Corte Madera and Larkspur popular getaways as economy reopens

With Southern Marin blanketed in fog during the summer months, I often leave my little abode in Sausalito and seek the sun. I travel north on 101, past the Mill Valley exits, until the first rays of light appear in Central Marin. My sights are set on scenic Corte Madera and Larkspur.

My recent forays found the towns bristling with activity, seemingly fully recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic. The time spent in Corte Madera and Larkspur was a welcome respite from foggy weather and the loneliness of the lockdown.

Corte Madera

Heading west on Tamalpais Avenue, the main drag in town, I’m treated to the magnificent view of Mt. Tam bathed in sunshine. My first stop is usually Café Verde for a latte and a chocolate croissant. Dogs are always welcome on the large outdoor patio, which borders the Corte Madera Town Park. Locals praise the spot for the neighborhood atmosphere created by owner Tony Farahmand.

A favorite place to walk my senior mutts is along the path from downtown Corte Madera to downtown Larkspur, which is paved and just over a mile long. The commuter railroad ran through the area until 1941, and the path follows the old tracks. Though I’ve never heard an official name, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy calls it the NWP Railroad Trail, short for Northwestern Pacific Railroad. There’s ample parking in the lot across from the gazebo in Corte Madera.

When I’m traveling sans dogs, my regular Corte Madera haunt is Book Passage. The independent bookstore has an outstanding selection of books, author events and writing classes. Book Passage is open daily now from 10am to 5pm, but the events and classes will remain online for a while due to the pandemic. As much as I appreciate listening to authors read from the work in the intimate setting of the bookstore, I’m equally as happy watching them online while wearing my pajamas.

I’m reluctant about sharing the deets of Burmatown, because the wait can already be a bit long at this tiny Burmese and Asian fusion restaurant on Corte Madera Avenue. Let me assure you that the tea leaf salad is totally worth the wait. I mosey over to Zinz Wine Bar down the street and get a glass of wine until my table at Burmatown is ready.

Masterworks Fine Arts Studio, a hidden gem in Corte Madera, offers fine art classes for children. I once attended an art show at the studio in Old Corte Madera Square, and was duly impressed with the work of the young artists. Parents rave about Masterworks’ founder Lisa Jones, who began teaching art to Marin children in 1997. Summer camp for kids ages 6 to 14 includes classes in watercolors, fashion illustration and mosaic arts.

Larkspur

Downtown Larkspur is a pleasant place to while away a summer evening. I can don my warm weather wardrobe and leave my parka in Sausalito.

This past weekend, I sat outside on the patio at Don Antonio Trattoria on Magnolia Avenue and enjoyed a leisurely meal with a friend. I remembered the owner from his days 30 years ago as a waiter at San Rafael’s long-gone Salute restaurant. Don Antonio’s stone tile floor and festive lighting are the perfect backdrop for the flavors of its robust Italian fare. I ordered the Romana salad and melanzane parmigiana, which were both delicious.

After dinner, we strolled down Magnolia and peeked into the Silver Peso, a tavern with pool tables. The place was hopping. Housed in a historic building, it has been a bar since the 1930s. While watching the crowd was interesting, a bright yellow Jeep parked out front vied for my attention. A spotted miniature horse stood in the back of the open vehicle. While I admired the precious cargo, a man came out of the Peso, jumped in the Jeep and promptly fed the horse, whose name is Picasso, a piece of bread.

Spending the day in Larkspur is also delightful. I’ve written many an article for the Pacific Sun sitting in Emporio Rulli, an authentic Italian coffee and pastry café. The smell of the freshly roasted coffee and the whir of the espresso machine always whet my appetite for my customary order: a double latte and a custard “bombolini,” an Italian doughnut.

I recently picnicked in Piper Park with my pal Patty and my pooches. We tossed a blanket down near the creek and relaxed in the sun while we munched on our sandwiches and salads from Rustic Bakery. Piper Park, hands down, has the county’s best views of Mt. Tam. After lunch, we walked through the 2-acre park, which was packed with people playing volleyball, kids having fun in the elaborate playground and pups frolicking in the dog park.

Before I get back in my car to drive back to foggy Sausalito, I retrieve my winter coat from the trunk. Though Corte Madera and Larkspur are just a few miles up the road from my home, I feel like I’m on vacation when I visit these lovely locales. I’ll probably return again tomorrow.

Nikki Silverstein
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