Welcome to Mill Valley
Jaw-dropping natural splendor and a nostalgic downtown just outside San Francisco
At the base of Mount Tamalpais, ensconced among ancient monolithic redwoods, the city of Mill Valley radiates an old-world charm that’s amplified by the extraordinary natural scenery. Beauty is in abundance here, with national parks adorning the borders of Mill Valley like a crown. Located close to San Francisco, Mill Valley provides a quaint escape from big-city living.
Mill Valley’s history, like much of California’s, is colorful and vast. The city was officially incorporated in 1900 and has since grown into a beloved dreamscape for outdoor enthusiasts from all over the globe. The varied terrain makes for incredible adventuring, while the charismatic downtown scene draws retail enthusiasts who appreciate a vintage European feel.
Homes in Mill Valley often perch atop gentle hills, and the architectural styles of residential housing span the century. Multimillion-dollar new-builds are often designed by world-class architects and incorporate airy contemporary elements to find harmony with nature. It’s also not uncommon to find mid-century beauties tucked in redwood groves or radiant Craftsman homes with views of the city.
What to Love
People & Lifestyle
In Mill Valley, hiking and mountain biking are more than just passing hobbies — they’re a way of life. Those who live here feel the pull of nature, calling them to explore and enjoy the splendor of coastal California. The relatively small population of around 13,000 keeps the town feeling homey and bustling without being overwhelming. A hop, skip, and a jump away, the nearby city of San Francisco has long been a critical pulse of the music world, and the performing arts centers here are renowned.
Dining, Shopping, & Entertainment
The outdoors might be front and center in Mill Valley, but this delightful city also harbors a bevy of commercial opportunities. Inventive and undeniably charming, the Mill Valley Lumber Yard
is where a century-old heritage has been seamlessly melded with a modern outdoor shopping destination. The village atmosphere draws visitors in, but they stay for the delicious eats and trendy shops. The much-loved Flour Craft Bakery
, for example, makes going gluten-free easier than ever with their variety of tasty baked goods.
Downtown Mill Valley also houses plenty of quaint luxury boutiques, including Summer House
, which offers inspiring home design elements to create a distinctive living space. Fashionable apparel is easy to find in Mill Valley, and downtown in particular houses chic clothing stores such as Mint
. One-of-a-kind gifts are found at The Goods
, whose wares include vintage finds and the softest cashmere around.
Head to Proof Lab
, and you’ll encounter a premier surf shop with a myriad of local businesses nested inside. Inside, hip shops like Equator Coffees
beckon, promising a fresh cup of single-origin coffee and a delicious treat to pair with it. Indulge in a craft brew and a sumptuous course of fresh seafood after a long day exploring the trails by dining in at Hook Fish Co
, located inside the Proof Lab Beer Garden.
Things to Do
While most in Mill Valley will choose to spend their time navigating the area’s lush landscape, many will love the vibrant arts, culture, and entertainment scenes in nearby San Francisco, too. The San Francisco Ballet
has been enchanting attendees since 1933, and the Grammy-winning San Francisco Symphony
enthralls listeners with masterful renditions of classics.
Opera lovers can rejoice, too, as the San Francisco Opera
functions as a hotspot for world premieres of brand-new work. San Francisco Jazz
has a long history of excellence since it was erected as the first free-standing building in America built purely for jazz performances and education. Concerts at The Fillmore
are legendary, and this multi-genre venue has housed some of the most influential names in the music industry.
Music and nature collide at the Outside Lands Music Festival
, held in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area
park. Top artists and performers come together to put on a three-day bonanza of partying, nonstop shows, and endless entertainment, all in a gorgeous park setting. The festival also pairs with San Francisco’s finest vendors and food trucks to provide delectable eats to concert-goers.
Mill Valley is home to several excellent schools. Top educational opportunities include:
- Mill Valley Middle School, 6-8, one of the top public high schools in Marin County
- Edna Maguire Elementary School, K-5, highly rated public elementary school
- Old Mill Elementary School, K-5, highly rated public elementary school
- Park Elementary School, K-5, highly rated public elementary school
- Tamalpais High School, 9-12, highly rated public high school
- Guidepost Montessori at Mill Valley, PK & K, highly rated private preschool and kindergarten