Mill Valley is a little slice of heaven. So close, and yet so far, from the hustle of San Francisco. Whether you would like a Modern home with Bay and Downtown San Francisco views, a farm- house with a level yard close to town, or a retreat overlooking Mount Tam, you can find it in Mill Valley.
In 2012, The Smithsonian rated Mill Valley as the 4th best small town in America. Only 10 minutes from San Francisco, Mill Valley seems to have been teleported out of the big city and into nature’s beauty. The small population of around 14,000 residents is tucked along the Eastern slope of Mount Tamalpais, nestled amongst the majestic redwoods and enveloped in a Mediterranean climate.
With an average selling price in 2013 of $1,162,000, this small European town feel is balanced with upscale and luxury homes situated in the heart of nature. Most area homes were built between the 1930’s and 60’s and have since been completely modernized. This only adds to the ambiance and feel of the area. Single family home prices range from $675k to well over $5m. Condos are also available ranging from $450k to over $2m with an average price of $775k.
The Mill Valley area includes several high-end neighborhoods featuring superb architecture and custom features. Some of the neighborhoods that are in the highest demand are Strawberry Point, Scotts Valley, Boyle Park, Tennessee Valley, Sycamore Park, Kite Hill and properties along the Panoramic Highway.
There is a nice selection of public and private schools in the Mill Valley area. Over 25% of children are enrolled in a private school. The remaining children receive a top-of-the-line education in the area public schools. The public school system carries a 10 out of 10 rating. The Tamalpais High School was described by one parent as “possibly the most beautiful school in the State”.
Mill Valley is also known for its internationally acclaimed annual film festival, and is proud of its strong commitment to the surrounding community and natural resources. Residents enjoy strolling through the town streets at night, taking in a movie or enjoying world class music at Sweetwater, which is owned in part by Bob Weir, formerly of the Grateful Dead. The hillside residences offer the feeling of being deep in the countryside, yet the average commute to the financial district for many is less than 30 minutes.
On the weekends, there is a plethora of outdoor activities to suit anyone’s tastes. Hikers and cyclists love the miles of trails and the numerous parks and designated open spaces throughout the city. One option is to climb to the top of the 2,571-foot peak of Mount Tamalpais where, on a clear day, you can see all the way to the snow covered peaks of the Sierra Nevadas, which are over 150 miles away.
Neighborhoods of Mill Valley
Alto Sutton Manor
Northwest of where Highway’s 101 and 131 meet lies Alto Sutton Manor. This quiet and peaceful neighborhood has some features that are hard to find in other areas. The weather here is noticeably sunnier than in other parts of Mill Valley. While much of Mill Valley offers rolling to steep hillside lots, Alto Sutton features flat, spacious lots with plenty of backyard space. This is a nice feature for families, especially those with younger children, since the Edna McGuire Elementary School is within walking distance. Additionally, this elementary school is rated in the top 1% in the nation. Most of the homes here are one story and were built in the 50’s and 60’s and have been updated, remodeled or expanded. This pleasant neighborhood is great for families and retirees and provides easy access to local amenities and a short commute to San Francisco.
Nothing says Mill Valley better than Blithedale Canyon. It is located in Northwestern Mill Valley at the foot of Mount Tamalpais. This neighborhood offers convenient access to hiking and biking trails, including the Blithedale Summit Open Space Preserve and the fire roads and trails along Mount Tam. Perhaps the most outstanding feature of Blithedale Canyon is that it shares its real estate with the giant redwoods. The area naturally creates a rustic woodsy feel which is accentuated by the craftsman-style cottages and log cabins that seem to be hidden amongst the forest. There are also many luxury homes in this neighborhood. Some are perched on the ridges around the canyon creating some phenomenal views. Others are located within a short walk downtown. This is one of the outstanding features of this neighborhood – the ultra-privacy created by the forest with easy access to all Mill Valley and San Francisco has to offer.
As the neighborhood name suggests, it contains Boyle Park which is often heralded as one of the best parks in Mill Valley. This huge open grassy area features tennis courts, baseball diamonds, a large BBQ area and an excellent playground – even one for toddlers. This neighborhood is one of Mill Valley’s most popular and sought after areas. The area schools are within the top 1% and are within walking distance, as is downtown Mill Valley. Neighbors here know each other and there is a strong community spirit adding to the safety and overall quality of life. The homes are unpretentious and offer a huge selection of architectural styles within Mill Valley’s mid-range prices. Buyers will find 1960’s bungalows, simple ranch-styles, restored cottages among other more contemporary homes. Boyle Park is bordered by E. Blithedale Avenue and the Mill Valley Golf Course. It offers plenty of recreational opportunities and a delightful family-friendly suburban charm.
Privacy and serenity, towering redwoods and meandering creeks, grand hillside homes and funky 60’s cabins create the character of Cascade Canyon. There is no single architectural style that exemplifies this neighborhood. Some of the homes are luxury contemporary estates; others are vintage cottages, mid-century ranches and cedar shake homes. You can even find a few A-frames as well. Elementary students usually attend Old Mill Elementary which is in the top 1% of California schools. The terrain is flatter as you near downtown Mill Valley, but as you approach Mount Tamalpais through the canyon, there is a remote backwoods feel as the road narrows and the forest thickens. This area boasts cooler summer temperatures and plenty of hiking and biking trails, including the start of the annual Dipsea Race. This is an extremely picturesque area that is in high demand due to its rural feel, yet close proximity to all area amenities.
This is a private community which is built around the public Mill Valley Golf Course. Back in the 1920’s and 30’s this was a private country club. When membership declined, it wassold to the city in 1939. The close proximity to this public course along with Boyle Park and the Mill Valley Tennis Club only adds to the appeal of this neighborhood. For residents wholove hiking and mountain biking, trails can be found at the end of many of this neighborhood’s streets and leading up to Mount Tamalpais. This area offers a nice combination of towering redwoods and sunshine, hillside homes and flat valley lots. Lots here are generously sized and often contain charming traditional cottages that were originally built back when the Mill Valley Country Club was atits peak. Homes here tend to stay with families for generations. It is not surprising that Country Club is one of the most sought after neighborhoods within Mill Valley.
Eucalyptus Knoll is a townhouse development off Hamilton Drive. The development has frontage on Pickleweed Inlet. Some of the townhouses are situated right on the water whileothers offer views of the water or Mount Tamalpais. The 128 unit development is managed by the Eucalyptus Knoll Homeowners Association and is cared for by the well known John Stewart Company. These high-end townhomes were built in the early 1980’s and are well maintained. The open floor plan is great for entertaining and the oversized living rooms all have fireplaces. Many of the units have two stories and all have a private garage. Most of the units have been updated and include features such as hardwood flooring, high-end appliances and granite countertops. There are tennis courts and a pool available for owners who are looking for maintenance-free living. Commuting to San Francisco is a snap since Eucalyptus Knoll is only minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge.
Considered as an unincorporated community, Homestead Valley is a close-knit neighborhood and a very social community just south of Mill Valley. The Homestead Valley Community Association is at the heart of the area. This community center sponsors art and music events,can be rented for parties and even has a swimming pool. Homestead Valley is in a beautiful natural setting with generally flat, sunny lots and is close to schools, services and shopping, including Whole Foods. It is cooled by the early morning fog and shaded by redwoods which pretty much guarantees that the summers are never too hot, and the Mediterranean climate ensures that the winters are never too cold, making outdoor recreation possible year around. There are all types of homes to choose from including smaller starter homes, cabins, Victorian cottages, cedar shake style residences, mid-century ranches and large contemporary homes. Residents here value their neighbors and community pride is definitely evident.
For the Mill Valley resident whois seeking a little more privacy from downtown and yet a quick commute to San Francisco, many look at properties in Marin Terrace. This quiet neighborhood is located southwest of Mill Valley proper off Miller Avenue. Highway I-101, which leads into downtown San Francisco, is easily accessed via US Hwy 1 (Shoreline Highway) at exit 445B with a commute of around 30 minutes. This neighborhood is sometimes overlooked, which is really a shame as the area is simply beautiful. The views are excellent along the southwest side of the hill (which supplies all day sun and a nice breeze). Along the top of the ridge is an open space to enjoy the panorama. Homes here are typically a mix of updated 1960’s and 1970’s ranches. There are also some newer custom homes in the area as well.
The upscale neighborhood of Middle Ridge sums up the essence of living in Mill Valley. The large custom homes which are built into the hillsides capture the astounding views of the surrounding ridges and valleys, downtown Mill Valley, San Francisco Bay and the city skyline. Elevated above most other areas, it promises its residents warm, sunny days and refreshing breezes. Lot sizes are a little larger than typical which adequately supports the more expansive estates and modern Craftsman homes that are common in Middle Ridge. For residents with a taste for luxury and privacy, there is the exclusive Middle Range association which contains some of the most luxurious homes in Mill Valley. Middle Ridge is not far from downtown and is at the foothills of the famous Railroad Grade Trail that leads up to Mount Tamalpais. At the end of Tamalpais Avenue, people in the know come to sit on “The Rock” that provides sweeping views of Mt. Tam and Cascade Canyon. This elite neighborhood offers a quiet and secluded environment with outstanding views, while providing easy access to high quality schools, first rate shopping and dining as well asan easy 30 minute commute to the city.
Up in the hills above Miller Avenue in Mill Valley you will find the Molino and Edgewood neighborhoods. There is a feeling of privacy and seclusion while in Molino, yet access to all that Mill Valley has to offer its residents is only minutes away. This area has a nice variety of small hillside lots nestled in among stately redwoods and large sunny lots on top of the ridge, presenting some stunning views of the countryside. Although there are some smaller cottages and a few older homes, most homes in this area are large custom estates, well kept Tudors or newly renovated homes.
The Old Mill neighborhood is in high demand and one stroll through this charming area of Mill Valley will make you understand why. It is very close to downtown, but has a small town relaxed character about it. It is full of beautifully restored cottages and older homes which lead to Old Mill Park. This is not your square of grass to satisfy city planners but rather a fairytale park encircled by giant redwoods. Although there is plenty of playground equipment, youngsters often prefer to play among the trees. The park’s amphitheatre offers seasonal delights as well. Just up the block from the park is the library and downtown is only another block away. There is also the beginning of the DispeaStairs which lead up to Mount Tamalpais. The Old Mill Neighborhood Association helps to ensure that Old Mill stays family friendly and a beauty to behold.
As the name suggests, Panoramic offers incredible views of the Mill Valley, San Francisco Bay and the city skyline and, depending on the location, the Pacific Ocean. This neighborhood is west of Mill Valley and runs along the Mount Tamalpais Throckmorton Ridge. This area has a semi-rural feel about it even though it is only minutes from downtown Mill Valley and Stinson Beach and only about a 30 minute commute to the city. Panoramic generally consists of homes along the Panoramic Highway north of Sequoia Valley Road, up until the road divides and leads to the Throckmorton Fire Station. As can be expected, there are some luxurious estates and custom craftsman homes but there are also small cottages and bungalows that were originally built as weekend cabins. You can also find some truly unique and funky hideaways here as well. Panoramic has been aptly described as “eclectic and unobtrusive” and offers a one of kind location.
Centrally located between Corte Madera and Mill Valley is Scott Valley. With convenient access to town amenities yetoffering a calm small town atmosphere, Scott Valley is a great neighborhood for families and retirees alike. This neighborhood has an open and spacious feel about it, due to the nearly level terrain. The center of this tight-knit community is the family-friendly Scott Valley Swimming and Tennis Club with over 400 members and a host of sports related and social activities offered year around. Homes in this area are mostly mid-century ranch homes, many of which have been remodeled and updated. There are also larger, more contemporary two-story homes as well.
The charming community of Sycamore Park, located between East Blithedale and Miller Avenues, is loved by Mill Valley residents and especially those with families. In the mornings you’ll see mothers walking their children down the meandering tree-lined streets to the nearby Park Elementary School or Mill Valley Middle School. There are plenty of nice parks in this neighborhood as well as many shops and restaurants along Miller Avenue,including the very popular Whole Foods. For those who need to commute to the city, the expressway is only about 5 minutes away. You will find cozy mid-century homes on sunny, flat grassy lots. Most of the homes were built in the original California modern style. There is a strong sense of community and a friendly neighborly feel to Sycamore Park. Block parties, casual social gatherings and over-the-fence chats are common occurrences – perfect for families who long for the small town of yesteryear.
Just ten minutes north of San Francisco on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge is the somewhat undiscovered community of Tam Valley. This neighborhood is away from the hustle and bustle of the city and has a peaceful, rural feel about it even though Mill Valley is only minutes away. Although there is little in the way of shopping and dining within walking distance, Tam Valley has its own community center, Eastwood Park and a farmers market. It is also the gateway to Tamalpais State Park and the Golden Gate National Recreational area. There are several micro-communities within Tam Valley, each with their own style and flavor. Birdland, with street names like Cardinal and Flamingo, offers cozy entry level homes at reasonable prices – at least by Marin standards. A little west of Birdland will take you to an area of charming mid-century bungalows. Little City Farms, which is deeper in the valley, has a selection of larger more elaborate homes. As the southernmost neighborhood in Marin, Tam Valley is definitely worth a closer look.
Tamalpais Park is considered one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Mill Valley. It is within walking distance to downtown Mill Valley whichoffers quaint boutiques, family restaurants, fine dining and lovely parks. School children can walk to Park Elementary School, which is in the top 1% of California schools. Considered as the big sister to Sycamore Park, it shares its cozy tree-lines streets, level building sites and some of the best sunny weather in Mill Valley. Tamalpais Park, however, offers its residents larger lots and more spacious and architecturally appealing homes than Sycamore Park. Many of these homes were custom built during the early 1900’s and have since been updated and modernized while maintaining the beautiful style of these homes. Tamalpais Park is a close-knit and family-friendly community where its residents feel safe sending their children outside to play.