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San Rafael Family Activities

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Family Activities in San Rafael, CA

One of the best things about San Rafael is that so many of its attractions are family friendly. Taking the family for activities around the city is a perfect way to enjoy all the facilities and unique areas in San Rafael. Perhaps even try something you have never done before – as a parent.

McNear's Beach Park

McNear's Beach is a Marin County park on the banks of a beautiful sheltered cove. This 55-acre regional park is located on the San Pablo Bay in San Rafael, on the southeast of China Camp State Park. Residents come to fish at the pier of McNear's Beach. The bay has sturgeon, striped bass, shark, perch, bat ray, halibut, and crab.

Kids will enjoy the swimming pool and snack bar. Adults can play on the sand volleyball courts and tennis courts. There are a number of group picnic areas that require reservation. The beach is open and easy to launch kayaks and canoes. The pier is easily accessible and parking is plentiful. With all these amenities, McNear's has something for visitors of all ages. Dogs are not allowed, except if they are service animals.

Learning History

Mission San Rafael Arcangel

Mission San Rafael was built in 1817, as an assistencia or “helper” mission to Mission Dolores in San Francisco.  The Mission served as a hospital for the sick and was aptly named after St. Rafael the Archangel, the angel of bodily healing.  The current Mission is a replica of the original Spanish mission and was the second-to-last mission built in Mexican California. The Mission was rebuilt in 1949 and stands at right angles to the building’s original alignment. Mission Chapel is open for visitors Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and Sunday, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Admission is free, suggested donations are welcomed.

Marin History Museum

When the Marin History Museum was built in 1935, its goal was to keep the discovery of local history engaging for both adults and children. Its programs, lectures, exhibitions, and artifact preservation preserve the past for future generations to enjoy. 

Marin History Museum’s exhibitions are held at Boyd Gate House. Family-friendly educational programs and a Family Activity Room are also ideal for young children. The Boyd Gate House was built in 1879 and is a graceful building and a fine example of high Victorian Gothic architecture. It is set in an expansive park and surrounded by a granite and iron fence. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Gallery hours of operation are Tuesday through Friday and the second and third Saturday of each month from 11:00am - 4:00pm.

Downtown San Rafael

San Rafael’s downtown area is ideal for all ages. There are many restaurant, stores, boutiques and areas to explore. Even the little ones will enjoy an ice cream or a tour of downtown.

One fun way to get to know San Rafael and entertain the kids is to join a Downtown Walking Tour. The Walk starts at Boyd Gate House, 25 B Street. The tour run by the Marin History Museum’s takes you to historic places in downtown San Rafael on the 3rd Saturday of the month, at 10:00 a.m. The tour lasts a little over an hour. You can park free at the parking lots of West America and Circle Banks on B Street. For more information visit Marin History Museum’s site.


San Rafael’s Public Library has many programs and educational activities for children. Reading and age-appropriate activities make it very interesting for the children to visit and learn more about what the library holds for them. Check the schedule at the library’s website for programs.

The second library in San Rafael is Pickleweed Library is also another good place to start your child’s lifelong love with books.


Country Club Bowl San Rafael has bumper bowling and roller ramps to get your child on his or her way to love bowling. At Country Club Bowl there are 40 lanes for pros and recreational bowlers.


Marin Veterans' Memorial Auditorium at Marin Center

The Marin Veterans' Memorial Auditorium stages many programs that are appropriate for children. These include performances by children and dance and music programs. The Marin Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium brings a rich variety of shows featuring the best in American and world entertainment.   


San Rafael has many parks where you can take your family out for a day in the sun. Check out our parks page for locations and facilities.


WildCare rehabilitates injured wildlife or rescued animals and nurtures them to health. The organization has programs that promote coexisting with species in the wild around us and teaches people how to live peacefully with wildlife and advocate better protection of wildlife and our remaining open spaces. Wildcare has on-site, in-classroom, and in-the-wilderness programs where children can participate and learn more about wildlife in a safe environment.



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