Serving as the county seat for Marin County, San Rafael was once the site of several Coast Miwok villages. Mission San Rafael Arcangel was founded in what is now downtown San Rafael as the 20th Spanish mission in the colonial Mexican province of Alta California by Father Junipero Serra on Dec. 14, 1817, four years before Mexico gained independence from Spain. Mission San Rafael Arcangel was located a donkey's day walk to the mission below it. The mission and the city are named after the Archangel Raphael, the Angel of Healing.
San Rafael has 149 parks, yacht clubs, outstanding docking and launching facilities, tennis / swim clubs and bicycle trails. It is truly a community where families can enjoy an active lifestyle and partake of a rich historical and cultural heritage. San Rafael has one university, Dominican University, founded in 1888 and typically has approximately 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Other notable landmarks in San Rafael include: the Marin County Civic Center building, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright; the Rafael Film Center; China Camp State Park; Kerner Studios, the George Lucas's Skywalker Ranch, and the Falkirk Cultural Center, a handsomely preserved, 17-room Victorian mansion that is set on 11 acres of formal grounds just a block from downtown.
Whether you’re looking for a field to run on or a new playground to discover, parks are one of our City’s best assets. Centrally located throughout the city, several picnic areas are available for day rentals.