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min read

A transferee’s guide to the San Francisco North Bay (part 5)

The best places north of the Golden Gate Bridge to both live and unwind

In part four of our Bay Area blog series, I highlighted the abundance of art and music that hails from the San Francisco East Bay. In the last blog of this series, I’m introducing the North Bay. Situated just across the Golden Gate Bridge, this region encompasses four counties and over 25 cities and towns. Because the western side of the North Bay consists mostly of protected open space, the majority of the population resides on the eastern side.

See this map within the app under the “Explore” tab.

The North Bay is best known for its wineries in Napa and Sonoma, the country’s largest wine-producing region. It’s also home to a very biodiverse ecosystem. Sprawling national parks, protected coastlines, and some of the oldest living trees in the United States cover the landscape.

While many Bay Area residents recognize the North Bay as the perfect place to unplug and unwind, it’s also become a vibrant community for commuting professionals with families in Marin County cities such as San Rafael, Larkspur, Corte Madera, and Mill Valley. Professionals commuting from these cities typically arrive in San Francisco within 30 minutes either via ferry or bus. Once in the city, you can call an Uber or ride your bicycle into the office. 

If working from home a couple of times a week, you can grab lunch at the Restoration Hardware Rooftop Restaurant or Pacific Catch in Corte Madera, Farmshop in Larkspur, or Piatti in Mill Valley. Left Bank in Larkspur, Mill Valley’s iconic Paseo, and The Bungalow Kitchen in Tiburon are great places to meet up with friends after work for dinner. 

At the Marin Country Mart, go shopping with your family after work, get dinner at one of the more than 10 restaurants, or let the kids play at the playground. You can also grab a casual brunch on the weekend after a pilates, cycling, or yoga class from one of the mart’s studios. The mart also offers a farmers market, concerts, and kids events on the weekends. 

This family-loving community is a fabulous place to raise your children with many opportunities for kids sports, outdoor activities, parks, and museums. Opportunities for family fun are almost endless in the North Bay.

Venturing up the North Bay coast, you’ll find a relaxing and beautiful respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Coming from the South Bay, Peninsula, or San Francisco, just journeying across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge evokes peace — whether you’re off work for the day or the weekend. After checking out the view of San Francisco from across the bridge, you wind through the hills of Sausalito and beyond, up the 101 (yes, “the” 101 is how we reference this freeway), to soak up the greenery on the western side of the road. 

Veer off to Highway 1, following the narrow roads and hairpin turns, to find yourself surrounded by 1,000-year-old redwood trees. At this point, you’re in Muir Woods, a national park and monument in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. To feel like you’re in a completely different world, meander through the trails of Cathedral Grove. With signs encouraging people to “maintain natural quiet,” Cathedral Grove and other large groves will help you reset. 

North of Muir Woods, you’ll see the highest point in Marin County, Mount Tamalpais (known as “Mount Tam” to the locals), which is surrounded by over 6,000 acres of redwood and oak groves perfect for hiking, biking, and camping. Mount Tam is just one of the North Bay’s many naturally beautiful locations for outdoor adventure.

As you continue up Highway 1, travel through rolling green hills and small towns, experiencing the incredible views of the Pacific Ocean. With more days of fog than sun, Northern California’s coastline boasts beautiful beaches ideal for walking, surfing, picnicking, and enjoying bonfires.

A little over an hour outside of San Francisco is Point Reyes Station, a small and charming town with less than 1,000 residents. If you’re looking for a quiet weekend getaway, check out the region’s charming inn options and visit the Point Reyes National Seashore. 

If you like oysters, stop at Hog Island Oyster Co. on your way to or back from the Point Reyes Lighthouse. The long, narrow staircase that leads to the lighthouse will invigorate you as you venture along the edge of a cliff with waves crashing below you and wind whipping through your hair. 

As you leave the North Bay, you’ll take in more gorgeous views to relax and rejuvenate you. 

As you’ve read this blog series, you’ve learned about the charm of each region in the San Francisco Bay Area. Thank you for allowing me to give you a deeper understanding of the special place where I was born and raised. If you're moving to the Bay Area for work, I hope you've found this series helpful. There's much more to making the Bay Area your new home, and the Relocity team would love to help you with your personalized relocation journey sometime soon.

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Relocity provides relocation services to enterprises moving talent to San Francisco, along with a growing list of cities in the U.S., Australia, Europe, and Asia. Powered by our AI-driven workforce mobility platform, we bring together local experts and personalized content to deliver an excellent relocation experience for your talent on the move. Learn more about our solutions here.

Amanda Leon

Senior Area Operations Manager

Amanda is a Bay Area native with a keen eye for detail and a talent for anticipating the needs of her clients.