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The arts in San Rafael are incorporated into the landscape of this charming city, and strolls outdoors are peppered with breathtaking creations.
The Art Works Downtown Gallery 1337 is now open for in-person visitation on Fridays 5:00pm to 8:00pm, Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00pm to 5:00pm. Connecting Marin communities to visual arts, exhibitions and other programming is available through virtual galleries via the Art Works website, online gallery store, Virtual 2nd Friday Art Walk, social media, and Artist Membership Workshops via Zoom.
Marin’s City of Art and Culture
Marin Convention & Visitors Bureau
The arts and the great outdoors come together for a unique combination in Marin County, but right now in San Rafael specifically — the largest, oldest, and most culturally diverse city in the county. While beautiful parks and wide-open spaces make up nearly 30 percent of San Rafael, the city’s love for art and architecture also defines this captivating weekend getaway.
Known as “The City With a Mission” because of its authentic replica of the 1817 Mission San Rafael Arcangel, San Rafael features a gorgeous downtown shopping district full of boutique stores, theaters, and outdoor farmers’ markets. But there’s more that makes San Rafael memorable for a weekend trip, and here are a few can’t-miss art and open-space attractions you’ll want to soak up.
San Rafael is also home to the Marin County Civic Center where visitors are welcome to meander along the walkable grounds which includes an 11-acre lagoon, and a 20-acre park.
Continuing intermittently throughout the year is the Outdoor French Antique Market. This is an outdoor French Style street marketplace where buyers can leisurely stroll amongst booths and purchase personal treasures. Recently on the fairgrounds, San Francisco Opera presented the Barber of Seville live on an outdoor stage, and we hope to look forward to more of the same.
As a restored, turn-of-the-century Queen Anne-style Victorian building, the Falkirk Cultural Center is another popular Art Walk gallery with 11 acres of outdoor sculptures and grounds. Open by appointment only Tuesday through Friday 1:30pm to 4:30pm, the center additionally has ongoing art exhibits online.
The Smith Rafael Film Center is open for in-theatre screenings now. The Rafael Film Center is the most elegant and comfortable place on the planet to enjoy great films and see some of the world’s leading filmmakers. Don’t miss out on an entertaining evening of creative filming.
Marin’s Scenic Wonders
The shores of San Rafael Creek and San Pablo Bay provide plenty of scenic wonders, and San Rafael has a collection of marinas and yacht clubs to best enjoy those waters. Serious fishers love fishing on San Pablo Bay, and 101 Surf Sports can get you on the water in a kayak, kiteboard or stand-up paddleboard.
The water’s also just fine at China Camp State Park, 1,600 acres looking out at the San Francisco Bay. This unique historical park is popular for swimming, boating and windsurfing, and has miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking and wildlife watching.
Places to Stay
A road trip calls for an overnight stay, and there are plenty of distinctive places to stay in San Rafael that make for a magical home base on your trip.
The Panama Hotel and Restaurant is a luxurious, historic bed-and-breakfast with an eclectic collection of themed rooms like a bungalow, a Venetian room, a honeymoon room and more.
Family-owned and -operated Villa Inn has a retro, motor lodge charm, the North Bay Inn is located just a mile from downtown San Rafael with bed-and-breakfast-style amenities, and the Marin Lodge is a deluxe-budget inn that’s been a one-of-a-kind, affordable San Rafael favorite for generations.
If you prefer the familiarity of established national hotel brands, the Four Points by Sheraton San Rafael provides luxury rooms, with a poolside bar and a gym with all the accommodations.
Embassy Suites by Hilton San Rafael will dazzle you with its balcony and courtyard views, and its signature complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast is of course part of your wake-up call.
Well-known budget stops SureStay Hotel by Best Western and Motel 6 San Rafael both surround those mainstays with California scenery and style, and Extended Stay America lets you make a longer San Rafael stay of your trip.
The arts, the architecture and the outdoors make San Rafael an unbeatable choice for a weekend road trip, with a cultural scene to complement the sunshine, shores and scenery.
The Marin Convention & Visitors Bureau cares about arts and culture in Marin County, and we are committed to providing travelers with accurate and timely resource information. The health and safety of our residents, and of Marin visitors are our top priority during this time.