It can sometimes be a challenge to come up with new and interesting vacation ideas, so when the notion of “houseboats you can actually stay in” came up, my interest definitely piqued. What’s not to like about this unique opportunity to stay on the Bay Area water in beautiful Sausalito?
Described by one of our TravelAwaits scribes as “a laid-back town with a Mediterranean vibe,” there are lots of great things to do while enjoying this amazing destination, including taking a trip on the ferry, hiking in Angel Island State Park, a trip to check out the Bay Model Visitor Center, and so much more!
This list was pulled together cautiously — all of these San Francisco Bay area options are very highly rated with lots of reviews. While this is always part of our criteria, this was especially important given the limited number of houseboats in Sausalito available to rent. So please turn on Otis Redding’s (Sittin’ On The) Dock Of The Bay and enjoy — every one of these looks pretty amazing!
If you subscribe to the “go big or go home” philosophy, you’re going to want to take a few minutes to check out The Yellow Ferry, touted by the hosts as one of the world’s most spectacular homes. Formerly known as the SS City of Seattle, originally launched in 1888, The Yellow Ferry combines luxury and convenience on the open water in 2,500 square feet of space — including a 1,000 square foot great room that is divided into separate dining and lounging areas. You truly have to see this one to believe it. Note: The Yellow Ferry is part of a tight-knit houseboat community and not available for birthday parties, cocktail parties, weddings, business retreats, or other large gatherings.
This gorgeous double-decker floating home has been updated with contemporary finishes. It offers 360-degree views of Richardson Bay, Tiburon, Mount Tamalpais, and San Francisco. Take in the panoramic views from the top deck. Cormorants, coots, ducks, egrets, geese, grebes, gulls, herons, loons, kingfishers, pelicans, plovers, sandpipers, and terns make this houseboat a veritable birder’s paradise. Two bikes are provided, which you can use on the nearby hiking/biking trails and cruise around town, or take the ferry into the city. Public transportation is within walking distance.
Dine at excellent nearby restaurants or grill up dinner on the boat’s barbecue — the kitchen has everything you need. The TV is ready with Netflix, etc. There is even a full-sized washer and dryer. Unfortunately, insurance prevents children from staying at this vacation rental as it is located directly on the water.
This unique A-frame is a charming 2 bedroom houseboat that is just minutes from San Francisco and only an hour from Napa Valley. Relax in the large master bedroom that features hardwood floors, a fireplace, a large smart TV, and windows that look out to the bay. The fully equipped kitchen has a dining area for six and connects to a living room that has vaulted ceilings, skylights, a gas fireplace, and hardwood floors. Unwind on your spacious deck with some morning coffee or afternoon wine, then relax in the spa — so much to do in this beauty! Note: this is a 30-day minimum rental.
This luxurious option offers houseboat living at its best! Just 20 minutes from downtown San Francisco and an hour from wine country, this one is ideal for entertaining. The master bedroom comes with a fireplace and an adjoining balcony with a hot tub. The second bedroom has an adjoining sitting room, and the fully equipped kitchen is adjacent to the dining area that seats up to eight guests. The living room is comfortable and features authentic art from around the world, and the porch off of the living room offers you the chance to enjoy amazing sunsets over Mt. Tamalpais. There are great restaurants and shops nearby, and you’re only a five-minute drive from the Golden Gate Bridge! This is a 3,000-square-foot gem that is sure to please.
Experience the very best of houseboat living just 20 minutes from downtown San Francisco. Designed by an architect, this redwood and glass houseboat has been featured in print and on TV. Spread across three floors, the two-bedroom floating home features over 3,000 square feet of living space. A rooftop garden boasts a seating area, dining table, a gas fireplace, and panoramic views of the yacht harbor, Mount Tamalpais, and Richardson Bay. Highlights include a two-story atrium with tropical plants, a fireplace in the main bedroom with a hot tub on the adjoining balcony, a bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub, and a porch off the living room where you can sit and watch the sun go down over Mount Tamalpais.
Kayaks and bicycles are available for guest use. Richardson Bay offers miles of walking paths, while hiking trails overlooking the Pacific Ocean can be reached by car in just 5 minutes. This luxury houseboat is also adjacent to a bird sanctuary. Take advantage of great restaurants nearby, or ask about the catering or personal chef services offered.
There is one catch — the lower floor has an occupied apartment. However, the hosts assure that their “delightful tenant is very quiet, is often not here, and does not have access to or use the rest of the house at all.”
This floating home offers two bedrooms and one bath, a fireplace, and a washer and dryer. Relax on the large outdoor deck to enjoy the beautiful views, or utilize one of the available kayaks and hit the water. Inside you’ll find a table for four off of the kitchen, and room for two more at the counter. The nicely decorated living room has space to entertain and a view of the water — definitely worth a look. The deck is absolutely worth checking out!
Right on the waters of Richardson Bay, Getting Nauti is the perfect houseboat for you and a friend or two. This 600-square-foot houseboat boasts proximity to attractions that will fill your San Francisco itinerary in no time. Hop over to the Golden Gate Bridge (2 miles away) and explore Alcatraz Island, Ghirardelli Square, Pier 39, The Presidio, and so much more.
This small but roomy houseboat sleeps up to three people with space for your pet as well. You’ll have internet access, a TV, and a place to park. Saving you a trek into San Francisco, you can also enjoy some great seafood just steps from the boat at restaurants including The Spinnaker, Salito’s Crab House & Prime Rib, and Seafood Peddler Restaurant and Fish Market.
Whether on vacation or working from the water, this cute and cozy houseboat Airbnb rental comes with fabulous views of the water, the hills, and offers absolute tranquility — and high-speed internet! You will certainly enjoy the rooftop deck — a great place to relax, read a book, grab a bite, get some sun, or even work. This one comes with a nice-sized kitchen and a full-size refrigerator. There are restaurants and shops within a 10-minute walk. Great price! Note: the boat is secured well to the dock, but does rock gently at times depending on the wind. Those who are prone to motion or sea sickness are advised to take note.
Looking for a small but luxurious floating home? Check this one out! Enjoy the beautiful sunsets and iconic views — life on the water with all of the amenities of a house. This one is a great bargain and includes the use of kayaks and bikes. The photos make it appear that you may see lots of wildlife! Note: this host only accepts bookings of one month or longer.
This floating guest cottage is a freestanding home that blends nostalgia with today’s amenities. You’re going to love the sweeping views of the bay, rolling hills, and the majestic slopes of Mt. Tamalpais. The main front room includes a dining table for 6, a sofa, a captain’s chair, and a gas stove. The kitchen comes with a full-sized gas range oven and other modern appliances. Ideal for a couple or a single guest, this is the perfect option if you want to get away but remain close to the conveniences and fun offered in Sausalito. Check it out today — this one is extremely highly rated and in high demand!
To find more things to do while floating in and around Sausalito, check out: