Please use the menu below to see what sightseeing, shopping, entertainment and dining options are available in San Rafael.
There are many leisure activities in and around San Rafael. No visit to California is complete without seeing the giant redwood trees; whale watching is always popular; and remember that ELS students have access to Dominican's Recreation Center, which offers swimming, volleyball, yoga and more.
The California Redwood Trees
California's giant redwood trees are in many ways a symbol of California itself. Some of the trees are several hundred years old, and their size and grandeur is amazing!
Muir Woods National Monument is the best place to see the redwood trees. It's a beautiful park with a lovely, peaceful atmosphere.
San Rafael Beaches
Stinson Beach is the most famous beach. We like to take the bus to Pan Toll, then hike the Matt Davis Trail to Stinson Beach, spend the afternoon at the beach, and then take the bus back.
The closest beach is McNear's Beach on the San Francisco Bay. It offers a mile of sandy beach, a pier, an outdoor swimming pool, two tennis courts and picnic tables.
China Camp State Park
The China Camp State Park acquired its name from a Chinese fishing village that once flourished there. The park offers picnic tables where you can have a BBQ; there are trails for biking and hiking; and you can enjoy the sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay on horseback.
Visit the little museum and have some fresh shrimp at the adjacent fisherman's cottage.
Recreation Center at Dominican University (DUC)
ELS students have access to Dominican's large recreation center, including the swimming pool, fitness center, volleyball and basketball courts, and dance and yoga studios.
The Recreation Center has gained a reputation as being one of the finest small recreation facilities in Northern California.
The peak months for whale watching are January through March, when it is not uncommon to see up to 100 whales each day.
The California gray whale migration is best viewed from the Point Reyes Lighthouse, or from a boat trip to the Farallon Islands. See the trips section for further information and details of how to get there.
Visitors to the island can enjoy many kilometers of hiking and biking trails with breathtaking views around every bend. A clear day on the island is referred to as a 5 bridge day, when from the top of Mt. Livermore hikers can view the Golden Gate, Bay, Richmond/San Rafael, San Mateo and the Dumbarton bridges.
Angel Island is just off Tiburon, from where you can take a ferry.