About Mill Valley

Helpful Links | Nestled in the foothills of towering Mount Tamalpais, Mill Valley is an intimate community whose beauty is only matched by its rich history; a place the Coast Miwok native peoples called home for thousands of years.

Today, there are municipally maintained open-space reserves, parks, and coastal habitats, and these areas, along with the Mediterranean climate, allow the residents to enjoy outdoor recreation all year round. There is also a thriving downtown in Mill Valley as well. Revolving around Lytton Square, the business district is home to art galleries, trendy fashion boutiques, open-air coffee shops, and more. Residents and visitors alike enjoy festivals, parades, and events that pay tribute to culture and community.

These charming characteristics, along with the excellent school district and stable housing market, make Mill Valley an amazing place to reside and a perfect setting to raise a family. In 2005, CNN/Money and Money magazine ranked Mill Valley tenth on its list of the 100 Best Places to Live in the United States. Not dissimilar to other Marin County communities, Mill Valley has retained elements of its artistic culture of the past. It continues to be a progressive population that protects its environment and is very involved in the arts and nationally recognized schools. People from all over the world call Mill Valley home and it has some of the most inspiring real estate on the globe. It is an exclusive enclave situated amongst the beautiful redwoods of California and is minutes from several major cities across the Bay Area.



Prior to the first Europeans, Coast Miwok had a thriving community in what is now known as Mill Valley. There were groves of virgin redwood, grassy hills dotted with scattered oaks, creeks unchecked by dams, and marshes alive with birds and fish. This untamed wilderness remained this way until Spanish Missions began making their way up the California coast from Mexico. Not long after Mexico gained independence from Spain, it gave an Irishman by the name of John Reed a land grant that encompassed Mill Valley.

In the 1850s when California became a state, Reed's sawmill, Throckmorton's ranch, a few scattered farms, and some Miwok villages comprised Mill Valley. Not long after that, the North Pacific Coast Railroad laid down its tracks. Wealthy people from San Francisco began to frequent the area for hiking, hunting, camping, and horseback riding. The population expanded. The people laid out roads, pedestrian paths, and step-systems built Cascade Dam and Reservoir for water supply, and set aside reservations for churches, schools, and parks. This environmental conservancy and smart city planning was something very rarely done in those days when towns simply grew.

In April 1906, the Great Earthquake struck San Francisco and other communities on the San Andreas Fault. Many San Franciscans who had cottages here fled the city. A large number never left Mill Valley again. In 1900, Mill Valley's population was approximately 900 and the city filed for incorporation. Directly after this earthquake, the population grew to 1,000 permanent residents and 1,000 summer residents. Now known nationwide, the Dipsea Race originated in 1905 by members of the San Francisco Olympic Club. With the Golden Gate Bridge being built in 1937, the town again experienced growth. It was now easily accessible and real estate became a principal business here. Construction boomed.

By the beginning of the 1960s, the population swelled. The Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival became a permanent annual event and the old Carnegie library was replaced with an award-winning library at 375 Throckmorton Avenue. In the 1970s Mill Valley became an area associated with great wealth, with many people making their millions in San Francisco and moving north. New schools and neighborhoods cropped up yet the city maintained its defense of redwoods and protected open space. The 1990s also saw another influx of affluence. Many new homeowners gutted homes built in the 19th and early 20th centuries or tore them down altogether.

The past has truly shaped life in Mill Valley. From the early inhabitants around 1300 A.D to the present-day population, the town has always been a welcoming destination.


Location | Climate | Weather

Located on 4.8 square miles Mill Valley lies between Mt. Tamalpais on the west, the city of Tiburon on the east, the City of Corte Madera on the north, and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) on the south. There are two beautiful streams that flow from the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais through Mill Valley to the San Francisco Bay, the Arroyo Corte Madera del Presidio and Cascade Creek. The town is surrounded by hundreds of acres of federal, state, and county parklands. The environmental advocacy on the part of residents ensures that the nature enveloping the city will thrive for future generations.

Mill Valley experiences a mild Mediterranean climate. Winter lows rarely drop below freezing and summer highs rarely peak at 90 degrees. This weather allows locals to enjoy outdoor recreation virtually all year long.



The Mill Valley School District has five elementary schools and one middle school with an enrollment of approximately 2,200 students in grades kindergarten through eight. Four of the schools are located within the City of Mill Valley, while two are located in the adjacent unincorporated areas of Strawberry and Tamalpais Valley. The Mill Valley School District is ranked at "9/10" by the Great Schools organization. Schools Edna Maguire Elementary, Mill Valley Middle, Old Mill, Park, Strawberry Point, and Tamalpais Valley all rank in the mid-900s by the California Department of Education Academic Performance Index (API)Tamalpais High School is nationally ranked and recognized as one of the premier high school's in the nation with some of the State's highest test scores, rates of graduation, and college acceptance.



Mill Valley has commuter express bus stops to speed you into downtown San Francisco in less than 30 minutes. The estimated drive time is 20 minutes without commute traffic. Alternatively, the Sausalito Ferry is 4 miles away and a 10-minute drive. The ferry ride is approximately 35 minutes. Visit Golden Gate Transit for more details.


Things To Do

Downtown activities center around Lytton Square, where people gather for coffee at the Book Depot Cafe or for a game of chess while conducting some serious people-watching. Fashionable boutiques and restaurants fill the downtown. Sweetwater Music Hall, one of the top roots music clubs in the nation, is well-known for its live musical performances and famous guest musicians who occasionally "drop in" for an evening to improvise. For our four-legged residents, Mill Valley boasts a three-acre bayfront dog park where canines can romp and swim with their friends while their owners socialize.



Fine dining and casual cafes can be found all over Mill Valley. To name just a few; Frantoio Ristorante, Piatti Ristorante and Bar, India Palace Restaurant, El Paseo, Bungalow 44, Vasco, Gira Polli, Balboa Cafe, Joe's Taco Lounge and the Mill Valley's stalwart Moma's Royal Cafe for the best breakfast in town.



Visit Mill Valley's Sweetwater Music Hall for live entertainment and fine eats is a beloved music venue that is both a neighborhood hangout and a world-class music destination. And the Throckmorton Theater hosts comedy and plays along with a children's program. The world-famous 2 AM Club where the lucky visitor could spot a film star or a rocker or two. And the new Mill Valley Beerworks is a local taproom pairing house-brewed beers with creative pub food in minimal modern surroundings.



Mill Valley is host to a range of cultural activities. The Mill Valley Film Festival is an internationally recognized festival that has attracted leading filmmakers and movie aficionados for the past 28 years. The Mountain Play, produced in June in an outdoor amphitheater, attracts thousands of theater-goers to the top of Mt. Tamalpais to watch Broadway musicals performed by talented local actors. The Mill Valley Outdoor Art Club, a state historical landmark, was designed in 1904 by internationally known architect, Bernard Maybeck. Particularly notable for its unusual roof truss system, the Arts and Crafts style building exemplifies Maybeck’s creative use of natural materials.



Mill Valley is known for its unique shops, boutiques, and galleries. If it's home furnishing you are looking for visit Summer House on Throckmorton Avenue. One of the best book and magazine stores in Northern California is The Book Depot with an on-site coffee shop. For unique and stylish clothing drop into Famous For Our Look and Margaret O'Leary's. Seager Gray Gallery on Sunnyside Avenue sells original works of art. For gourmet groceries, Mill Valley Market is an ideal place to shop. Alpha Dog Boutique provides all kinds of goodies for your four-legged friends.

For a full-service shopping center, visit Mill Valley's Strawberry Village for its distinctive blend of daily services, specialty shops, well-being boutiques, eateries, and leisurely al fresco dining.

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