LGBT Traveler's Guide to Marin County

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Posted in Blogging Marin on Monday, February 26, 2018 by MCVB Staff

By Joe Kukura


San Francisco may be known as the world’s gay mecca, but there’s a well-kept LGBT travel secret on the “sunny side of the Golden Gate Bridge.” Marin County is sort of the backyard for the Bay Area, with a diverse and welcoming collection of community-oriented small towns that offer unparalleled scenery and charm. On the brighter side of the Bay just north of San Francisco, an inviting array of LGBT-friendly restaurants, bars, hotels and wedding venues sit nestled against the beautiful California backdrops of Mount Tamalpais and Point Reyes.


Marin County is an unbeatable destination for weekend staycations and LGBTQ-welcoming romantic getaways. Located perfectly between California vacation havens like Napa and Lake Tahoe, Marin County is packed with possibilities for gay-friendly shopping, restaurants and event venues like the ones we’ve listed below.


Best Bars


Entertainment and top-shelf spirits are built into the DNA of Marin County, and the LGBT nightlife scene in Marin goes beyond its theaters and galleries.


LGBT Deadheads will want to make a pilgrimage to San Rafael’s Terrapin Crossroads, founded by none other than Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, who often shows up to jam onstage.


The Hopmonk Tavern in Novato is a great spot for microbrews and bar eats, and features fun pop cover bands and other live acts almost every night. Wine enthusiasts will want to dig into the extensive list at Il Davide in San Rafael, whose Italian cuisine is also exquisite. Mill Valley’s Sweetwater Music Hall is one of the area’s premier music venues, and books many of your favorite nationally known acts. Fenix in San Rafael is one of Marin County’s best spots for live blues music and pop vocalists, but you may want to bookmark that spot in particular for its unlimited-mimosa Sunday brunch buffet.


Best Restaurants


You’ll love to “eat locally” at Marin County’s artisanal, farm-to-table restaurants, and the farmers’ markets are pretty outstanding, too. Whether you’re looking for brunch, seafood or Asian fusion, you’ll find it all at Marin County restaurants.


Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes is a local cheese manufacturer well-known across California, and it also offers a scrumptious cheese counter and fun tours of the farm. Cheese lovers won’t want to miss the upscale Larkspur fondue eatery The Melting Pot, which provides a rich experience for couples or large groups. L'Appart Resto in San Anselmo provides a taste of Paris with top-notch organic French food, while craft cocktails and fine Chilean wine are on the menu across town at Marinita’s.


And if you happen to be a fan of cult-hit guilty pleasures, you’ll find a Cheesecake Factory in Corte Madera and an In-N-Out Burger in Novato.


Best Places to Stay


Marin County is full of gay- and lesbian-owned and -friendly accommodations along Point Reyes and the Pacific coastline. There are a few boutique hotels that stand out for romantic getaways in Mill Valley, some hip yet extravagant bed-and-breakfast spots can turn a quick staycation into a memorable experience, and Marin County budget hotels still offer some fun kitsch and flair that are easy on your wallet.


Best Wedding Venues


Even when it was still illegal in California, Marin County was a bastion of support for same-sex marriage. And the region is light years ahead of the rest of the country for same-sex wedding accommodations.


Take a look at the wedding resources in Marin County to get started picking out caterers, stylists and photographers. Then take your pick of the best wedding venues or hotel wedding venues that have everything to offer to make your special day unforgettable.


With a world-class lineup of LGBT-welcoming resorts, restaurants, taverns and venues, Marin County provides the perfect gay-friendly getaway.


For all you need to plan your Marin County vacation, visit the Marin Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website or Facebook page, or download the mobile app.

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Wedding Venues

Your ideal venue is in beautiful Marin County!

Are you looking for a special location for weddings, celebrations or parties? In Marin we offer over 2,000 overnight sleeping rooms...[Learn More]


From cozy and casual to elegant and refined, Marin County is home to more than 500 restaurants.  Every region of the world is represented with its own rich...[Learn More]