The Town that Charms Everyone
Mill Valley has always attracted Marin home buyers. Unique homes and easy proximity to San Francisco have kept real estate values high. Situated at the foot of Mt. Tamalpais, the town abounds in charm with boutique shops, fun and exciting community events and entertainment, and excellent restaurants. The first time I wandered off the freeway and discovered Mill Valley, I thought I was in a Bavarian village set in a Redwood grove.
Some 14,000 residents live in 5,600 homes.
Mill Valley real estate comprises a great variety of neighborhoods that carry their own unique micro-climates, views, and terrain:
- Ridges with views of the Bay and San Francisco
- Forested canyons with seasonal streams
- Level streets within walking distance of the town square
- Strawberry Peninsula surrounded by Richardson Bay
- A forested ridge west of town, higher on Mount Tamalpais
Views of Mill Valley
Real Estate Prices
Least Expensive Homes
Most Expensive Homes in Mill Valley
Most of Mill Valley lies west of Highway 101, between the highway and Mount Tamalpais. This is the original village, built in the valleys and on the hillsides that cascade down from Mount Tamalpais.
East of the highway, Mill Valley shares the Strawberry Peninsula on Richardson Bay with Tiburon. West and above Mill Valley, Panoramic Highway travels through extensive parklands and a unique rural neighborhood before it drops to the Pacific coast.
Navigating Mill Valley
Mill Valley is arrayed across five canyons/valleys that fall from Mount Tamalpais to meet the bay. From south to north:
- Tamalpais Valley, which runs from Highway 101 along Shoreline Highway (CA 1) toward the ocean.
- Homestead Valley
- Cascade Canyon
- Blithedale Canyon, separated from Cascade Canyon by the “Middle Ridge.”
- Warner Canyon
If you want to know more about the hills and valleys of Mill Valley, see this map.
Access to Mill Valley
There are two Mill Valley exits from Highway 101:
- Shoreline Highway (CA Hwy 1) at the south end of Mill Valley, provides access to Tamalpais Valley, the coastal villages to the north (Muir Beach, Stinson Beach, and Bolinas), and Miller Ave. to downtown.
- East Blithedale exit takes you directly to downtown.
Miller and East Blithedale Avenues run in parallel to downtown. Connecting these two streets north to south are Camino Alto nearest Highway 101 and and Throckmorton Ave in the downtown.
Lytton Square, at the junction of Miller, East Blithedale, and Throckmorton Avenues, marks downtown Mill Valley. This is the primary shopping area with a central plaza, restaurants, a movie theater, a grocery store, shops of every kind, and the Town Hall. A “walk-to-downtown” is highly prized for many of those wanting to live in Mill Valley.
The Canyons & Middle Ridge
To the west of downtown and Lytton Square are the Blithedale and Cascade Canyon neighborhoods separated by the Middle Ridge. Mt. Tamalpais looms over the canyons at 2,600 feet. These neighborhoods have many early 20th century summer cottages updated to charming and elegant homes, plus stylish newer homes built in wooded settings. Some hillside homes have spectacular views of Mt. Tamalpais and the San Francisco skyline.
Sycamore & Tamalpais Parks
East of the town square, between Miller and East Blithedale Avenues, are the level and highly sought-after Sycamore and Tamalpais Park neighborhoods, with a wide variety of homes from stately Victorians to post-WWII cottages. Remodeling and rebuilding in this neighborhood has produced some of the most expensive homes in Mill Valley. For more information and a photo tour, see our Sycamore Park page.
Almonte & Homestead Valley
The Almonte and Homestead Valley neighborhoods are located on the south-west side of Miller Avenue and rise from level land to a low ridge separating Mill Valley from Tamalpais Valley. To the west, Homestead Valley meets the Golden Gate National Recreational Area. Here is a map of Homestead Valley featuring its many hiking trails. This neighborhood has many level streets and a wide variety of homes which have been upgraded in recent years.
Alta Vista-Boyle Park
This neighborhood stretches along the north side of E. Blithedale Ave., climbing gently up the Blithedale Ridge. See a photo tour of this neighborhood and its many attractive features.
The Alto neighborhood is comprised of a few level streets between Highway 101 and Camino Alto. To the north is Horse Hill and Scott Valley. This neighborhood has become extremely popular because of its rural feeling, large lots, and easy access to the highway.
Enchanted Knolls & Shelter Ridge
A small hill at the junction of Highway 101 and E. Blithedale Ave has streets named for 19th century English poets (Keats, Longfellow, etc.). Along these streets, you will find small single family homes built in the later 1950’s and 1960’s and attached condos from the 1970’s. At the top of the hill are six Shelter Ridge buildings containing one bedroom, one bath apartment-style condos (ca. 1979).
Eucalyptus Knoll, Shelter Bay & Sunrise Pointe Condos
Close to Highway 101, bordering inlets from Richardson Bay, are three condominium communities that provide waterfront locations, views of Mount Tamalpais, and easy access to Highway 101 and San Francisco.
Eucalyptus Knoll (1980’s) has mostly two bedroom condos and town homes and a few one and three bedroom units, with between 1,200 to 2,300 square feet of living space.
Shelter Bay (ca. 1965) condos occupy five multi-level buildings that extend over the water. Most have two bedrooms, with a smaller number of 1, 3, and 4 bedroom units in approximately 840 to 1,600 square feet.
Scott Valley is a quiet, sunny and highly desirable neighborhood in the northeast corner of Mill Valley. It is located to the east of Camino Alto as this road climbs the Corte Madera Ridge. Houses and lots tend to be large. For more information and photos, see our Scott Valley page.
Mill Valley Country Club
Warner Canyon, north of the Blithedale Ridge, is home to the scenic Mill Valley Golf Club and the private and very desirable Mill Valley Country Club neighborhood. The homes in this neighborhood, built from the 1960’s and later, are often on larger lots.
Over a low ridge to the south-east of downtown, Tamalpais Valley extends along CA Highway 1 (aka Shoreline Highway) toward the coast. This may be the best area of Mill Valley for commuting to San Francisco. See our page devoted to the attractive and rural Little City Farms area of Tamalpais Valley.
Strawberry Manor & Harbor Point
The Strawberry Peninsula with Strawberry Manor and Harbor Point neighborhoods extends into Richardson (San Francisco) Bay east of Highway 101. It comprises elegant, modern mansions on the bay, large Eichler-built homes from the 1950’s, and California cottages. Find more information on our Strawberry page.
Panoramic Highway/Muir Park
An eight to 10 minute drive from downtown Mill Valley takes you to Panoramic Highway and a remarkable neighborhood on a ridge of Mt. Tamalpais. Some of these Mill Valley homes are hidden in redwood groves, with spectacular views of the bay, ocean, or the peaks of Mt. Tamalpais. This a special get-away place, with the many hiking trails of Mount Tamalpais just out the door.
Incorporated & Unincorporated Neighborhoods
About half of Mill Valley lies within the “incorporated” city of Mill Valley. This means that the homes and citizens in this area rely on the city for services, including fire (Mill Valley Fire Department), police, Planning and Building, Public Works, Recreation, and more. The city provides a list of streets that are incorporated.
The other half of Mill Valley is unincorporated and relies on the County of Marin for its services. Unincorporated neighborhoods are Almonte, Alto, Homestead Valley, Tamalpais Valley, Strawberry Manor, Harbor Point, and Panoramic/Muir Park. These neighborhoods rely on Marin County for police protection, Planning and Building, and Public Works.
The city provides a list of streets that are incorporated.
The two sections of Mill Valley share the post office with ZIP code of 94941 and the Mill Valley School system.
Edna Maguire School, Alto neighborhood, k-5, 80 Lomita Drive
Old Mill School, Cascade Canyon neighborhood, k-5, 352 Throckmorton Ave.
Park School, Sycamore Park neighborhood, k-5, 360 East Blithedale Ave.
Strawberry Point School, Strawberry Manor neighborhood, k-5, 117 East Strawberry Drive
Tam Valley School, Tamalpais Valley neighborhood, k-5, 350 Bell Ave.
Mill Valley Middle School, Tamalpais Park Neighborhood, 6-8, 425 Sycamore Ave.
Tamalpais High School, Almonte neighborhood, 9-12, 700 Miller Ave.
- 142 Throckmorton Theater, Madeline’s favorite place for Tuesday Comedy Nights – Mark Pitta and Friends at 8 pm. Dana Carvey has been known to drop by to try out his new material. There are often comedy shows, lectures, and concerts on other nights.
- Marin Theater Company on Miller Ave presents top-notch live theater with groundbreaking, nationally recognized, and socially relevant plays.
- Mill Valley Philharmonic, a quality volunteer orchestra, has several performances a year at the Mt. Tamalpais United Methodist Church.
- Sequoia Movie Theater on Throckmorton Ave, built in 1929, was the original home of the Mill Valley Film Festival. The Sequoia screens quality films.
- Sweetwater Music Hall in the refurbished Masonic Hall across from City Hall with live music in state-of-the-art facilities. Comfortable, with good food–with or without music. Great outdoor seating.
Special Events in Mill Valley
- The Dipsea Race is the oldest trail race in America. Since 1905, it runs annually on the second Sunday in June. The race covers varied terrain on 7.4 miles of Mt. Tamalpais steps and trails, from downtown Mill Valley over the mountain to Stinson Beach.
- The Mill Valley Film Festival, in October, is one of the most prestigious in the country.
- The Mill Valley Arts Festival, which occurs every September in Old Mill Park, is a top-notch place to see the best in local art and crafts.
- Mountain Play is perhaps the best known of all Mill Valley happenings since 1913. The mountain Play is held every May-June in an open air amphitheater on top of Mt. Tamalpais. You have the option of taking a bus to the play and hiking down through Cascade Canyon in the late afternoon to the town square.
- Green Gulch Farm Zen Center. A branch of the San Francisco Zen Center with a guest house, conference center, and organic farm set in a beautiful gulch by the ocean and Muir Beach.
Mill Valley Meeting Spaces & Event Venues
- The Outdoor Art Club is a 1904 Bernard Maybeck-designed building in downtown Mill Valley. The club is available for rent for public and private events.
- Sweetwater Music Hall is available for private events, with or without music, supported by an excellent kitchen.
- The Mill Valley Recreation Center has a large reception room for 285-400 guests, plus smaller meeting rooms.
- Homestead Valley Community Center has one large and two smaller rooms for classes, meetings, and parties and events of medium to large size. Also available is a patio and acre of grassland, “the Meadow.”
Out in Nature
From downtown Mill Valley, stairs and trails take you up Mt. Tamalpais for a variety adventures in nature with breathtaking scenery. It would take you years to see all of Mt. Tamalpais—providing a lifetime of enjoyment.
There are many beautiful places to walk and hike in Mill Valley. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Cascade Canyon Loop: Walk a beautiful level loop starting downtown on Throckmorton Ave to Cascade Park and Cascade Falls, returning via Lovell Ave.
- Walk all or part or all of the famous Dipsea Trail from Old Mill Park at the intersection of Throckmorton Ave and Cascade Drive. This is a strenuous hike starting with three flights of stairs, eventually scaling almost 1,400 feet of Mount Tamalpais, ending in Stinson Beach.
- A short trip up the mountain to Panoramic Highway leads to Mt. Tamalpais State Park, with forests, meadows, and ocean views. The same route takes you to Muir Woods National Monument and Stinson Beach.
- Tennessee Valley Trail is a a beautiful walk though a lush and dramatic valley to Tennessee Valley Beach on the ocean.
- County View Trail high on the hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean can take you all the way to Muir Beach. Starting from Shoreline Highway (Route 1), drive to the end of County View Road and walk the fire road to the west. You will merge with the Miwok Trail and then the Coyote Ridge Trail, all in the Golden Gate Recreation Area.
- Fern Canyon Road/Old Railroad Grade. Drive to the end of Summit Ave and hike this ridge high above Mill Valley.
- Muir Woods National Monument is very popular, and rightly so. It is always serene and beautiful. You have to plan your visit and make reservations (unless you hike in). We have been fortunate to find it less crowded late on a summer afternoon.
- Steps, Paths, and Lanes. Mill Valley is laced with lanes and steps built in the early 20th century. These can provide a personal exploration of residential Mill Valley. You can buy A Guide to Mill Valley SLPs, 3rd Edition, 2013 at City Hall, 26 Corte Madera Ave. or the Book Depot in Lytton Square.
Golf, Tennis, Swimming & Horseback Riding
- The Mill Valley Municipal Golf Course is located in bucolic Warner Canyon (Country Club neighborhood). This par 33, 9-hole course also provides a par 3 course within the existing course. The course has the associated Mill Valley Golf Club.
- Boyle Park on East Blithedale Ave is a center for tennis activities in Mill Valley. This city park has five new courts and a pro shop.
- The Mill Valley Tennis Club, close to the municipal golf course, also provides a pool, cafe and bar.
- The Club at Harbor Point includes tennis courts, a 25 yard outdoor saltwater pool, exercise facilities, and a restaurant.
- Mill Valley Recreation Center has a 25 yard indoor pool with three lanes. The Center provides a variety of aquatic and fitness classes.
- Homestead Valley Pool is open Tuesday through Sunday, April 15 through August 20. The pool is available to Homestead Valley residents and the general public, either by seasonal membership or gate fee per swim.
- Scott Valley Swimming and Tennis Club has a 6-lane outdoor pool and eight tennis courts, four lit for night playing.
- Strawberry Recreation District has an outdoor, 5-lane pool and four tennis courts.
- The Miwok Stables on Tennessee Valley Road in the Golden Gate Recreational Area provides trail rides, lessons, summer camps, and boarding.
- Native American Coastal Miwok people were living in Mill Valley at least 6,000 years ago and 14 Miwok village sites have been identified.
- Mexico granted large blocks of land, or Ranchos, including present day Mill Valley, to two settlers, John Reed in 1834 and William Richardson in 1836. The Reed land was named appropriately Rancho Corte Madera del Presidio, as Reed set up a saw mill on Cascade Creek (now in Old Mill park) to cut and process lumber and deliver it to San Francisco to build the Presidio. Reed also had dairy farms on his land.
- Mill Valley remained small though the 19th century, with about 900 residents in 1900, when the city was incorporated. After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the population began to grow and the present town developed.
Mill Valley has a mild climate with cool, wet winters from November through April, and dry, warm summers. Summer coastal fog often cools the area at night and in the morning, clearing in the afternoon. In general, Mill Valley has more fog and overcast days than other parts of Marin. The cool, foggy days support the growth of Redwood trees that contribute to the city’s charm. Average temperatures November through April are in the 50’s, with lows ranging from 35-40 and highs from 65-80. May through October, average temperatures are in the 60s, with lows in the 50s and highs ranging from 80-95 degrees.
Mill Valley is served by Marin Transit, with destinations within the county, Golden Gate Transit, providing bus service to San Francisco, and Marin Airporter, connecting Mill Valley to the San Francisco Airport. While all bus services have stops along Highway 101, some buses provide service directly to downtown.
- Mill Valley City Information: Parks, schools, city news, and happening.
- Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce
- Mill Valley Library provides a rich array of classes for all ages, art exhibits, lectures, podcasts, a dedicated Mill Valley History room, and more.
- Mill Valley Parks: Mill Valley is blessed with breathtaking outdoor space for young and old alike.
- Homestead Valley Community Association and Land Trust. The Homestead Valley Community Center provides special community gatherings and celebrations, pool membership, summer camp, and party rentals. The Land Trust oversees 80 acres of open space and trails in the valley.
- Muir Woods Park Community Association: The community center at 40 Ridge Road off of Panoramic Highway provides a center for community activities and private parties and meetings for up to 75 people.
- The Tamalpais Improvement Club includes a community center and event location for up to 192 people.
- Redwoods Senior Living Center on Camino Alto provides high quality residential living and services for seniors.
Police & Fire
The Mill Valley Police Department serves incorporated Mill Valley. Unincorporated Mill valley is served by the Marin Country Sheriff and the California Highway Patrol. The Southern Marin Fire Protection District serves all of Mill Valley.