Mill Valley, Marin County, California. Land of towering coastal Redwood trees, the gateway to majestic Mt. Tamalpais, home to the impossibly fit and smart people with well-behaved, impeccably groomed dogs. Judging by the real estate market, everyone wants in to this nirvana by the Bay so they can drink the ambrosia of local hand crafted brews at Mill Valley Beerworks. It may look like perfection and homogeneity on the outside but the neighborhoods in this hot hamlet are as distinct and quirky as the people. So here's the 411 on the 94941, my guide to micro-climates and who to expect next door.
Off the first Mill Valley exit of Highway 101, the one with the long line of cars trying to get outta the City and into the Buckeye happy hour. It's basically a way station from frosty San Francisco on warm days. On good weekends you won't be able to enjoy your own neighborhood until you find the secret tunnel to Stinson Beach. If Karl the Fog moved from the City, he'd move here. Do you surf? Move here. Get your ¾ inch wetsuit at the locally sticker friendly Proof Lab and grab a mug at Equator Coffee before freezing your patootie off in the Pacific just over the hill. Some call this neighborhood Tam Heights...More like Tam (stop) Lights
Mill Valley’s very own Mayberry RFD or better yet, Stepford. In this darn cute neighborhood the houses look like doll houses but cost $2 million. Maybe because the inhabitants and pets that populate Sycamore Park are perfection. Mommies in Lulu Lemon push$1,000 Stokke strollers with their white labs to get their fresh pressed juice. This is where the Marina goes when it grows up, gets married and has children.
With easy access to hiking and biking here’s no room for muffin tops in the Middle Ridge neighborhood just behind downtown with direct access to the Green God-Mount Tamalpais. Middle Ridge includes Summit and Lovell Avenues connecting with Railroad Grade and terminating at Mountain Home Inn. City, Bay and Pacific Ocean views galore make this a most sought after location where you can share some rarified air with neighbors like Bob Weir and Sammy Hagar, the Red Rocker.
Shelter Ridge, Poet's Hill
Romance is in the air on Shelley, Longfellow and Millay. Its proximity to 101 makes it an easy commute and the HQ for fire and police. Abutting the bike path and the Middle School it’s a great location for strolling on the wetlands, and convenient to WholeFoods. Divorcees inhabiting the many condos and townhomes, may feel that romance is overrated.
Alto Sutton, Horse Hill
Experts agree, this neighborhood needs an updated moniker that befits it’s hot new status.With the new state of the art school down the street, folks are clamoring to live in a neighborhood that has FLAT yards with grass a more suitable nickname might be: XREEM…Expensive Real Estate by Edna Maguire.. Boasting lawns, sunlight and lots of space XREEM abuts a hill dotted with grazing horses and is within walking distance to Whole Foods. . It doesn’t get any better than this capsule of suburbia.
Scott Valley Illustrated
Don't want to go over the hill to CorteMadera/Larkspur but want that warmer weather...come here! Scott Valley's got it all. Parking. Did I say parking and wide streets, Boulevards, even. The Scott Valley Swim and Tennis Club is nearby and doesn't even have a long waiting list, you can be swimming pretty much tomorrow. You also don't have to wait in line on Blithedale Avenue to get out of downtown Mill Valley. You can just scoot out of Scott Valley onto the freeway. This neighborhood is nestled into a warm crook around the new $60m Edna Maguire elementary school with a nice bike path leading to all points. If I described heaven, this is it.
Cascade Canyon, Moss Valley?
Sierra Club shoots its calendar photos in this wooded wonderland. Babbling water skips over rocks with giant prehistoric looking ferns at the banks of the creek, towering redwoods with soft dappled light filtering through...and therein lies the issue. The light doesn't reach the Hansel and Gretel houses after 2pm and its dark by 5 earning its nickname, Moss Valley. Charming in a Black Forest kind of way, bring breadcrumbs because GPS won't help in the redwood canyon.
Definition: home-stead (hohm-sted)
Any dwelling with its land and buildings where a family makes its home. There are plenty of homes in this neighborhood bound by Miller Avenue all the way up to the GGNRA with a little grove of giant eucalyptus called Stolte in-between. Dairy farms and hunting lodges from yesteryear have been replaced by cute homes with inviting front porches in the flats and houses on spindly stilts up or down steep driveways in the hills. There’s even a homey community center with a toy sized pool for the kids to splash. Live here if you want to walk to the original Whole Foods and catch the bus to SF. Feels St. Helena without the commute.