Sausalito

Sausalito is located just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, on the south-eastern tip of Marin County. This small town of only 7,500 residents boasts spectacular waterfront views, with many beautiful and unique homes scattered throughout the wooded hills overlooking Richardson Bay. There are also many condominiums with marvelous views of San Francisco. The regular ferry service makes this town easily accessible for commuters and tourists.

Considered to be the gateway to the wine country, Sausalito is well known as a popular visitor destination with its first-class hotels, art galleries and world-class restaurants that line the San Francisco Bay waterfront. It has a deserved reputation as a home to free-thinkers and artists. The Sausalito Art Festival, held every Labor Day weekend since 1952, showcases the best local, American, and international artists. This quiet community, reminiscent to many as a Mediterranean fishing village, has much to offer those looking for a place to call home.

San Rafael

San Rafael, Marin County’s central city located halfway between San Francisco and California’s famous wine country, is Marin’s oldest community and is the county’s government, business, and cultural center. Famous for its favorable climate, San Rafael’s location is optimal for taking day trips to scenic locations such as the Napa/Sonoma wine country, the Pt. Reyes National Seashore, and Muir Woods. Marin’s second most popular tourist spot, the Frank Lloyd Wright Civic Center is located here as well as the replica of the historical Mission San Rafael Arcangel. San Rafael has 14 parks, yacht clubs, outstanding docking and launching facilities, tennis and swim clubs, and many miles of bicycle trails. It is truly a community where families can enjoy an active lifestyle and partake of a rich historical and cultural heritage.

Serving as the county seat and the most populated city, San Rafael is a lovely bedroom community, vibrant college town, and historic residential haven all wrapped into one package. The assortment of housing is diverse in size, age, architecture, and price range-fact that adds to the fine sense of balance within the community. Options range from contemporary homes in luxurious enclaves to condominiums that overlook the Bay, or spacious traditional estates in the Dominican section. North of town are many ranch-style and Eichler homes.

Activities are as varied as the housing in San Rafael, designed to fill the leisure hours of every age group with fun, exercise, and creativity. Wonderful parks, marinas, trails, tennis and swim clubs, Falkirk Cultural Center, sports programs, and classes from dance to music are waiting to be explored and enjoyed.

The world-famous county civic center was designed by the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright to harmonize with the backdrop of rolling hills north of town. Imposing Mount Tamalpais rises to the south and west, protecting the city from Pacific winds and fog. With its revitalized downtown district, burgeoning film and video community, art center, college atmosphere, and kaleidoscope of amenities, San Rafael mixes a peaceful setting and stimulating lifestyle.

San Anselmo

San Anselmo is nestled at the heart of one of the most picturesque locations in California with spectacular views from the hills and a charming creek that meanders through downtown. This quaint town of 13,000 residents has an eclectic mix of business professionals, Hollywood entertainers, artists and entrepreneurs. With over 150 antique dealers within a half-mile radius of downtown, San Anselmo is considered the antique shop capital of Marin. The annual Art and Wine Festival, the Antique Dealers Fair, and the Country Fair Day draw in crowds from all around Marin County. Local real estate consists of older homes of varied architectural styles amid shady, tree-lined streets. San Anselmo offers the luxuries of a larger community while maintaining a “small town” feel.

Older, well-kept homes in diverse  architectural styles on tree-shaded streets are the most common sight in this charming community of quiet neighborhoods. Unique to San Anselmo are many cottages or small apartments tucked away behind homes, creating apartment-like alternatives within traditional residential settings.

Because San Anselmo is a relatively small town, its development is evident in the division of home styles and sizes. The corridor of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard features small, pre-World War II homes. As Butterfield Road rises into the hills, the homes become more spacious. The hilltop offers an enclave of three and four-bedroom models constructed in the 1960s. Also tucked away on a few of San Anselmo’s streets are magnificent homes built as late as the 1980s-some with over 3,000 square feet of living space.

Amenities include parks, a library, community center, tennis courts, athletic fields, and small-town festivals and celebrations. One of the most striking landmarks in the community is the San Francisco Theological Seminary with Romanesque buildings inspired by the grace and beauty of the Middle Ages.

Ross

Elegant, wooded, quiet, and hilly, Ross features many narrow streets, walls, and gates that protect the privacy of its handsome and often exclusive residences. Throughout much of this small and very stable town, tree-shaded lanes are lined with a pleasing mix of older and newer homes–the majority of which could be described as large estates or luxurious custom builds. Large properties often encompass amenities like tennis courts, swimming pools, or accommodations for horses.

Community resources are equally impressive, starting with the Ross Elementary School, listed in Child Magazine as one of the nation’s top ten schools. The Marin Art & Garden Center covers ten full acres with facilities and lush natural beauty, the focal point of many recreational activities and classes. Magnificent trees, charming ponds, and meticulous grounds make the center a delightful place to visit and relax.

A private high school and the close proximity of prime parkland add to the attraction. Ross is just a mile from the College of Marin, which introduces another world of cultural, recreational, and educational possibilities. Commuters to San Francisco can also look forward to a relatively quick trip to the city.

With its convenient 18 mile drive from San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge, Ross was originally developed as a summer haven for San Franciscans. At only 1.6 square miles and a population of around 2,300, Ross is known for being a serene place with a special small town feel. This town of grand estates and luxury custom homes provides for some of the most beautiful landscaping you will find in Marin County. This well-cared-for community gives the area a character that is unique to the Town of Ross.

Novato

The second most populous of Marin County cities, Novato is also a leader in growth and development. The introduction of the $100 million Buck Center for Research in Aging has opened a whole new page of economic activity in spin-off research and medical facilities as well as hospitality resources.

On the residential development scene, the former Hamilton Air Field has been transformed into a residential community that is surrounded by expansive acreage of parkland and wetlands. Climbing over small hills and stretching across valleys, Novato offers many homes with views of the San Pablo Bay. Attractive and suburban, the city carves distinct neighborhoods over its hillsides and ridges as well as the seven freeways that serve the area.

Many fine housing options are available in Novato, from lovely horse estates along Indian Valley Road to beautiful custom homes tucked away in wooded seclusion along Alameda Del Prado.

In spite of the corners of obvious affluence, much of Novato provides an ideal setting for family living. The city is home to the county’s largest employer, Firemen’s Fund, in addition to a cluster of high-tech and software firms. Shoppers can find the answer to most retail needs at the mall along Highway 101, and recreational amenities are plentiful. Parks, tennis courts, two golf courses, museums, and marinas are just a few of the attractions.

Novato is the northernmost city in Marin County, located twenty nine miles north of San Francisco just off Highway 101. One of the larger cities in Marin with a population around 49,000, Novato is host to the northern campus of the College of Marin in addition to having some of county’s largest businesses. There is a wide variety of housing here, from waterfront communities to horse farms and spectacular mansions. Novato is the place for those looking for convenient, reasonable housing in a prospering community.

Mill Valley

Nestled at the foot of Mt. Tamalpais, Mill Valley has a charm that sets it apart from its neighboring communities. Bordered on three sides by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Muir Woods National Monument, and Mt. Tamalpais State Park, living in this trendy community is a privilege that does not come cheap.

In July of 2005, CNN/Money and Money magazine ranked Mill Valley tenth on its list of the 100 Best Places to Live in the United States.

The many celebrity residents, thriving businesses, and active service organizations help to ensure this community’s economic success while also providing for a nurturing family environment. This town hosts some of the best public and private schools in the nation giving more reason for this being a family-oriented town with high end real estate.

The city is named for a saw mill established by John Reed in the 19th century, the site of which is now Old Mill Park. When the wooded area had been completely logged over, it was divided into small and irregular building lots, which were sold at auction. Many of the vacation homes built at that time were converted to residences during the Great Depression of the 1930s, especially after the Golden Gate Bridge eased access to San Francisco. It is now an affluent residential suburb, much of which is reached by narrow, winding roads built in the early 20th century.

Mill Valley has every type of residence you could ask for, from beach-front to bay-side, secluded valley homes, or hill side homes with spectacular views. If that is not enough, the mild, year-round temperatures regulated by the ocean fog’s cooling action and the city’s easy ten mile commute to San Francisco would make this eclectic community a must see for anyone searching for their dream home. The Mill valley median price for 2006 was: $1,570,000.

The heart of the town is Lytton Square, lovingly known among residents as the city’s “living room” or communal “back yard.” Lytton square is where tourists gather, children frolic, dogs romp and adults sip coffee at tables from a former Greyhound Bus terminal.

The area is known for the convergence of coffee purveyors at the intersection of Throckmorton and Miller avenues. All are normally busy and are often used as the mid-morning coffee break sites for the many residents who work at home. There are high-end pet stores and baby stores, as well as wine stores and the city’s venerable grocery store, the Mill Valley Market, which is next to City Hall on Corte Madera Avenue.

Mill Valley is also noted for the annual, world-renowned Mill Valley Film Festival and the legendary foot race, the Dipsea, the second oldest of its kind in the United States, dating to 1905. Every June, runners compete in the grueling 7.1-mile cross country race from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach.

In the fall, the Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival comes to town. The artwork of about 120 selected artists and local students is displayed among the redwood – groves of downtown Mill Valley in Old Mill Park. The festival enjoys statewide, prestige and a high level of excellence, as well as live musical entertainment.

There is much to do and to see in the city, but perhaps the best thing is to be at Lytton Square at sunset, when the first ribbons of fog are drifting over Mt. Tam’s sloping shoulders. The water in the air sparkles in the retreating rays of the sun and, as the half-light of evening steals through stands of redwoods, one word comes to mind time and time again: Magical! -Marin IJ

Larkspur

Beautiful scenery and gorgeous weather work together to make Larkspur a serene place both to visit and to live. Larkspur is a charming community with a distinctive small-town flavor, situated at the foot of scenic Mount Tamalpais. A picturesque main street, historic Victorian homes, and the architectural award-winning Larkspur Landing create a unique ambiance.

This city of 12,000 residents is tucked away at the base of Mt. Tamalpais halfway between Sausalito and San Rafael. Larkspur is far enough away from Highway 101 to give you a feeling of seclusion, while at the same time it is close enough to provide for quick commutes. With its distinguishing architectural features, historical downtown district, and the residents’ commitment to preserving a small town ambience, Larkspur has been labeled “typical of a small California town at the turn of the century.” Magnolia Avenue adds to the town’s enchantment. A medley of wonderful shops, boutiques, restaurants, cafes, and galleries line the attractive streets.

Primarily an inland community, the area of Larkspur that fronts the water is home to the county’s largest ferry terminal, Larkspur Landing. The ferries offer dramatic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Angel Island, and the City skyline as you make your way towards the historic San Francisco Ferry Building.

Kentfield

Kentfield is situated between Ross and Larkspur, providing a country atmosphere for homes that are set back from the road among pines and redwoods.

The unincorporated community of Kentfield is governed by the Marin County Board of Supervisors, who are known to pay close attention to the wishes of the residents, especially concerning development. Kentfield is nestled at the base of Mt. Tamalpais, bordered by Larkspur and Ross with a population of about 7,000. Home to the College of Marin, Kentfield has many secluded homes that meander among the pine, redwood, and Manzanita with low-profile roofing in an effort to blend in with the natural surroundings. In general, the housing here is upper middle class to wealthy with many residences being estate-sized homes on large lots. Much attention has been focused on the local schools with Bacich Primary and Kent Middle being two of the highest rated schools in Marin.

This area’s locale provides for top quality hiking and mountain biking trails along with spectacular views found only in a valley city. With a mild climate, even when it is foggy in nearby areas, Kentfield is generally sunny and a bit warmer than surrounding areas.

Kentfield is home to the southern campus for the College of Marin, although residents of both communities rely on nearby Larkspur for most dining and shopping. Just over the hill in San Rafael lies a kaleidoscope of expanded urban amenities.

Greenbrae

The unincorporated area of Greenbrae, which borders Larkspur to the south, is a model community planned and developed by builder Niels Schultz in the 1940’s. With its generally moderate temperatures, persistent sunny days, and beautifully landscaped subdivisions, Greenbrae can feel like a small town paradise.

Although Greenbrae and Kentfield both offer a community atmosphere, they have yet to be incorporated. Greenbrae is best characterized as a residential development of tree-shaded neighborhoods lined with large and attractive suburban homes. Commuters find a convenient home in Greenbrae, located close to the freeway and the Larkspur ferry wharf. High academic rankings, view lots, wonderful housing options, and nearby recreational opportunities are appealing to newcomers of all ages.

Abundant glass and decking grace many homes in this area, drawing in the natural beauty of the surroundings. Many of the homesites offer vistas of the Bay, Corte Madera Creek, or Mount Tamalpais.

This model community was built to support all the needs of the residents in the 6,000 or so housing units including shopping facilities, schools, a state-of-the-art hospital (Marin General) and churches. Special effort was taken to preserve the many oaks that grace the hills of Greenbrae, creating a peaceful seclusion for the single-family homes with hillside views of the bay, Corte Madera, and Mt. Tamalpais. The easy three minute drive to the Larkspur Landing Ferry Terminal and being only sixteen miles from San Francisco make this an accessible home town for those that commute. This town’s housing turnover is one of the lowest in the county, with many residents having been here for over twenty years. It is easy to see why when everything a family could need is always close to home. This community is easily becoming one of Marin County’s most desirable places to live.

Fairfax

Just west of San Anselmo is Fairfax, where a relaxed atmosphere is treasured by the 6,900 residents seeking privacy and rustic charm. This is a bargain area, by Marin County standards, for homes. The Ross Valley School District serves both San Anselmo and Fairfax. There are three elementary schools and one middle school in the district, which ranks in the top seven percent in the state. There is a charming, 60’s style downtown area. Fairfax has some lovely parks and is a gateway to the lands of the Marin Municipal Water District, where one can enjoy hiking trails, views, lakes, bird-watching, and beautiful wildflower walks.