Corte Madera shares a border with Larkspur in Marin County. The town's older neighborhoods are very similar to Larkspur's, and there are tract neighborhoods as well that are wonderful for kids.
Some of the flat land in Corte Madera is built on fill. On the east side of the freeway, the bayside neighborhoods can be a bit cooler than on the west side.... but the flat streets and quiet neighborhoods are great for bike riding and skateboarding.
Corte Madera has a few shops and restaurants that can be said to be a 'downtown' area along Tamalpais Drive as it becomes Redwood -- just east of the Magnolia intersection. There's a gazebo and parking lot area where you will enjoy a great Octoberfest celebration once a year.
While Corte Madera's downtown doesn't rival nearby Larkspur, it does have two wonderful shopping centers on either side of Highway 101. (sales tax revenues from these centers guarantee much nicer streets than in neighboring communities!)
Town Center, the photo with the awnings on the left, is a charming outdoor shopping center with wonderful restaurants, boutiques, Barnes and Noble, the Container Store, etc. There's a farmer's market every Wednesday that draws a lot of Marin County shoppers. The Village, on the east side of 101, has Nordstrom, Macy's, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Starbucks and an ever-changing array of additional retailers. It's a lovely east-coast style shopping center.
Both of these Marin County shopping centers are easily accessible with lots of parking... and really are not too crowded. That can be a plus during Christmas, when you can show up at 9 am for some last-minute shopping and find a parking spot right up front!