Mill Valley: Unexpected California

Charlotte Howell
Charlotte Howell 4 Min Read

One of the most unexpected gems on the coast of California is the beautiful suburb of Mill Valley. Just half-an-hour outside of one of California’s most exciting cities, San Francisco, the hilly windy roads of Mill Valley are both a picturesque and relaxing place to visit. The quaint and hilly region is also a 40-minute drive from the Sonoma Valley, famous for its spectacular wines and wineries. Mill Valley has plenty to see and do, and if you only have a short time to visit the area then you cannot miss these highlights:

Dipsea Trail


In the heart of Mill Valley’s old town you will find the start of the famous Dipsea Trail, a series of steep wooden steps through the hills and woodland that take you up through the valley and into the mountain, leading finally to the coastline. The trek is beautiful, and the redwood trees that line the walk are enormous. While walking in the rain may seem inconvenient, it’s when the trees smell the best so try to head out even if its looking like the heavens may open.

Tip: It’s easy to get lost on this trail, with plenty of trails leading from one to next, (although don’t worry there isn’t anything dangerous and people are very helpful), and getting your hands on a map before setting out can be a good idea, or Google Maps.

Sonoma Valley


Unlike the more commercial Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley has something very simple and rustic about it. Drive along the beautiful country road, surrounded by golden-leaf trees, a road that leads you through the many independently owned vineyards and wineries. Stop in any (or all) of them for a fun tasting session (you can spit out the wine if you are the driver) and a tour around the vineyards. Depending on what you would like to learn about making wine, every season has its points of interest. Try to arrive towards the end of the summer to taste the ripe grapes just before the harvest!

Tip: While many of the wineries offer tasting and tours for free, they do expect you to pay a small fee of around $5 or to buy a bottle of their wine in return for the tour and information.

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge


To drive from San Francisco to Mill Valley you have to cross the impressive structure that is the Golden Gate Bridge. Experience a view like no other of San Francisco’s historic entry point on a local bus or in a car. The ride takes about an hour to drive the 14 miles into the city but offers high views of the bridge and the port, including Alcatraz island.

Tip: The bus is usually full of commuters, and you will need to have to exact change to board – make sure you check in Mill Valley town how much you will need (it should be around $7).

Eat in Boo Koo


Mill Valley old town has a couple of craft beer pubs and a few places to eat, but none are more inventive than Boo Koo. The south east Asian and Californian fusion restaurant offers a cool place to hang out of an evening in the quiet and pretty town. The restaurant also offers craft beers and a cool bar to enjoy street food snacks if you don’t want a large meal.

Tip: Enjoy a fresh and healthy meal at Boo Koo after walking the Dipsea Trail.

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Charlotte Howell is a travel writer and editor from the UK, who is currently travelling the world. Her favorite places to visit include Toronto, Austin, and India. Follow her travel blog to find out more.