Things to Do

How to Do a Self-Guided Sausalito Walking Tour

If you’re visiting Sausalito for a day, you might wonder about the town’s history. After all, Sausalito has a beautiful waterfront with historic homes and businesses – and that’s nothing to speak about our maritime history of ferries, military ships, and houseboats.

During your Sausalito trip, you can easily take a short self-guided walking tour of Sausalito. The Sausalito Historical Society has put together a short six-stop walking tour through the downtown area and along the Bridgeway Promenade. It’s a short one-mile route from start to finish, and it’s a great way to see historic photos and learn about different chapters in our past. Read on to learn how to do this easy, historic self-guided Sausalito walking tour.

Sausalito is the traditional lands of the Graton Rancheria, Miwok, and Me-Wuk (Coast Miwok) peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation to the past and present stewards of these lands. To learn more, I invite you to explore Native Land.

Self-Guided Sausalito Walking Tour Route

Sausalito Walking Tour Map
Click to interact with the map!
  • Total Distance: 1 mile
  • Estimated Time: 20-25 minutes

To begin the walking tour, you need to reach the starting point! Assuming you arrive in Sausalito on the San Francisco ferry, here’s how to do it.

From the Ferry Terminal, turn left and walk onto El Portal. When you reach Bridgeway, turn right and pass Viña del Mar Park – keep an eye out for Sausalito’s famous elephant statues! Cross Anchor Street and continue along Bridgeway past the Praça de Cascais; there’s a public restroom here if you need it before starting the walking tour. At the intersection of Bay Street, cross and you’ll arrive at the Sausalito Historical Society/The Ice House. The first plaque for the walking tour is located on the south side of the building.

If you arrive in Sausalito by bus, you can get off at the Bridgeway & Bay St and walk to the intersection. If you’re coming to Sausalito by bike, ride to the Ferry Terminal and lock up your bike there. Then walk to the starting point for this self-guided Sausalito walking tour.

Starting Point: Sausalito Before the Bridge

Sausalito Walking Tour - Start
  • Location: The Ice House
  • Distance from Ferry Terminal: 0.2 miles
  • Distance to Next Stop: 0.15 miles

This self-guided Sausalito walking tour begins at a building called The Ice House. As the name suggests, this building is actually a converted railroad cold cargo hold that was moved downtown to serve as a small museum and visitor center. The Sausalito Historical Society operates everything – and are the people who designed this tour!

The plaques at the beginning of this walking tour read: 

“Before the Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937, Sausalito was a transportation hub. In 1868, the Sausalito Land and Ferry Company established itself in a general office building and ferry dock in Sausalito at the foot of Princess street, which was named for the company’s first boat, the little steamer Princess. Sausalito at the time was an important part of the rail hub that carried people to the Bay ferry, which transferred its customers to San Francisco and other parts of the Bay Area.”

“As rail and ferry travel became more of a daily routine, the number of travelers increased. one of the first moves to modernize the system was the addition of a broad-gauged electrified interurban train using existing roadbeds. These electric “third rail” trains were in service on the East Coast, primarily in New York on the subways. Marin County’s system was the first electrified “third rail” interurban system in the nation.”

From this starting point, walk northeast along Bay Street and turn right on Humboldt Avenue. Cross Spinnaker Drive and turn left, walking up to where the sidewalk meets the waterfront walking path. Turn right and walk down the waterfront path to Stop #1.

Stop #1: The Sausalito Rail Yard

Sausalito Walking Tour - Stop 1
  • Location: Gabrielson Park toward Spinnaker Point
  • Distance from Previous Stop: 0.15 miles
  • Distance to Next Stop: 0.05 miles

Located in picturesque Gabrielson Park, it’s easy to miss this plaque (and the next one) if you’re strolling along the waterfront enjoying the view.

The plaque at this stop reads:

“The Sausalito rail yard was a hub of transportation. Both ferry and rail met here to distribute their customers returning from San Francisco or heading north to San Rafael.”

“The little ferry Tiburon was a favorite to ride. Built in 1884 by San Francisco and North Pacific, she was 132 feet long and 50 feet wide. She was terminated from service in 1924.”

To reach Stop #2, continue Southeast along the waterfront path in Gabrielson Park toward the ferry terminal. It’s a very short walk to reach the second plaque.

Stop #2:  Sausalito’s Waterfront in 1924

Sausalito Walking Tour - Stop 2
  • Location: Gabrielson Park toward the Ferry Terminal
  • Distance from Previous Stop: 0.05 miles
  • Distance to Next Stop: 0.05 miles

As you make your way toward the ferry terminal, this plaque teaches more about the city’s waterfront and ferry system that has long-served the community.

The plaque at this stop reads:

“The activity in this 1924 view of Sausalito’s waterfront reflects the prosperity of the time and the growth of the automobile ferrying business.”

“At left is the Northwestern Pacific terminal with the steamers Cazadero, Sausalito, and Eureka. Behind the live oak tree is the motor vessel Marin. The new motor vessel Golden West is in the Golden Gate Ferry terminal at the right. Richardson bay was famous for the old sailing ships anchored in it.”

From Stop #2, continue south along the waterfront park past the Sausalito Yacht and the Ferry Terminal. The plaque for Stop #3 is located between the second set of benches south of the Ferry Terminal on the plaza.

Stop #3: Sausalito’s Interurban Trains

Sausalito Walking Tour - Stop 3
  • Location: Sausalito Ferry Terminal
  • Distance from Previous Stop: 0.05 miles
  • Distance to Next Stop: 0.15 miles

The mid-point stop on your self-guided Sausalito walking tour has a panoramic view of the ferry terminal and plaza, as well as the San Francisco Bay and skyline. You can even try to spot Alcatraz on clear days.

The plaque at this stop reads:

“In 1907 the rail system in Sausalito was expanded to consolidate facilities so that interurban trains could operate only from Sausalito. From the rail hub in downtown customers could leave the ferries and go directly to the rail cars that stood waiting for them. The rail lines extended from Sausalito to Ukiah.”

From this stop, turn right (south) and walk along El Portal until you reach Bridgeway. Turn left on Bridgeway and walk south through Downtown Sausalito. As you reach Bridgeway Promenade, you’ll reach Yee Tock Chee Park on your left, and the next plaque.

Stop #4: Sausalito at the Turn of the 20th Century

Sausalito Walking Tour - Stop 4
  • Location: Yee Tock Chee Park
  • Distance from Previous Stop: 0.15 miles
  • Distance to Next Stop: 0.2 miles

Yee Tock Chee Park is small but popular spot for visitors who want to admire another view of the San Francisco skyline. This plaque is located on the southern edge of the park where Bridgeway Promenade begins.

The plaque at this stop reads:

“Sausalito, like other small coastal towns, had unpaved roads that led through town and up into the hills. The image on the left shows the condition of the streets circa 1890. This would soon change. As travel on the ferries and rails increased, so did the number of innovations called “autos.” This new mode of transportation served not only to increase traffic but also to become a new dilemma for the residents of Sausalito.”

From stop #4, continue southeast along Bridgeway Promenade to the final plaque in this walking tour.

Stop #5: Sausalito’s Ferry Heritage

Sausalito Walking Tour - Stop 5
  • Location: Along Bridgeway Promenade
  • Distance from Previous Stop: 0.2 miles
  • Distance back to Ferry Terminal: 0.35 miles

The final stop on this self-guided Sausalito walking tour is halfway down the Bridgeway Promenade. It also gives you one of the best views in Sausalito. From here you can learn about how this area looked in the past. Then, sit and admire the modern view and boats passing in and out of Richardson Bay.

The plaque at this stop reads:

“At left, Angel Island on a clear winter day as the Eureka steams out of Sausalito. Originally named the Ukiah, she was built in 1923 and was once the largest ferryboat to operate on San Francisco Bay. With the capacity to hold 3,300 passengers and 100 automobiles, she was an immediate hit with motorist and traveler alike. The Eureka made her last regular run on February 1941 and is now part of the national exhibition of historic vessels on the waterfront at the San Francisco Maritime Museum.”

“The view of the Cazadero, below, was taken from the deck of the Tamalpais as fog billowed over her namesake mountains. The North Shore Railroad company had the Cazadero built in the late 1800s along with the Tamalpais. At that time, no one dreamed that the mechanical marvel called the “automobile” would one day threaten the very existence of these powerful and graceful vessels.”

To return to the ferry terminal, head northwest (“up”) along Bridgeway Promenade away from the San Francisco skyline. When you reach the intersection of Bridgeway and El Portal, turn right onto El Portal and follow it to the Sausalito Ferry Terminal.

I hope you enjoy this self-guided Sausalito walking tour! If you have questions, let us know in the comments.

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Valerie fell in love with Sausalito after her very first visit; she and her husband then moved there in 2019. It's one of her favorite places in the Bay Area and she's excited to show you the best parts of her city.

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