At the foot of Mount Tamalpais is Mill Valley. Accurately named for long-ago lumber milling operations, the town remains fairly eclectic. You can find money stuffed executives living next to pauper start-up entrepreneurs and artists figuring out how to pay the bills while creating great art. Such musicians as the band of the Grateful Dead lived in Mill Valley. Converted now into an upscale eatery, the famous Sweetwater Tavern once hosted Muddy Waters, Janis Joplin, and a long list.
The world famous Mill Valley Film Festival holds its annual screening of unusual and high quality films they collect from around the world. Producers from America, but also from Iran, Turkey, Brazil, and nearly every country you can name have screened their films here. It's the equivalent of the Cannes Film Festival, but in Mill Valley, instead of awards, they just show a very large number of great films every year.
There are many actors and contributors to culture living in Mill Valley. It has an excellent theatre company, supported in part by actors from the famed TV series, LA Law. The community center is one of the nicest in the country.
There are trails up behind the city library to a set of amazing waterfalls. Great hike.
One of the problems, or benefits, depending on how you see it, is the limited ingress/egress with the city. Thus Blithedale Road is often a traffic jam in slow motion. The southern route is little better. When you live here, though, it's like have a draw-bridge, so mostly residents like the restrictions. Mill Valley is in Marin County, one of the most expensive areas to live in United States. Average home price varies between $800,000 and $1,000,000 depending on the economic climate. Though there's more expensive homes elsewhere in the world, Marin County has plenty of upscale ones. I've been in homes available for more than $30MM and ones for only $200k. The range is staggering. Money talks. When a community has it, they can spend it on things affecting education. There's a lot of money in Marin. Some of California's better schools are found in Marin County, and that include private schools.
Many neighborhoods have views of parts of San Francisco Bay and Mt. Tam. Many other neighborhoods have a remote, almost wilderness feel due to twisty roads going up into the foothills of Mt. Tam. Still, all this is less than 10 minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge fed by US Highway 101. If you got it, this is a beautiful place to live.