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San Rafael

The location

Student life


Sports and Outdoor Activities

Please use the menu below to see what sightseeing, shopping, entertainment and dining options are available in San Rafael.

San Rafael and Marin County are great for outdoor activities. The wide open spaces between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean are perfect for hiking, mountain biking (which was invented in San Rafael), jogging, paragliding, and surfing or windsurfing.

San Rafael: golf

Golf in San Rafael

What better way to spend a sunny morning or afternoon than to enjoy a round of golf! There are several golf courses in and around San Rafael, and all offer lovely greens and gorgeous scenery.

The course we recommend for our students is McInnis Park – it's beautiful and not too expensive. And if you want to check out other courses in Marin County, see the mini-directory below.

San Rafael: golf

Golf courses in Marin County

Indian Valley Golf Club: 3055 Novato Blvd., Novato

Marin Country Club (private): 500 Country Club Dr., Novato

Meadow Club (private): 1001 Bolinas Road, Fairfax

Mill Valley Golf Course: 280 Buena Vista Ave., Mill Valley

Peacock Gap Golf & County Club: 333 Biscayne Dr., San Rafael

San Geronimo Golf Course: 5800 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Geronimo

San Rafael: windsurfing


Enjoy California's refreshing ocean breeze and spend an hour or two windsurfing. It's great fun and not as hard as you might think.

There are are many good places where you can try windsurfing, but the most popular local spot is off Point San Quentin (near the Larkspur Ferry Terminal).

San Rafael: hiking


Marin County is rich in open spaces and attractive scenery, and one of the nicest ways to explore the region is by hiking. And for those of you who haven't hiked before, you might find a new passion here.

There are hundreds of hiking trails in the area, a few of which start right behind the ELS North-Bay Language Center.

San Rafael: Inline Skating

Inline Skating / Rollerblading

There are some excellent trails for inline skating in and around San Rafael. Our favorite trails are by the Civic Center and in Tiburon along the Bay (start at Blackie's Pasture about 3 km from Tiburon and enjoy scenic views of San Francisco).

Alternatively, take the ferry to San Francisco and skate with the “pros” along the Embarcadero.

San Rafael: Mountain Biking

Mountain Biking

Mountain biking was invented in Marin County! Not only is it a great way to discover new places and attractions, it's also the perfect activity to stay fit and healthy.

There are hundreds of kilometers of great mountain biking trails around San Rafael, and a few trails start right behind the ELS North-Bay Language Center.

San Rafael: surfing


There are several good surf spots near San Rafael. For beginners it's usually best to try Pacifica or Linda Mar, but for experienced surfers we recommend Ocean Beach or Rodeo Beach, and sometimes Fort Point for the winter months.

You could also try Stinson Beach and Bolinas, although the waves are not always consistent. Surfboards can be rented at Stinson Beach.

San Rafael: biking


As with mountain biking, much of Marin County can be explored by bicycle – it's great fun and an excellent way to say fit!

There are lots of bike trails to choose from. Try the “China Camp Loop”, following San Pedro Road from the Civic Center to China Camp and continue back to San Rafael.

San Rafael: tennis


Fancy a game of tennis? If so, Marin has plenty of tennis courts where you can work on your serve and improve your backhand. It's usually quite easy to find someone to play against, so there's no need to worry about going alone.

ELS students, of course, use the tennis courts at Dominican University for free (only a few minutes from the Student Home).

San Rafael: kayaking


Kayaking is another outdoor activity that is popular with our students. There are several good locations for kayaking in Marin County, but the ones we recommend are Sausalito and Richardson Bay.

Sausalito is about 13 kilometers south of San Rafael and can be reached easily by public bus.

San Rafael: Canoeing


If you've never tried canoeing before, give it a try. It's great fun! Perhaps the best place to enjoy canoeing is on the Russian River. Here, you can spend a relaxing day cruising between California's majestic redwood trees and sunny beaches.

Russian River is easy to reach and is only about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of San Rafael.

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