Visit San Rafael and you’re right at the beating heart of Marin. Not just the oldest and largest city in the county, it’s a place where culture, business, and just plain fun coexist happily. And thanks to its central setting, natural beauty is never far away.
Head downtown, and you’ll find Victorian buildings, ethnic restaurants, eclectic boutiques as well as the San Rafael City Plaza. The plaza is a lively gathering place and hosts eclectic events like the Thursday night farmers’ markets and summertime concerts. Nearby, you can indulge your artistic side at Art Works Downtown, a bustling non-profit art center with galleries, artists’ studios, a jewelers’ guild, and much more. Don’t miss the annual Italian Street Painting Marin, held right near the historic Mission San Rafael Arcángel.
The visionary architect Frank Lloyd Wright left his mark here by designing the impressive Marin County Civic Center. Designated a national historical landmark, you can tour it on Wednesday and Friday, and then every Sunday morning, taste your way through one of the country’s largest farmers’ markets.
San Rafael has plenty for nature lovers, too. At 101 Surf Sports, you can kayak and paddle your way through the marinas and abundant waterways. Hikers, bikers, and campers will want to visit China Camp State Park, with over 1600 acres of open space. Don’t miss the park’s visitor center with its interesting history of the site’s beginnings as a Chinese immigrant shrimping village.