Welcome to Novato
The crown jewel of northern Marin, Novato is a family friendly city approximately 30 miles from San Francisco. With a population of nearly 53,000—and a density about one-half of San Rafael—Novato’s spaciousness and high amount of open space and parks in the area make it an attractive place to live.
Why buy Novato real estate?
First and foremost, Novato homes for sale are considered to be more affordable—and often more spacious—compared to what can be found in other areas of Marin, appealing to first-time homebuyers, families and those who simply want more square footage and land for their money.
Novato Unified School District serves more than 8,000 students in kindergarten through high school in eight elementary, three middle, two high, and three alternative schools. The school district is also Novato’s largest employer, with approximately 1,280 employees. There are also a number of private schools in the area, including Marin Christian Academy, Good Shepherd Lutheran School and Montessori of Novato.
For shopping and entertainment, Novato's restored Grant Avenue has made downtown Novato a welcoming and charming place for residents and visitors to shop and dine. The Vintage Oaks Shopping Center, adjacent to 101 and anchored by Costco and Target, includes more than 50 retail stores and restaurants. Nearby, Hamilton Marketplace offers grocery stores, restaurants, cafes, specialty retail and fitness, health and beauty centers.
Novato hosts a number of events within its Old Town historic district, including the Novato Festival of Art, Wine and Music each June, an annual 4th of July Parade, the Nostalgia Days Classic Car Show in August, the Downtown Farmers’ Market held from May through September and a Holiday Tree Lighting in December.
There are a number of arts and cultural offering in the city, including history and art museums, art studios, the Novato Theater Company and the historic, soon-to-be- renovated Novato Theater.
Fun Facts & Statistics
The history of Novato can be traced back to the year 1300, when Miwok Native Americans lived in villages at the base of Mount Burdell. The history of this early culture is celebrated in two fascinating sites in Novato, the Marin Museum of the American Indian and Olompali State Park, which is the site of the first Spanish colonial house believed to have been built in Marin County.
The rich diversity of Novato’s open spaces creates many attractive environments for birds—and Novato is home to more than 160 species of them, about half of which are migratory. From Mount Burdell to Hamilton Wetlands, the biggest active wetlands restoration west of the Everglades, it's no wonder Novato is home to so many avian visitors.
The iconic cockerel weathervane that sits atop Novato City Hall was a collaboration between several notable Novato citizens: it was designed Al Bowman, who also built the Novato Theater, then made by Italian immigrant John Giari of John's Welding, and finally installed by David Milano, who served as Novato's mayor from 1978 to 1980.
Novato Nature & Geography
Novato has a generous 3,600 acres of open space—arguably more than any other suburban area in Marin—making it a haven for hiking and mountain biking aficionados and a popular place to look for Novato homes for sale.
Mt. Burdell Preserve, which is the largest open space preserve in the entire county, has an elevation of 1,558 feet, offers outstanding, panoramic views of the county, the San Francisco Bay and even as far as Mount Diablo.
Stafford Lake Park, a 139-acre expanse, is a major attraction for those who enjoy fishing, hiking, biking or day camping. Novato also has two public golf courses, a 16,000 square foot skate park and a network of 27 oak-studded parks.
The Hamilton Wetlands are a bit of an engineering marvel. The area, which was formerly an army airfield, has been completely restored to its natural state over a number of years, and now boasts a variety of marsh birds and tens of thousands of native plants.
A Perfect Day in Novato
There are myriad ways to enjoy your time with family and friends in the area once you’ve found your perfect Novato home for sale.
For a hearty meal to start your day off, try the versatile and expansive Toast restaurant in Hamilton Marketplace, where you can select from the extensive menu of egg dishes, pancakes and waffles. No problem if breakfast isn’t your thing; you can order any of the lunch or dinner items all day long.
After filling up, work off some of those calories with a visit to Olompali State Park, where you can hike any number of trails as well as explore the park’s intriguing history. There’s plenty of evidence that Coast Miwoks inhabited at least one area of the present-day park from as early as 6,000 B.C. until the 1850s. The park is also home to the oldest surviving house north of San Francisco, built in 1776 out of adobe bricks.
Wander down Grant Avenue in downtown Novato, where you can grab a midday snack at Finnegan’s Marin, Rustic Bakery or Blue Barn Gourmet. There are a number of gift, book and specialty retail stores to explore. Or, you can take a short walk a couple blocks over to the tasting room at Trek Winery for a leisurely afternoon of sampling wine.
Wrap up your perfect day with dinner at Hopmonk Tavern in the Vintage Oaks shopping center, where you can snag a table in the large beer garden and if you’re lucky, dine to a live music performance. Or head over to the popular Beso Bistro and Wine Bar at Hamilton Field, which serves regional coastal Californian fare infused with global flavors. Relaxing afterwards at your new home in Novato will cap it all off.