Mill Valley is a gorgeous place to live, with several areas steeped in historical significance, including old buildings and some museums. But because it is a smaller city, most of the significant landmarks are located in the surrounding Marin Country. Luckily, they're only a short drive away.
Rancho Corte Madera del Presidio, which means "lumber mill of the Presidio," is home to Marin County's first official sawmill. Erected in 1834 by John Reed, the sawmill has been officially registered as a California Historical Landmark. Rancho Corte Madera del Presidio was a Mexican land grant gifted to California in the same year the sawmill was erected. What’s so fascinating about a sawmill? Probably not much, but hey, it’s old.
Today, it encompasses Corte Madera, Mill Valley, the Tiburon Peninsula, and Strawberry Point. Apart from the sawmill, the area is also home to Lyford's Stone Tower and Benjamin and Hilarita Lyford's house.
A world-famous suspension bridge that connects the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula to Marin Country is considered an engineering marvel. This beautiful, historic bridge is one of the world's most photographed—and for good reason (so you might have to fight off some Instagram influencers to get a glimpse).
Stretching across 1.7 miles, the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most-visited landmarks in the Bay Area. Bicyclists and pedestrians are also welcome to walk on the bridge, as long as you stay on the sidewalks and stick to the daylight hours. Don’t go weaving in and out of traffic or anything.
During the Cold War era, the Mill Valley Air Force Station was active and operated as a defense radar station from atop its place on Mount Tamalpais. The peak allowed station controllers to have a 360-degree view of the surrounding area and became the Homing Beacon 4H and Forward Relay Site 4M site. It also provided radar during WWII. Today, it's controlled by the Federal Aviation Administration. No word on if they’ve ever found any aliens up there.
In San Rafael, you can visit the Spanish Mission San Rafael Arcángel. The mission was founded in the early 1800s and originally functioned as a hospital outpost for Mission Dolores, later becoming Alta California's first sanitarium. Over time, the mission became successful on its own and received full mission status in 1822. Today, there is a museum and shop there full of fascinating artifacts. The mission is also used for special events and part of the St. Rafael of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco.
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