Not many suburban communities boast a vibrant downtown with loads of dining and entertainment, a rich artistic history, and extraordinary access to nature. But Mill Valley’s got all those things in spades, along with excellent schools and a tight-knit community.
“It’s beautiful, with a strong sense of community, and the downtown is very quaint,” said Brent Thomson, a senior vice president at Pacific Union International and branch executive of our Marin County region.
And ready “access to the outdoor life” draws hiking, running, and mountain-biking enthusiasts to the area, Thomson noted.
It’s easy to take in Mill Valley’s physical beauty almost anywhere in town, from your home’s deck to the many nearby trails, including Tennessee Valley, the Dipsea, and Matt Davis. In addition, both Muir Woods National Monument and Mount Tamalpais State Park are adjacent to the city of 14,050.
Mill Valley’s connection to the arts runs deep. Well-known residents have included musicians such as Jerry Garcia and Janis Joplin and Beat writers Jack Kerouac and Gary Snyder.
In January, the Sweetwater Music Hall reopened with help from the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir, paying homage to the original concert venue of the same name, which started hosting performances in 1972. Now in its 56th year, the Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival still attracts crowds, and the 46-year-old Marin Theatre Company puts on six shows a year.
Downtown, the 142 Throckmorton Theatre offers film, theater, and music in an intimate setting, and comedian Robin Williams sometimes drops in to practice new material in front of an audience. The California Film Institute’s Mill Valley Film Festival has been bringing independent and world cinema to the Bay Area for 35 years.
The punishing but beautiful Dipsea Race – the oldest trail race in the U.S. – takes place each year on the second Sunday in June.
A community gathering space, the Depot Bookstore & Cafe is located on the main plaza. Other popular businesses include restaurateur Tyler Florence’s El Paseo, Vasco, Piazza D’Angelo, and the Buckeye Roadhouse.
Dive bar the 2am Club has been around in one form or another since 1906.
The city continues to attract young families and professionals with its strong schools and proximity to San Francisco. In 2012 the Mill Valley School District earned an overall state Academic Performance Index score of 944 out of a possible 1,000. Tamalpais High School received an 864.
Mill Valley homes for sale vary in style, but many have a craftsman influence. Homes in the hills tend to offer decks with astonishing views, while those in flatter areas like Sycamore and Tamalpais parks and Strawberry may feature yards.
“Mill Valley homes make good use of indoor and outdoor space — that’s one of the draws here,” Thomson said.
In October the average sale price for a single-family home in Mill Valley increased 12 percent to $1.4 million, up from $1.2 million a year earlier, according to MLS data.
At the same time, buyer demand has been growing. The months’ supply of inventory plummeted 59 percent to 2.5 months in October, compared with 6.2 months in the year-earlier period.
“We’ve seen multiple offers and not nearly enough inventory — it’s a highly desirable area,” Thomson said.
(Photo by Frank Schulenburg, via Flickr.)