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5 miles N of San Francisco

The picturesque, European-feeling Sausalito is the first town you’ll meet once you cross the Golden Gate Bridge. With houses scaling the hillside, fewer than 8,000 residents, and a quaint waterfront, Sausalito feels rather like St. Tropez on the French Riviera (minus the beach) and the hotter climes. Next to the pricey bayside restaurants, antiques shops, and galleries, are hamburger joints, ice-cream shops, and souvenir shops where it’s Christmas all year round. Sausalito’s main strip is Bridgeway, which runs along the water; on a clear day the views of San Francisco far across the bay are spectacular. After admiring the view, those in the know make a quick detour to Caledonia Street, 1 block inland; not only is it less congested, but it also has a better selection of cafes and shops. Since the town is all along the waterfront and only stretches a few blocks, it’s best explored on foot.