Many residents say the best thing about this town is the down-to-earth, real world people and families who live here. Corte Madera, along with its sister city of Larkspur, is often an easy transition for Midwesterners who aren’t as comfortable with openly wealthy communities. Not to say you won’t see convertible Mercedes and Jaguars around, but they’re usually not red ones with vanity plates!
Incorporated in 1916, Corte Madera is best known today for the two shopping malls that line Highway 101. But the town, translated as “cut wood” in Spanish, has much more going for it than The Village, with Nordstroms and Macys, and the gourmet food court at the Town Center. There’s a 22-acre park with tennis courts, and a large newly built playground complete with climbing wall. The town also has a historic square complete with band pavilion and beautiful hanging flower baskets, numerous biking paths and several surrounding open space preserves.
What To See
In addition to two malls, Corte Madera is home to many parks that range in size from small neighborhood fields and playgrounds to large areas with tennis and basketball courts, baseball fields, and soccer facilities. The area’s commitment to the environment is clear; five preserves border Corte Madera to the South, including Ring Mountain Open Space preserve. The city is also home to the Corte Madera Marsh, a reserve sanctuary for migrating birds. You can see this area just north of the parking lot in front of Nordstrom. Every October, the huge white pelicans gather here, and the lucky among us see hundreds take off together, spiraling majestically up on the windstream.
Corte Madera is the closest town to San Francisco that’s not usually in the fog belt. It will often awaken to fog on summer days, but by mid morning it’s basking in warm sunshine while its neighbors to the south are often enshrouded for the day. It has an average temperature of 59 degrees, with an average maximum temperature of 70 degrees and an average low of 48. From July to September, highs reach the 80s. The coldest months are November and December. The Bayside of town is somewhat cooler and breezier than the west side, but on hot summer days, that can be a good thing!
Many fifties ranch style homes in flat areas on both sides of highway. Newer development of large homes (close together) in Madera del Presidio on Bayside. Older established neighborhoods on west side, such as Chapman Park, feature good quality homes from the 20s and 30s, many remodeled and expanded with modern conveniences. There are several condominium developments and apartments near parks, shopping.
The Larkpur/Corte Madera School District has recently opened The Cove Elementary School, the first new school in Marin in over 25 years. It also completed major renovations of its elementary and middle schools, with big new gymnasiums, science lab, etc., supported by a local bond measure. Several private schools are located here, including the elite Marin Country Day School (to which children commute from all over the bay area!), Marin Montessori School, Marin Primary and St. Patrick’s in Larkspur.
Kids and families rule here, with a championship Twin Cities Little League baseball organization, and some serious girls volleyball, with youth CYO and club teams feeding into the regional girls volleyball champion team at Redwood High School. Many swim teams, both recreation and U.S. Swim League. Tennis at parks for a small annual charge. Many mountain bikers access Mt. Tam trails from here. Free music concerts are offered in the old square Sundays in the summer, often to picnicking crowds of 200 or more. The town’s Chamber of Commerce plays host to the county’s biggest July 4th parade and fair, and its Beautification Committee throws a happening Oktoberfest in the Old Square every fall.