The (Not Quite) San Francisco Travel Guide

Having spent a large part of my childhood in San Francisco, I know there is a ton to explore there. Rather than try to write a travel guide for the city (for which there are already a bunch of great options to read out there) I thought I'd do a little guide for the amazing things to do outside of the city. For the sake of the length of this post and sticking to what I know, this post will focus on the North Bay area, which is a quick drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and boasts much nicer weather than the city does in the summer (think actual sunshine and 20-30 degrees warmer). Let's go!

Mill Valley

I have always called this town the 'Land of the Gnomes' for some unknown reason, but Mill Valley is very very green, like a little forest town. It is packed with cute boutiques, a Benefit store, and a whole lot of local charm. For good eats check out Tyler Florence's restaurant El Paseo or the new and super photogenic Mexican restaurant Playa. Fun fact: Emily Schuman from Cupcakes and Cashmere is from Mill Valley!

Corte Madera/Larkspur

If nice outdoor malls are your thing, you have to check out the Village at Corte Madera. It features stores like Madewell, Brandy Melville, and Nordstrom, and is just a nice and relaxed shopping environment. Pop across the street to the Corte Madera Town Center for Urban Outfitters and grab a massive salad at the ever-popular Blue Barn. If that's not enough shopping for you, Larkspur Landing is just a few minutes away and boasts a number of cute boutiques (and a Space NK!). For dinner, I can't recommend Burmatown highly enough. I eat there probably once a week when visiting my parents - it's that good. Get there early to avoid a wait at the tiny spot, and make sure to order the platha and check out the specials board.

San Rafael

This has the most sort of city feel to it, so if you fancy a stroll downtown, this would be the place to do it. I mainly have food recommendations here (can you tell I grew up in a foodie family?). The State Room has the best burger ever, a good menu all-around, and a skee ball machine in the back - it's fancier than it sounds, I promise. If you dig Caribbean food, Whipper Snapper is the place to be. And, an all time local favorite, Sol Food has incredible Puerto Rican food. Go for the Po Boy or the Cubano and thank me later.


The farthest north of any place on this list, Healdsburg is definitely worth the trip. The adorable and bustling town square is the place to be. Check out all of the cute boutiques like Rete and the plethora of art galleries. For lunch, Guiso Latin Fusion has the best pork tacos you will ever eat. Afterwards hit up Noble Folk for a slice of one of their pies, a scoop of ice cream, or a great picture for Instagram (multitasking!). Don't miss Shed either. This new market/café/fermentation bar boasts fresh produce, artisanal eats, gardening and homeware, and some great options for to go lunch if you want to do a picnic in the square. 

There you have it! Not your typical San Francisco travel guide, but I hope you find something on this list that you'll love if you're ever in the Bay Area!