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San Rafael

Welcome to San Rafael

San Rafael is the heart of Marin County. Not only is it the county seat, but it is also the largest and oldest city in the county. Historically, it has served as the cultural and artistic center of the county. However, despite the relative size of the city, it still reflects the natural beauty and preservationist attitude of the region. Open spaces and dozens of parks sit alongside restored historical homes and thriving commercial sectors. At its core, San Rafael real estate is pure Marin County.

Lay of the Land

San Rafael sits north of the Golden Gate Bridge, halfway between San Francisco and Sonoma County in the center of eastern Marin County. San Rafael is a large, sprawling city, irregularly shaped and interspersed with state parks, county parks, and protected open spaces. Its 57,713 residents occupy a space of approximately 22 square miles. It is surrounded by many smaller communities and cities, including Larkspur, Ross, Fairfax, and Woodacre. Additionally, it shares a small eastern edge with the San Francisco Bay. Fortunately, the city is far enough removed from the Bay Area to be insulated from most of the housing issues faced by the more southerly cities in the county. The median home value for the region is a manageable $697,847 while the average household income is $78,627.


The transportation infrastructure surrounding San Rafael is more extensive than most locations within the county. With regards to traditional roadways, San Rafael is located at the intersection of State Route 101 and Interstate 580. This intersection provides access to the immediate area to the east, north and south. With regards to public transportation, Golden Gate Transit provides shuttle service within the city and the eastern portion of the county. Golden Gate Ferry provides ferry access to San Francisco from locations in the nearby cities of Sausalito and Larkspur. San Rafael is also served by the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit which provides rail service to the immediate area and north into Sonoma County.

Local Highlights

San Rafael is one of the oldest cities in the region. This rich history is evident in modern San Rafael through a variety of carefully restored Victorian style homes and historic buildings. This includes the Marin History Museum, the Falkirk Cultural Center, and Dominican University. Many of these locations are designated county historical locations and are featured in a self-guided historical tour.

However, San Rafael has also managed to integrate extensive commercial districts into the town alongside the restored architecture and historical locations. Like many of the cities in the region, San Rafael’s commercial district is highlighted by the town’s meticulously restored downtown sector. The downtown section of town is full of ethnically diverse restaurant, retail shopping locations, and the city’s financial services industry.

Additionally, downtown is the home of Art Works Downtown. Art Works is a nonprofit organization that manages the cultural and artistic endeavors of San Rafael. The organization is responsible for managing numerous art galleries and public use studios. It also operates more commercially driven artistic endeavors such as a jeweler’s guild and frame shop. Most importantly however, Art Works is in charge of operating outreach programs and community education programs designed to assist members of the community as they pursue a career in an art based industry.

San Rafael is bordered by the China Camp State Park, John F. Mcinnis County Park, and Terra Linda-Sleepy Hollow Divide Northern Preserve. Additionally, the city also manages 12 parks of varying sizes and several community usage buildings. Each location offers its own unique mix of open space and developed infrastructure. These locations are used for a variety of services, including city sponsored youth services, sports programs, elderly services, adult education classes, and the under 5 programs, which include early childhood education classes and daycare services.

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