Laid-back suburban haven where family is everything
Nestled against the San Pablo Bay to the west and surrounded by lush forest preserves that house monolithic Redwoods, the city of Novato, California is just fifteen minutes north of San Rafael and under an hour from San Francisco. Its quaint downtown has a charming, historic feel, and Novato has a favorable, mild climate year-round.
The city of Novato began much like many cities in California—first, inhabited by native tribes, then established as a rancho through a Mexican land grant, and eventually became part of the United States along with the rest of California in 1848. The city itself, however, wasn’t incorporated until 1960, and today, Novato is known for its Wine Country appeal and relaxed, suburban character.
With quiet neighborhoods and less than 60,000 residents, Novato has a smaller town appeal that still comes complete with diverse housing options. Among the pretty tree-lined streets, you’ll encounter modest brick ranches, lovely English Tudor homes, upscale apartments, gorgeous single-family new-builds, and even modern waterfront estates on the bay.
Novato’s population trends heavily towards family units, and it isn’t hard to see why. The city boasts excellent schools, an easy commute to bigger cities, tons of open space, and has been named one of the best cities in the US to live in, according to Livability.
Whether you’re looking to shop local and visit scenic downtown to peruse its lovely storefronts, taking care of your day-to-day needs and running errands in convenient plazas, or craving a true shopping mall experience, Novato has you covered. It’s easy to make a day out of your shopping excursion, and residents can take advantage of the more than 50 premium stores at Vintage Oaks Mall.
There are diverse dining options in the area as well, and in Novato, the cuisine styles run from classic pizzerias and bistros all the way to pubs, upscale fine dining, and authentic ethnic fares. Thoughtfully established for those with specific dietary needs, Flour Chylde Bakery is a dedicated gluten-free facility that dishes out tasty treats like edible cookie dough, fresh-baked cinnamon rolls, artisan bread, and even has dairy-free and vegan options.
Grab a slice of authentic Italian pizza at Boca Pizzeria, where the robust flavors of their pizzas, pasta, and entrées pair well with their full bar and carefully-curated Napa Valley wines. Internationally inspired, Coastal Californian cuisine can be found at Beso Bistro, whose seafood-driven menu and locally sourced, organic produce create dishes that’ll have you cleaning your plate in no time. At Finnegan’s Marin, bite into one of their award-winning burgers while embracing the warm, lively atmosphere of the venue itself. The location hosts nightly entertainment, sports a full bar, and has a menu full of crave-worthy pub and comfort favorites.
Residents and visitors of Novato alike have no shortage of choices when it comes to entertainment and activity. If you prefer elegant relaxation, love to hit the golf course, or tend to spend your time pursuing fitness goals, you can become a member of the Marin Country Club and take in the benefits of their many amenities and family events.
Novato itself also hosts plenty of festivals and events that are kid-friendly and perfect for a day celebrating with the whole family, including the Novato Fourth of July Parade. The grown-ups can savor an impressive array of wines and foods, browse local art, and dance along to an inspiring lineup of musicians at the annual Festival of Art, Wine, & Music. This event, which also includes vendors, craft ciders and brews, mixed drinks, even has a kids’ zone and art entertainment activities for the little ones.
If you’re more of a daredevil or seeking out a new hobby, test your skills at the Stafford Lake Bike Park. With over 17-acres of space, the park offers up riding for BMX bikes, mountain bikes, and dirt jumpers of all abilities from beginner to expert. The area includes a perimeter trail open to all levels, jump courses, and the chance to watch friendly competitions hosted every year.
Novato is home to several excellent schools. Top educational opportunities include:
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