Novato, California is the northernmost city in Marin. It's approximately twenty-nine miles north of San Francisco... and only twenty five miles west of the Napa Valley. Starting at Highway 101 where Highway 37 intersects, it takes around 30 minutes to arrive at the Golden Gate Bridge with little or no traffic.
Most locals visit Novato for its charming downtown and its discount shopping trips to the Vintage Oaks Shopping Center -- Costco, Target, Old Navy, and Marshalls among others.
On the other side of Highway 101 is Old Town Novato, a charming downtown area known for its shops, Novato Festival of Art, Wine and Music and restaurants. City Hall, a former Presbyterian church built in 1896, is a landmark that's hard to miss when you exit 101 on the west side near Old Town (see photo)
Downtown Novato is currently undergoing an exciting period of transformation. In 2006, a Trader Joe's opened in a renovated building ...and a much-anticipated Whole Foods Market opened soon thereafter.
Novato has thousands of acres of open space, with beautiful views from its highest peak, Mt.Burdell. There are two public golf courses and a 16,000 square foot skate park for young skateboarders.
Novato has many more neighborhoods with lower-priced housing than other Marin towns. Being the furthest away from the city and being a larger town are two main reasons for that. There are 'country' style neighborhoods with large lots and even horse pastures, upscale developments, ranch-style neighborhoods, and hilly neighborhoods with views. The population is approaching 50,000. Some of its schools are top-scorers -- Pleasant Valley Elementary in the rural Novato neighborhood near Vineyard Road is the town's top scorer and here are some recent scores:
Lots of open space, good schools, charming downtown...and more reasonable housing prices in lovely Marin County. Definitely a town to check out -- particularly if you don't have to commute into San Francisco on a daily basis.