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Novato began as Rancho de Novato, a Spanish land grant given in 1839 to Fernando Feliz, but its roots are far deeper. Olompali State Historical Park just north of the city is where a panorama of history unfolds in a single afternoon. It’s named for a key Miwok settlement, the location of the only battle of the Bear Flag Revolt leading to California’s statehood, the setting for Marin’s first formal garden, and a hippie commune in the 1960s.

In recent history, Novato’s latest additions include Fireman’s Fund headquarters, the county’s largest employer; the huge Vintage Oaks shopping mall; Hamilton Field, where a residential and retail complex was recently completed; and the Buck Center Research in Aging.

What To See

Olompali State Historical Park, where Miwok Indians traded in 500 A.D. and the Grateful Dead got back to nature in the 60s, has great hiking trails and is a few miles north on U.S. 101. There is a 139-acre park just west of the city with a nature trail, softball, volleyball and fishing (on the park’s Stafford Lake). And, with a population of 49,000, Novato has a wealth of restaurants, stores and services available.


Novato is in the county’s northern region. It’s also the hottest area. Its yearly average temperature is 58 degrees, and its average temperature range is between 46 and 67 degrees. July through August are the hottest months, with an average high of 78 degrees, but it occasionally reaches into the 90s. It has an average humidity of 60 percent and gets about 26.3 inches of rainfall per year, usually between November and April.


Wide variety depending on area. Many newer subdivisions, with some near Hamilton Field as well as Ignacio Boulevard, near the Marin Country Club.


Novato schools perform well on state and national tests, but not as high as some of their southern Marin neighbors. Many campuses have been recently renovated. An Indian Valley Campus of the College of Marin is located on Ignacio Boulevard

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