Located across the Bay from San Francisco, Tiburon offers the best of both worlds. It’s just a short ferry ride from The City, yet this burgeoning township of 8,600 residents boasts a decidedly low-key ambiance. And since Tiburon is near some popular natural attractions — such as Muir Woods — it’s also an excellent choice for folks who want to take a break from city life. Add in some spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline, and you have a total package. Access hasn’t been overlooked in this growing hamlet either, as it offers upgraded pedestrian access, accessible lodging, and a number of barrier-free trails for wheelchair-users and slow walkers.
Spend the Night
The Lodge at Tiburon (www.lodgeattiburon.com) tops the list of accessible lodging options in the area. Located along the main drag, just a short walk from the ferry, this California Craftsman style property just oozes charm. With plenty of little nooks and crannies to snuggle up and enjoy a book, or to spend some quality time with your better half, it’s the perfect choice for a refreshing getaway. And even though this Tiburon mainstay was constructed in the mid-60s, access upgrades have been continually added over the years.
There’s level access to the main lobby of this 103-room property, with barrier-free access over to the front desk. From there’ it’s just a short level walk to accessible room 103. Accessible parking is located near the room, which features wide doorways, lever handles, a lowered clothing rod and low-pile carpet for easy rolling.
Furnishings include a 26-inch high king-sized bed with wheelchair access on both sides, two night tables, an easy chair and an ottoman, a desk with a chair, and a chest of drawers. Top it off with a refrigerator and a coffee maker and you have all the comforts of home. There’s also level access out to a semi-private patio that can be screened off with a cabana-type curtain for total privacy.
Access is equally good in the spacious bathroom, which includes a pocket door and a full five-foot turning radius. It’s equipped with a roll-in shower with grab bars, a hand-held showerhead and a fold-down shower bench. Other access features include toilet grab bars on the back and right walls (as seated), and a roll-under sink.
The expansive public areas of the property also boast top-drawer access. There’s barrier-free access to the Tiburon Tavern, which is located just off the front lobby, and plenty of room to maneuver a wheelchair inside. The popular eatery is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner; and it also offers happy hour specials during the week and a weekend brunch menu. Additionally, there’s good access to the patio, fire pits and tables that dot the property – all of which are great places to relax at any time.
Take a Stroll
One of the great things about the downtown area of Tiburon, is that it’s a nice walkable area, with level sidewalks and curb-cuts at every corner. It’s just a short stroll from the Lodge at Tiburon down to the waterfront, which boasts a nicely accessible trail through Shoreline Park. The wide level cement pathway winds through the greenbelt that borders Richardson Bay, and there are plenty of benches to sit and take in the view along the way.
The Railroad and Ferry Depot Museum (landmarkssociety.com/landmarks/railroad-ferry-museum/) makes a nice stop on the trail, as it’s just .1-mile from the beginning. There’s ramp access up to this former railroad depot, and accessible parking in front. Inside, there’s plenty of room to maneuver around the exhibits which detail this ferry and railroad history of the area.
Exhibits include a scale model of Tiburon circa 1900 with the town’s extensive rail and ferry network, lots of old photos, tools and other artifacts. It’s staffed by enthusiastic volunteers who happily share accounts of the railroad boom days. Plan ahead though, as this small museum is only open Wednesday through Sunday afternoons, from April to September.
The Shoreline Trail continues on past the museum down to Elephant Rock Pier. There’s ramp access down to the pier, which is a popular spot for local fishermen. As an added bonus it’s a great vantage point for Golden Gate Bridge photos. Even if you don’t have a camera, you’ll be treated to a lovely view of the bay. All in all it’s about a quarter-mile stroll down to the pier, and it makes for a nice accessible half-mile round-trip hike.
Visit San Francisco
Although the railroad ceased operations in Tiburon in 1967, ferry service is still available to San Francisco from two local providers. Although this service is heavily used by commuters, it’s also a good option for visitors who want to check out San Francisco for the day.
Weekday ferry service is available on Golden Gate Ferry (goldengateferry.org). All of the their boats are wheelchair-accessible, with a lift that can accommodate wheelchairs up to 30 inches wide and 41 inches long, and weigh up to 495 pounds. San Francisco-bound passengers board on the main deck in Tiburon, then take the lift up one level to disembark on the other side. This boarding procedure is repeated in reverse on the return trip, and the crew is always happy to answer questions or offer assistance.
The Blue and Gold Fleet (www.blueandgoldfleet.com) provides service on the Tiburon – San Francisco route seven days a week. The dock and gangway ramps are wheelchair-accessible on both sides of the bay, and accessible restrooms are available on board. The open-air upper decks of the vessels are only accessible by stairs, however there are plenty of accessible seating options inside.
Best of all, both ferries arrive at piers along the Embarcadero on the San Francisco side. Passengers can enjoy the restaurants and shops inside the Ferry Building, hop on the accessible F-Line Streetcar, or explore all that Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf and the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park have to offer. It’s truly a great way to experience the accessible side of San Francisco.