Fireworks, Sailboats and the San Francisco Bay by Rona Gilbert

We spotted the Inn Above Tide during our very first trip to Sausalito. Perched over the San Francisco Bay, it was tucked away in a quiet corner, yet smack in the center of town, and before I ever stepped foot inside I knew I had to stay there.

I thought about the hotel periodically after that trip. Whenever I was in need of a mental diversion, I¹d pull up the website and dream of returning to Sausalito and spending another weekend there, exploring the area and enjoying the beautiful scenery. When my husband and I decided to return to Sausalito for a long 4th of July weekend getaway, the Inn Above Tide was the only hotel I considered.

While the Inn Above Tide is arguably one of the best hotels in the area, it is the place to check-in for the 4th of July holiday. A sophisticated, yet comfortable, 29-room boutique inn located in the heart of Sausalito, the Inn Above Tide is the only Bay area hotel located directly on the water. And with promises of spectacular fireworks, views, and luxury amenities, I eagerly anticipated our visit.

As we pulled our rental car up to the hotel entrance on a gloriously sunny day, a friendly staff member greeted us and quickly gathered our luggage and whisked our car into the small parking lot as we checked in. After a quick
review of the hotel¹s amenities and services, another staff member escorted us to our room where our luggage awaited.

As we opened the door to our room, my eyes went directly to the jaw-dropping view and I rushed to the sliding glass doors, eager to get a better look. Our room prominently featured a stunning panoramic view of the San Francisco
Bay, Angel Island, downtown San Francisco and Alcatraz, complete with a private balcony furnished with handsome teak furniture. The porter reminded us that if we were lucky to have a clear night on the 4th of July, we would have a front row seat for the San Francisco, Sausalito and Oakland fireworks from the comfort of our room.

Tearing ourselves away from the view, we stepped back into the room to admire the furnishings and unpack. Creature comforts abound at the Inn Above Tide. Guest rooms were recently refurbished and freshened with new luxury linens and a bright and subtly nautical décor. Our queen deluxe room was small, but amply appointed with an incredibly comfortable bed and two overstuffed chairs facing a gas fireplace. Inside the armoire we found more goodies, including a CD player, cozy robes, wine glasses and a wine bottle opener. The large bathroom was equipped with spa quality toiletries and an oversized whirlpool tub big enough for two. Complimentary binoculars thoughtfully placed in the room were the perfect accompaniment to the jaw-dropping view.

It struck us that our room felt much like that of a cruise ship (albeit an incredibly luxurious one.) Indeed, itting on our terrace, perched over the water and watching the seagulls and sailboats float aimlessly by, we felt as if we were sitting on the balcony of cruise ship.

Unable to take our eyes off the amazing view, we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening at the Inn. As our balcony become shaded and chilly in the early evening, we wandered down to the small parlor just off of the reception desk to sample the complimentary wine and cheese.
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While the parlor is lovely, featuring floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the Bay and the bustling ferry next door, we opted to take our wine and small plates piled high with cheese, fruit, bread and crackers to the second
floor deck. Flooded in sunshine, we claimed two padded lounge chairs among the large potted plants and settled in for some serious relaxation.

When the sunshine and the wine disappeared, we retreated to our room and were greeted by yet more amazing views – downtown San Francisco lit up at dusk and the fog rolling in. As we stood on our balcony we watched the fog
slide over the top of homes perched on the Sausalito hillside and ooze down toward the Bay. It was one constant motion we watched it snake around the horizon directly in front of us and disappear behind Angel Island. Who knew
fog could be so beautiful?

As we admired nature¹s theatrical performance, we debated our dinner options. We considered the many fine restaurants within walking distance of the Inn, but concluded that none would have a better view ­ or more comfortable seats ­ than our room. After a quick trip to one a neighboring seafood restaurant, we returned to the comforts of our room with boxes of take-out and opened a bottle of local wine we purchased earlier in the day.
Settling in front of the fire, we toasted to our perfect day and hoped for another clear night tomorrow for the fireworks.

We awoke the next morning to yet another clear blue sky and were glad we opted to have our breakfast delivered to our room (breakfast is served complimentary in the parlor or for a nominal fee can be delivered to your room.) Within minutes our breakfast had arrived, complete with a carafe of steaming hot coffee, juice, fresh fruit and heaping bowls of granola. Still in our robes, and determined to soak up every minute of that view, we ate on
the balcony.

Seeking some exercise, we set off on a walk through Sausalito. Unlike most afternoons when the streets are crowded with tourists off the ferry, early mornings are blissfully peaceful and quiet. After admiring the hillside homes and challenging our legs on some of the steep hills, we made our way back to the Bay front and were surprised by the sights and sounds of a local 4th of July parade.

The street along the Bay was crowded with people, many seated in folding beach chairs, and children running and up and down the street, catching candy thrown from the floats. The parade was a colorful display of locally made floats, most featuring humorous parodies of political and local issues. What a wonderful surprise to stumble upon.
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We spent the rest of the day exploring nearby Tiburon. We took a leisurely stroll through the small downtown, browsing the local boutiques and sampling the sidewalk cafes. After lunch we basked in the sunshine in the waterfront park and admired the views of the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge before heading over to the Windsor Vineyards tasting room. The Victorian tasting room dates to 1888 and offers free samples of more than 30 wines.

Anxiously anticipating the main attraction for the evening ­ fireworks ­ we made our way back to the Inn Above Tide where we would be at the epicenter. We knew there was no guarantee of a clear sky thanks to that famous San rancisco fog, but we were optimistic given the sunshine and blue sky. We enjoyed another late afternoon wine and cheese snack on the deck before settling in for the evening to await the show.

From our balcony we watched the crowds gathering and scrambling to find that perfect spot for viewing the fireworks. The atmosphere was upbeat and festive as families played games to entertain the children and teenagers
gathered in small groups with portable radios, listening to music to help pass the time. We raised our wine glasses once again to toast not only our perfect day, but also our perfect fireworks viewing spot.
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But our optimism quickly faded as dusk ­ and the fog< rolled in. While we tried to reassure each other that the fog was only temporary and there were still hours before the fireworks began, the fog became thicker and heavier. Before long, we could no longer see San Francisco, not even Alcatraz, which was much closer. Our hearts sunk as the air became chilly and we retreated inside and bundled up in our robes.

We tried to console each other ­ at least we had a wonderful couple of days and the warmth of the room and our fireplace. Things could be worse, we said, and we opened another bottle of wine.

About an hour later, the sky completely dark, we heard the first boom and saw a faint glow in the distance behind the fog as the San Francisco fireworks display began. Just as we suspected, the fog was simply too thick to see the show across the Bay.

Then suddenly we heard an even louder boom right outside our window and watched an explosion of colors scatter across the sky. Still in our robes, we pulled our chairs to the patio door. As we snuggled next to the warm
fire, we watched the Sausalito fireworks explode over the Bay directly ahead, feeling as if they were lit just for us.

Once again, we toasted to a perfect day.