San Rafael, CA is located in Central Marin, 17 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city spans over a total area of 22.4 square miles. View Map of San Rafael here. 

Because of its more northern location and slightly longer commute, San Rafael’s real estate is generally more affordable than Central and Southern Marin’s. Single family homes range in price from $500,000 to $2,500,000 generally, with occasional estates selling for up to $5,000,000. Condominiums and town homes –which are plentiful–range in price from $220,000 to $1,000,000. For more information about San Rafael real estate, please click here.


San Rafael, CA


About our community… 

San Rafael is at the center of things. The oldest, largest and most culturally diverse city in Marin also enjoys some of the warmest weather. San Rafael is a lively business and cultural center located in an area of incomparable natural beauty.

San Rafael, CA
Downtown San Rafael Victorian Homes

At the city’s heart is its charming, vibrant downtown shopping district, primarily along 4th Street. Downtown’s mixture of Victorian buildings, ethnic restaurants, retail stores and financial institutions creates San Rafael’s hometown flavor.

In the center of town is the new San Rafael City Plaza, with its innovative water wall fountain. The plaza has become a community gathering place and the center of seasonal events such as the Thursday night farmers markets and summertime concerts.

Nearby is an authentic recreation of Mission San Rafael Arcangel; founded in 1817 as part of California’s mission chain, a replica of the original mission with a museum, gift shop and self-guided tours, attracts many visitors. It is also the backdrop for the annual “Youth in Arts,” Italian Street Painting Festival.

San Rafael, CA
San Rafael City Plaza

San Rafael’s history is present in many of its beautifully restored turn-of-the century buildings, including the Marin County Historical Society Museum, the Falkirk Cultural Center, and the 106-year-old Dominican University. Many of these buildings are featured in a self-guided walking tour guide, available at the local Chamber of Commerce.

The Marin County Civic Center, home to the county’s government offices and an architectural treasure, is a national and state designated historical landmark. Designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, it is available on weekdays for self-guided or docent-led tours.

San Rafael, CA
China Camp State Park – San Rafael, CA

Parklands and open space account for nearly 30 percent of the city’s land. Since it borders the San Pablo Bay, San Rafael has an abundance of marinas and many water-oriented recreational activities are available. Nature lovers will appreciate the quiet beauty of China Camp State Park, a 1,600-acre park with hiking and biking trails and overnight campsites. The park’s visitor center presents the site’s interesting history as a Chinese immigrant shrimping village.

San Rafael has one university, Dominican University.

Most public schools in San Rafael are operated by the San Rafael City Schools district. Dixie School District operates four public elementary and one middle school in northern San Rafael. Both comprehensive public high schools are governed by San Rafael City Schools.

For public and private school listings, please see the links below.

San Rafael has a Mediterranean climate, with mild winter lows rarely reaching the freezing mark. Average highs are in the mid 50s and lows are in mid 40s. In the summer highs are between low 80s with lows around the mid 50s.

Total annual rainfall averages 34.29 inches

A little history… 

Mission – San Rafael, CA

Mission San Rafael Arcángel was founded in what is now downtown San Rafael as the 20th Spanish mission in the colonial Mexican province of Alta California on Dec. 14, 1817, four years before Mexico gained independence from Spain.

The mission and city are named for the Archangel Raphael, the Angel of Healing. The mission was originally planned as a hospital site for Central Valley American Indians who had become ill at the cold San Francisco Mission Dolores. Father Luis Gil, who spoke several native American languages, was put in charge of the facility. In part because of its ideal weather, San Rafael was later upgraded to full mission status in 1822. The mission had 300 converts within its first year, and 1,140 converts by 1828. The Mexican government took over the California missions in 1834, and Mission San Rafael was abandoned in 1844, eventually falling into ruin. The current mission was built in the style of the original in 1949, but faces at right angles to the alignment of the original.

Fast forward…

 After the arrival of George Lucas in San Rafael in 1970 to film the movie THX 1138, the city became a center for the entertainment industry, particularly the high-tech elements of the business. Lucasfilm was founded by George Lucas in 1971, and is best known for the global hit movie series Star Wars and also for Indiana Jones. Some of the company’s operations were moved to San Francisco in 2005. Portions of the Universal movie production American Graffiti were filmed in downtown San Rafael under George Lucas’s direction, and portions of THX 1138 were shot at the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael. Much of the movie Gattaca, starring Ethan Hawke, was also shot in the Marin County Civic Center. Industrial Light & Magic was founded in 1975 by Lucas to do special effects for his films and those of other filmmakers.

Visit some of our local websites and watch a video on San Rafael:  

City of San Rafael, CA – Official Website

San Rafael, CA Online Permit Center

Dixie School District

Review of Public and Private Schools

San Rafael, CA Chamber of Commerce

Dominican University

San Rafael Patch – community blogsite