Houseboat Living in Sausalito

I am an Airbnb convert.

Last week we made our 6th booking for a cottage in Monterey, California, where we plan to spend Easter weekend with Matt’s parents. Matt and I have stayed in many different Airbnb’s all over the world; everything from the bedroom of a North Shore bungalow in Hawaii, to a tiny 4th floor converted chambre de bonne in the heart of Paris’ Latin Quarter. Every time the experience has been amazing, and I honestly don’t think I will ever be able to go back to hotel living again!

For me, Airbnb is all about the experience. Staying in a local’s home, you are so much more immersed in a city (and even more so, a particular neighborhood). I love that the local coffee shop is just around the corner, you have more space to make yourself comfortable (all the better, when traveling with a baby), and are still within a price point that rivals, if not beats, the nearby hotel in tourist central. All of the hosts we have stayed with have been very friendly and helpful as well, offering recommendations on local eateries and things to do and leaving little touches in the apartment like a box of cookies or coffee pods.

Psst… get $35 free Airbnb travel credit when you book your first stay using this referral link!

A unique Airbnb experience on a houseboat in Sausalito, just over the bay from San Francisco, California. // Bay Area Trips | Family Travel | Vacation Ideas
From top left, clockwise: Our Airbnb’s in the Latin Quarter (Paris), Gramercy (NYC), the French Quarter (New Orleans), and the North Shore (Oahu, Hawaii)

So How Did We End Up on a Houseboat?

When we were planning our last minute Sausalito trip, the first thing I did was check what options we’d have for the night. The Airbnb listings in the area were pretty limited, but with hotels running $500/night with a 2 night minimum, it was a no brainer that a private rental was the way to go. I threw out the idea to Matt for one of the only listings still available for our travel dates: a small houseboat, floating at the end of the dock in Richardson Bay.

I think it’s fair to say we were both a little bit apprehensive at first, wondering how this would really play out. It wasn’t like the boat was exactly cheap either, and I worried we might not be comfortable. “But it sure would make for a good story,” we both agreed, so we decided to go for it! Sausalito was, after all, the inspiration for Otis Redding’s, “Dock of the Bay”, written while he was staying on a rented houseboat in Waldo Point Harbor.

A unique Airbnb experience on a houseboat in Sausalito, just over the bay from San Francisco, California. // Bay Area Trips | Family Travel | Vacation Ideas
A unique Airbnb experience on a houseboat in Sausalito, just over the bay from San Francisco, California. // Bay Area Trips | Family Travel | Vacation Ideas

Checking into the Houseboat

We arrived in Sausalito mid-morning and made our way around town, checking things out and enjoying a long relaxed lunch, sans baby. As it was nearing our 3 pm check-in time, we drove over to the marina and navigated our way through the maze of walkways, carefully following the instructions our host had sent ahead of time. Finally, at the very end of the south dock, we came upon on this old girl, floating majestically in the water.

A unique Airbnb experience on a houseboat in Sausalito, just over the bay from San Francisco, California. // Bay Area Trips | Family Travel | Vacation Ideas

The owner, Henry, was waiting for us (a first for me; almost every Airbnb I’ve stayed in utilizes some sort of lockbox or keypad for entry). He was actually there to show us how to use the water, since they were having a minor pressure issue (it was a boat, after all).

Henry had also been in touch beforehand, sending his handwritten guidebook as soon as we made our reservation, which included all of his favorite restaurants, bars, and things to see in the area, along with informal descriptions of what to expect from them (like how the No Name Bar is the quintessential “sausy” experience, with live jazz every night, smokers, chess players and cats out back on the covered outdoor patio). You don’t get that kind of description from the Frommer’s guidebook. These little tips on hidden gems helped us so much in our planning.

A unique Airbnb experience on a houseboat in Sausalito, just over the bay from San Francisco, California. // Bay Area Trips | Family Travel | Vacation Ideas

Taking the Grand Tour of the Houseboat

The boat had everything you’d need. The first room, whose large windows looked out to the Sausalito hillside, was arranged as a tiny living room, complete with mini sofa and faux fireplace. The ship’s wheel reminded you that this was still an actual working boat.

A unique Airbnb experience on a houseboat in Sausalito, just over the bay from San Francisco, California. // Bay Area Trips | Family Travel | Vacation Ideas

A small set of steps led down to a functional kitchen with all of the most basic appliances (although we didn’t plan on doing any cooking), and a nicely updated bathroom with a fancy multi-jet shower.

A unique Airbnb experience on a houseboat in Sausalito, just over the bay from San Francisco, California. // Bay Area Trips | Family Travel | Vacation Ideas

To the back of the boat was the “bedroom”. The bed was super comfortable, and behind it a sliding door led out to the first deck where two adirondack chairs awaited us.

A unique Airbnb experience on a houseboat in Sausalito, just over the bay from San Francisco, California. // Bay Area Trips | Family Travel | Vacation Ideas

The boat’s location in the harbor really was stellar. Being on the far south corner of the dock, it offered wonderfully unobstructed views of Sausalito, the rest of the harbor, and even Tiburon and Belvedere across the bay. We had hoped to try our hand at stand up paddle boarding (included with the boat), but it was just too cool and breezy out on the water, so we opted to relax on the second, rooftop deck instead with a glass of wine (and a local beer for Matt).

A unique Airbnb experience on a houseboat in Sausalito, just over the bay from San Francisco, California. // Bay Area Trips | Family Travel | Vacation Ideas

The Realities of Staying on a Houseboat

I should have known, though, that the boat would cause me trouble. I am prone to motion sickness, so it was no surprise that after a couple hours of swaying back and forth and back and forth, I started to feel a little seasick. As I tried to lay my head down on the bed to rest, it only got worse. It was nothing a little Dramamine couldn’t fix though, and we were sure to make a quick stop at CVS before dinner. By the time we got back to the boat that evening, stomachs full on wine and steak, the meds had thoroughly knocked me out.

A unique Airbnb experience on a houseboat in Sausalito, just over the bay from San Francisco, California. // Bay Area Trips | Family Travel | Vacation Ideas

A unique Airbnb experience on a houseboat in Sausalito, just over the bay from San Francisco, California. // Bay Area Trips | Family Travel | Vacation Ideas

Would I recommend this type of stay to someone else? Well…it depends. Had I not felt so queasy or the weather been a little warmer, I probably would have enjoyed the experience much more. But even with those setbacks, it was still a pretty fun experience. Had it not been for Airbnb, we would never have had an opportunity like this; to try something totally different and unique, taking in Sausalito’s famous houseboat culture.

Take a look for yourself and get $35 free Airbnb credit when you book your first stay using this referral link. I’m positive you’ll be inspired to go on your own next unique adventure!

Read Next: How to Book the Perfect Airbnb

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A unique Airbnb experience on a houseboat in Sausalito, just over the bay from San Francisco, California. #sausalito #sanfrancisco #california #unitedstates #airbnb // Family Travel | Travel with Kids | Vacation Ideas | Northern California | SF Bay Area | Unique Airbnbs | San Francisco Weekend Trip | Best Cities in California | Family Trip to Sausalito | Where to Stay in San Francisco | Family-Friendly Hotels | Best Airbnbs Sausalito | California Beach Towns | Sausalito Houseboat Airbnb

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