Yesterday, my husband and I enjoyed a day out in Marin County. We took a walk along the Tennessee Valley Trail to the beach, and it was gorgeous, breezy and clear. Then we went for lunch in Mill Valley.
Mill Valley is a pretty town: nestled up against Mount Tamalpais, in the redwoods, beautiful old houses, European-like staircases that connect homes in the hills to downtown. My dad grew up here, and I visited it a lot as a child because my grandmother lived here. In the 1960s and early 1970s, it was a hippie town.
It still has a little bit of that hippie feel, even though only very well people can now afford to live there. Now, it’s filled with very high-end boutiques selling clothes and home decor. I guess you could call it pretentious. My husband thought Mill Valley might duke it out with Palo Alto for the most pretentious Bay Area suburb. Then he mentioned Woodside, and I pondered some of those famous wine towns up in Napa County.
It goes without saying that San Francisco and Berkeley are pretentious but those are cities, and they didn’t factor into our conversation about pretentious suburbs.
Now, we get to the East Bay suburbs. I’m not gonna name names right now. There is one that is older and wealthy, and some of its residents, I have found, can be pretty snobby, especially to people who might–horror!–live in apartments. But that town looses some pretension points because its downtown is not bursting with business. More than a few empty storefronts.
Then there is another one that is also filled with very wealthy people who live in big cookie cutter mansions. The whole experience of journeying into that place is pretty surreal.
In my opinion, some suburbs earn the right to their pretensions, if, like Mill Valley, for example, they are genuinely attractive places. Where does that leave Walnut Creek?