Marin County has a special qualities that contribute to a wonderful lifestyle: natural beauty; mild, Mediterranean weather; small, family-friendly towns; easy access to San Francisco, and abundant outdoor and cultural activities. This was well summarized by a Marin mom, “Marin is gorgeous, great weather, clean, great shopping, access to healthy foods, wonderful bike paths and access to Mt Tam, Stinson Beach, Phoenix Lake etc. The schools are all good really and it is very safe.” (from the Berkeley Parents Network.)
Everywhere in Marin you are surrounded by natural beauty! The land is dominated by Mount Tamalpais with streams and valleys falling through verdant and protected forests of redwood and madrone trees. The Pacific Ocean and San Francisco/San Pablo Bays border three sides of the county, creating dramatic coastlines and views. Yet, Marinites are close to San Francisco, with the best that a metropolitan area offers.
Preview of Marin
Video Tour of Marin
Here is a beautiful video tour of Marin by Dyana Carmella.
Visitors often exclaim, “Marin is paradise!” You are about to find out about marvelous Marin.
Marin has a mild, Mediterranean climate with warm days and cool nights. May through October, average daytime temperatures are in the 70’s with no rain. November through April, daytime temperatures average about 60 degrees in the days with occasional rains. Night time temperatures average from the low 40’s to the mid 50’s year round. Infrequently, night time temperatures drop briefly to freezing.
During the winter months, rains are often intermittent, with a day or two of rain followed by days of flawless, blue skies. Rain falls an average of 44 days per year, with an average of 37 inches. Snow is rare, with a light covering on Mount Tamalpais, above 2,000 feet, every few years. Sunny days average 270 per year.
In the summer months, high inland temperatures pull the fog off the ocean to cool San Francisco and parts of the East Bay. On these days, fog streams through openings in the mountain to the southern Marin towns (Sausalito, Mill Valley, Tiburon, and parts of Corte Madera). The fog often dissipates, yielding warm, sunny afternoons.
The mild weather is perfect for Mediterranean gardens, encouraging a wide variety of plants including palms, bougainvillea, roses, citrus, fruit trees, and succulents. A challenge for gardeners is to keep up with the vigorous growth of their plants.
Small, Family Friendly Towns
Marin has 13 small towns and 14 villages. The towns, with an average population of 16,000 people, are arrayed across the hills and valleys on the east side of Mount Tamalpais, facing the bay. The villages of West Marin are adjacent to parks and farmlands and along the Pacific coast.
|Belvedere||A magical island at the end of the Tiburon peninsula with great views.|
|Corte Madera||Convenient central Marin town with hills and bayfront.|
|Fairfax||The last town to the west with beautiful hills; a gateway to west Marin.|
|Greenbrae||A hill town in the middle of Marin with frontage on the Corte Madera Creek and Bay.|
|Kentfield||An elegant, older community with wide, wooded lanes.|
|Larkspur||Ideal weather with redwood canyons and a charming downtown.|
|Mill Valley||Always charming, set in redwood canyons,|
|Novato||The northernmost and largest town in Marin; with sprawling neighborhoods from Bay to hills.|
|Ross||Older, east-coast type estates set in hills and broad streets without sidewalks.|
|San Anselmo||A relaxed, family town with older homes, creeks, and an established downtown.|
|San Rafael||One of the largest towns with a great variety of beautiful neighborhoods.|
|Sausalito||Spectacular views of San Francisco and the Bay; an lively waterfront with boat harbors and houseboats.|
|Tiburon||A special peninsula in the Bay, with hills and memorable views; charming downtown and boat harbors.|
The original towns have since grown together, but they each retain a distinctive small town atmosphere. Even the two largest towns, San Rafael and Novato, are divided by many hills into unique neighborhoods.
Making our towns family-friendly starts with an attitude that promotes involvement: we are proud of our towns and we we are active to make them better.
Public and Foundation Support
Residents routinely approve bond measures to support and improve public schools, police and safety services, the College of Marin in Kentfield and Novato, public parks, and much more. In addition, foundations benefiting school districts and individual schools are coordinated by SchoolsRule Marin. In 2021, private and public donors contributed about $700,000 to 20 public schools in Marin.
The Marin Community Foundation and Buck Family Fund fund programs for under-served residents, enhance the environment, education, and community health, support economic opportunity, and promote the arts.
Caring about our neighbors and land contributes to a friendly environment.
Education is a priority for our residents. Each year, many young families move to Marin because of the high quality public and private schools. Read more on our up-to-date schools pages.
Resources for Families and Children
Here are few special resources that enhance the family experience in Marin:
- Bay Area Discovery Museum at Fort Baker in Sausalito has seven exhibition spaces and more than six daily drop-in programs providing fun and education for children 6 months of age to 10 years.
- Corte Madera has an Intergenerational Center that offers events and activities for all ages, from preschool to 100+. The center features programs in art, games, yoga, literature, technology and more.
- Exploratorium in San Francisco presents science to people of all ages in fascinating and entertaining , interactive displays.
- Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco’s Presidio revisits the magic that Disney provided.
- Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa celebrating Snoopy and Charlie Brown comic strips.
- Marin Mommies provides online a thorough guide to family activities in Marin and nearby.
The Marin populations is aging, and by 2030, one in three Marin residents will be age 60 or older. The County of Marin has been accepted into the . (WHO) and AARP Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities
There are many public and private programs to support older Marin residents. These services provide transportation, food, personal care, counseling, companionship, and more.
Safety: Fire and Emergency Medical Services
Eight districts serve all Marin towns and unincorporated area with fire protection and emergency medical services.
With the increasing occurrence of wildfires in Northern California, residents and local governments are discussing ways to decrease future fire risk. Based on a Marin County Community Wildfire Protection Plan published in 2016, solutions are in process. For example, the Marin Municipal Water District, which oversees 20,000 acres, is increasing its investment on vegetation management by $400,000 a year, and over a two-year period $3.5 million will go toward reducing the fuel load.
Safety: Disaster Preparedness
Many neighborhoods have Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs), preparing residents to successfully survive natural disasters. Learn more about this program at the ReadyMarin website.
Marin has excellent health care resources centered on the MarinHealth Medical Center in Greenbrae. This publicly-owned hospital, established in 1952, has been replaced by a new $535M hospital, financed by voted-approved, $394 million general obligation bonds and private donations. The expanded hospital was completed in 2020.
There are several other medical resources in Marin, including:
- Kaiser Permanente with offices in Mill Valley, San Rafael, and Novato.
- The 40-bed Novato Community Hospital, operated by Sutter Health, provides a wide variety in inpatient and outpatient services.
- The Marin Community Clinics in San Rafael is a Federally Qualified Health Care Center that provides services to insured and uninsured patients.
Expanded healthcare options are available though the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF Medical Center), Stanford Hospital (Stanford HealthCare) in Palo Alto, and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, which has a satellite clinic in Larkspur.
Easy Access to San Francisco
Marin County is just over the Golden Gate Bridge from vibrant and flourishing San Francisco–also prized for its charm and beauty–yet protected from the daily bustle of a populated city.
The commute to San Francisco is the easiest of the bay area suburbs:
- Highway 101 takes you cross the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco The distance is 4 miles from Sausalito across the bridge, and 24 miles from Novato, the town furthest north.
- Ferry boat service takes commuters from Larkspur/Greenbrae, Tiburon, and Sausalito to downtown San Francisco.
- Golden Gate Transit District provides luxurious bus service throughout Marin to San Francisco.
- Marin Transit provides bus service within Marin, connecting to San Francisco service.
- Many companies provide bus service specifically for their employees.
Nearby World-Class Wine Country
The world-renown wine county of Northern California is begins less than half an hour’s drive from central Marin. These areas provide outstanding wines, beautiful and charming wineries, and relaxing vacation destinations.
The Sonoma town square is about half an hour from Marin. This is a destination for relaxed dining and shopping, wine tasting, and a starting point to visit over 400 wineries and 17 American Viticultural Areas. The rugged and dramatic Sonoma coast, stretching 55 miles along the Pacific Ocean, is easily accessible for vacations and hiking.
The one-hour drive to the Napa Valley takes you to an inland valley and mountains of exceptional beauty, over 400 wineries, and vacation destinations including the thermal hot springs of Calistoga. Springtime comes early to the valley, often beginning in December, providing a year-round destination.
The Anderson Valley in Mendocino County, about a two-hour drive from Marin, is one of our favorite destinations. This small valley is home to about three dozen fine wineries, the small town of Boonville, good food, apple farms, redwood parks, and relaxation. This is probably what Napa County was like before it became a popular destination. The residents in the Anderson Valley appreciate living there and treat you like special guests.
Nearby East Bay Cities
The sprawling east bay cities begin with a 15-minute drive from central Marin over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Two cities that are easy to visit for a change of pace are Point Richmond and Berkeley.
Point Richmond is the first town over the bridge and a destination for dining, shopping, or walking by the bay. The downtown retains much of the charm of its 1900 origins, and the west side of town has magnificent views of the Bay, San Francisco, and Marin. The town retains one of the few indoor public swimming pools.
Berkeley is the home of the University of California, known for outstanding education and political activity. The city, along with neighboring Albany and Oakland, provides a fascinating and complex environment. Ethnic and cultural diversity is much greater than Marin, so a visit to Berkeley, is similar to visiting another country.
There is much to do in Berkeley; here are a few: arts, culture, and entertainment provided by the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (with a fine permanent collection and abundant curated exhibits exhibits, including film), Cal Performances, the Berkeley Symphony, the Berkeley Repertory Theater, and more. In addition, you can find excellent restaurants, the superb UC Botanical Garden, and good shopping on 4th Street and in North Berkeley.
Nature at Your Doorstep
Marin is all about living outdoors. In addition to your backyard, you have 185,400 acres of protected parks and open space preserves. This is about 56% of Marin, the largest percentage of any county in the Bay Area. In addition, Marin has 100,000 acres of agricultural land, boosting the open space to about 285,000 acres or about 86% of the land area!
Marin has extensive national, state, and local parks, plus Open Space Preserves for public use.
Angel Island State Park
A short ferry boat ride from Tiburon takes you to Angel Island Stae Park with beautiful views of Marin County, San Francisco, and the north bay. Ferry service is available every day from about 9 am to 5 pm. You can also sail a private boat to Ayala Cove on the island.
Recreational activities include hiking, picnics, and camping. You can walk or bicycle around the island, or take a tram tour. A historic site is the detention center for Asian immigrants from 1910 to 1940. The park service presents a sensitive and moving recreation of the lives of these immigrants.
There are three campgrounds with a total of 10 sites, which you must reserve in advance. The views are spectacular day and night. There is also a cafe and picnic facilities near the ferry landing.
China Camp State Park
This 75-acre park, at the east end of San Rafael, stretches along the San Pablo bay, providing hiking, biking, camping, and picnicking among the oak woodlands, grassy hills, and marshlands. China Camp State Park is one of the most serene locations in the county. The area was named for the Chinese residents who ran a shrimp fishing business in the late 19th century. Click for a map of the park.
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) includes the most of the land from the Golden Gate Bridge to Mill Valley and then significant parcels going north to Tamales Bay, including Alcatraz Island.
Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) WatershedMMWD owns and protects a large part of Mount Tamalpais as a source of drinking water. The watershed contains protected forests and five lakes on Mount Tamalpais: Alpine Lake, Bon Tempe Lake, Kent Lake, Lake Lagunitas, and Phoenix Lake. In addition, the district has three lakes in the foothills to the north of Mount Tamalpais: Nicasio Reservoir, Soulajoule Reservoir, and Stafford Lake.
Mount Tamalpais State ParkMount Tamalpais is the centerpiece of Marin, raising to about 2,600 feet and cascading down to the ocean and bay through oak and redwood forests, streams and valleys. The state park and adjacent water district lands and national seashore provide over 60 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails.
Point Reyes National Seashore
The Point Reyes National Seashore covers 71,000 acres of dramatic coastline on the west edge of Marin. You will be astonished that this wild and peaceful park is so close to us.
Samuel P. Taylor State Park
Muir Woods National Monument
Muir Woods is one of the most popular attractions for visitors to San Francisco and Marin. The 550-acre park shows off to perfection an old growth redwood forest. Despite its popularity, the Park Service has done an excellent job making the tour accessible and inspiring. Particularly recommended are early morning or late afternoon visits. Make your reservations so you don’t miss this national monument.
Open Space Preserves
Marin County manages 34 Open Space Preserves “primarily for natural resource preservation and, with the exception of trails used by pedestrians, mountain bikers, and equestrians, do not contain recreational facilities of the types found in parks. The MCOSD’s 34 open space preserves include an extensive network of approximately 249 miles of roads and trails, 335 entry points to nearly 16,000 acres of lands…”
Town and County Parks
Marin towns maintain public parks and several open space preserves. Marin County maintains several public parks in addition to its 34 Open Space Preserves.
Wherever you live in Marin, outdoor recreation is nearby, and the mild weather makes these activities available year round. Here is a convenient guide to recreational activities at specific County parks.
Marin provides almost unlimited possibilities for hikers, from ocean to mountains top to bay. There are many guidebooks to hikes in Marin plus Wendy Dreskin’s regular feature on recommended hikes in the Marin Independent Journal. Here a two websites with recommended hikes: AllTrails.com and OneTam.org.
Modern mountain biking began on Mount Tamalpais in the late 1970’s. There are many fire roads, wide trails, and paved bike paths for every level of rider. There are organizations, like the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, that promote safe and enjoyable cycling.
There are eight golf courses in Marin:
- Indian Valley Golf Club, an 18-hole public course in Novato.
- Marin Country Club, an 18-hole private course in southern Novato.
- McInnis Park Golf Center, a 9-hole, public course with an 18-hole miniature golf range. North eastern San Rafael.
- Meadow Club in Fairfax, an 18-hole private course. Listed as 18 out of top 100 courses in California.
- Mill Valley Golf Club, a public, 9-hole course in Werner Canyon, Mill Valley.
- Peacock Gap Golf Club, an 18-hole private course in eastern San Rafael.
- Stone Tree Golf Club, an 18-hole private course in eastern Novato.
Sausalito, Tiburon, and San Rafael have extensive marinas and yacht clubs on the bay, with smaller facilities in Corte Madera, Dillon Beach, and Bolinas.
The Marin coast is rocky, with occasional sandy beaches. Water temperatures are typically in the mid-50’s Fahrenheit. Yet they provide many opportunities and challenges for water sports.
Here is a list of water sport shops, instruction, and services
Windsurfing and Kitesurfing
Marin has many kitesurfing locations on the bay and ocean. Here is a good description.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding and Kayaking
There are abundant locations for stand up paddle boarding. Here is a list of preferred sites:
- Angel Island (Tiburon)
- Corte Madera Creek (Larkspur-Corte Madera)
- China Camp State Park (Sn Rafael)
- McInnes Park (San Rafael)
- McNears Beach Park
- Richardson Bay (Mill Valley and Tiburon)
- Tomales Bay (West Marin)
You can find dramatic ocean beaches, from Dillon Beach in the north, continuing through Point Reyes National Seashore, to Kirby Cove and Rodeo Beach at the south end of Sausalito. Serene bayside beaches lie along San Francisco and San Pablo Bays in Tiburon and San Rafael. In West Marin, you will find beaches on Tomales Bay. We used to visit the sheltered Heart’s Desire Beach on Tamales Bay for sunshine and rest when other beaches were cold and windy.
Here is a good list and description of Marin beaches. County beaches missing from this list are Chicken Ranch and Agate Beach on Tamales Bay, just north-west of Inverness, Upton Beach, on the ocean north of Stinson Beach., and Whitehouse Pool in Lagunitaas
You can fish at most of the lakes and reservoirs in Marin. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife lists fishing lakes, streams, sites on the bay, and lakes in Sonoma County. Fishing licenses are required for many of these locations.
Excellent skiing is available in the Lake Tahoe area of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. You can travel from the ocean to a ski resort in 3 to 3.5 hours.
A Center for Art and Music
Marinites have easy access to excellent art, music, and theater. Here are the major attractions.
Asian Art Museum in the San Francisco Civic Center (City Hall, Symphony Hall, Opera House, and more) has one of the most comprehensive collections of Asian Art in the world.
California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is a combined Natural History Museum, aquarium, planetarium, and four-story rain forest in a spectacular 10-year-old building.
Contemporary Jewish Museum, a few blocks from San Francisco Union Square, is a “a non-collecting institution that partners with national and international cultural institutions to present exhibitions… [that make] the diversity of the Jewish experience relevant for a twenty-first century audience.” An innovative mix of art exhibits and cultural programs.
De Young Museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park presents American art from the 17th through the 20th centuries, textile arts, and art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. They also host important traveling exhibits and locally curated exhibits. The building is a modern masterpiece, built in 2005.
Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco has diverse collections of European decorative arts and paintings, Ancient art, and one of the largest collections of prints and drawings in the country. The imposing Beaux-arts building is set on a knoll in Lincoln Park with breathtaking views the Pacific Ocean, Golden Gate Bridge, Marin County, and all of San Francisco. Not to be missed!
The Mexican Museum in Fort Mason Center on San Francisco’s northern waterfront, houses a permanent collection from thousands of years of Mexican, Chicano, and Latino art and culture.
Museum of Modern Art is downtown in San Francisco, at Third and Howard Streets. The fine modern building typically presents six temporary exhibits and five ongoing exhibits, plus film events.
UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive presents each year more than twenty art exhibitions, 450 film programs, and dozens of performances, as well as lectures, symposia, and tours.
Music and Theater in Marin
Marin Symphony, performing at the Marin Center Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium in San Rafael, presents four classical and four popular programs each year. The orchestra is excellent!
Marin Center, at the Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium in San Rafael, presents a full year of concerts, dance, comedy, and lectures.
Mountain Play has been performed each spring for over 100 years in the amphitheater on Mount Tamalpais. The programs are typically popular musicals.
Mill Valley Film Festival takes place in October in Mill Valley and San Rafael. Since it began in 2007, the festival has become a major event in the film industry.
Throckmorton Theater in downtown Mill Valley presents many types of music, comedy, lectures, art exhibits, and more.
Sweetwater Music Hall in downtown Mill Valley since 1972 has been to go-to nightclub for rock, blues, and soul music. It is still going strong, with good food from lunch till closing.
Live Music at these clubs:
- Hopmunk Tavern in Novato
- No Name Bar in Sausalito
- Osteria Divino in Sausalito
- Panama Hotel and Restaurant in San Rafael
- Papermill Creek Saloon in Forest Knolls
- Peri’s Silver Dollar Bar in Fairfax
- Rancho Nicasio Restaurant and Bar in Nicasio
- Sausalito Seahorse
- Smiley’s Saloon and Hotel in Bolinas
- Station House Cafe in Point Reyes Station
They are ALL worth a visit!
Music and Theater Around the Bay
Here the major locations for the performance arts in San Francisco and the East Bay; and there are more.
San Francisco Symphony, a world-class symphony in the San Francisco Civic Center. There are many interesting performances in addition to the full symphony.
San Francisco Opera presents a full season (typically eight operas) at the Opera House in the San Francisco Civic Center.
San Francisco Ballet, a world-class ballet company, presents about 8 programs each season, from classical to modern dance.
SF Jazz, is a outstanding small theater in Hayes Valley, San Francisco, dedicated to jazz . One or two performances every night.
Magic Theater in Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, present new and provocative theater. In their words, they are “dedicated to the cultivation of bold new plays, playwrights, and audiences – and to producing explosive, entertaining, and ideologically robust plays that ask substantive questions about, and reflect the rich diversity of, the world in which we live.”
Palace of Fine Arts Theater in the San Francisco Marina presents diverse program of music, dance, and comedy.
Green Music Center at Sonoma University in Santa Rosa presents outstanding music and performances by visiting performers, in one of the best new theaters in the Bay Area
Cal Performances at UC Berkeley presents top-notch music, theater, and dance programs.
Berkeley Rep is an innovative and nationally recognized theater and school in downtown Berkeley.
Freight and Salvage, in Berkeley since the late 60′, has been a venue for traditional American music, now focusing on traditional music from outside the continental US.
Yoshi’s at Jack London Square in Oakland has been well known for jazz performers, now presents a broader range of innovative music.
Fox Theater a restored 1928 theater on Telegraph Ave is a favorite among touring musicians and singers.
Clean Air and Fresh Water
Marin has clean air. The ocean fogs that cool our nights and some days sweep away the air pollution. The Air Quality Index is on average 36-46, but in many months lower. An index of 100 or higher is considered unhealthy and hazardous.
Marin drinking water comes from eight lakes and reservoirs maintained by the Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD). This water (75%) is supplemented with water from the Russian River in Sonoma County (25%). The taste are quality are excellent. Water is tested for 94 contaminants and is below Public Health Goals for each of these.
Marin has soft water, meaning a low content if dissolved minerals. According to MMWD, “the water that comes from MMWD’s reservoirs ranges in hardness from 3-5 gpg, while the water that is imported from the Russian River ranges in hardness from 5-7 gpg.” The average hardness of the water in the northern and central portions of Marin is 4-6 gpg. The water hardness for customers in southern Marin is 3 gpg. Water with less than 4 gpg hardness is soft, water with 4-7 gpg is moderate hardness.”
Outstanding Fresh Food
California has long provided the country with fresh fruits and vegetables. These are all available in Marin, along with other specialty items grown organically in the Bay Area and Northern California. Here are a few noteworthy sources:
Town farmers markets: Corte Madera, Larkspur, Tiburon, San Rafael (downtown), Fairfax, Mill Valley, Novato, and Point Reyes Station.
Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market, at the Ferry Building every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday morning. In addition to great produce, you can shop at the unique food vendors with shops within the Ferry Building.
About a third of the land in Marin is dedicated to agriculture devoted primarily, since the 19th century, to dairy and livestock. To preserve the agricultural complexion of Marin, over half of the farmland is now in an agricultural trust. The Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) assures the future of 85 farms and ranches and protects these lands from non-agricultural use.
Here is a list of Marin farms and a what they produce. Many of these farms sell directly to fine restaurants in Marin, San Francisco, and Berkeley:
- Allstar Organics produces herbal salts and sugars and distills sprays fron herbs and flowers. They also grow heirloom tomatoes, pumpkins, and squash in Woodacre.
- Blackberry Farm in Bolinas grows 24 varieties of heritage apples.
- Chileno Valley Ranch raises grass-fed beef and apples near Petaluma.
- Clark Summit Farm north of Tamales produces poultry, eggs, grass-fed beef and pork.
- Draper Farms in San Anselmo grows organic vegetables and fruit.
- Green Gulch Farm at the Zen Center in Muir Beach sells its produce at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and to neighbors in Muir Beach. On Friday morning it delivers outstanding fresh bread for sale at the Mill Valley Farmer’s Market and Driver’s Market in Sausalito.
- Hog Island Oyster Company in Marshall grows oysters in Tamales bay for sale at the Marshall location and the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market.
- Little Organic Farm near Petaluma dry farms organic potatoes, tomatoes, and other vegetables. They are available at the Thursday Marin Civic Center Farmer’s Market.
- Lunny Ranch in Inverness produces grass-fed organic beef and artichokes.
- Marin Roots Farm near Petaluma grows a wide variety of organic vegetables.
- Marin Sun Farms produces grass fed and pasture raised meat (beef, lamb, pork, poultry, goat, rabbit) and eggs.
- McEvoy Ranch near Petaluma grows organic olives for exceptional certified extra virgin olive oil and cured olives. They also produce vinegar and wine.
- Mt. Barnabe Farm in Lagunitas grows blackberries, rasberries, and garlic.
- Red Hill Farms near Petaluma supplies milk-fed lamb and free-range, pasture raised organic chicken eggs.
- Sartori Farms in Tamales raises organic strwberries.
- Stemple Creek Ranch produces grass fed beef and lamb.
- Star Route Farms in Bolinas since 1974 produces organic vegetables,with an emphasis on leafy greens and herbs.
- Straus Family Creamery in Marshall and Petaluma produces organic mild, butter, yogurt, ice cream, and more.
- Tomales Bay Oyster Company in Marshall has been operating since 1909.
- Toluma Farm in Tomales raises organic goats and sheep and produces goat’s and sheep’s milk.
Dairies and Cheese
Marin dairy farms have evolved into cheese production. There are others not listed here that are in adjacent Sonoma County.
Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station produces over a dozen well-known organic cheeses from Straus Creamery milk. A favorite is Pierce Point cheese.
Tomales Farmstead Creamery in Tomales produces a variety of organic cheeses from their own goat and sheep’s milk. They sell from the San Francisco Ferry Building and the Thursday market at the Marin Civic Center.
Marin French Cheese in the Hicks Valley near Petaluma produces brie and Camembert-type cheeses.
Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company in Point Reyes Station produces a small but interesting variety including two blue cheeses and a fresh mozzarella that is available at the Sunday Farmer’s Market at the Marin Civic Center.
There are 17 wineries in Marin, many producing high quality and organic wines. Here is a list, with links to the wineries.
Marin County is one of the original 27 counties of California, created on February 18, 1850, just before the state was admitted to the Union. The original inhabitants of Marin were a Huimen people, a Coast Miwok tribe of Native Americans. The Spanish arrived in about 1600, but the first village was established in 1817 as the Mission San Rafael. By the mid-19th century, most of the Miwok inhabitants had died from imported diseases and poor living conditions.
After 1850, Marin remained rural and sparsely populated with dairy farms and logging operations that clear cut the original forests and left bare hills.
Marin was a vacation destination for San Francisco families seeking relief from the fog and cold summer weather. Tourists came from great distances to enjoy the natural beauty and views from Mount Tamalpais. Marin provided summer cabins, house boats, dance halls, hotels, and sunny days on Mount Tamalpais. Local railroads carried visitors to every town on the east side of Mount Tamalpais and even to the top of the mountain. Travelers to West Marin used stage coaches and boats.
Population Growth in Marin
Increases in Population
The population of Marin increased slowly but steadily from 3,334 in 1860 to 27,342 in 1920. The rate of growth increased slightly from 1920 to 1940, with a major expansion from 1940 to 1970:
- 1920 to 1940: 200%
- 1940 to 1970: 390%
- 1970 to 2000: 20%
Population growth from 2000 to 2010 leveled off at only 2%.
Limited Housing Potential in Marin
The potential for new housing in Marin is limited. “Marin County has 58 percent of its 333,000 acres protected from development,” the Marin Independent Journal reported on Jan 1, 2017. In addition about 100,000 acres are zoned as agricultural and 52,000 of these acres are in protected agricultural easements.
“The county has 11,600 total acres that could be developed. Of that 2,400 acres are likely to be built on in the next 10 years, according to the report, At Risk: The Bay Area Greenbelt,” by the Greenbelt Alliance. This leaves about 3% of Marin land for possible development. Limited housing growth, along with the abundance of open space, maintains high prices for Marin homes.
Marin county is home to about 260,000 people, most living on the eastern slopes and in the valleys of Mount Tamalpais, facing the bay.
Residents are well-educated, high income (median household income $114,000), older (median age about 10 years higher than California or US ), and identified as white (70%), Hispanic (16%), and Asian (6%).
Unemployment is less than 3% compared to 4% nationally, and the commute time to work is typically 33 minutes.
The low ethnic diversity in Marin compared to other town in the Bay Area is due to the high cost of housing. This is a problem shared by many other urban areas but is influenced in Marin by the high percentage of preserved open space and limited supply of affordable housing. Here is a recent discussion of this issue by KQED radio news.
Map of Marin
Marin begins at the Golden Gate Bridge and extends north to Bodega Bay on the Coast and Valley Ford in Sonoma County.
We are Living in Marin for a reason, and we love to share our knowledge. Please contact Madeline for a personalized introduction.