A week on a tropical island wasn’t in the cards for my family last spring, so we did the next best thing: drove 20 minutes from our Mill Valley home to the town of Tiburon for an overnight bayside fix. Situated on a peninsula that juts into San Francisco Bay, Tiburon boasts killer views of San Francisco’s skyline and Angel Island. The town also is rich in history and opportunities for outdoor fun on land or water. Ferrying across the bay to Angel Island is a must. Once there, you can hike or bike — rentals are available — and visit the island’s former immigration station, now a museum. Back in Tiburon, browse upscale shops in Main Street’s Gold Rush-era buildings and Ark Row’s converted turn-of-the-century houseboats. Or linger at Shoreline Park and drink in vistas of the Golden Gate Bridge. The cost: About $500 for one night at Waters Edge Hotel, meals and ferry tickets for three.
We sprang for a deluxe room with a bay view at Waters Edge Hotel, next to the ferry landing. It featured contemporary navy-and-white nautical decor, a fireplace and a private deck. Rates include continental breakfast delivered to your door. The hotel also lends bikes.
Don Antonio Trattoria, housed in a cozy cottage, is a local favorite for dinner. We left content after feasting on fresh burrata, gnocchi and lasagna. Before heading home, we lunched on the deck at Sam’s Anchor Cafe and watched sailboats glide in and out of the harbor. Beer-battered fish and chips hit the spot — and tempted cheeky gulls to dive-bomb our plates.
We got a big dose of Tiburon’s railroad history at the tiny Railroad & Ferry Depot Museum in the Donahue building, named for railway pioneer Peter Donahue, who brought the San Francisco and North Pacific Railroad to Tiburon in the 1880s. The museum includes a model of old Tiburon and the railroad.
THE LESSON LEARNED
Unless you’re part of a large group, you can’t buy Angel Island ferry tickets in advance. They’re sold on a first-come, first-served basis at the dock. Take cash or a check; credit cards aren’t accepted.
Waters Edge Hotel, 25 Main St., Tiburon; (415) 789-5999. Rooms from $279. Wheelchair-accessible.
Don Antonio Trattoria, 114 Main St., Tiburon; (415) 435-0400. Dinner 5-9:30 p.m. Closed Mondays. Wheelchair-accessible.
Sam’s Anchor Café, 27 Main St., Tiburon; (415) 435-4527. Open daily; check website for hours. Wheelchair-accessible. (Closing Monday for renovations, with full reopening April 7.)
Tiburon Railroad & Ferry Depot Museum, 1920 Paradise Drive, Tiburon; (415) 435-1853. Open April through October, 1-4 p.m., Wednesdays-Sundays. Wheelchair-accessible.
Angel Island-Tiburon Ferry, 21 Main St., Tiburon; (415) 435-2131. Round-trip tickets cost $15 for adults; $13 for children 6-12; $5 for children 3-5; free for toddlers. See website for schedules. Wheelchair-accessible.