Quick Travel Guide  •  Mill Valley, California, USA, North America

Quick Guide: How To Spend The Perfect Day in Mill Valley

Last Updated On: August 10, 2021


Looking for a fun weekend escape from the city? Mill Valley is only a quick 20-minute drive over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco and 52 miles from Napa Valley.

Fly through the San Francisco skies via seaplane, indulge in some delicious local craft baked goods at the Lumber Yard, and stroll through the cute downtown. With so much to offer from divine dining and boutique shops to fun hikes through the impressive Muir Woods, Mill Valley is an easy day trip or weekend getaway!

So without further adieu, I bring to you, our version of a perfect day in Mill Valley.

Sample Itinerary

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Lumber Yard Mill Valley

10:00 am: Visit Mill Valley Lumber Yard

Start your day at Mill Valley Lumber Yard and stroll through a great selection of stores from timeless treasures and vintage finds at Quarry Hill Antiques to everyday textiles at Ambatalia. Aviator Nations is also a fun store to pop in if you have the time. They sell hand-made and perfectly distressed hoodies as well as sweatpants but my favorite might just be their unique interior.

Aviator Nations
Quarry Hill Antiques

For breakfast head to Flour Craft Bakery, which offers an extensive selection of freshly baked artisan pastries & bread as well as plant-based tartines, salads, and delicious toasts. This gluten-free bakery totally blew our minds. Well first of all we had no idea it was completely gluten-free until we put this itinerary together. I am originally from Germany and I haven’t had such divine baked goods in years. We both got our favorite hot drinks and indulged in the cinnamon roll, polenta orange cake, and pistachio pound cake. We loved them all but my favorite was definitely the moist pistachio pound cake while Nash’s favorite was the cinnamon roll.

If you are looking for more of a brunch spot, dine at Watershed which usually opens at 11:30 am. Their menu consists of whatever is available from their local farmers, ranchers, and fisheries.

There really is no better way than starting your day in Mill Valley at the Lumber Yard. A fun meeting place for locals and visitors alike. We would definitely drive out here just to try more goodies at the bakery and to soak up the sun amidst the beautiful outdoor patio. The bakery also offers a great selection of vegan baked goods which is so rare to find.

Lumber Yard Mill Valley
Flour Craft Bakery

11:30 am - 12:30 pm: Embark on a Seaplane Adventure

Our personal highlight was our 1-hour long scenic flight with Seaplane Adventures. We both have lived in San Francisco for many years but this experience just elevated our love for the city and its surroundings. I couldn’t stop smiling the entire time we were up in the air and felt so grateful to call this place our home.

Quick Guide: How To Spend The Perfect Day in Mill Valley | Bare Escape

Embarking on a seaplane tour is truly one of the most unique ways to experience San Francisco and we can’t recommend Seaplane Adventures enough. Our Pilot, Fred was absolutely amazing. His knowledge of the area and humorous comments only added to this already unforgettable experience.

You can choose from a great selection of air tours starting as low as 30 minutes, to 40 minutes and with the longest being 60 minutes. We optioned for the 60 min Norcal Coastal Tour. The flights take off from the seabase in the bayside village of Sausalito, only 14 minutes from Lumber Yard in Mill Valley. Make sure to get there at least 15 minutes prior to your departure.

Expect breathtaking views of Tomales Bay, Pt. Reyes, and its stunning lighthouse as you continue along the Northern Californian coastline before circling back to the legendary Golden Gate Bridge. What a beauty! But the tour is not over yet. Downtown San Francisco was a real treat. Seeing the civic center, the Salesforce tower, the Trans America Pyramid,  the Bay Bridge, and more from 13,000 feet was just incredible.

Quick Guide: How To Spend The Perfect Day in Mill Valley | Bare Escape
Quick Guide: How To Spend The Perfect Day in Mill Valley | Bare Escape
Quick Guide: How To Spend The Perfect Day in Mill Valley | Bare Escape
Quick Guide: How To Spend The Perfect Day in Mill Valley | Bare Escape

1:00 pm - 2:30 pm: Get lunch at Playa Mill Valley & Stroll through Lytton Square

The next stop on your Itinerary is Lytton Square, also known as the heart of Mill Valley. They say Mill Valley has a small-town European charm, so simply think of your favorite European village, and you’ll find echoes everywhere you look. This lovely square is located right in the middle of downtown Mill Valley and should not be missed.

If the weather is nice you will find lots of people enjoying the sun while sipping on their cappuccino from The Depot or Equator Coffee. Sometimes you even see musicians play or an intense game of Chess. It is the perfect place to take a break, sit and people watch.

Quick Guide: How To Spend The Perfect Day in Mill Valley | Bare Escape
Equator Coffee
Quick Guide: How To Spend The Perfect Day in Mill Valley | Bare Escape
The Depot

The streets are lined with beautiful home furnishing shops, antique stores, art galleries, gourmet grocery stores, and restaurants.

The Goods is located right next to Equator Coffee and a fun place to shop for unique gifts, vintage finds, and locally sourced treasures. There is something for everyone and every occasion. But be careful, you might enter with the intention of getting a gift for someone else, but end up leaving with a new chic piece of decor for yourself. Guilty!

Prevalent Projects, Pollen + Wool and Sundry are a few other worth mentioning stores but make sure to really take some time to walk around, downtown Mill Valley has more cute stores than I can remember.

Quick Guide: How To Spend The Perfect Day in Mill Valley | Bare Escape
Pollen + Wool
Quick Guide: How To Spend The Perfect Day in Mill Valley | Bare Escape
Prevalent Projects

For lunch, we recommend Playa Mill Valley, a chic Mexican restaurant with a modern indoor-outdoor restaurant serving delicious contemporary Mexican food & handcrafted cocktails. The outdoor patio is covered and provides an inviting dining experience with heaters and string lights. The service is impeccable and the location is within walking distance from Lytton Square. Just make sure to make a reservation beforehand to avoid having to wait in line especially on the weekends or when the weather is nice.

Quick Guide: How To Spend The Perfect Day in Mill Valley | Bare Escape
Quick Guide: How To Spend The Perfect Day in Mill Valley | Bare Escape

3:00 pm - 4:30 pm: Enjoy a walk through the ancient Muir Woods

After discovering all that downtown Mill Valley has to offer, make your way to the impressive Muir Woods. Reservations are required for all vehicles visiting Muir Woods National Monument. To make your parking reservation simply click here. Choose your preferred time slot, pay, and take a screenshot of your code since there isn’t’ really any reception once you reach the parking lot where you will have to show your ticket. While you can still make your reservation the day off (depending on availability), it is important to remember that it will have to be made via phone or online, no tickets are sold on-site. 

Also, quick tip, if you have an annual national park pass, don’t forget to bring it along as this is accepted here!

Quick Guide: How To Spend The Perfect Day in Mill Valley | Bare Escape
Quick Guide: How To Spend The Perfect Day in Mill Valley | Bare Escape

Get ready to experience the towering redwoods as well as abundant plant and animal life that call Muir Woods home. The beauty of the Muir Woods National Monument is that there is something for everyone. You can either take a leisurely stroll around the valley floor or spend an entire day on the trails. But as these trails leave the Muir Woods area, you will find fewer and fewer redwoods. The most popular trail is The Bohemian Grove Loop Trail. Massive redwoods can be found all along the trail but the most scenic section might just be between bridges 3 and 4. The trail is more of a walk rather than a hike but still really fun since you walk amongst these massive giants and listen to the sounds of nature.

Quick Guide: How To Spend The Perfect Day in Mill Valley | Bare Escape
Quick Guide: How To Spend The Perfect Day in Mill Valley | Bare Escape

5:30 PM: CATCH THE SUNSET AT THE MUIR BEACH OVERLOOK AND GET DINNER

The Muir Beach Overlook (only around 10 minutes from Muir Woods) is a great place to catch the sunset before heading back into town to enjoy dinner at Tamalpie Pizzeria. For a more elevated dining experience make reservations at Piatti Mill Valley and enjoy stunning views of Richardsons’ Bay and Mt. Tamalpais.

Make sure you check the sunset time before making any dinner reservations since this is a sunset you don’t want to miss or come too early. Our day trip to Mill Valley took place at the end of February so sunset happened fairly early. In the summer months, sunset can be as late as 8:00 pm so you might want to grab dinner first and then end your day at the Muir Beach Overlook.

Quick Guide: How To Spend The Perfect Day in Mill Valley | Bare Escape
Quick Guide: How To Spend The Perfect Day in Mill Valley | Bare Escape
Quick Guide: How To Spend The Perfect Day in Mill Valley | Bare Escape

Extend your stay: The Best Hotels in Mill Valley

Thinking about turning your day trip into a little weekend getaway? Find below two of our favorite boutique hotels in Mill Valley. Staying a day longer will allow you to explore the neighboring town of Sausalito or take the ferry to Tiburon.


Boutique Hotel

Mill Valley Inn

This 3-star hotel is located in the charming downtown of Mill Valley and is close to all that the Bay has to offer inclusive of the majestic Muir Woods.


Boutique Hotel

Acqua Hotel

This 49-room modern boutique hotel is right on the banks of the picturesque Richardson Bay with a view of Mt. Tamalpais beyond. In close proximity to all of the popular sights, you'll appreciate the peaceful natural setting right in the heart of the Bay Area.


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Quick Guide: How To Spend The Perfect Day in Mill Valley | Bare Escape
Quick Guide: How To Spend The Perfect Day in Mill Valley | Bare Escape

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