The Movie Magic of San Rafael, California
San Rafael, CA, holds an important place in American history as it is the home of such big screen favorites as Star Wars and Indiana Jones. In 1970, a little known film producer by the name of George Lucas arrived and began filming. One year later he founded LucasFilm, a business that went on to create some of the movies’ most magical moments. From there, Industrial Light and Magic was brought in and San Rafael cemented its place as the special effects epicenter of Hollywood. As a result, it also grew as the center of the software and gaming business as numerous video game companies established themselves here.
Today, San Rafael continues to hold its place in the movie business, but there is much more to this Bay Area suburb than just special effects and glitz. It is a community with a prominent Spanish past as seen by its heavily Hispanic influenced architecture that has painted the city in a hushed tone of soft pastels among palm trees. Its coastline and surrounding natural area are hosts to a plethora of outdoor activities, and its streets are filled with restaurants and shopping.
Points of Interest
San Rafael and its surrounding area have a wide array of dinning opportunities, spanning the international taste of classic American to Basque, Thai, Indian, Italian and Chinese. For Americana, try Bogie’s Café or the atrium setting of Rings. For a bit of a rustic taste, there are the wood-fired classics at Wild Fox Restaurant. Magnolia Thai Cuisine has the taste of the Orient covered, and Rafter’s Grille and Brewery serves up some unique microbrews. For something different, The Lighthouse Diner specializes in Danish cooking, and The Mayflower Pub is for bangers and mash. Other not-to-miss establishments include Skewers for Greek, Lotus for Indian, Il Davide for Italian, Sol Food for Puerto Rican, and Sabor of Spain for tapas.
San Rafael’s wide-open streets are lined with unique shopping outlets. For clothing and fashion design specialties, try Duarteau Boutique and Mad Rags Fashions. The city also hosts two farmers’ markets, the Downtown Farmers Market and the Marin County Farmers Market - both offering a wide selection of produce and baked goods. Flegels Home Furnishings, Scandinavian Designs and Yasmin specialize in unique home décor.
Being the set of such movie classics as American Graffiti and Gattaca, San Rafael has no shortage of entertainment options. Besides a visit to LucasFilms, the Marin Country Civic Center, where Lucas filmed parts of his first release, hosts a wide array of cultural events. The Mission San Rafael Arcangel is a replica of the original Spanish mission. Inside there is a petit museum and gift shop. The Falkirk Cultural Center is an example of a Queen Anne styled mansion. As a national landmark set in the middle of a wooded hillside, the property includes a sculpture garden and contemporary art gallery. The city also is host to a number of festivals and community events including Greg Rorrelli’s May Madness classic car parade and street dance. In August there’s the Marin Shakespeare Festival and San Rafael Food and Wine Festival.
Did You Know?
- San Rafael is named for the Archangel Raphael, the Angel of Healing.
- The total population of the city is roughly 55,000.
- The city’s historic civic center was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
- George Lucas works on the nearby Skywalker Ranch, however it is not open to the public
- The shoreline has shrunk significantly as the city fills it to accommodate further land development projects.
Visiting San Rafael
San Rafael and its immediate surroundings are home to numerous outdoor recreation opportunities. China Camp State Park is both a historic and natural bayside park. Here one can enjoy hiking, horseback riding and biking, all along trails that provide stunning views of San Pablo Bay, San Rafael Bay, and San Francisco Bay. Along the park’s water edge there are boat launches, fishing piers, windsurfing and ample picnic areas. McNears Beach Park is a popular recreational area that not only has a natural beach, but also an outdoor swimming pool. Its beach is nearly one mile long and is escorted by fishing piers, picnic areas and tennis courts.
Getting There and Around
Although the San Rafael Airport serves the city, most visitors arrive via either the San Francisco or Oakland International Airports. The city is connected to both San Francisco and San Jose via train and bus.
As San Rafael is located at the crossroads of several major metro areas, the highways and interstates that crisscross San Rafael are notorious for congestion and delays. To ensure you get to where you need to go - when you need to get there - your best option is to rent a limousine, classic car, sedan, van, shuttle, coach, or tour bus from Nationwide Limousine Service. This gives you the flexibility to take control of your Bay Area transportation needs - and travel through San Rafael in the movie-star magic that only a limo from NLS can provide. Call us today at 800-339-8936!
Nationwide Limousine Service
307 3rd st
San Rafael CA, 94901