Everyone thinks of San Rafael as Marin’s biggest city, but land-wise Novato is larger — 28 square miles to San Rafael’s 22 (six of which are water). True, San Rafael has more people, but only slightly more than Novato (58,900 versus 54,200). But San Rafael is definitely Marin’s most “citified” city, with a robust main street, a nighttime music scene, diverse restaurants that serve late, a high-rise (well, sort of) office complex and a range of recreational opportunities, from professional baseball at Albert Park with the Pacifics to paddleboarding on the Canal to golf at McInnis Park or Peacock Gap.
1. PLAY Let’s see, does Peacock Gap have what a golfer needs? Driving range? Check. Putting and chipping greens? Check. Plenty of water, sand and trees to make the course a challenge? Check. Puttable greens? Check. Recent renovation? Check. Great restaurant and bar with full breakfast-throughdinner menu? An event space for weddings or family reunions with a sunset view? Check and check. A club pro who can help you shoot your age? Well, wait a minute on that one. Pro shop? Yep. Lessons? Those, too. But even Peacock Gap can’t make you practice. That’s up to you. peacockgapgolfclub.com
Get It Late
EAT If there’s one cliché about Marin that rankles, it’s the complaint that no restaurants stay open late. Not so. Central San Rafael has several tasty spots where you can dine after 10. Here are some favorites.
2. PETE’S 881 CLUB Texas Hold’em is the main attraction, but if the flop, the river and the turn aren’t your thing, you can still nosh in the sports bar on yummy California-style food until 1 a.m. petes881club.com
3. SAN RAFAEL JOE’S Classic, classic, classic. Serving traditional Italian dishes, steaks and salads since 1947. And open until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturdays. (Did we mention it’s a classic?) sanrafaeljoes.com
4. SOL FOOD The original bright green restaurant in Sol Hernandez’s everexpanding culinary empire is open until midnight Sunday through Thursday and till 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. solfoodrestaurant.com
5. YET WAH After a movie at the Rafael, walk a block, take a table at this Marin staple and prepare for a meal of Chinese comfort food. Open Tuesday though Sunday until midnight. yetwahchinese.com
PLAY If you’re someone who has to just do it — and sorry Nike, but we mean more than sports — then downtown San Rafael has what you need. Go out and get outfitted for the water, the trail or the court. Stay in and groove on some music. Or expand your mind with games that will also twist it.
6. 101 SURF SPORTS (pictured) 115 3rd St, 415.524.8492, 101surfsports.com
7. BANANAS AT LARGE 1504 4th St, 415.457.7600, bananas.com
8. BRAD GILBERT’S TENNIS NATION 874 4th St, 415.453.5399, store.bradgilberttennis.com
9. GAMESCAPE NORTH 1225 4th St, 415.457.8698, gamescape-north.com
10. MIKE’S BIKES 836 4th St, 415.454.3747, mikesbikes.com