About San Rafael CA
San Rafael became Marin County’s first city in 1874 and is the oldest, largest, and most culturally diverse city. Today it is the commercial and government center of the county. Founded by Franciscans in 1817 as part of California’s mission chain, the Mission San Rafael Archangel was the 20th of California’s 21 missions. A replica of the original mission was rebuilt in 1949 and stands at St. Raphaell’s Church in downtown San Rafael. Although the buildings are replicas, a treasure trove of historical artifacts can be viewed at the museum that also offers self-guided tours. The mission is also the backdrop for the annual “Youth in Arts” Italian Street Painting Festival.
Wooded, grassy hillsides and the bay surround San Rafael. The city boasts 14 parks and almost one-third of the city’s 17 square miles is devoted to open space. Popular outdoor attractions include the 1,600-acre China Camp State Park, a former shrimp fishing village that now offers hiking, horseback, and biking trails, views of the bay, and overnight campsites and the popular McNear’s Beach Park with an outdoor swimming pool, a fishing pier, two tennis courts, picnic areas, and a mile of sandy beaches.
Cultural and architectural attractions abound in San Rafael and many are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Marin County Historical Society Museum houses a detailed collection of local historical photos and artifacts and the building is an example of a Victorian Gothic. The Falkirk Cultural Center, a 17-room Queen Anne-style mansion surrounded by 11 acres of formal grounds and a sculpture garden, exhibits contemporary art and sponsors cultural events, such as art classes and poetry readings as well as hosts workshops and lectures. The San Rafael Improvement Club is the second remaining building from the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, with the other being San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts, and is a city and state landmark. The Film Center is a restored Art Deco building that is a year-round three-screen venue showing independent and international films as well as film retrospectives.
The Marin County Civic Center was Frank Lloyd Wright’s last major commission and the only government building designed by the world famous architect. The Civic Center spans three hills and includes a lush, 11-acre lagoon, a 20-acre park and a performing arts and convention facility. It is a state and national historical landmark and is available weekdays for self-guided or docent-led tours. The 106-year-old Dominican University of California is located on 80 wooded acres in the center of San Rafael. This liberal arts college is home to many architecturally and historically significant buildings and campus tours are available.
San Rafael CA has three community centers: Pickleweed Park, Terra Linda Recreation and The Center, all serving the recreation, education, and meeting needs of the city. Fourth Street, in downtown San Rafael, was the backdrop for George Lucas’ film “American Graffiti.” This street also hosts a very popular Farmer’s Market from April through October that includes produce, flowers, food, and entertainment. In addition to numerous shopping options, San Rafael offers unique dining experiences with 150 specialty restaurants from British pubs to Italian and California cuisine. San Rafael offers a wide assortment of housing from Peacock Gap’s Golf and Country Club contemporary homes and condominiums overlooking the Bay, to spacious traditional homes in the prestigious Dominican Section. Most of the homes in the Terra Linda area were built by Eichler or Alliance in the early 1960’s. San Rafael has parks, yacht clubs, docking and launching facilities, tennis and swim clubs, hiking and biking trails. This is a community where families can enjoy an active lifestyle and be part of a rich historical and cultural heritage.
- Winter temperatures range from 41 to 65
- Spring temperatures range from 46 to 82
- Summer temperatures range from 53 to 93
- Fall temperatures range from 50 to 85
- Rainfall 55-65 days per year
- Precipitation 45 inches per year