Best of Marin County 2019: Arts & Entertainment
Whether it's an art gallery or a comedy, theater or a festival, Marin County has enough activities to keep anyone entertained. Here are the top choices.
BEST ART GALLERY
Rotating shows that highlight local artists, along with Donna Seager and Suzanne Gray’s personal touch and in- depth understanding of contemporary fine art, make this downtown Mill Valley gallery a must-visit for collectors and lookie-loos alike. It’s a bright and sunny spot, yet we think the sweet outdoor garden space available for private events gave voters extra motivation to rate this the top place to view art.
BEST CHILDREN’S MUSEUM
Aiming to inspire creativity in kids up to age 10, this indoor-outdoor exploration space at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito is a wonderland of screen-free fun. Leave your phone behind and revel in the thrill of problem-solving and idea-generation in one of many activity-themed buildings. Or just enjoy the views of San Francisco and the bridge.
BEST COMEDY VENUE
The Mill Valley performance space has long been famous for surprise visits by the likes of Marin’s own Robin Williams and many others testing out new material at Tuesday Night Live Comedy. That weekly showcase for seasoned and up-and- coming talent has been going strong for decades; meanwhile the historic venue features live music, film and theater, too.
BEST FAMILY OUTING
Marinites love the outdoors so much they’ve made an annual tradition of hiking, biking or other- wise traveling up Mount Tam to watch live theater in the fog-whipped open air at Cushing Memorial Amphitheatre for 106 years; some hike or catch the shuttle back down. (The show in 2019 was Grease.) Of course, for the first 17 of those years they could take the Gravity Train. No matter; it’s still the most entertaining family fun around.
BEST LIVE MUSIC
The snug room in this longtime Mill Valley joint makes it easy to see your favorite rock star or band up close. The mix of families with kids, hipsters and hippies creates a fun, relaxed vibe. And Mill Valley chef Gordon Drysdale turns out excellent cafe fare he calls “haute stoner” cuisine.
BEST LIVE THEATER
Though some productions update classics (like The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley, a comedic continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice from the 2018–19 season), this Mill Valley theater’s forte is presenting new works and fresh voices on the American stage. Shows are chosen to engage audiences, introduce ideas and possibly expand your worldview.
Regional history presented in works by artists from Marin and beyond gives this tiny five-room museum in downtown Bolinas a grander feel. From studies on ecology to stunning photos of the water’s edge, exhibits shed light on local phenomena and events and explore coastal themes.
BEST CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM
It’s not just the free admission that swayed fans of this museum situated among the palms of the former Hamilton Army Airfield in Novato. It is the passionate support of local artists and the museum’s efforts to connect the community to art that brought in the votes for this local favorite.
BEST MUSIC FESTIVAL
This two-day community celebration includes three music stages, a youth music showcase, a parade, a family movie night, and more organic food than is possible to eat. It’s paired with an EcoFest that brings an only-in-Marin social responsibility aspect to the festivities.
BEST TOURIST SPOT
Snugged into the side of Mount Tam in Mill Valley, this landmark park with towering old- growth redwoods still feels as low-key as the rest of the county. From a relatively flat 2.2-mile loop to steep ravines to the famous stairs that connect Stinson to Mill Valley, trails make the stunning conifers widely accessible for locals and out-of-towners alike.