The Secret to Understanding Traffic and Parking at the Sausalito Art Festival
Sausalito is a town of just 7,000 people that is squeezed between San Francisco Bay and the cliffs of the Marin Headlands just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Just one major street runs through our long and narrow town, and the large City parking lots are adjacent to the Sausalito Ferry pier, which is located in downtown Sausalito. The Festival, however, is located about a mile to the north of downtown.
Put it all together: long narrow town, lots of visitors, only one road that goes all the way through from north to south. The result is traffic jams during the Art Festival. That’s why at the bottom of this “Parking Page” we also summarize other ways to get here, so you won’t have to worry about parking or traffic!
Insiders Tip: The best way to avoid the morning traffic is to arrive early, right when the Festival opens. The madness of Bridgeway — our sole big street — will not yet have cranked into full gear. You can then leave earlier to beat the late afternoon rush, or (if you crave some exercise or wear a Fitbit and count your steps) you can walk down to the restaurants in the nearby Sausalito neighborhoods of Marinship and Caledonia St. and walk back later for your car.
The Art Festival parking consists of different lots in northern Sausalito that are dedicated to the event by building owners as a fundraising initiative for local charities. Parking within two blocks (more or less) of the Festival is $20, parking farther away is $10. In general, turning from Bridgeway onto a) Liberty Ship Way or b) Harbor Drive will give you a choice of $20 and $10 lots, while turning either direction on Coloma will lead you to $10 lots.
As you approach the Festival on Bridgeway you’ll see signs pointing left or right and either “$20″ or $10” or both prices. Turn at the selected spot and flaggers from the Sausalito Rotary Club will take your money and guide you to a spot, as well as point out where to catch the shuttle bus.
Insiders Tip: The parking shuttles are nice air conditioned buses, so parking at the first available lot (like those off Coloma St.) is often the best bet even though it’s farthest from the show. It also means you have less traffic in the crush after the show closes, since you’ll be closer to the on-ramp for Highway 101. Better yet, take the ferry and the free air conditioned shuttle, or use other mass transit options (see below).
Handicapped Parking is adjacent to the Festival. Turn off Bridgeway a) at Liberty Ship Way and bear left at the bottom of the hill, or b) at Harbor Dr. and then make an immediate right onto Liberty Ship Way. If the sign says “Lot Full” pull up to the volunteers anyway, because handicapped will still be open and they will happily guide you to the right spot.
Don’t park on the street in the nearby neighborhoods: Residential areas are marked with signs, residents have passes and if you’re in street parking without a pass your odds of getting an expensive ticket are virtually 100%. Besides, it’s not cool to block someone’s driveway, crush what’s left of their lawn or (as has happened to us) have cars damage your shrubbery.
Sausalito Residents and Marinship Workers
Sausalito Residents: If you live close to the Festival and did not get your residential parking passes email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 415-281-8822. If a Festival visitor has blocked your driveway, parked on your lawn etc. call the Sausalito Police non-emergency number at 415-289-4170.
Sausalito Office Workers: If your office is nearby (as is OurSausalito.com), your building manager will have special parking passes or procedures if you need to work that weekend. Our advice as veterans of many Festivals: if you have to work that day, come in early so the lot isn’t already full when you present your pass.
Also: If you work very close to the Festival watch who parks next to your car during the unloading process. Damage to cars in the lot is not unusual — it’s even happened to us and when we called the moving company they said the driver denied it and blew us off..
Many Ways to Get to the Sausalito Art Festival
You can take a regular Sausalito Ferry from the Ferry Building in San Francisco, or from Pier 41 in Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. Regular free shuttles bring fair visitors from the downtown ferry pier to the Art Festival grounds.
The direct-to-festival ferries available in previous years are no longer available.
You can take a Golden Gate Transit bus to Sausalito and get off at the “Bridgeway at Easterby” or the “Bridgeway at Nevada” bus stops.
You can drive to the Festival, taking the Sausalito-Marin City exit off highway 101. Be sure to check out our advice about driving and parking above.
You can ride your bike, since there’s free bike valet parking.
You can stay in a Sausalito Hotel downtown, and then take the free shuttle from the ferry pier to the Festival.
If you’re in Mill Valley and are looking for a nice walk or bike ride, you can take the bayside trail that runs from Blithedale near the intersection with Camino Alto and comes all the way down to Sausalito.