Ranked by Niche in the Top 25 Places to Raise a Family, San Rafael is bordered by Santa Venecia, Ross, San Anselmo, Kentfield, and Larkspur, as well as the San Francisco Bay and San Rafael Bay.
Home to notable landmarks, including the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Marin County Civic Center building, the Rafael Film Center, China Camp State Park, and the Victorian mansion and grounds of the Falkirk Cultural Center, the city is perhaps best known as the site of George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch. Lucas made San Rafael an entertainment industry hotspot for film production and later special effects, with the founding of industry powerhouse Industrial Light & Magic. “Star Wars,”“Indiana Jones,”“American Graffiti,”“THX 1138,” and “Gattaca” were all filmed in the area.
San Rafael is the county seat for Marin County, and was once the site of several Coast Miwok villages, including Mission San Rafael Arcangel, which was founded in what is now downtown San Rafael. After being abandoned in 1844 and falling into ruin, a new mission was erected in 1949.
San Rafael attracts buyers seeking a combination of natural beauty, community character, and convenient amenities, with 30 distinct neighborhoods and a vibrant downtown comprising the city. Some of Northern California’s finest architecture is on display here, with historic homes, mid-century modern marvels, and ranch-style ramblers. The city’s topography also lends itself to recreational pursuits, which the 149 parks, yacht clubs, tennis/swim clubs and bicycle trails more than satisfy.