Local Spots

Things to Do in Mill Valley California

Discover the best activities and hidden gems in Mill Valley, California, from scenic hikes and historic sites to local dining and cultural attractions.

A picturesque scenery of Mill Valley California showcasing its natural beauty. The image captures vibrant green hills under a clear blue sky. The foreground shows a charming wooden bridge crossing over a babbling brook, lush trees on both sides. In the middle ground, a series of quaint buildings which are typical of the local architecture, with no identifiers or brand names. The background highlights a panoramic view of the foothills of Mount Tamalpais. Finally, a beautiful sunset painted with hues of orange, red, and pink that adds to the enchanting view.

Explore the Enchanting Trails in Mill Valley, California

Mill Valley, nestled in the heart of Marin County, is a nature lover’s paradise.

Home to numerous trails, it offers a variety of hiking experiences suitable for all ages and fitness levels.

One of the must-visit trails is the Dipsea Trail, which is known for its challenging terrain and stunning views.

The Dipsea Trail stretches for about 7.5 miles and is popular among both locals and visitors.

It is one of the oldest trail races in the country, dating back to 1905.

Those who embark on this trail will be rewarded with breathtaking vistas of the Pacific Ocean and the lush greenery of Mount Tamalpais State Park.

Immerse Yourself in the Redwoods at Muir Woods National Monument

Muir Woods National Monument is a short drive from downtown Mill Valley and is a must-visit destination for anyone in the area.

The towering redwoods, some of which are over 1,000 years old, create a serene and majestic environment.

Whether you choose to take a leisurely stroll along the well-maintained boardwalk paths or venture deeper into the forest on one of the many hiking trails, the experience is sure to be awe-inspiring.

The monument offers various tours, including self-guided and ranger-led options, to enhance your visit.

Discover Local Art at the Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival

The Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival is a beloved annual event that showcases local and regional artists.

Held in the scenic Old Mill Park, the festival features a diverse range of art forms, including paintings, sculptures, jewelry, ceramics, and more.

It is a fantastic opportunity to meet the artists, learn about their creative processes, and even purchase unique pieces to take home.

In addition to the art, the festival offers live music performances and delicious food from local vendors, making it a great outing for the whole family.

Unwind with a Coffee at Depot Bookstore and Café

If you are looking for a cozy spot to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee, head to the Depot Bookstore and Café.

Located in the heart of downtown Mill Valley, this charming café combines a love for books with a passion for great coffee.

The menu features a range of specialty coffees, teas, and light bites, perfect for a leisurely morning or afternoon break.

With its inviting atmosphere and friendly staff, it is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

Catch a Show at the Throckmorton Theatre

The Throckmorton Theatre is a cultural hub in Mill Valley, offering a wide range of performances, including live music, theater, comedy, and film screenings.

This historic venue, which dates back to 1912, has been beautifully restored and provides an intimate setting for enjoying the arts.

Check their schedule to see what shows are happening during your visit, and prepare to be entertained by talented performers from all over the world.

Take a Stroll Through the Mill Valley Lumber Yard

The Mill Valley Lumber Yard is a unique destination that blends history with modern charm.

Originally a functioning lumber yard, the site has been transformed into a community hub with a mix of shops, restaurants, and event spaces.

As you wander through the beautifully restored buildings and outdoor spaces, you will find an array of locally owned businesses offering everything from handmade crafts to gourmet food.

It is a great place to support local artisans and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of Mill Valley.

Experience the Magic of the Mill Valley Film Festival

The Mill Valley Film Festival is renowned for showcasing both established and emerging filmmakers.

Held every October, it draws cinephiles from around the globe.

The festival features an impressive array of films, including feature films, documentaries, shorts, and world cinema.

Apart from screenings, the festival includes Q&A sessions with directors and actors, panel discussions, and special events.

Be sure to check out the festival schedule and plan your visit around the films and events that interest you most.

With its mix of creative energy and stunning visual storytelling, the Mill Valley Film Festival is an unmissable event for movie lovers.

Satisfy Your Taste Buds at Bungalow 44

Bungalow 44 is a chic restaurant in downtown Mill Valley that’s loved for its upscale yet relaxed dining experience.

The menu offers a delicious range of American dishes, with a focus on fresh, local ingredients.

Whether you are in the mood for a hearty steak or a fresh seafood dish, this place has something to satisfy your cravings.

It’s said that people rave about the roasted chicken and the stone hearth pizza, so those might be worth trying.

If you enjoy a good cocktail, the bar at Bungalow 44 is known for its creative concoctions.

The cozy ambiance and fabulous service make it a perfect spot for a romantic dinner or a night out with friends.

It’s recommended to make a reservation, especially on weekends, as it tends to get busy.

Explore the Marin Theatre Company

The Marin Theatre Company is dedicated to producing high-quality theater that pushes the boundaries of storytelling.

Located in Mill Valley, this theater offers a range of productions, from contemporary plays to classic works.

Attend a show here, and you’ll be treated to powerful performances and thought-provoking narratives.

Look into their lineup of upcoming shows, and consider booking tickets in advance to ensure you get a good seat.

With a commitment to fostering new talent and producing engaging content, the Marin Theatre Company is a cultural gem in Mill Valley.

Relax at the Marin Country Mart

The Marin Country Mart is more than just a shopping center; it’s a lifestyle destination.

Located just a short drive from Mill Valley, it boasts a picturesque setting with various high-end shops, gourmet eateries, and family-friendly activities.

Stroll through the inviting outdoor spaces, and you might stumble upon a farmers market, yoga class, or live music performance.

The Mart is also home to several popular restaurants, such as Farmshop, where you can enjoy farm-to-table cuisine.

If you’re traveling with little ones, stop by the playground area and take a ride on the vintage carousel.

Visiting the Marin Country Mart offers a mix of retail therapy, culinary delights, and leisure, all within a beautifully curated setting.

Play a Round at the Mill Valley Golf Course

For golf enthusiasts, the Mill Valley Golf Course is an excellent place to spend a sunny afternoon.

This 9-hole public course is nestled among the redwoods and offers challenging play for golfers of all levels.

The course is well-maintained and known for its friendly staff and serene setting.

In addition to golfing, the course hosts events and tournaments, so check their calendar if you are interested in participating in a community event.

Whether you’re an experienced golfer or just looking for a relaxing way to enjoy Mill Valley’s beautiful outdoors, the Mill Valley Golf Course is a great spot to visit.

Marvel at the Views from East Blithedale Ridge

East Blithedale Ridge offers visitors some of the most spectacular views in Mill Valley.

This popular hiking destination provides panoramic vistas of the San Francisco Bay and Mount Tamalpais.

The trails here range from moderate to challenging, making it suitable for both casual hikers and seasoned adventurers.

Bring your camera, as the scenic overlooks are perfect for capturing breathtaking photos.

If you enjoy trail running, East Blithedale Ridge is also a great place to get in a workout while soaking in the natural beauty.

Visit during the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds and experience the best lighting for photography.

Attend a Wellness Class at O’Hanlon Center for the Arts

O’Hanlon Center for the Arts offers a variety of wellness classes for those looking to rejuvenate and find inner peace.

Located in a serene, wooded setting, the center provides workshops in visual arts, meditation, and creative writing.

Taking a class here is not only a way to learn new skills but also a chance to connect with a community of like-minded individuals.

If you’re exploring Mill Valley in the fall, make sure to check out their seasonal workshops and events.

The center also features gallery exhibitions, which showcase local artists and provide inspiration for your own creative projects.

With its tranquil environment and enriching classes, O’Hanlon Center for the Arts is a perfect retreat for those looking to nourish their mind and spirit.

Dine at the Watershed Restaurant

Watershed Restaurant is an eco-conscious eatery located in the heart of Mill Valley.

This farm-to-table restaurant focuses on sustainability and offers a menu filled with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

The dishes here are bursting with flavor and creativity, making it a favorite dining spot for both locals and visitors.

People often recommend trying their wood-fired pizzas and seasonal salads.

The open-air setting by the creek adds to the charm, providing a peaceful backdrop for an memorable dining experience.

If you love supporting businesses that prioritize environmental stewardship, you’ll appreciate the efforts Watershed makes to minimize their ecological footprint.

Shop Local at the Mill Valley Farmers Market

The Mill Valley Farmers Market is a weekly event where you can find fresh produce, artisanal goods, and more.

Held every Friday, it’s the perfect place to stock up on organic fruits and vegetables, farm-fresh eggs, and locally made jams and breads.

In addition to food, the market often features live music and activities for kids, making it a fun outing for the whole family.

Chat with the vendors and learn about their products, or take a leisurely stroll through the stalls and enjoy the vibrant community atmosphere.

If you love discovering new and delicious products, the Mill Valley Farmers Market is definitely worth a visit.

Take a Scenic Drive to the Wine Country

Mill Valley’s proximity to California’s famed Wine Country makes it an excellent starting point for a day trip of wine tasting and vineyard touring.

Within a short drive, you can reach the renowned wineries of Sonoma and Napa Valley.

Many of these vineyards offer tastings, tours, and even picnic spots where you can enjoy a bottle of wine paired with cheese and charcuterie.

If you are interested in an immersive wine experience, consider booking a guided tour that includes transportation and visits to multiple wineries.

Wine enthusiasts will love the opportunity to sample a diverse range of wines and learn more about the winemaking process.

The scenic drive through rolling vineyards and charming small towns adds to the appeal, making it a delightful escape from Mill Valley.

Enjoy a Spa Day at EO Products

EO Products is not just a store; it offers a unique experience where you can indulge in spa treatments using their natural and organic products.

Located right in Mill Valley, the EO Exchange store features a range of bath and body products that you can try before you buy.

Book a massage or facial and let the skilled therapists pamper you with luxurious, non-toxic products.

It’s said that many people absolutely love the calming lavender scent of their products, which are also praised for their effectiveness and purity.

After your treatment, you can pick up a bottle of their popular Everyone Lotion or an aromatic essential oil blend as a souvenir.

A visit to EO Products is a treat for your senses and a great addition to your Mill Valley itinerary, especially if you prioritize wellness and self-care.

Find This and More on Amazon

Shop Now

Get Adventurous with Outdoor Activities

Mill Valley offers a plethora of outdoor activities that cater to thrill-seekers and nature enthusiasts alike.

If you are into mountain biking, the Mount Tamalpais area provides some of the best trails, with varying difficulty levels to suit different riders.

For a more laid-back experience, kayaking in Richardson Bay offers a unique perspective of the waterfront and the chance to spot local wildlife.

Paragliding is another exciting option for those looking to take in panoramic views from above.

With experienced instructors available for lessons, it’s a safe and exhilarating way to experience the beauty of Mill Valley.

Enjoy Fine Dining at Piazza D'Angelo

Piazza D'Angelo is a family-owned Italian restaurant in the heart of Mill Valley, offering a cozy yet sophisticated dining experience.

The menu features an array of authentic Italian dishes, from homemade pasta to wood-fired pizzas.

It’s often said that their gnocchi and truffle risotto are crowd-pleasers, so those are worth a try.

The restaurant also boasts a well-curated wine list, with many Italian wines that pair perfectly with the dishes.

With a warm ambiance and attentive service, Piazza D'Angelo is an ideal choice for a romantic evening or a special celebration.

Reservations are recommended, especially on weekends, to ensure you get a table when you want it.

Explore Old Mill Park

Old Mill Park is a serene escape located near downtown Mill Valley, perfect for a relaxing afternoon.

The park is surrounded by towering redwoods and features a charming creek that adds to its tranquil atmosphere.

It’s a great spot for a picnic, as there are plenty of shaded areas and tables available.

The park also has a well-maintained playground, making it a family-friendly destination.

Don’t miss the historic Old Mill itself, which dates back to the late 1800s and adds a touch of history to your visit.

Whether you’re looking for a quiet place to read, a scenic spot for a picnic, or a fun play area for kids, Old Mill Park has it all.

Escape to Stinson Beach

Just a short drive from Mill Valley, Stinson Beach is a beautiful coastal destination that offers sandy shores and stunning ocean views.

The beach is perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and even surfing, thanks to its gentle waves.

There are designated picnic areas with tables and grills, making it a great spot for a family outing or a barbecue with friends.

Several hiking trails start from the beach, allowing you to explore the nearby hills and enjoy breathtaking vistas.

Keep an eye out for local wildlife, including seals and a variety of bird species, that frequent the area.

Visit during the weekdays if you prefer a quieter experience, as weekends tend to be busier with beachgoers.

Explore the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art

For art lovers, the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art is a must-visit destination located a short drive from Mill Valley.

The museum features rotating exhibitions showcasing contemporary works by both well-known and emerging artists.

With a focus on community engagement, the museum often hosts workshops, artist talks, and special events.

Admission is often free or suggested donation, making it an affordable cultural outing.

Be sure to check their calendar for any upcoming exhibitions or events that might interest you.

Visiting the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art is a great way to immerse yourself in the local art scene and discover thought-provoking pieces.

Take a Day Trip to Point Reyes National Seashore

A visit to Point Reyes National Seashore is a wonderful way to explore the natural beauty of Northern California.

Located about an hour’s drive from Mill Valley, this protected area offers miles of hiking trails, stunning coastal views, and diverse wildlife.

Some popular activities include whale watching, birdwatching, and exploring the historic Point Reyes Lighthouse.

The seashore also has several picnic areas, making it easy to spend a full day soaking in the scenery.

Before you go, check the weather and tide schedules to ensure the best experience.

Point Reyes National Seashore offers a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, providing plenty of opportunities to connect with nature.

Relax at the Marin Headlands

The Marin Headlands, located just across the Golden Gate Bridge from Mill Valley, provides some of the most stunning views of the San Francisco Bay Area.

You can enjoy various hiking trails that offer panoramic vistas of the ocean, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the city skyline.

Battery Spencer and Kirby Cove are popular spots for taking those picture-perfect Instagram shots.

The area is also home to a diverse array of wildlife, including bobcats, deer, and numerous bird species.

If you’re into history, visit the Headlands Center for the Arts and the historic military installations scattered throughout the park.

A day trip to the Marin Headlands offers a mix of natural beauty, recreational activities, and historical exploration, making it a must-visit.

A Night to Remember at Sweetwater Music Hall

For a vibrant nightlife experience, head to Sweetwater Music Hall, one of Mill Valley’s premier live music venues.

Sweetwater hosts an eclectic mix of performances, from rock and jazz to folk and blues, showcasing both local and international artists.

The intimate setting ensures that every seat in the house offers a great view of the stage.

People speak highly of the venue’s acoustics and the quality of the performances, making it a favorite spot for music lovers.

The venue also features a restaurant that serves delicious food and drinks, so you can enjoy a full night out.

Check the schedule ahead of time and grab tickets for a performance that interests you, as shows often sell out quickly.

Visit the Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary

The Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary is an excellent destination for birdwatching and enjoying the natural beauty of the Bay Area.

This protected area provides habitat for a variety of bird species, including herons, egrets, and numerous migratory shorebirds.

Take a leisurely walk along the shoreline trails and use the observation points to get a closer look at the wildlife.

The center also offers educational programs and guided tours that can enhance your visit.

It’s a great spot for a peaceful morning or afternoon retreat, especially for nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers.

Bring binoculars and a camera to capture the stunning scenery and the diverse birdlife.

Enjoy a Day at Mount Tamalpais State Park

Mount Tamalpais State Park is another gem near Mill Valley, offering numerous trails and breathtaking landscapes.

The park provides various hiking options, ranging from easy walks to challenging treks, catering to all fitness levels.

Some popular trails include the Steep Ravine Trail and the Matt Davis Trail, each offering unique views and experiences.

For those who enjoy photography, the panoramic views from the summit are perfect for capturing picture-perfect shots.

The park is also ideal for picnics, with several designated areas where you can enjoy a meal surrounded by nature.

Plan your visit during weekdays if you prefer a quieter experience, as weekends can be more crowded.

Camp in the Redwoods at Steep Ravine Cabins

Steep Ravine Cabins offer a unique and rustic camping experience nestled among the coastal redwoods.

Owned by Mount Tamalpais State Park, these cabins provide a cozy retreat with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.

While the cabins are basic, they offer amenities like wood stoves and picnic tables, making for a comfortable stay.

It’s said that the sound of ocean waves and the surrounding nature make this a serene and unforgettable experience.

Booking a cabin requires advance planning, as they are in high demand and can fill up quickly.

Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a peaceful retreat, the Steep Ravine Cabins offer a memorable way to connect with nature.

Visit the Heath Ceramics Factory and Showroom

Heath Ceramics is a renowned brand known for its high-quality, handcrafted pottery and home goods.

The factory and showroom in Sausalito, just a short drive from Mill Valley, offer insight into their meticulous craftsmanship.

Take a tour of the factory to see how each piece is made, and browse the showroom to find unique items for your home.

The variety of products includes dinnerware, tile, and beautiful decorative pieces, all made with sustainability in mind.

It’s a great place to find one-of-a-kind gifts or to treat yourself to something special.

A visit to Heath Ceramics offers a blend of art, design, and sustainable living, making it a fascinating stop.

Explore Tiburon and Angel Island State Park

Tiburon is a picturesque town located just a short drive from Mill Valley, offering lovely waterfront views and charming boutiques.

From Tiburon, you can catch a ferry to Angel Island State Park, known as the “Ellis Island of the West.”

Angel Island offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and historical tours.

The island’s trails provide stunning views of the San Francisco Bay, making it a perfect destination for a day trip.

The history buffs will appreciate the preserved military buildings and immigration station museum.

After exploring Angel Island, return to Tiburon for a leisurely meal at one of the waterfront restaurants.

This combination makes for a delightful day exploring both natural beauty and historical sites.

Discover Sausalito's Floating Homes

Sausalito, located near Mill Valley, is famous for its unique community of floating homes.

These colorful and artistic houseboats are a sight to behold, each with its own personality and charm.

Take a leisurely stroll along the docks to admire these floating homes, many of which are true works of art.

It’s said that the floating homes community is welcoming, and you might even get to chat with some of the residents.

If you’re interested in learning more, there are guided tours available that provide insight into the history and lifestyle of this unique community.

Visiting Sausalito’s floating homes offers a glimpse into a distinctive and creative way of living, making it a worthwhile excursion.

Avery Ingram

Avery Ingram


Read more articles by Avery Ingram