. Jump on the Angel Island ferry’s dinner cruise, glide by Sausalito and under the Golden Gate. Go to the candy store; young and old cannot forebear in this palace of treats. Or, a short way out of town, go to the top of Lyford Drive and park, then walk any of the paths leading toward the Bay for a stunning panorama and one of the only 360 degree views in the Bay Area.

Tiburon is wealthy in the most important sense: it offers endless delights, memories that any pocketbook can afford, and real joy in the faces of the participants every Friday in summer.

Where to Stay:

The Tiburon Lodge has comfortable rooms, a fine restaurant and bar, and terrific public spaces to gather with family or friends. Its rates are reasonable and it’s a smart place to base yourself for forays in Marin, San Fran or the wine country.

Water’s Edge Hotel is a romantic spot to drop anchor. It’s right on the harbor with water views and graceful appointments. Reasonably priced for the value delivered, it might be the best place on San Francisco Bay to sample all of its abounding pleasures. Ferry to the city in the morning, return to Tiburon on the last boat to enjoy dinner and a stroll on Main. Catch a nightcap at Servino’s.


How to Get There:

Tiburon is at the end of Route 131, the sixth exit north of the Golden Gate Bridge. There is a ferry that runs from the SF Ferry Building and mid-day from Pier 41. Check the online schedule for the Blue and Gold Fleet.

Marty Perlmutter Written by:

Marty and his family spent a year circling the globe; he’s hoping to do it again. Marty and wife Miki wrote a guide to Napa wine country for the California Automobile Association. They love camping almost as much as they love spas. Marty has written for the Boston Phoenix and San Francisco Chronicle. He has edited two multimedia newsletters and has been working in interactive video for decades, producing and recruiting.