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San Rafael Attractions

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San Rafael: Attractions

San Rafael is the county seat of Marin County and is its economic center. The cultural influence of San Rafael can be seen in the attractions that cover the full gamut from art, film, museums, historical places, festivals and community events that bring visitors from neighboring towns and also from all over the country.

Art Works Downtown

Art Works Downtown showcases local artists’ works and gives them the venue and support for exploring the creative process. Art Works has a nonprofit art center in a 40,000 square foot historic building in the heart of downtown San Rafael on Fourth St. It features three galleries, 35+ studios with artists at work, a jeweler’s guild, crafts guild, frame store, ceramic center, and clothing boutique. Art Works Downtown stages rotating exhibits by Bay Area artists, monthly events, art classes for all ages, a public art program and opportunities for artists and community to meet. Its facility is open to the public through its multiple store fronts from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and until 8 p.m. on the second Friday of every month for 2nd Fridays Art Walk.

Falkirk Cultural Center

Falkirk Cultural Center is an imposing 1888 Queen Anne-style Victorian building which was previously the home of shipping magnate Robert Dollar. In 1974 the community bought the 17-room mansion and transformed it into a heritage site and cultural resource. The building is a national landmark and surrounded by 11 acres of formal grounds, natural wooded hillside, a sculpture garden, and a restored green house. Falkirk Cultural Center exhibits modern art in the upstairs galleries and holds seasonal public events throughout the year. Admission is free.

Marin County Civic Center

The distinctive Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Marin County Civic Center is a destination for thousands of visitors who visit Marin County each year. This futuristic building was Wright’s last major commission and is known as one of the famous architect’s most unique designs. The sculptural sky-blue roof, scalloped balconies and golden spire are its most unique features. The complex encompasses an 11-acre lagoon, 20-acre park and the Marin Center Auditorium and Exhibition Hall, where large local, regional and national events and exhibits are held.

Marin Symphony

The Marin Symphony season (October through May) offers 12 concerts in six programs of classical music. The programs feature an eclectic mix of classical favorites to contemporary innovative compositions. 

Marin County Parks and Open Space

Marin has a network of County Parks and Open Space preserves where visitors can hike, go horseback riding and bike on trails. In addition there are many activities for day travelers or campers: fishing, kayaking, canoeing, boating, golf, swimming, picnicking and soccer and softball fields. The Marin County Open Space District lands represent the best of northern California’s natural habitats, including oak-bay woodlands, savanna, grasslands, and salt marsh. The parks are located all over the entire Marin County area.

Marin Farmers Market

On Sundays and Thursdays the San Rafael’s Certified Farmers Market comes to the Marin Civic Center. San Rafael’s Farmers Market has been named one of the top ten markets in the country. When local residents make an effort to go early to the Sunday market each week for fresh, organic, and locally-grown produce, you can be sure it’s worth a trip. The Farmers Market is open year-round on Thursdays and Sundays from 8 a.m.-1 p.m.

Downtown San Rafael Certified Farmers Market Festival

Thursday night is the time for a community celebration on Fourth Street.  Thousands of visitors browse the wares of 150 vendors in this five-block festival.  Free entertainment is offered at five different locations. In addition to certified produce direct from the growers, the weekly event includes arts and crafts, barbeque and international dinners, entertainment, balloons, and activities for children. The Thursday Market is open 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. on Thursdays from April through September.

Mission San Rafael Arcangel

In 1817, Mission San Rafael was built as an assistencia or “helper” mission to Mission Dolores in San Francisco. Its original purpose was to care for the sick and was aptly named after St. Rafael the Archangel, the angel of bodily healing.  Mission San Rafael Arcangel is a replica of the original Spanish mission, which was built in 1817 and was the second-to-last mission built in 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.

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