About Fairfax

Helpful Links | Fairfax is a close-knit, family friendly community with a history that continues to shape its culture. In fact, in the national issue of Men's Journal of Health, Fairfax ranked in the "Top 50 Places to Live in the U.S.A."

Surrounded by open space, Fairfax is a hiking and mountain biking mecca that is fiercely protected through local advocacy. Downtown features eclectic stores, quality restaurants and the most vibrant nightlife in Marin County, including events throughout the year.

Buying a home in Fairfax is reasonable by Marin standards. It is situated amongst the picturesque sylvan setting of Northern California, enjoys a Mediterranean climate and is considered the most progressive of Marin's eleven incorporated cities. This eclectic central Marin town of 7,700 residents is also part of the distinguished Ross Valley School District.



The fascinating history of Fairfax begins with the Coastal Miwok tribes who occupied stretches of land along the many creeks and springs. In 1839, as part of a Mexican Land Grant, this area was given to Domingo Sais. Marin's first and most beloved physician, Dr. Alfred W. Taliaferro, settled in the area and later transferred his property to a Scotsman by the name of Charles Snowden Fairfax. This was how the town's name came to be.

Fairfax experienced gradual growth and in 1876 the residents of Fairfax were granted their own school district. After the turn of the century, the town began to expand significantly and was introduced to modern development. Land was subdivided, the Fairfax Incline Railway was created, and in 1917 the Alpine Dam was built. With the advent of all this modernization there was an influx of people. Fairfax was incorporated in 1931. After its integration, the town slowly became a coveted community.

During the 1960s, Fairfax was a popular haven for musicians, artists, political activists, and those disillusioned with urbanization and modern American society. Many of these people moved to Fairfax permanently and the culture that persisted during that time can still be felt here today. Fairfax's rich history has established one of the most creative, progressive, yet down-to-earth communities in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Location | Climate | Weather

Fairfax is four miles west of Highway 101 and 18 miles north of San Francisco. Situated on 2.2 square miles of forested hills, it is the gateway to the gorgeous countryside of West Marin. Fairfax has some of the best weather in the county as well. It is sheltered from the wind and fog by Mount Tamalpais. The climate is temperate, with summers averaging 80°F and winters at 40°F with an average 47.5 inches of rain.



The Ross Valley School District is an elementary school district (grades kindergarten through 8) serving the central Marin communities of San Anselmo, Fairfax, and Sleepy Hollow. The district includes four schools: Brookside Elementary School, Manor Elementary School, and Wade Thomas Elementary School, all serving grades kindergarten through 5th grades, and White Hill Middle School for grades 6, 7 and 8. All schools in the districts have California Department of Education's APIs rating over 890, and all schools are ranked at 9 or better on the statewide ranking system.

The Ross Valley School District provides a full continuum of special education programs and services. Each site has resource specialist services, occupational therapy services, speech/language services and other services as identified by the Individual Education Planning (IEP) teams. The district has information literacy/library specialist services, counseling services and school nurse services and Multi-Age Programs (MAP). The district also offers an alternative education program, Title I, and services for homeless, foster youth, and students with 504 plans.

Parent participation is encouraged through Parent Clubs, PTAs, School Site Councils, many district committees, volunteer work at the schools, and ongoing dialogue. Parents, community members, and local businesses support the schools through a parcel assessment, bond measures, and contributions to the YES Foundation. The YES Foundation provides supplemental funding for district programs, such as art, music, and technology, as well as after school enrichment classes and musical theater.

Fairfax also has Cascade Canyon school, a small, independent, progressive, co-educational kindergarten through 8th grade school serving families in Marin County. Additionally, St. Rita School has provided a Catholic values-based education to the children preschool through 8th grade for more than fifty years.

Most Ross Valley graduates attend Sir Francis Drake High School in the Tamalpais Union High School District, although some elect to attend either Redwood or Tamalpais High Schools. Sir Francis Drake High School has grades 9 to 12 and with a API rating of 856, ranking a 9, all with a thriving athletics and sports programs.

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Fairfax has a bus hub on Broadway Street and Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to reach San Rafael. The bus ride to San Francisco is about 1 hour. Fairfax is located 18 miles from Lombard Street in San Francisco and estimated drive time is 28 minutes without commute traffic. Alternatively, the Larkspur Ferry Terminal is located is also a scenic carefree option. The ferry ride takes 40 minutes to cross the Bay to San Francisco. For schedule and fees, please visit the Golden Gate Transit site for more details.


Things To Do

In the forested hills just a few short miles from San Francisco, Fairfax is a breath of fresh air. Fairfax offers the best balance of work and play, while retaining its small town atmosphere, charm, and identity.

Fairfax is well known for its thriving music scene with many venues and styles to choose from. As an example; for rock and blues, check out 19 Broadway in downtown Fairfax. And for folk, Celtic, and an eclectic melange, visit Fairfax's own Sleeping Lady Cafe. These are just two of several live music venues available nightly. Mountain biking was invented in Fairfax, which is the gateway to Mount Tamalpais' numerous biking and hiking trails. The Marin Museum of Bicycling is a museum of bicycle history which is a must see for cycling enthusiasts.

Fairfax is home to over 20 locally owned independent restaurants and cafes, plus shops, bookstores, and galleries all within a few easy blocks of each other. The residents of Fairfax love to walk and ride their bicycles around town. Besides the ubiquitous mountain and road bikes, it's quite common to see bicycles built-for-two, and cargo bikes carrying children, dogs and reusable grocery bags.


Parks & Recreation

Outdoor recreation is something Fairfax is renowned for. It is the birthplace of mountain biking, with pioneers Gary Fisher and Carles Kelly organizing the first races on Cascade Fire Trail in Fairfax. The Mediterranean climate and lush landscape encourage outdoor activities year round. There is Bolinas Park, Peri Park, Cascade Canyon Open Space Preserve, Bon Tempe Lake, Phoenix Lake, Lake Lagunitas, and even Meadow Club Gold Course. Fairfax has extensive, undeveloped land allowing for healthy outdoor recreation for the whole family. Fairfax prides itself in maintaining the semi-country feel and family friendly atmosphere that allows children to play, dogs to run and people to walk the lanes and hillsides. Please visit Fairfax's Quick Links for more parks and information.



Fairfax's has numerous restaurants and the hungry diner will be sure to find something to satisfy. Begin with Iron Springs Pub and Brewery featuring delicious gastro pub fare and serving up home brewed beers and ales. Down the street is Avatar, home of "ethnic confusion," blending tastes from around to world. In downtown Fairfax there's the Barefoot Cafe serving new American cuisine locally sourced. Fradelizio's offers delicious Northern Italian cuisine in a friendly atmosphere. Visit Grilly's next door for fast and fresh Mexican fare. There's Sorella Caffe on Bolinas Road where the cozy ambiance and sumptuous food makes for a pleasant family dining experience. Drop into 123 Bolinas for artisan food locally sourced, wine, and beer. For the best steak dinner in Marin County visit the Steakhouse at the historic Deer Park Villa, set among a redwood grove and with a beautiful deck where live music is frequently performed. Please visit Fairfax's Quick Links for more restaurants and information.


Nightlife & Entertainment

Fairfax is well known for its active and eclectic nightlife. Whether it's a poetry reading at the Elsewhere Gallery, or live jazz, dance, rock, or swing music, all of it can be found nearly every night in Fairfax.

Visit Hen House Pub for live local entertainment, food and fun. The 19 Broadway Bar and Nightclub, located in downtown Fairfax features dance hall and roots through blues, funk, rock, soul, Americana, jazz, plus open mic every night. Next door is Peri's Bar which has an outstanding lineup of live music every night featuring local and international talent. On the same strip is Sleeping Lady Cafe which hosts live music every night of the week featuring jazz, blues, folk, and regional favorites such as ukulele and Celtic music. And Deer Park Villa's Steakhouse has a lounge with live music most evenings in the spring and summer on the deck.

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The annual Fairfax Brewfest occurs in March, features over 20 local breweries and is held at the Fairfax Pavilion. The seasonal Farmer's Market occurs each Wednesday evening beginning in May and runs through October. The Farmer's Market is located in Fairfax's Bolinas Park which is a gathering place for the entire community. The annual Fairfax Festival is held in Bolinas Park and Peri Park. You can enjoy local musicians performing on three stages, shop for crafts in Bolinas Park, and for treasures at the Peri Park flea market. Enjoy wine tasting and fresh, wholesome food throughout the Fairfax Festival, entertain the kids in the expanded children's area, and explore the social and environmental issues at the ever growing Ecofest. In August there's the Streets for People festival. One block of Bolinas Avenue is closed to traffic so there is a safe place for people. Join local retailers, artists, and musicians for this family friendly festival. The annual October Halloween Parade is held in downtown Fairfax, and is sponsored by the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce. The parade is open to all and begins at the Fairfax Theatre on Broadway, then heads to Bolinas Avenue and over to the Haunted Grove in Bolinas Park. Shop owners pass out treats and the Chamber hands out neon glow necklaces. Click Helpful Links for more about Fairfax.



Fairfax has fabulous shopping with over 30 independent shops and bookstores. To name just a few: everyone's favorite is the Beach House which features eclectic treasures of new housewares, clothing, and gifts, plus reclaimed and repurposed furniture, art, and clothing; visit Culture Shock, an international ethnic clothing and gift boutique; try Elsewhere Gallery for original art and crafts featuring local artists; Butterfly Tots to Tweens which specializes in vintage and used baby apparel and accessories; and the Fairfax Cycler satisfies all of your bicycling needs. For organic groceries visit the Good Earth, an independent local grocer, founded in 1969 in Fairfax and offering the very best quality and most organic food.