The 10 Best Things to Do in San Rafael, United States

March 9, 2018 Almeta Stockton

San Rafael (/ˌsæn rəˈfɛl/ SAN rə-FEL; Spanish pronunciation: [san rafaˈel] "Saint Raphael") is a city and the county seat of Marin County, California, United States. The city is located in the North Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. As of the 2010 census the city's population is 57,713.
Restaurants in San Rafael

1. Mount Tamalpais State Park

801 Panoramic Hwy, Mill Valley, CA 94941-1788 +1 415-388-2070
Excellent
83%
Good
15%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 374 reviews

Mount Tamalpais State Park

Beautiful state park north of San Francisco.

Reviewed By Yanchun Z

We live in the bay area and took us about 1.5 hour to drive there. It's a great place to visit, especially the East Peak, around the Fire Lookout. The view is spectacular at the highest point 2571 ft, 784 meter. Wear good sports shoes for hiking on the trails. The 0.7 mile rocky road to the highest peak is quite uneven you need to walk through it. You can easily find parking around there and need self registration payment. about $8. I shared the details in youishare.

2. Marin County Farmers' Market--San Rafael

Marin Civic Center, San Rafael, CA 94901 +1 415-457-2266
Excellent
80%
Good
15%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 188 reviews

Marin County Farmers' Market--San Rafael

Reviewed By GCarver2 - San Rafael, California

I've been going to the Sunday Marin County Farmers' market for the past 20 years. THere's an amazing variety of local producers--farmers, growers, bakers, fishermen, local food artisans and craftspeople. There has to be close to 100 in all. There's a really nice vibe to the place too, as the market is nestled in a hollow behind the Frank Lloyd Wright Civic Center.
Get there early--8am opening--as it gets crowded quickly

3. Golden Gate Ferry

101 E Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Larkspur, CA 94939-1803 +1 415-455-2000
Excellent
62%
Good
31%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
2%
Terrible
3%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 199 reviews

Golden Gate Ferry

Reviewed By bill s - San Francisco, California

30 minutes dock-to-dock between Marin County/Larkspur and AT&T Park in San Francisco, Cocktail lounge on board. 40 minutes dock-to-dock. Very pleasant ride and avoid the traffic, expensive ballpark parking and hassles. Not to mention views of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz, Angel Island, Sausalito, Downtown San Francisco and the 3 most famous bridges in the world. $26.00 each for the round trip....Spectacular!

4. Phoenix Lake

Lagunitas Road, Ross, CA 94957
Excellent
86%
Good
14%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 7 reviews

Phoenix Lake

Reviewed By KEZC29 - Richmond, California

We joined the WildCare Family Adventures for this trip and once again we were so happy with the excellent teachings from Marco Berge who a long the way let us know about some of the plants, like Laurel, Bay Leaves, and the fauna around us, as well about the Bass fish at the Lake!
He took as for a short trail but really close to the Lake, and he made sure we were aware of the Ivy and Oak Poison to avoid walk to them, then we took a little break to enjoy the view, and a family having fun fishing there; then we continue for a more level and wide trail and went back to enjoy our snacks at the Phoenix Lake Park picnic area at the entrance of this park.
We met some people on bikes but there always courteous of walkers. You can take the long trail the will take you all around the Lake and back in over 2 hours, and I think is really nice, but our group has a lot of kids including babies, but enjoy the day just before getting to hot!
We were so lucky since the parking area is really small, and we arrived before 10 a.m. it was already full, but after 15 minutes one person left and we were able to take the spot. So, it is recommendable to arrive early to be able to find a parking place, since there is not allowed to park at the adjacent golf course neither on Lagunitas Road.
The park open form sunrise to sunset!
Dogs are allowed on leash and there is only some marked area where they are not, but there is plenty of trails to enjoy with our poochie furry family members, and remember to bring plenty of water for you both!

5. Imagination Park

535 San Anselmo Ave, San Anselmo, CA 94960-2613 +1 415-454-2510
Excellent
67%
Good
0%
Satisfactory
33%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 15 reviews

Imagination Park

Reviewed By Norma W - Gilroy, California

A building on the downtown was razed several years ago, and the land bought by the city for park space. George Lucas donated statues of Indiana Jones and Yoda for the park.

6. Muir Woods National Monument

1 Muir Woods Rd, Mill Valley, CA 94941-4205 +1 415-561-2850
Excellent
77%
Good
19%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 5 reviews

Muir Woods National Monument

Muir Woods has a rich and varied history, from its use by the Coast Miwok people, to its early days of tourism and the Mount Tamalpais Mill Valley Scenic Railway, to an era of conservation, to modern preservation. In each era, the forest has been affected by the actions of humans, for better or for worse. Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, this coastal redwood preserve features majestic redwoods and scenic hiking trails that draw more than 1.5 million visitors each year.

Reviewed By Bill B - Baton Rouge

Parking reservations REQUIRED! It's very strict. They even have a flashing road sign way back in SF that tells you that, which I found humorous.

We made reservations the night before without a problem.

We rented a car for the day in SF and drove out. Not a bad drive, and quite pretty. Gets you out of the city. Probably a good 40 minute drive.

The trees are amazing. It's really impossible to capture in pictures. In March the weather was cool and damp, foggy in the groves. The atmosphere is really fantastic. Probably bring a jacket, especially due to the dampness in the air.

The trees are not always as thick at the bottom as I had imagined, but they grow so tall and straight with no branches until to top. There is some good information on plaques to read. Some of the oldest trees are indeed very thick, but I am from Louisiana and most are not as thick as a large oak tree. They are much taller, of course.

There is a walk of probably 1.5 miles that is well maintained. It runs parallel to a stream and is built up a little off the ground like a short deck. Almost feels like walking on the ground, so no problem for people with fear of heights (unless very severe). There are four bridges across the stream, with the fourth being end if of the trail. If you choose to cross the fourth bridge, the trail back is dirt, not decked. It is more elevated and would not be good for people with a fear of heights. But it is well maintained and not dangerous, usually wide enough for 3 people to walk abreast. This trail connects back to the main one at the first bridge. If you like, you can walk back the way you came on the decked trail. You can turn around at any time, and the walk is very easy, even handicapped accessible. No elevation change at all. They have really made it accessible to everyone to enjoy the beautiful trees.

There are much more challenging trails that branch off. We didn't take them, but I wish we'd had the time. They require 1-3 hours to walk, and I think they are far less developed than the main trails. They are supposed to be a lot more strenuous too. Maybe next time!

The gift shop is pretty nice. Small and not full of crappy stuff. We found a small 100 piece puzzle and some stuffed animals to bring back for our kids (2 and 4 years old).

7. China Camp State Park

N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael, CA 94901 +1 415-456-0766
Excellent
60%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 174 reviews

China Camp State Park

Located on the grounds of an old Chinese fishing settlement, this park includes over 1,500 acres of beaches, hiking trails and picnic grounds.

Reviewed By Dudley H - Santa Fe, New Mexico

This was a Chinese Fishing Village that offers a lot of history. The people who created and settled this village were Chinese labors who had work on the transcontinental rail road and after its completion created a shrimping industry. Lot of evidence of how they worked and used their machinery.

8. Marin Country Mart

2257 Larkspur Landing Cir, Larkspur, CA 94939-1866 +1 415-461-5700
Excellent
51%
Good
45%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 24 reviews

Marin Country Mart

Reviewed By georgegibbs

This is a great focal point of the local community and lots of different things. Firstly eating - loads of eateries - some hidden away and a wide range - from the Bistro style Farmshop with a very strong wine list and artisan menu to the Marin Brew Pub with local beers and pub food, mexican, Thai, Sushi, Rustic Bakery, Togo sandwiches, Belcampo Meat Restaurant, Ice Cream Shop, Cake shop, Starbucks.....did I miss anything?
There is outdoor space to eat and drink and for kids to play.

Nice set of clothing and other shops - clothes are expensive but hey this is Marin. Post Office, ATM, Book Shop, Butchers, Rustic Bakery, Soul Cycle, Ballet, Juice stand, jewellery shop, Bed Bath and Beyond and a Cookware/Homeware store, shoe shop and repairs, ......dentist, veterinarians, lots of parking (can be tight at weekends) plus Valet.

Jazz outdoors on Friday, Farmers Market on Saturday with Pony Rides for kids and Ducks and Chickens and Rabbits......face painting, free kids food, stalls produce etc etc.

Sunday is Food Trucks 11-3 I think....

$3 beer at the pub on Tuesday - what's not to like......

9. Shibui Gardens Outdoor Spa

19 Tamalpais Ave, San Anselmo, CA 94960-2121 +1 415-457-0283
Excellent
89%
Good
11%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 9 reviews

Shibui Gardens Outdoor Spa

Shibui Gardens is a quaint, serene outdoor spa that offers hot tubs, cedarwood sauna, and massage therapy in a garden setting. It is set back from the street and surrounded by redwood fencing to afford a private little oasis to relax, reset, and rejuvenate your system. There are also self-applied skin treatments available including a Dead Sea Salt scrub, French Green Clay Facial, and herbal scrubs

Reviewed By 682shellym - Rohnert Park, California

I've had lots of massages locally and worldwide, but Shibui Gardens is very special. It's got rustic charm, sort of bohemian style. It feels like your close to nature. They offer many different kinds of specialty massages and a complimentary hot tub or sauna with an hour massage. I can't begin to tell you how relaxing it is to be in a warm tub prior to a great massage. It's something I think everyone should experience at least one, but I doubt it will be the last. I've been back a number of times and am really looking forward to the next time and the next time and the next.

10. Marin County Civic Center

3501 Civic Center Dr, San Rafael, CA 94903-4112 +1 415-499-7009
Excellent
69%
Good
23%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
0%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 89 reviews

Marin County Civic Center

Reviewed By Joan88 - Mill Valley, California

Such a treat to walk around inside this architectural gem! Views from upper floor decks too! Incredible County Library is housed here.

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