Welcome to San Rafael
Situated 18 miles from the Golden Gate bridge and a straight shot down 101, San Rafael is the largest, most urban, and most culturally diverse area in Marin. It is attractive to those who love the buzz of city life, but also crave the ease of living in open areas with plenty of amenities nearby. With a radius of 23 square miles, you can find a variety of San Rafael homes for sale at any given time that suits your taste and personality.
Why Buy San Rafael Real Estate?
The numerous neighborhoods offer plenty of variety in terms of San Rafael homes for sale. There are areas for those families or individuals who want strong community connections, areas for those who prefer more privacy, and everything in between. Architecturally speaking, there is a style of home in San Rafael for all tastes and budgets, from the quaint bungalow-style homes in Gerstle Park and Sun Valley to modern Eichler homes in Marinwood, tucked-away homes in Lucas Valley, and sprawling ranch homes in the Dominican on hillsides with unparalleled views.
The majority of public schools are San Rafael City Schools a district with seven elementary schools, one K-8, one middle school, and three high schools. The northern part of San Rafael is served by Miller Creek School District with three elementary schools and one middle school. There are also several private school options in the area, including Marin Academy and Marin Catholic.
San Rafael is a dining cornucopia. The food scene is varied with a large selection of cuisine types basically everything from American comfort food to French bistro fare; the Caribbean to Vietnamese and pretty much everything in between. Of note is Sol Food, an iconic and extremely popular Puerto Rican restaurant that doesn’t disappoint.
For those who like to shop and eat locally, San Rafael is home to a twice-weekly farmer’s market at the Marin Civic Center. In addition, from April through September on Thursday evenings, it blocks off a section of Fourth Street for a festive downtown farmer’s market featuring live music and entertainment, organic produce and numerous food stands.
San Rafael’s shopping mall, Northgate Mall in Terra Linda, houses major department stores as well as specialty stores. It is in the process of a major transformation into a modern, open-air, mixed-use shopping area with residential housing, which will infuse a new level of vibrancy to the area.
With so many choices in neighborhoods ranging in price, terrain, and design, there are many options of San Rafael homes for sale in order to make this vivacious city your new home.
Fun Facts & Statistics
The second northernmost of California's 21 missions, San Rafael was founded in 1817 as an adjunct mission to Mission Dolores in San Francisco. San Rafael was a hospital mission, tending the sick from Spanish settlements and natives.
San Rafael is Marin’s “Hollywood,” first made famous by George Lucas when he shot parts of his classic movie American Graffiti on the city’s downtown streets. In that film, Lucas included exterior shots of the Christopher B Smith Rafael Film Center, a venue that still exhibits first-run independent and studio films, documentaries, classics, retrospectives, and world cinema, and hosts special events with filmmakers from the Bay Area and from around the world.
San Rafael is the location of Marin County’s sole remaining one-room, Victorian-era schoolhouse, The Dixie Schoolhouse. Originally opened in 1864, it is now a historic landmark and popular school field trip destination.
As the County Seat, San Rafael is home to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Civic Center and the annual Marin County Fair.
San Rafael has a number of niche museums, including the quirky Museum of International Propaganda which displays political propaganda and memorabilia from around the world amassed over the past 35 years.
San Rafael Nature & Geography
China Camp State Park, nestled along the shores of San Pablo Bay, is the largest natural area in San Rafael with intertidal salt marsh, meadow, and oak habitats plus an abundance of wildlife. It offers numerous options for camping, hiking, and biking.
McInnis Park is a popular spot that offers beach access, a swimming pool in summer, and plenty of picnic tables for outdoor dining and birthday parties.
There are several open preserves great for hiking and biking, including Lucas Valley Preserve and Terra Linda Preserve.
A Perfect Day in San Rafael
There are oh so many ways to enjoy time with family and friends in the area once you’ve done research on San Rafael properties and found your perfect fit. Start with a delicious and satisfying breakfast downtown at Theresa and Johnny’s Comfort Food, or treat yourself at the wildly popular Johnny’s Doughnuts. If it’s a Thursday or a Sunday, trek over to the farmer’s market at the Civic Center to stock up on locally grown produce, fresh seafood, flowers, and another locally made fare. Or visit the Falkirk Cultural Center to take a step back in time and revisit old San Rafael.
Animal lovers can visit Wildcare animal sanctuary to say hello to exotic animals being lovingly cared for while they recuperate from illness or injury. Art aficionados can go to Art Works in the downtown area to peruse art, jewelry, and ceramics made by local artisans.
There are oh-so-many lunch and dinner options, including Italian food on the patio at Café Arriverderci, a burger at Pond Farm Brewery, sushi at hot spot Shiro Kuma, Latin fusion at LaVier Cuisine or a little bit of everything at modern gastropub The State Room. For something different, venture over to Terrapin Crossroads on the canal and owned by the former Grateful Dead member Phil Lesh, or try the Range Café at Peacock Gap Golf Course.