Named after the Mission San Rafael Archangel, built by Spanish missionaries in 1817, San Rafael is located 18 miles north of San Francisco, halfway between San Francisco and the Sonoma wine country. The area enjoys a mild, Mediterranean climate year round. Beautiful Mount Tamalpais dominates the landscape to the south and west, providing protection from the ocean breezes and coastal fog.
Marin's premier city, San Rafael, is the oldest and largest city in the County and it is also the seat of County Government. Marin's second most popular tourist spot (after Muir Woods),the Frank Lloyd Wright Civic Center, was the last major structure and the only government building designed by the world famous architect. It is now a national historic landmark. The 20-acre Marin County Civic Center is home to Marin County's government offices, the main County Library, and the Marin Center for the Performing Arts.