Best of the County and Beyond 2021: Arts & Entertainment

This industry has suffered more than most during the pandemic, but these businesses and organizations have done such a great job of keeping going, that our readers voted them Best of the County.

Best Live Music Venue

Marin: Sweetwater Music Hall, Mill Valley


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A who’s who of rock and roots stars have and continue to play in Mill Valley’s most intimate music space; plus the patio is an awesome place to sit and enjoy brunch.

Bay Area: The Fillmore, San Francisco


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Runners Up

Marin: Terrapin Crossroads, San Rafael

Bay Area: Hearst Greek Theatre, Berkeley


Best Live Theater

Marin: Marin Theatre Company, Mill Valley

Committed to producing theater that creates a communitywide dialogue, Mill Valley’s progressive theater supports American playwrights and focuses on equity,  diversity and inclusion.

Bay Area: Berkeley Repertory Theater, Berkeley

Runners Up

Marin: AlterTheater, San Rafael

Bay Area: American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.), San Francisco


Best Children’s Theater

Marin: Throckmorton Theatre, Mill Valley


Though perhaps best known as the theater that launched Robin Williams’ career, the Throck is beloved for its community-focused educational programming that helps build the skills of aspiring thespians with workshops, actors’ studios, and live performances for children and teens.

Bay Area: Sonoma Children’s Creative & Performing Arts, Sonoma

childrens creative

Runners Up

Marin: Marin Art and Garden Center, Ross

Bay Area: Marin Theatre Company, Mill Valley

Marin Theatre Company

Best Museum

Marin: Marin Museum of Contemporary Art (MarinMOCA), Novato

marin moca novato

Accessible contemporary art from Bay Area artists and educational programs for art lovers of all ages is at the heart of the program — most exhibits are free to the public.

Bay Area: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), San Francisco


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A recent expansion means 45,000 square feet of modern and contemporary art from American and global masters is available to all.

Runners Up

Discovery Museum, Sausalito

discovery museum

Bay Area: de Young Museum, San Francisco


Best Children’s Museum

Marin: Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito

Bay Area Discovery Museum

One part play space, one part imaginarium with daily programming to stimulate the senses of children aged 6 months to 10 years means an immersive experience for families and friends and no shortage of fun.

Bay Area: Exploratorium, San Francisco


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Runner Up

Bay Area: Academy of Science, San Francisco

Marin: Bolinas Museum, Bolinas


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Best Band

Marin: Huey Lewis, Bolinas and Kentfield

Marin is no stranger to hosting the homes of rockers, and Bolinas’ own Huey Lewis regularly pulls down a top rating with our readers.

Bay Area: Santana 

Carlos Santana Photo by Maryanne Bilham
Photo by: Maryanne-Bilham

Runners Up

Marin: Vinyl

Bay Area: Train


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Best Comedy Venue

Marin: Throckmorton Theatre, Mill Valley

Comedy is given its due at the Throck; the calendar is regularly filled with standup nights, open mic nights and performances by famous comics.

Bay Area: Cobb’s Comedy Club, San Francisco

Runners Up

Marin: Marin Center, San Rafael

Bay Area: Punchline, San Francisco

Best Art Gallery

Marin: Robert Green, Mill Valley

Robert Green

A fixture in the Bay Area art scene for more than 50 years, the gallery known for representing Sam Francis and Ed Moses promotes abstract expressionism.

Bay Area: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco

Yerba Buena

Runners Up

Marin: Art Works Downtown, San Rafael

Bay Area: Altman Siegel, San Francisco


Best Hotel

Marin: Cavallo Point, Sausalito


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Recognized as much for its prime location at the base of the Marin Headlands overlooking San Francisco Bay as for its exceptional restaurant and bar, the comfortable rooms in a former U.S. Army base are both historic and contemporary.

Bay Area: Auberge de Soleil, Napa Valley

Runners Up

Marin: Casa Madrona, Sausalito

Bay Area: Indian Springs, Calistoga

Best Staycation

Marin: Water’s Edge, Tiburon


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The fireplaces and large soaking tubs in each room set a relaxing tone; the grand views over San Francisco Bay and breakfast delivered to your room each morning make a stay here extra cushy.

Bay Area: Auberge de Soleil, Napa Valley

Runners Up

Marin: Tiburon Lodge, Tiburon

Bay Area: Fairmont, San Francisco 


Best Northern California Destination


Marin’s rugged coastline, organic eats and commitment to sustainability has a worthy rival two county lines to the north. Mendo is also the home of Sea Ranch and wonderous redwood groves.

Best Northern California Family Destination

Santa Cruz 

Perhaps no region of California is more dedicated to surf culture and preserving beaches than Santa Cruz. And then there’s that famous boardwalk and rollercoaster.

Runners Up

Point Reyes


Visit our Best of the County winners page for more.

Christina Mueller

Christina Mueller is a long-time Bay Area food writer. She hails from the East Coast and has spent way too much time in South America and Europe. She discovered her talent as a wordsmith in college and her love of all things epicurean in grad school. She has written for Condé Nast Contract PublishingSunset, and the Marin Independent Journal, among others. She volunteers with California State Parks and at her child’s school, and supports the Marin Audubon SocietyPEN America, and Planned Parenthood. When she is not drinking wine by a fire, she is known to spend time with her extended family.s the Assistant Editor at Marin Magazine and a graduate of Elon University where she studied Professional Writing and Fine Art. Born and raised in San Francisco/Marin, she loves traveling just as much as coming home to the Bay Area. She has curated a sophisticated palate for food, travel and culture and uses her travels as an outlet to develop her photography portfolio and hone her writing craft.