San Rafael is Marin’s largest city (pop. 58,000) and the county seat, with offices and courtrooms housed in a futuristic civic center designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. There are many attractive and distinct neighborhoods to choose from, and much to see and do. The weather is conducive to outdoor activity year round; nineteen parks include China Beach State Park along the bay, and there is plenty of open space for hikers and nature lovers. The downtown core is designated an arts and culture district, which includes the Rafael Film Center and its historic art deco theater, home to an annual nationally respected film festival. Downtown also offers an array of boutique shops, restaurants, and cafés. San Rafael is also home to the Marin Shakespeare Company, and the Falkirk Cultural Center, housed in a Victorian country estate and exhibiting the work of local artists.
Many of the towns in Marin sponsor farmers markets, but the Sunday market in San Rafael exceeds all expectations. Open throughout the year, rain or shine, it displays an amazing array of locally grown produce in every color imaginable, as well as cheese, wine, meat, eggs, and more. There are also food trucks, for those who just can’t wait until they can get home and cook it themselves. A major mall is one of a variety of shopping options.