Larkspur and Corte Madera are often called twin cities. The two vibrant entities, bordered by Mill Valley, Mount Tamalpais, San Rafael and the bay, share a police department and a school district. Every Fourth of July there is no better place to celebrate independence and take in the sights and sounds than at the hometown parade, which includes live music, arts and crafts, food and children’s activities. Larkspur famously got its name in the 1880s when a developer’s wife suggested a new subdivision be named after a flower she mistook for larkspur that was actually lupine. Corte Madera, Spanish for “to chop the wood,” recalls the lumber-industry history of the area.
EAT You’d be hard-pressed to think of fare more American than burgers. They’re comforting and familiar and hark back to carefree summer days of cookouts and gingham tablecloths. But Americans are a varied bunch, and the selection of burgers you’ll find at these restaurants has something for every taste.
1. BELCAMPO MEAT CO. 2405 Larkspur Landing Cir (Larkspur), 415.448.5810, belcampomeatco.com
2. LEFT BANK (pictured) 507 Magnolia Ave (Larkspur), 415.927.3331, leftbank.com
3. MARIN BREWING COMPANY 1809 Larkspur Landing Cir (Larkspur) 415.461.4677, marinbrewing.com
4. MARIN JOE’S 1585 Casa Buena Dr (Corte Madera), 415.924.2081, marinjoesrestaurant.com
5. THE COUNTER 201 Corte Madera Town Center (Corte Madera), 415.924.7000, thecounterburger.com
6. VEGGIE GRILL 100 Corte Madera Town Center (Cote Madera), 415.945.8954, veggiegrill.com
SHOP We love to shop here in Marin, and luckily the places where we do so have greatly improved the user experience. These three malls provide quality shopping experiences for residents young and old.
7. MARIN COUNTRY MART Ferry or drive over to this Larkspur-based bastion of retail glory that features Off the Grid food trucks on Sundays, a farmers’ market and two distinctive music days a week on top of all the regular dining and shopping options. marincountrymart.com
8. THE VILLAGE AT CORTE MADERA (pictured) The revamped Nordstrom might be the initial lure, but the mall’s cleanliness, organized layout and pet-friendly attitude are among the assets that make you return. A new Tesla showroom and favorite eateries like Boca Pizzeria don’t hurt either. villageatcortemadera.com
9. TOWN CENTER CORTE MADERA This whimsically themed assortment of shops and restaurants is slated for a remodel to create even more community spaces; already, the existing center hosts free live music during the summer and a weekly farmers’ market. shoptowncenter.com
Walk This Way
PLAY If you have visitors in town and want to give them a taste of why Marin is so special, take them for a walk on the Corte Madera–Larkspur Path. Your guests will get to see the Corte Madera State Ecological Reserve, a 125-acre salt marsh that’s home to avian species like egrets and herons. They’ll encounter views of windsurfers, stand-up paddleboarders, ferries and more. Yes, life of all kinds is indeed teeming here. This network of trails covers a fair portion of the county, giving a glimpse of Ross and San Quentin as well. What locals may not know is that the prominent path, favored by runners and stroller-pushers alike, had another life once as a railroad corridor. In fact, this Corte Madera and Larkspur backbone is one of more than 1,500 rail-trails nationwide supported by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a group that works to connect former rail lines to nearby transportation routes.