Some cities are synonymous with a particular feature or industry, but Novato is no one-trick pony. You can find a thriving biotech biz here as well as the headquarters for that ugly duckling turned fashion must-have, Birkenstocks. This multifaceted city perched at the top of the county map houses the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art at historic Hamilton Air Force Base and the world-renowned Buck Institute for Research on Aging and it boasts 10 open-space preserves. Novato is also privy to some of Marin’s most consistently fair weather, making it a prime spot to enjoy urban assets plus all that open space.
SHOP Whether you’re looking for art supplies, learning a new skill, honing your craft or diving into a hobby, Novato has you covered. Here are five places catering to creatives of any age.
1. DOLLHOUSES, TRAINS & MORE 300 Entrada Dr, 415.883.0388, dollhousestrainsandmore.com
2. MARIN ART SCHOOL 74 Digital Dr, Ste 11, 415.884.9795, marinartschool.com
3. MARIN MOCA 500 Palm Dr, Ste 110, 415.506.0137, marinmuseumofcontemporaryart.org
4. STUDIO 4 ART (pictured) 1133 Grant Ave, 415.596.5546, studio4art.net
5. TESSUTO 936 Diablo Ave, 415.895.1985, mytessuto.com
Park and Roll
6. PLAY Visitors may remember seeing a Movies in the Park screening or perhaps they attended a Labor Day concert; maybe they went to a sunset party. One thing’s for sure: the sprawling 139-acre Stafford Lake regional park is savored in a multitude of ways. It has well-appointed picnic areas with tables and barbecue pits ideal for birthday parties and other gatherings. You can play Frisbee golf, throw horseshoes, go fishing, or take advantage of the plentiful hiking and walking spots, including the popular Terwilliger Nature Trail. Every year the park draws thousands of beer aficionados who are eager to get a taste of the fine craft brews on tap at the California Beer Festival. The recently redone bike park has 17 acres of specially designated land for riders of all levels, from daredevils hitting ramps on their BMXs to parents trying to wean their children off training wheels and everyone in between.
EAT It makes sense that this sunny city has alfresco eating establishments galore. Slather on the sunscreen and dig in.
7. BESO BISTRO AND WINE BAR Maybe it’s the palm trees, but this place definitely has a vacation vibe. With a well-curated local wine selection and fare for every kind of eater, Beso has us blowing kisses. besobistro.com
8. HOPMONK TAVERN (pictured) Not only does this place offer outdoor dining, but the patio boasts live music and fire pits as well as overhead heaters for when the temperature drops. Feel free to bring Fido; HopMonk is dog friendly. hopmonk.com
9. RICKEY’S Dining in the sun is a treat, but add a water element and you’re golden. At Rickey’s you can do poolside brunch, but go easy on the mimosas; you don’t want to fall in. rickeysrestaurant.com
10. TOAST Comfy chairs, an extensive menu, generous portions, and plenty of seating inside and out — Toast has it made in the not-too-shady. What else could you possibly want? Easy parking? A fountain? Open almost all day? Done. toastnovato.com