There are so many great things to do in San Rafael California! Here are some of the best experiences that San Rafael California has to offer. From its beautiful parks and recreational areas to its many restaurants and shops, there is something to please everyone in this vibrant community. 

The Best Things to Do in San Rafael

China Camp State Park

China Camp State Park in San Rafael surrounds a historic Chinese American shrimp-fishing village and a salt marsh and is known for hiking, mountain biking, and furthermore, wide-open spaces, and scenic vistas. On San Pablo Bay, the 1,648-acre park is named after a Chinese fishing village that once flourished there. Visitors can explore a preserved fisherman’s cottage and the China Camp Museum. The park has hiking and mountain biking trails, picnic areas, safe beaches, walk-in campsites, as well as a historic Chinese fishing village from the 19th century. The park has grassland, salt marsh, oak woodland, and oak and redwood forests.

China Camp State Park San Rafael California

Marin County Civic Center

Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Marin County Civic Center, a national and state landmark. Wright’s last and most important commission was unfinished when he died. However, the Administration and Hall of Justice buildings at Marin County Civic Center show Wright’s connection to the landscape. Every Wednesday and Friday, the second-floor Café hosts 90-minute docent-led tours. Moreover, Visitor Services can arrange private tours.

Marin County Civic Center San Rafael California

Mission San Rafael Arcángel

Mission San Rafael Arcángel was Alta California’s first hospital, founded in 1817 to treat Native Americans. General John C. Fremont occupied the mission during the 1848 Bear Flag Revolt before it fell into disrepair. In the early 1900s, the building’s façade was restored to resemble San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo. Furthermore, the chapel houses a small museum with three original mission bells hanging from a wooden bar.

Mission San Rafael Arcángel San Rafael California


WildCare rescues, treats, and cares for sick or injured animals in downtown San Rafael. The urban wildlife hospital teaches people about wildlife conservation and protecting animals and their habitats through workshops, classes, and additionally, wilderness programs. WildCare offers a Nature Camp for children ages 3 to 12, weekly day camps in summer, spring, and winter, family outings in English and Spanish, as well as a Junior Botanist Program that introduces students to native trees, ferns, flowers, and grasses.

WildCare San Rafael California

Marin County Open Space District

The Marin County Open Space District (MCOSD) manages 34 open space preserves totaling 18,500 acres for outdoor recreation in Marin County. Hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, kayaking, canoeing, and additionally, swimming, boating, fishing, picnicking, softball, tennis, and soccer are popular.

Art Works Downtown

Art Works Downtown is a non-profit art center in San Rafael’s Fourth Street art district that offers affordable studio space, low-income housing, exhibit galleries, outreach programs, art classes, lectures, as well as, art-related events. The Center is a 40,000-square-foot historic building with four art galleries, 27 art studios, a ceramic center, a jewelers guild, a framing shop, a restaurant, as well as, 17 low-cost apartments. Moreover, the center hosts annual exhibits, installations, and art events. Art Works Downtown is open Tuesday-Saturday.

Falkirk Cultural Center

The Falkirk Cultural Center is an 11-acre 19th-century country estate with a Queen Anne and Eastlake-style home from 1888. The National Historic Register-listed estate was once owned by shipping magnate Robert Dollar, who named it Falkirk after his Scottish birthplace. Following that, the 17-room mansion was purchased by the community in 1974 to be preserved. It has since served the Marin community. Furthermore, Falkirk Cultural Center has contemporary art galleries and seasonal public events.

Falkirk Cultural Center San Rafael California

Marin Society of Artists

Marin Society of Artists promotes local arts. The 1927-founded organization hosts monthly exhibitions of local and international art to promote art appreciation. The society provides a space for artists to express themselves and for the community to discover, develop, and additionally, appreciate artistic expression. It hosts art classes, studio space, community art, painting and drawing workshops, lectures and symposiums, as well as, several exhibitions. Here, the organization is open Wednesday through Sunday and holds a Friday Art Walk every month.

Marin Society of Artists San Rafael California

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