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Mill Valley Hotels

Marin County Hotels







From the east peak of Mount Tamalpais, a quick two-mile downhill hike follows the Temelpa Trail through velvety shrubs of chaparral to the town of MILL VALLEY , the oldest and most enticing of the inland towns of Marin County. This was originally a logging Center, from where the destruction of the surrounding redwoods was organized, but for many years the town has made a healthy living out of tourism and October's annual Mill Valley Film Festival, which draws area stars and up-and-coming directors alike.

The restored town Centers today around the redwood-shaded square of the Depot Bookstore and Café (Mon-Fri 7am-8pm, Sat & Sun 8am-9pm; tel 415/383-2665), a popular bookstore, café and meeting place at 87 Throckmorton Ave; there's a small visitor Center in the same building (Mon, Tues, Thurs & Fri 10am-noon and 1-4pm; tel 415/388-9700). Far and away the best place to stay , if you can afford it, is the Mill Valley Inn , 165 Throckmorton Ave (tel 415/389-6608 or 1-800/595-2100, ; $160-250+), a gorgeous European-style inn with elegant rooms and two private cottages. They've also opened a branch along the waterfront: sumptuous Acqua Hotel , 555 Redwood Hwy (tel 415/380-0400 or 1-888/662-9555, ; $160-200/$200-250), on Richardson Bay. Piazza D'Angelo , at 22 Miller Ave (tel 415/388-2000), has very good pizzas and pastas. Sunnyside Café , 31 Sunnyside Ave (tel 415/388-5260), claims "the customers are rarely right" but serves large, affordable breakfasts and lunches nonetheless. Sweetwater , at 153 Throckmorton Ave (tel 415/388-2820, ), is a comfortable saloon which doubles as Marin's prime live music venue, with gigs ranging from jazz and blues all-stars to Jefferson Airplane survivors.

The largely undeveloped Marin Headlands , across the Golden Gate from San Francisco, afford some of the most impressive views of the bridge and the city behind. The coastline is much more rugged than it is on the San Francisco side, and it makes a great place for an isolated clifftop scramble, in among the concrete remains of old forts and gun emplacements. Heading west on Bunker Hill Road takes you up to the brink of the headlands before snaking down to Fort Barry, and wide, sandy Rodeo Beach , from which numerous hiking trails branch out. Check in at the Marin Headlands Visitor Center (daily 9.30am-4.30pm; tel 415/331-1540) above Rodeo Lagoon for free maps. The largest of the fort's old buildings has been converted into the spacious but homey HI-Marin Headlands   hostel (tel 415/331-2777, ; up to $35), an excellent base for more extended explorations of the inland ridges and valleys
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