About Downtown San Rafael

San Rafael Mission

San Rafael is at the center of things. The oldest, largest and most culturally diverse city in Marin also enjoys the best weather. San Rafael is a lively business and cultural center located in an area of incomparable natural beauty. 

Visit Our Vibrant Downtown

Our eclectic downtown business and shopping district runs the length of Fourth Street and its side streets.

Come experience it, Downtown to the West End. A lively blend of Victorian buildings, ethnic restaurants, coffee shops, breweries and wine bars.

And don’t miss our unique retailers—from books and furniture to clothing, art, jewelry and collectibles.

In the center of town is the San Rafael City Plaza, with its innovative water wall fountain. The plaza has become a community gathering place and the center of seasonal events such as the Thursday night farmers markets and summertime concerts.

Nearby is an authentic recreation of Mission San Rafael Arcangel; founded in 1817 as part of California’s mission chain, a replica of the original mission with a museum, gift shop and self-guided tours, attracts many visitors. It is also the backdrop for the annual Italian Street Painting Marin, where hundreds of artists, art lovers, families, students, and people from communities all over the Bay Area come to celebrate the magnificent art of Italian Street Painting.

Downtown also has the Rafael Film Center which features year round Art Films and is home to the World Famous Mill Valley Film Festival in October. We have several live music venues and Performing Art Centers in our vibrant district from Highway 101 to the West End of Fourth Street.

San Rafael’s history is present in many of its beautifully restored turn-of-the century buildings, including the Marin History Museum, the Falkirk Cultural Center, and the 106-year-old Dominican University. Many of these buildings are featured in a self-guided walking tour guide, available at the local Chamber of Commerce.


San Rafael is proud to be one of 14 California Cultural Districts recognized by the California Arts Council, highlighting thriving cultural diversity and unique artistic identities within local communities across California.

Downtown San Rafael Arts District

An urbanized nerve center for culture in the suburban outpost of Marin County.

Learn more about upcoming events: Cultural Arts District Fall launch update

san rafael 2040

Downtown Precise Plan Taking Shape

The City of San Rafael is preparing a Downtown “Precise Plan” that will establish new zoning standards, design guidelines, public space priorities, and transportation and housing strategies for Downtown San Rafael. A Downtown Profile Report has been completed and is available here. The Plan, which is scheduled for completion in Spring 2020, is being funded by a grant from the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). The Precise Plan is part of a broader effort to update the San Rafael General Plan. For more information on the General Plan Update, including links to the City’s online engagement platform, visit sanrafael2040.org.