A Great Place to Visit
The Floating Homes of Sausalito
Neil Wiley


You might not want to live on a boat, but these homes on the water do more than float. A tour may convince you to forsake the mountains for a life on the bay, especially when you see them in all their creative diversity. Some are giant triple-decker palaces with thousands of square feet. Others pack a lot of pizazz in the space of a mobile home. You can visit everything from architectural mansions to repurposed working boats.

One thing is for sure. Although these homes float up and down, they aren’t going anywhere. They are built as permanent dock-side structures. More than four hundred of these floating homes are parked forever within five Sausalito marinas. They form a close-knit community, but the only thing they have in common is the desire to be different.

I toured the inside of four of these homes with a group from the Los Gatos and Campbell recreation departments. Each home was beautiful in its own way. Even the views of other houses were interesting, but it didn’t hurt that they floated together along San Francisco Bay.

If you just want to see the exteriors, you can take your own walking tour. Visitors, preferably without small children or dogs, are welcome. You can park at the Waldo Point Harbor parking lot for a short visit, or drive to Gate 6 1/2 Road and park for a longer stay. You can also pay a local guide to take you on a tour. Visit OurSausalito.com for more information.
If you want to see more, you may be able to set up your own tour with the Floating Homes Association. Or you can wait until September for a community open house, when 15 or so waterfront homes are open with exhibits by local artists, live music, food, and refreshments.

Whenever you go, you’ll find that Sausalito is full of good restaurants, shops, and happy tourists. I had a fabulous lunch at The Spinnaker, which is a short walk from the ferry dock. Also, be sure to visit Lappert’s Ice Cream, 689 Bridgeway. I broke a six-month ice-cream fast, and it was worth it. For more to see, get a visitor map from the Sausalito Chamber of Commerce.

Although this was not technically a hike, the touring, shopping, and eating led to lots of walking. My Fitbit® registered 10,567 steps and 4.82 miles, not bad for a relaxing day in the sun.

You can top off your tour with a 25-minute ferry ride across the Bay while enjoying one of the world’s best scenic views, past Alcatraz, and on to San Francisco’s Ferry Building. For details, see goldengate.org.

By the way, Sausalito is bicycle heaven. On a Friday afternoon, we saw hundreds of cyclists boarding the ferry. You can bring your bike, or rent one, and then bike two miles to the Golden Gate Bridge, ten miles to San Francisco, or ten miles to Muir Woods.

And just think. If you lived in a floating home, you could be right there, on the water. It’s as interesting and diverse as the Santa Cruz Mountains, only wetter.