Marin Blog · Marin Arts and Culture Collection

A Tale of Two Cities: Where History Meets Modern Charm

Posted in Blogging Marin on Monday, May 20, 2024 by MCVB Staff

“Where history meets modern charm," encapsulates the Twin Cities of Corte Madera and Larkspur perfectly. Wander through streets lined with historic buildings, each whispering tales of the past, while simultaneously encountering vibrant cafes, trendy boutiques, and innovative eateries that infuse the area with contemporary allure. From picturesque downtown districts to vibrant waterfront destinations, there's something for everyone to discover in this hidden gem of Northern California.

But have you ever wondered why Larkspur and Corte Madera are affectionately referred to as the Twin Cities? The moniker originates from their proximity and shared history, dating back to the early days of settlement in Marin County. While each town has its own distinct character and attractions, they are interconnected by a sense of community and heritage. The two cities share a police department, and a school district, and both are connected by a pedestrian/bike pathway that used to be part of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad line that transported passengers between Sausalito and San Anselmo until the early 1940’s.


History Comes Alive in the Present

Let's begin our walk in historic downtown Larkspur, where time seems to stand still amidst quaint storefronts and historic landmarks. Larkspur's downtown district has roots dating back to the late 19th century. Stroll along Magnolia Avenue, lined with pretty shops and cafes housed in beautifully preserved Victorian-era buildings.

One of the highlights of downtown Larkspur is the iconic Lark Theater, a beloved cultural hub that has been entertaining audiences since 1936. Step inside this Art Deco building and catch a classic film or a live performance for a taste of old-world charm.

After exploring downtown, venture to Larkspur Landing, where modern amenities blend seamlessly with waterfront beauty. Here, you can enjoy a scenic ferry ride from the Golden Gate Ferry Terminal to San Francisco with views of the Bay Area skyline. Don't miss the opportunity to experience a sunset cruise, where you can unwind to the soothing melodies of live music as the sun dips below the horizon.


Shop ‘Till You Drop in Two Cities

For a taste of local flavor, head to The Country Mart at Larkspur Landing, home to a vibrant Farmers Market showcasing the bounty of Marin County's agricultural heritage. Indulge in farm-fresh produce, artisanal crafts, and treats while exploring the lively atmosphere. Cap off your culinary adventure with a meal at Farmshop Marin, renowned for its farm-to-table cuisine crafted from the finest local ingredients. The merchants of the Mart are passionate talented operators with a proven track record of excellence. Hand-selected for their quality products and community-mindedness, the Country Mart family members are what set the Mart apart from a typical shopping center.


Crossing over to the neighboring town of Corte Madera, you'll find a shopper's paradise. Corte Madera is synonymous with premium shopping destinations, including the upscale Village at Corte Madera and the Town Center. Spend a leisurely day browsing designer boutiques, luxury retailers, and eclectic shops, where you're sure to find treasures to suit every taste.

Take some time out of the day to relax at any of the convenient eateries and outdoor cafes scattered throughout the two shopping areas.


Local Culture and Community Festivities

As you continue your exploration of Marin’s Twin Cities, immerse yourself in the vibrant cultural scene and community spirit that define these charming towns. From lively events to cherished traditions, there's always something exciting happening in the heart of Marin County, especially in July!

Mark your calendars for the shared Corte Madera-Larkspur Fourth of July Celebration, a time-honored tradition that brings residents and visitors together for a day of fun-filled festivities. Join the parade as it winds its way through the streets, adorned with colorful floats, marching bands, and cheerful participants of all ages.

After the parade, head to the Town Park in Corte Madera for all-day live music, delicious food vendors, and family-friendly activities.

Step back in time as you explore the charming Piccolo Pavilion nestled in Old Corte Madera Town Square. This historic gathering place serves as a focal point for community events and cultural celebrations throughout the year, from outdoor concerts to art festivals. Take a stroll around the square admiring the quaint architecture before settling down for a picnic or leisurely afternoon beneath the shade of towering trees.

No visit would be complete without engaging with the vibrant local community that calls Larkspur and Corte Madera home. Check out our events calendar for downtown Larkspur and the Marin Country Mart in Larkspur Landing. You'll find various activities ranging from live music performances and art exhibitions to culinary festivals and family-friendly workshops. 

Exploring the Landscape

For outdoor naturalists seeking adventure in Corte Madera, lace up your hiking boots for the 2.9-mile trail loop to Ring Mountain for panoramic views and ancient rock formations. Take in the views of Mt. Tamalpais, the bay, and San Francisco from any of the trail’s vantage points. This is one place known for wildflower viewing in the spring and the Petroglyph Rock near the preserve's highest spot, which has Native American rock carvings.

The Larkspur Loop offers a beautiful trail network that winds through lush greenery and neighborhoods. Put on your walking shoes or hop on a bike and set off on a journey of discovery where you'll find historic landmarks, vistas, and hidden treasures. Keep an eye out for local events and guided tours along the way, which provide fascinating insights into the history and natural beauty of Larkspur's picturesque landscape.

For birdwatching enthusiasts, the Corte Madera Ecological Reserve and Shorebird Marsh offer prime viewing spots, and you can find some unique avian species in their natural habitat. Grab your binoculars and embark on a birding adventure, where you can spot majestic herons, graceful egrets, and other feathered friends against the backdrop of wetlands.

As you conclude your exploration through Marin’s Twin Cities, we hope you'll leave with a deeper appreciation for their rich history, natural beauty, and vibrant community spirit. Whether you're exploring historic landmarks, indulging in culinary delights, or immersing yourself in local culture, these charming towns offer a lot of experiences to suit every traveler's interests. 

Plan your trip today and experience all that Marin County has to offer. Visit us online at for more information and start planning your adventure!