The Way America Was Meant To Be?
San Rafael became Marin’s first city in 1874. Its roots can be traced to December 1817, when Spanish Franciscans founded Mission San Rafael Archangel at the foot of San Rafael Hill, the 20th of California’s 21 missions. A replica of the mission stands at St. Raphael’s Church. More than 52,000 residents make their home in the county seat, the commercial, cultural and governmental center of Marin. Just 17 miles north of San Francisco and surrounded by wooded, grassy hillsides and the bay, about one-third of the city’s 17 square miles is open space. East of the Marin County Civic Center, Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural enigma, is China Camp State Park, a former shrimp fishing village that now offers recreational opportunities, as does the nearby McNear’s Beach Park. But the heart of the city lies west of Highway 101, where scores of retail shops and restaurants line downtown streets.
What To See
In addition to county offices, the Marin Civic Center contains the 2000-seat War Memorial Veterans Auditorium, which regularly schedules concerts and performances. The building is one of the few public offices designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and many visitors come just to view the unique architecture.
Mission San Rafael Archangel– The present building is actually a replica of the original mission, which was built in 1817) stands as testament to the state’s rich Spanish past.
Visitors can visit the mission’s small museum and gift shop, see relics and celebrate Mass, which is held in three languages at the chapel. That’s just the beginning of the city’s destination spots, there’s also hiking, swimming and boating at China Camp – said to have the best weather in the Bay Area: 200 fog-free days! – and 441 acres of John F. McInnis Park to canoe, play in or golf. San Rafael has a large mall and movie theater complex, as well as several smaller shopping centers and numerous restaurants.
San Rafael public schools are undergoing renovation like many of its neighbors. While not generally a top performing school (in part due to a large non English speaking population on east part of town) San Rafael schools have a large, active parent base and a solid reputation in its community.
The average temperature is 59 degrees, with an average maximum temperature of 70 degrees and an average low of 48. From July to September, highs get into the 80s. San Rafael gets about 37 inches of rain a year. The average low is 48 degrees, with the coldest months being November and December. Mount Tamalpais usually protects the region from perpetual fog.