Best of Marin 2016: Everyday

One of Richard Hamilton’s works of art is titled, ‘Just What is it That Makes Today’s Homes so Different, so Appealing?’

Well, we’d have to say that in Marin, that could be many things: The antiques you picked up from Dove Place, the used books from Rebound Bookstore, the albums from Red Devil Records—the list goes on. The only problem? There are so many cool places to find modern and attractive things, you’ll consider rearranging your life every month, in between shopping for vintage clothes at Knimble Clothing & Knick Knack and squeezing in a massage at Mill Valley Massage.—Molly Oleson

By Flora Tsapovsky

The good life

With a brand new Mill Valley outpost, Good Earth Natural Foods is now officially the mini-food empire that Marin County deserves. On any given day, the mere action of walking into Marin’s Best Natural Foods Store makes you feel healthy and wholesome; shelves upon shelves of grains and produce welcome you, and best of all, the deli section, complete with ice cream from Three Twins, is abundant and inviting. The cafe, Good Earth promises, is 100 percent organic, a notion that makes the tofu banh mi sandwich taste even better. In both locations, smiling families stock up on sugarless candy and kombucha, and attractive, lean folks with no day job sip on fresh-pressed juices. Among them, anyone can appreciate the good life, and, well, the good earth.

720 Center Blvd., Fairfax; 415/454-0123; 201 Flamingo Rd., Mill Valley; 415/383-0123.

More than words

Book Passage is so much more than a bookstore, and regulars know it well. Serene and cozy, it’s practically a home away from home, and booklovers can easily spend hours there without even noticing the time flying by. With its two spaces, one dedicated to fiction and magazines and the other to children and other topics, Book Passage—winner this year in the Best Bookstore (New) category—occupies a hefty amount of space, filled to the brim with wonderful books. These things, however, make this place an outstanding gem—their events, classes, workshops and programs illuminating Marin County’s cultural life with bigshot names like Nigella Lawson and Nick Hornby, and the coffee shop, where you can sit and flip through any book and magazine, if you ask politely.

51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera; 415/927-0960.

Sexy time

The winner of three categories—Best Gift Shop, Best Lingerie Shop and Best Erotica Store—Pleasures of the Heart is indeed a hall of pleasurable toys, accessories, books and anything sexy. The store does a great job of staying on top of all of the latest niche trends, from the slickest vibrator to the most educational books on passion and desire. And the fun that the owners are having with curating it, really shows. Full-on bachelorette party gear, seductive lingerie and tasteful games—it’s all here waiting to be discovered. And the general atmosphere of acceptance makes shopping here easy and fun. Can’t get enough? For private groups, the store throws parties that include lectures on sexy topics, champagne and playing around with accessories.

1310 Fourth Street, San Rafael; 415/482-9899.

Sunny surprises

It takes a lot of courage to open a store in Olema, a tiny intersection of a town. The Shop, an ‘unlikely mercantile’ of local designers and artisans, is a success; every bit the cool, urban boutique, magically transplanted to the edge of Marin. Bringing together handcrafted jewelry, paper products, vintage goods and sturdy denim aprons, this sunny, photogenic store—crowned Marin’s Best New Retail Business Opened in 2015—is full of surprises, and it’s perfect for gift-hunting and souvenir-picking. But that’s not all—live music shows, advertised on the store’s website, along with occasional craft shows, add a communal aspect that make The Shop even more of a destination.

9960 Shoreline Hwy., Olema; 415/237-1731.

Chic factor

What makes a boutique great? Viva Diva Boutique, a San Rafael institution of sorts, provides a comprehensive answer: Contemporary, ageless style, friendly atmosphere and a selection of items embodying laid-back NorCal style that don’t compromise on the chic factor. The list of featured designers and brands goes on and on; Bella Dahl, Ella Moss, Tolani, Mother Denim, Free People and many more fashionable favorites cater to every occasion you can think of—from music festivals to weddings. Loyal devotees keep going back to Marin’s Best Women’s Clothing Store every season (or, quite possibly, every week).

1327 Fourth Street, San Rafael; 415/256-8380.

Victorian escape

The Panama Hotel has it all, including a Bordello Room. The small, historic hotel was built in 1910 and has changed owners three times, all the while maintaining its Victorian charm. The Panama, it seems, has achieved the highest rank of hotel boutiquing—it manages to create its own little world within the premises, a world you’ll never want to leave, thanks to a number of factors. First, it’s tucked away in a pleasant residential neighborhood, but not too far from downtown. Second, its shady courtyards and leafy balconies create a sense of adventure and encourage romance. Third, its restaurant is perfectly affordable for its mouthwatering takes on classics. And finally, Marin’s Best Boutique Hotel manages to fuse modern style with heritage Hispanic notes, making this the perfect little California escape.

4 Bayview Street, San Rafael; 415/457-3993.

Driving me crazy

Thank you, traffic, for making us feel like true urban dwellers. Thank you, Marin County roads masterminds, for not foreseeing the tech boom and linking all of the county’s cities with the one-and-only Highway 101. Thank you, ongoing construction in San Rafael and beyond, for making getting in and out of the county’s biggest hub quite unbearable, and a special thanks to Petaluma residents who choose to work in San Francisco and flood 101 South every morning during the week. On a more serious note, Marin County’s traffic—this year’s Best Reason to be Late for Work—doesn’t look like it’s going to go away any time soon. No better time to invest in a helicopter, financed by a friend working at a startup.


Home away from home

Tourists actually take the ferry from San Francisco to wander around Sausalito, Marin County’s Best Town Other Than Your Own. And that’s completely understandable. Of all of Marin County towns, Sausalito is the one with countless irresistible features that even locals can’t stay away from. Highlights include the marina—with its picturesque masts against the blue sky, the little art galleries hidden in alleys and Sushi Ran, the best sushi restaurant in the whole Bay Area, according to some. Sausalito has some awesome parts to it, but the whole is even greater. It feels like a Sicilian vacation town rather than a place close to yours. 

The full list of Best of Marin 2016 Everyday winners:

Best Antique Store

Dove Place

306 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo.


Best Art Supply Store

Rileystreet Art Supply

1138 Fourth Ave., San Rafael


Best Frame Shop

Cheap Pete’s Frame Factory Outlet

221 Third St., San Rafael.


Best Gift Shop

Pleasures of the Heart

1310 Fourth St., San Rafael.


Best Florist

Natalie & Daria’s Flowers & Gifts

479 Entrada Drive., Novato.


Best Bookstore—New

Book Passage

51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera.


Best Bookstore—Used

Rebound Bookstore

1611 Fourth St., San Rafael.


Best Record/CD Store

Red Devil Records

894 Fourth St., San Rafael.


Best Music Store

The Magic Flute

182 Northgate Drive, San Rafael.


Best Eco-Conscious Business

Woody’s Yogurt Place

802 Strawberry Village, Mill Valley.


Best New Retail Business Opened in 2015

The Shop

9960 Shoreline Hwy., Olema.


Best Grocery Store

Mollie Stone’s Markets

100 Harbor Drive, Sausalito.


270 Bon Air Center, Greenbrae.


Best Ethnic Market

Mi Pueblo Food Center

330 Bellam Blvd., San Rafael.


Best Natural Foods Store

Good Earth Natural Foods

720 Center Blvd., Fairfax; 415.454.0123; 201 Flamingo Rd., Mill Valley; 415.383.0123.

Best Hydroponic Supply Store

Marin Hydroponics

721 Francisco Blvd. E., San Rafael; 415.482.8802; 55 Frosty Lane, Novato; 415.233.4104.

Best Men’s Clothing Store

Gene Hiller Menswear

729 Bridgeway, Sausalito,


Best Women’s Clothing Store

Viva Diva Boutique

1327 Fourth St., San Rafael.


Best Vintage Clothing Store

Knimble Clothing & Knick Knack

851 Fourth St., San Rafael.


Best Resale/Consignment Shop

Knimble Clothing & Knick Knack

851 Fourth St., San Rafael.


Best Shoe Store

Sole Desire

5800 Northgate Mall, San Rafael; 415.472.1202; 181 Bon Air Center, Greenbrae; 45.419.8130.

Best Costume/Festival Apparel

Belrose Theater

1415 Fifth Ave., San Rafael.


Best Jewelry Store

Johann Paul Jewelers

272 Bon Air Center, Greenbrae.


Best Lingerie Shop

Pleasures of the Heart

1310 Fourth St., San Rafael.


Best Erotica Store

Pleasures of the Heart

1310 Fourth St., San Rafael.


Best Beauty Supply Store

Marin Beauty Company

140 Vintage Way, G-11, Novato; 415.892.3600; 417 Third St., San Rafael; 415.454.4500.

Best Facial

Evo Spa

800 Redwood Hwy, Frontage Road #216, Mill Valley.


Best Hair Salon

Edward’s Salon

655 Redwood Hwy. #140, Mill Valley.


Best Nail Salon

Three Sisters Salon

963 Grand Ave., San Rafael.


Best Body Art Place

Spider Murphy’s

1006 Lincoln Ave., San Rafael.


Best Massage

Mill Valley Massage

61 Camino Alto., Ste. 102, Mill Valley.


1007 C St., San Rafael.


Best Hospital/Health Care Clinic

Kaiser Permanente

Best Senior Living Facility

The Redwoods

40 Camino Alto, Mill Valley.


Best Optical Store

20/20 Optical

1127 Fourth St., San Rafael; 415.453.2020; 5800 Nave Dr., #F, Novato; 415.883.2015.

Best Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Yngvar A. Hvistendahl

350 Bon Air Road #300., Greenbrae.


Best Travel Agent

Redwood Skytours

1204 Fifth Ave., San Rafael.


Best Hotel/Resort

Cavallo Point Lodge

601 Murray Circle, Sausalito.


Best Boutique Hotel

Panama Hotel

4 Bayview St., San Rafael.


Best Day Spa

Evo Spa

800 Redwood Hwy. Frontage Road #216., Mill Valley.


Best Wedding Venue

Marin Art & Garden Center

30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross.


Best Reason to Be Late for Work


Best New Cars

Toyota Marin

445 Francisco Blvd. East, San Rafael.


Best Used Cars

Toyota Marin

445 Francisco Blvd. E., San Rafael.


Best Motorcycle Shop


1121 Francisco Blvd. E., San Rafael.


Best Auto Detailing

Matt and Jeff’s Car Wash & Detail Center

125 Vintage Way, Novato.


Best Auto Body Shop

Blake’s Auto Body

31 Bay St., San Rafael.


861 Vallejo Ave., Novato.


Best Car Repair

Easy Automotive

747 Lincoln Ave., San Rafael.


Best Tire Shop

Cains Tire

1531 Fourth St., San Rafael.


Best Town Other Than Your Own


Best Computer Repair Service

Renew Computers

446 Du Bois St., San Rafael.


Best Digital Creative Services

Speedpro Imaging

1495 Francisco Blvd. E., Ste. A, San Rafael.


Best Consumer Bank

Bank of Marin

Best Business Bank

Bank of Marin

Best Credit Union

Redwood Credit Union

209 Third St., San Rafael; 707.545.4000; 1010 Grant Ave., Novato; 800.479.7928.

Best Nonprofit


930 Tamalpais Ave., San Rafael.


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