Canal – San Rafael, CA

The neighborhood Canal sits alongside the San Rafael Creek in Northern California. The area contains a mixture of low- and high-income residential properties as well as commercial- and industrial-zoned areas. Residents choose to live in Canal because of the scenic views of the San Rafael and San Francisco Bays, easy commutes within Northern California and access to above-average education facilities.

Schools in Canal

School data provided by GreatSchools

Restaurants & Nightlife

Sol Food Puerto Rican Cuisine consistently receives high reviews from patrons and critics. The fun atmosphere combined with high energy makes for a great place to start a night out on the town. Try the camerones criollos, large prawns sauteed with garlic and onions combined with a tomato sauce. The dish comes served on a bed of rice with a side salad, avocado and fried plantains. Round out your meal with a fresh limeade and an order of tembleque con canela. The restaurant typically hosts a crowd, but lines usually move quickly. Some of the best Persian food in Marin County sits in a little restaurant on Francisco Boulevard. Take your family or a group of friends to share the Family C combo at Kababbq Grille and Cafe. In this meal, you get to choose Sish or Barg kabobs and three other kabobs with fire-grilled tomatoes, rice or salad, and herb and feta cheese with bread. The shop bakes the baklava on Tuesdays, so make sure to grab a piece while you visit. If you need a bowl of ramen to satisfy your lunch or dinner hunger, check out Uchiwa Ramen on B Street. The menu highlights miso, tonkotsu, shoyu and shio broths with your choice of meats. Start your meal with karaage lollipops or gyoza before starting in on a bowl of black garlic tonkatsu. Head to 4th street when you need a night out on the town. The popular destination houses nightclubs such as George's Nightclub, The Mayflower Pub and Fenix.

History & Culture

Canal comprises a part of the city of San Rafael marked by the developments along the San Rafael Canal. The area was once inhabited by the indigenous people of Coast Miwok before the Spanish Franciscans began settling in the area. Founded in 1817, Mission San Rafael can still be found on 5th Avenue in downtown San Rafael. The Canal neighborhood doesn't have much in the way of museums or art galleries. Downtown San Rafael hosts the Marin History Museum as well as the ROOM Interior Art Gallery and the Donna Seager Gallery. The EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases throws the Italian Street Painting festival each June along Canal Street, directly in the heart of the neighborhood.


Neighbors enjoy walking along the sidewalks of their tree lined streets, but the mix of industrial, commercial and residential areas can make walking a bit risky at times. Most homes and apartment complexes provide private parking, and overflow parking can be found street-side. Bicyclists enjoy bike-friendly streets with dedicated bike lanes along Anderson Drive. A multipurpose trail winds around the shoreline of the San Rafael bay and connects with other trails that make up the San Francisco Bay Trail. Canal residents can access Highway 101 and Interstate 580 to the east. Boat access to the San Rafael Bay can be found along the Canal, and ferry service runs between Larkspur and San Francisco. It won’t be easy to hail a cab street side in the neighborhood, so if you don’t want to drive, grab your smartphone and use it to request an Uber or Lyft ride. Commuters have several options for public transportation. Golden Gate Transit bus stops along all major thoroughfares ensure residents can get to the places they need to go.


The cost of living in San Rafael rises 75 percent above the national average, but the area sits 4 percent lower than San Francisco. Housing costs account for much of the increase, rising to over three times the national average. Still, residents trade the high cost of living for homes close to their workplaces and easy access to the city. An average one-bedroom apartment will run around $1,295. If traveling to San Francisco via bus, expect a commute time of approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes. One-way fare costs approximately $6.25, with discounts available when you purchase a Clipper Card instead of paying cash. Gas prices in the neighborhood can rise as high as 24 percent above the national average. Expect to pay around $7 for a pint of beer at local bars and restaurants.


Several locally owned markets serve the residents of Canal, while a Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s can be located on 3rd Street. A Safeway on B Street rounds out the everyday shopping options. The Marin Country Mart hosts a farmers market every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. When your closet aches for something sexy and contemporary or bohemian and beach, head over to Viva Diva Boutique on 4th Street. The small boutique opened its doors in 1997 and specializes in finding unique looks for Northern California women. The shop carries apparel and jewelry from designers such as Bella Dahl, Jenny Bird and Kerisma. If you believe in the philosophy of "recycle, reuse, reduce," put Knimble on your list of must-visit shops. The vintage clothing store carries thousands of eclectic and affordable recycled items and the inventory turns over quickly. Serving as much more than a vintage clothes store, it also carries a full line of eco-friendly, fair trade and locally made body products, accessories and perfumes. High-end shoppers need to travel about 5 miles south to find the latest in fashion at The Village at Corte Madera. The large shopping malls houses stores such as Kate Spade New York, True Religion and Nordstrom.


The large park in the Canal neighborhood, Pickleweed Park, sits at the mouth of the San Rafael Creek and the San Rafael Bay. The park contains a sports field, playground and picnic tables. Paved multiuse trails start in the park then follows the shoreline before meeting up with other trails contained in the San Francisco Bay Trail. The park welcomes dogs, but they must remain on their leashes.
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