Population 55,980 approximate
The City of Novato is located 29 miles north of San Francisco, just off Highway 101 and about 40 miles from Oakland. Incorporated in 1960 and encompassing 43 square miles with 3,600 acres of open space and parks, Novato is an agreeable mixture of a variety of neighborhoods. Waterfront communities, horse farms, beautiful mansions, inviting family neighborhoods, are all part of the mix in Novato
Novato’s recently restored Grant Avenue, Old Town, has made downtown Novato a welcoming place for visitors and residents to shop and dine. The Vintage Oaks Shopping Center, anchored by Costco and Target, includes more than 50 retail stores and restaurants. Well known high technology companies have made their home in Novato, including the non-profit Buck Institute for Aging, a prominent complex on Mt. Burdell designed by famed architect I. M. Pei.
The city is also home to Fireman's Fund Insurance, the county's largest private employer with about 2,500 workers. With 3,600 acres of open space, Novato is a haven for hiking and mountain biking. The views from the 1,558 foot high Mt. Burdell are spectacular. Novato has two public golf courses and a network of 27 oak studded parks, including a 16,000 square foot skate park for young skateboarders.
Stafford Lake Park, a 139 acre expanse is a major attraction for visitors and residents who enjoy fishing, hiking, biking or day camping. Bird watchers and wildlife observers are drawn to Scottsdale Marsh, Deer Island Preserve and Pacheco Pond Wildlife Area.
Novato is largely a bedroom community more than 7,600 students are enrolled in the Novato Unified School District but the city also has made its mark in business and industry. Shopping in Novato ranges from the traditional stores and boutiques on Grant Avenue Old Town to the large Vintage Oaks Shopping Center.
Hamilton Air Force base, decommissioned in 1974, has been transformed into a beautiful community with a mixture of high-end homes and affordable housing, as well as parks, office buildings and retail space. Many businesses have recently relocated here from other parts of the U.S. as the old hangers have been turned into beautiful office space.
Housing In Novato
Housing in Novato is still affordable. One can still purchase a single family home for between $550,000 to $600,000, well below the Marin County average and slightly below the National average. Many town homes/ condo developments start in the low $300,000.
The History Of Novato
The history of Novato, Marin County’s northern-most city, dates back to 1300 when Miwok Native Americans lived in villages at the base of Mount Burdell. The history of this early culture is celebrated in two fascinating sites in Novato, the Marin Museum of the American Indian and Olompali State Park.
In addition to its dynamic exhibits, the nationally recognized museum sponsors a variety of community lectures and events, including the late summer Trade Feast showcasing native art, music and dance. Olompali State Park, named for a key Miwok settlement, is the site of the first Spanish colonial house, believed to have been built in Marin County. It contains a re-created Miwok village, as well as the remains of an adobe hut dating from 1837.
The only battle of the Bear Flag Rebellion, which led to California's statehood, was fought at Olompali in 1846, and the Burdell family later established the first formal garden in Marin there in the 1870's.
The Chosen Family hippie commune serenaded by Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead lived in the old Burdell mansion until it burned in 1969.
Hamilton Field, on the southeast side of the city, served as an Army airfield from 1935 to 1947 and continued military operations to 1975. After years of wrangling, Hamilton opened in 1999 as a community of new homes.
Historical buildings dot downtown Novato, including the Novato History Museum 1850, City Hall a former Presbyterian church built in 1896 and Druid’s Hall 1899. Novato’s Old Town contains a variety of quaint shops and restaurants.
The city hall, community center, chamber of commerce and history museum are among the oldest buildings in the complex of historic buildings known as Old Town, which also contains a variety of quaint shops and restaurants.
Having grown up here and working with many buyers and sellers in all price ranges in Novato, Shana Rohde-Lynch is a true neighborhood expert.