MARIN COUNTY

County Offices
3501 Civic Center Drive
San Rafael 415-473-7000
www.marincounty.org

Chamber of Commerce
817 Mission Avenue
San Rafael 415-454-4163
http://srchamber.com

Services
Marin County is usually characterized as a suburban-residential and  recreational area, although some ranching and dairy farming remain in the more rural western quadrant. Visitors are common in Marin, where the hospitality industry thrives in charming communities like Sausalito or near major recreational attractions like Mount Tamalpais State Park, Angel Island, and Point Reyes National Seashore. While communities in Marin are often rigidly committed to preserving the residential nature of their home, recent years have seen some growth in the media-software industry. Lucas film is based in Marin, and the Mill Valley Film Festival is garnering international attention.

The county is an easy commute to San Francisco via the Golden Gate Transit commute buses that have the advantage of special rush-hour freeway lanes. In addition to Highway 101, Interstate 580 runs east from San Rafael to carry traffic across the Richmond San Rafael Bridge to Richmond in Contra Costa County. At that point, it links with Interstate 80 heading south along the East Bay to Oakland. State Highway 37 runs east from Highway 1012 south of Novato, moving along the northern coast of San Pablo Bay to Vallejo in Solano County. Ferry service is available from Sausalito, Tiburon, and Larkspur to the downtown financial district of San Francisco.

Residents enjoy state-of-the-art healthcare in three major hospitals: Kaiser-Permanente Medical Center in San Rafael, Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae, and Novato Community Hospital in Novato. Throughout the Bay Area, hospitals and clinics with an international reputation for excellence in complex diagnostics and treatment combine with healthcare institutions that offer a variety of specializations.

Support for quality education is evident throughout the county, where public schools consistently achieve high rankings for innovative curriculum and student achievement. Communities are quick to approve funding for improvements or additions, keeping pace with modern technology and a growing population. Private schools, both independent and parochial, provide an educational alternative. Options for higher education close to home range from community colleges to the four-year Dominican College, although outstanding colleges and universities abound in the Bay Area.

 

Quality of Life
Combining the ingredients of a temperate climate and scenic living environment with unsurpassed recreational and cultural opportunities, Marin County offers a delightful lifestyle. Aficionados of cultural expression will be surprised at the cosmopolitan flavor of relatively small communities, where talented residents are active in theatre, symphony, and dance. Intellectual pursuits receive attention through the Speaker’s Series that features such renowned guests as former British Prime Minister John Major or the former president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev.

Those who appreciate nature and active sports will find the county equally rich in recreational opportunities.

Approximately one third of the land is reserved for open space or parks. City, county, and state parks cover 6,000 acres, while 78,000 acres are dedicated to national parks and monuments. Point Reyes National Seashore alone encompasses over 54,500 acres of land and 10,400 acres of tidelands. Water sports like windsurfing, sailing, and sea kayaking are available all year long. Even the local schools and recreational centers are likely to offer swimming pools and other amenities for public use.

Boating clubs flourish in Marin County, punctuating San Francisco Bay with sails and power craft. The Petaluma River, San Rafael Canal, and Tomales Bay are other popular waterways. Many residents rely on their boats or board charter craft to saltwater fish in the San Pablo Bay. Marin residents are often avid freshwater anglers, frequenting such lakes as Lagunitas, Stafford, Alpine, Phoenix, and Kent.

As you might expect, Marin residents are active people who hike, bike, jog, climb, boat, dance, skate, golf, ride horses, play tennis, and participate in a wide range of competitive sports. In fact, they spend more per capita on sporting goods and equipment than any other county in the State of California. Golfers will appreciate the diverse and challenging courses, while tennis buffs can look forward to year-round outdoor play on public and private courts.

Whether you prefer relaxation or excitement, Marin County has the just the right place and combination of amenities to satisfy every whim and mood. If your idea of the perfect day is shopping, take your time exploring the regional malls, factory outlet centers, wonderful markets, bakeries, bookstores, antique dealers, and one-of-a-kind boutiques scattered throughout the cities and small towns. For shopping trips that rival a stroll down Madison Avenue, San Francisco’s most exclusive districts are waiting just across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Looking for edge-of-the-seat spectator sports? Imagine filling every season of the year with the thrills provided by major-league teams like the San Francisco Giants, the 49ers, the Golden State Warriors, the Oakland Raiders, and the Oakland A’s. For an even wider variety of competitive events, area universities maintain beautiful stadiums and arenas, season ticket options, and event hotlines.

With its prime location in the San Francisco Bay area, Marin County offers newcomers the best of all worlds: A serene and scenic residential area that includes world-class recreational opportunities and close proximity to San Francisco’s world-class attractions. Beyond the beauty of the Bay, the State of California beckons the adventurous to explore 15,000,000 acres of diverse landscape dedicated to some of the nation’s most spectacular parks and preserves. Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, and the renowned Monterey Peninsula are just a few hours drive from home.

Marin County continually ranks among the state’s highest in household income, a fact reinforced by affluent communities like Mill Valley, Tiburon, and Belvedere. However, the larger cities like Novato and San Rafael offer middle-class environments in welcoming neighborhoods lined with lovely homes that range from modest to luxurious.

The very variety of homes available throughout the county is a prime asset. Traditionals, ranches, and contemporaries blend into surrounding hills, while forest and water views create a picturesque backdrop for many desirable residential communities. Lifestyle choices range from multi-family complexes to small or medium-size single-family homes, reaching the pinnacle of magnificent, secluded estates. Wherever you choose to settle in beautiful Marin, you’ll discover an exceptional lifestyle that grows richer and more rewarding with each passing year.

 

Corte Madera, Larkspur
Corte Madera Offices
415-927-5050
www.ci.corte-madera.ca.us
Larkspur Offices
415-927-5110
www.ci.larkspur.ca.us

Corte Madera Chamber
415-924-0441
www.cortemadera.org
Larkspur Chamber
800-596-0747
www.larkspurchamber.org

Less hilly than nearby Mill Valley,  Corte Madera straddles Highway 101 and stretches east to the Bay. Well-known throughout the county as a shopper’s mecca, this bedroom community enjoys superb amenities made possible by the sales tax on retail goods.

The town claims the largest shopping plaza in the county–The Village at Corte Madera–home to upscale retailers like Nordstrom and Macy’s in addition to 90 other specialty shops and stores. Just across the freeway is the Town Center, adding about 60 more shops, services, and restaurants.

Once heavily wooded land, Corte Madera provided the lumber for the construction of San Francisco’s Presidio. The very name of the city is translated as “cut wood.” With the exception of a few hills, the quiet and attractive neighborhoods sprawl over relatively flat terrain.

Larkspur and Corte Madera are often called the “twin cities,” sharing schools and the benefit of the high academic rankings they consistently earn. Most of the well-kept homes were built from the 1950s to the ’70s, reflecting popular architectural styles of the time.

Larkspur is a charming community with a distinctive small-town flavor, situated at the foot of scenic Mount Tamalpais. A picturesque main street, historic Victorian homes, and the architectural award-winning Larkspur Landing create a unique ambiance.

Magnolia Avenue adds to the town’s enchantment. A medley of wonderful shops, boutiques, restaurants, cafes, and galleries line the attractive streets.

 

Fairfax
Municipal Offices
415-453-1584
www.town-of-fairfax.org

Chamber of Commerce
415-454-4163
http://srchamber.com

Located just west of San Anselmo is  the lively bedroom community of Fairfax. This charming city is well-known for its small-town spirit, long-established restaurants, and friendly atmosphere.

Both attractive and rustic, Fairfax offers a relaxed setting punctuated by superb recreational amenities like riding stables, tennis courts, and golf clubs.

A wide variety of housing styles is available that range from strikingly beautiful redwood contemporaries to renovated summer cottages. Approximately half of the housing selection was constructed prior to 1950, which provides an abundance of smaller, older homes.

Local attractions echo the sense of small-town intimacy, from the pavilion used for dancing and basketball to celebrations and festivities like the Easter egg hunt or the Annual June Arts and Crafts Festival.

Among the recreational facilities are three city parks, an old movie palace, and miles of trails for bikes, horses, and hikers. Like other small towns scattered throughout Marin County, Fairfax opposes growth and development. Residents seem committed to preserving the quality of life that first attracted them to this quiet community.

Nestled further west from Fairfax toward the coast are the small communities that punctuate the San Geronimo Valley including Nicasio. The latter has become famous as the home of George Lucas of Star Wars fame, who also maintains many of his operations in Nicasio and throughout San Rafael.

While Marin County tenaciously clings to its “slow development” philosophy, the county has opened the door to select entertainment and high-tech firms.

 

Greenbrae, Kentfield
County Offices
415-473-7000
www.marincounty.org

Chamber of Commerce
415-454-4163
http://srchamber.com

Although Greenbrae and  Kentfield both offer a community atmosphere, they have yet to be incorporated. Greenbrae is best characterized as a residential development of tree-shaded neighborhoods lined with large and attractive suburban homes. Commuters find a convenient home in Greenbrae, located close to the freeway and the Larkspur ferry wharf. High academic rankings, view lots, wonderful housing options, and nearby recreational opportunities are appealing to newcomers of all ages.

Abundant glass and decking grace many homes in this area, drawing in the natural beauty of the surroundings. Many of the homesites offer vistas of the Bay, Corte Madera Creek, or Mount Tamalpais. Kentfield is situated between Ross and Larkspur, providing a country atmosphere for homes that are set back from the road among pines and redwoods.

Kentfield is home to the southern campus for the College of Marin, although residents of both communities rely on nearby Larkspur for most dining and shopping. Just over the hill in San Rafael lies a kaleidoscope of expanded urban amenities.

 

Mill Valley
Municipal Offices
415-388-4033
www.cityofmillvalley.org

Chamber of Commerce
415-388-9700
www.millvalley.org

Offering a village setting  surrounded by magnificent redwoods, Mill Valley is both a family-oriented town and an arts community nestled beneath Mount Tamalpais. Writers, artists, and film makers are attracted to the blend of residential tranquility and natural beauty. A quaint downtown district features restaurants, delis, boutiques, bookstores, and antique stores. Other popular attractions include a theater, art gallery, and charming inn.

Mill Valley manages to harmonize an amazing variety of homes, from modest bungalows to luxurious custom builds or the most elegant Victorians. Many of the large homes were constructed in the 1950s and ’60s, reflecting the upscale styling of those decades. Known for its outstanding educational system, Mill Valley schools are consistently among California’s top 10 percent in percentile rankings.

Amenities and attractions include an internationally famous film festival, botanical gardens, state park, a golf course, lovely parks, a senior center, and a seemingly endless list of classes and programs sponsored by the recreation department. With Mount Tamalpais nearby for hiking enthusiasts and the Pacific Ocean just around the corner, many commuters to San Francisco find that Mill Valley is the perfect place to call home.

 

Novato
Municipal Offices
415-899-8900
http://novato.org

Chamber of Commerce
800-897-1164
www.novatochamber.com

The second most populous of Marin County cities, Novato is also a leader in growth and development. The introduction of the $100 million Buck Center for Research in Aging has opened a whole new page of economic activity in spin-off research and medical facilities as well as hospitality resources.

On the residential development scene, the former Hamilton Air Field is being transformed into a residential community that is surrounded by expansive acreage of parkland and wetlands. Climbing over small hills and stretching across valleys, Novato offers many homes with views of the San Pablo Bay. Attractive and suburban, the city carves distinct neighborhoods over its hillsides and ridges as well as the seven freeways that serve the area.

Many fine housing options are available in Novato, from lovely horse estates along Indian Valley Road to beautiful custom homes tucked away in wooded seclusion along Alameda Del Prado.

In spite of the corners of obvious affluence, much of Novato provides an ideal setting for middle-class, family living. The city is home to the county’s largest employer, Firemen’s Fund, in addition to a cluster of high-tech and software firms. Shoppers can find the answer to most retail needs at the mall along Highway 101, and recreational amenities are plentiful. Parks, tennis courts, two golf courses, museums, and marinas are just a few of the attractions.

 

Ross
Municipal Offices
415-453-1453
www.townofross.org

Chamber of Commerce
415-454-4163
http://srchamber.com

Elegant, wooded, quiet, and hilly,  Ross features many narrow streets, walls, and gates that protect the privacy of its handsome and often exclusive residences. Throughout much of this small and very stable town, tree-shaded lanes are lined with a pleasing mix of older and newer homes–the majority of which could be described as large estates or luxurious custom builds. Large properties often encompass amenities like tennis courts, swimming pools, or accommodations for horses.

Community resources are equally impressive, starting with the Ross Elementary School, listed in Child Magazine as one of the nation’s top ten schools. The Marin Art & Garden Center covers ten full acres with facilities and lush natural beauty, the focal point of many recreational activities and classes. Magnificent trees, charming ponds, and meticulous grounds make the center a delightful place to visit and relax.

A private high school and the close proximity of prime parkland add to the attraction. Ross is just a mile from the College of Marin, which introduces another world of cultural, recreational, and educational possibilities. Commuters to San Francisco can also look forward to a relatively quick trip to the city.

 

San Anselmo
Municipal Offices
415-258-4600
www.townofsananselmo.org

Chamber of Commerce
415-454-2510
www.sananselmochamber.org

Older, well-kept homes in diverse  architectural styles on tree-shaded streets are the most common sight in this charming community of quiet neighborhoods. Unique to San Anselmo are many cottages or small apartments tucked away behind homes, creating apartment-like alternatives within traditional residential settings.

Because San Anselmo is a relatively small town, its development is evident in the division of home styles and sizes. The corridor of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard features small, pre-World War II homes. As Butterfield Road rises into the hills, the homes become more spacious. The hilltop offers an enclave of three and four-bedroom models constructed in the 1960s. Also tucked away on a few of San Anselmo’s streets are magnificent homes built as late as the 1980s–some with over 3,000 square feet of living space.

Amenities include parks, a library, community center, tennis courts, athletic fields, and small-town festivals and celebrations. One of the most striking landmarks in the community is the San Francisco Theological Seminary with Romanesque buildings inspired by the grace and beauty of the Middle Ages.

 

San Rafael
Municipal Offices
415-485-3070
www.cityofsanrafael.org

Chamber of Commerce
415-454-4163
http://srchamber.com

Serving as the county seat and the  most populated city, San Rafael is a lovely bedroom community, vibrant college town, and historic residential haven all wrapped into one package. The assortment of housing is diverse in size, age, architecture, and price range–fact that adds to the fine sense of balance within the community. Options range from contemporary homes in luxurious enclaves to condominiums that overlook the Bay, or spacious traditional estates in the Dominican section. North of town are many ranch-style and Eichler homes.

Activities are as varied as the housing in San Rafael, designed to fill the leisure hours of every age group with fun, exercise, and creativity. Wonderful parks, marinas, trails, tennis and swim clubs, Falkirk Cultural Center, sports programs, and classes from dance to music are waiting to be explored and enjoyed.

The world-famous county civic center was designed by the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright to harmonize with the backdrop of rolling hills north of town. Imposing Mount Tamalpais rises to the south and west, protecting the city from Pacific winds and fog. With its revitalized downtown district, burgeoning film and video community, art center, college atmosphere, and kaleidoscope of amenities, San Rafael mixes a peaceful setting and stimulating lifestyle.

 

Sausalito
Municipal Offices
415-289-4100
www.ci.sausalito.ca.us

Chamber of Commerce
415-331-7262
www.sausalito.org

Characterized as a residential and  tourist town, the charming village of Sausalito is reminiscent of the south of France. Located just around the corner from the Golden Gate, the city offers lovely homes that range from handsome 50-year-old estates to contemporary models. Many homes feature balconies or decks, although yard space is extremely limited. Tree-shaded streets meander through hills to offer wonderful views of the Bay, Angel Island, and even the twinkling lights of downtown San Francisco.

School-age children share public educational facilities with Marin City youth, although the demographics of Sausalito indicate that this compact and sophisticated city attracts more young professionals, empty-nesters, and retirees than families with small children. The commute to San Francisco is one of the best, just a matter of minutes over the Golden Gate bridge. Ferries offer another efficient trip to the city.

Steep hillsides are not conducive to parks, although the city has claimed the former Fort Baker for a 355-acre expanse of parkland. Exceptional shopping, movies, fishing, boating, arts and crafts, and delightful festivals make this a lively and stimulating place to live. In spite of a modest population and small-town ambiance, the commercial district is conveniently well developed and many businesses punctuate the cityscape.

 

Tiburon, Belvedere
Tiburon Offices
415-435-7373
www.townoftiburon.org
Belvedere Offices
415-435-3838
www.cityofbelvedere.org

Chamber of Commerce
415-435-5633
www.tiburonchamber.org

Representing two of the most  prestigious addresses in the entire Bay Area, the adjacent communities of Tiburon and Belvedere share retail amenities and services. Tiburon is situated on a hilly peninsula that juts into the San Francisco Bay, creating spectacular views and yet protected by coastal hills from chill and fog. Belvedere has the appearance of an island, rising sharply from the water, climbing over a hill and dropping off to the other side. Connected to Tiburon by two roads at either end of the “Island,” Belvedere was appropriately named using the Italian word for “beautiful view.”

Development in both communities is carefully controlled, from limited commercial activity to structures that might block the superb Bay vistas. Respected schools boast academic rankings among California’_ highest, adding to the allure of an exclusive, small-town atmosphere. Local celebrations range from traditional themes such as the wine or chile festivals to unique displays like the Halloween Pet Parade–and yes, the animals are costumed.

Yacht, tennis, and swim clubs are abundant. Other attractions and recreational highlights include a wildlife sanctuary, several lush parks, a fishing pier, marina, and a county park on the north side of the peninsula. A quick commute along Highway 101 or a ride on the ferry brings residents to the cultural, educational, shopping, and employment advantages of San Francisco.

 

West Marin
County Offices
415-499-7000
www.marincounty.org

Chamber of Commerce
415-663-9232
www.pointreyes.org

The small communities that dot the  expanse of western Marin County seem worlds away from the rushed pace and sophistication of the Bay Area, yet they are only minutes from other county destinations. Acres of grazing land, dairy ranches, redwood canyons, alpine mountain ranges, and picturesque beaches have made this rural region an ideal choice for vacation homes. The coastal communities of Stinson Beach, Bolinas, and Point Reyes Station have enjoyed lasting popularity as summer retreats, although year-round residents are on the rise.

Bolinas is exceptionally rustic, a small town of 1,100 residents who are dedicated to preserving the hamlet’s country atmosphere. Nearby is Stinson Beach, which exists primarily to support the beautiful beach and the crowds that come to sun and play. Inverness is a wooded hamlet sheltered on the west side of Tomales Bay, where most homesites are nestled away from the road for the ultimate in privacy.

The small town of Point Reyes Station is located a short distance from Point Reyes Park and the Pacific Ocean, making it an ideal choice for outdoor enthusiasts. While sheep graze just outside the city, local conveniences include a new library, small shops, and a distinctive diner. Olema provides a cluster of homes and a few stores just south of Point Reyes Station.

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