Weekend in Mill Valley: Rock ’n’ Roll, Movies, and Fine Dining
Posted in Best Marin Attractions on Tuesday, June 6, 2023 by MCVB Staff
By Joe Kukura
Mill Valley is no run-of-the-mill destination; it’s one of Northern California’s most scenic and charming getaways. Just 10 miles north of San Francisco, Mill Valley is nestled next to some of the most iconic national parks in the country and has a chic, walkable downtown that’s full of boutique attractions. Combining a world-class arts scene with natural wonders unlike anything else on earth, Mill Valley offers an array of excellent experiences you’ll never forget.
Named by both Money magazine and CNN Money as one of the 10 best places to live in the U.S., Mill Valley is also one of the country’s best places to visit. Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway, a Northern California staycation or an extended trip to the coast, these three things make Mill Valley magnificent.
Some of the biggest names in rock ’n’ roll have called Mill Valley home over the years, from Bonnie Raitt to Sammy Hagar to the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir. Weir still regularly appears onstage at Mill Valley’s legendary nightclub, where he’s one of the owners of the legendary Sweetwater Music Hall. The club has been bringing the best in live music to Marin County and the greater Bay Area since 1972. Everyone from John Lee Hooker to Mavis Staples has graced the intimate 300-standing room-only venue. With a full bar, you can enjoy dinner before a show at the restaurant, The Rock & Rye.
On a side note, the cover image from the Huey Lewis and the News’ blockbuster album Sports was shot at Mill Valley’s 2AM Club—a Marin County hotspot you can still visit today.
Plenty of stars still shine in Mill Valley. The Mill Valley Film Festival is recognized as one of the best in North America, and this year’s 46th annual festival is drawing again, some name directors and actors. Film buffs will want to make plans each October to be part of this distinguished festival.
One of the most distinctive theater troupes in America is Mill Valley’s Mountain Play, which performs outdoor musicals at the top of Mount Tamalpais with a sweeping view of the Bay Area as a backdrop. The Marin Theatre Company puts on well-known stage productions year-round in its downtown Mill Valley playhouse. And you’ll certainly enjoy cruising the main drag of Throckmorton Avenue to enjoy boutiques, art galleries, and the First Tuesday Art Walk.
Marin County’s Highest Peak
You can’t help but notice the majestic Mount Tamalpais, Marin County’s highest peak, which is visible from miles away. A long-time mecca for hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers, Mount Tamalpais was even the birthplace of mountain biking in the 1970s and has more than 100 miles of popular trails.
Mill Valley sits right next to Muir Woods, the famed coastal redwood forest that absolutely everyone must see at least once in their lifetime. Those 1,000-year-old trees make for incomparable bird watching and wildlife watching.
Mill Valley has a few standout dining experiences that cannot be duplicated elsewhere. The only commercial establishment permitted on Mount Tamalpais is the Mountain Home Inn, which has been serving exceptional American cuisine (and unbeatable views) for more than 100 years. The farm-to-table fine dining of Vin Antico proudly serves contemporary, local, farm to table fare supplemented by exciting foods from around the world. Offering seasonal market-inspired cuisine; including stone oven-baked flatbreads, handmade pasta, organic meats, sustainable fish and dishes that meld the familiar with the new.
The buy-local aesthetic of Marin County always bears fruit at shopping bazaar Strawberry Village, home to great restaurants specializing in Poke, Bento Boxes and an array of Sushi choices such as Aloh-O, the handcrafted dim sum spot of Harmony Restaurant, and the innovative Thep Lela Thai. Chef Angelo Smith of Pizza Antica combines the centuries-old traditions of Italian cooking with California’s fresh, artisanal ingredients, creating a unique style of pizzeria in a class of its own. He calls upon local farmers and ranchers to supply him with top-quality ingredients used to create rustic handcrafted recipes, like thin-crust pizzas, savory meat and fish dishes, and house-made pasta.
Mill Valley is also a hotspot for Italian cuisine at any price point. Piazza D’Angelo with its authentic Italian fare has been a local favorite for generations and uses locally sourced organic ingredients.
You’ll want to bid arrivederci to your day with a welcoming bed, and Mill Valley has many wonderful places to stay. So plan your next vacation or staycation in Mill Valley, where the arts, cuisine and nature are all unforgettable grist for the mill.
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