Over the Golden Gate Bridge about 20 miles north of San Francisco sits San Anselmo. This charming Marin County town has a unique quirkiness which makes it a fun and fascinating place to live as well as to explore.
Quiet pasturelands blanketed this area until 1874 when the North Pacific Coast Railroad completed its Sausalito-San Rafael line, bringing numerous travelers into San Anselmo as they journeyed to other areas. Initially, the town was simply called "Junction" but was christened San Anselmo in 1883.
The population of San Anselmo was small until the San Francisco Theological Seminary was completed in 1892 when town finally began to grow. Many San Francisco residents had second homes here, which after the 1906 earthquake, became their primary residences. In 1907, the Town of San Anselmo was officially born and the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937 resulted in yet another boon to its population through 1960. Its residents have remained right around the 12,000 mark for the past 57 years.
Play in San Anselmo
George Lucas is a longtime resident of the town and statues of Yoda and Indiana Jones hold pride of place in the town's Imagination Park. Memorial Park has a peaceful garden and a Millennium Playground, designed to appeal to kids of (almost) all ages. Phoenix Trail is a beautiful nature loop around the reservoir where you may encounter local wildlife. A stroll through the grounds of the Seminary offers views of Mount Tamalpais and the 'stone castles on the hill.'
Shop in San Anselmo
Called the "Northern California Antique Capital" thanks to its 130 local antique dealers, San Anselmo is a treasure hunters paradise. There are also numerous other boutiques, galleries and shops in its downtown including PS Paper, Whytes Booksmith and Stella's Fine Consignments.
Eat & Drink in San Anselmo
A bakery and cafe opened by a Tartine Bakery alumni, M.H. Bread and Butter is a perfect place to grab an unforgettable breakfast or lunch. Comforts serves fantastic NorCal food, with its Chinese chicken salad being a top seller. Hilda's Coffee Shop is an ideal place to grab a cup of afternoon coffee or tea while Insalata's has an extensive Mediterranean menu and is a great option for a sit-down dinner.
The next time you're looking to take a day trip and explore someplace you may have never been, head over the Golden Gate to San Anselmo. This quaint town offers history, amazing antiquing, outdoor pursuits and great food.
San Anselmo's Play, Shop & Eat Locations
Phoenix Lake Trail
San Francisco Theological Seminary
- 105 Seminary Road
- 541 San Anselmo Avenue
- 135 San Anselmo Ave
- 615 San Anselmo Avenue
Stella's Fine Consignments
- 224 Greenfield Avenue
MH Bread & Butter
- 101 San Anselmo Avenue
- 335 San Anselmo Avenue
- 120 Sir Francis Drake Blvd
Hilda's Coffee Shop
- 639 San Anselmo Avenue
Article excerpt from Where San Francisco + Bay AreaMagazine