Novato rests in the San Francisco Bay Area’s North Bay region and has been called one of the best places to live in the country. The area is packed with things to see and do for the whole family, including horseback riding, picnics, galleries, museums, the historic downtown area, and hopping. Popular attractions include the Old Town, the Hamilton Field History Museum, the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, and Stafford Lake Park.
1.Old Town Novato
© City of Novato - City Government
Downtown Novato, or otherwise known as The Old Town, is a great place to begin exploring the charming city. Based around Grant and Reichert Avenues, the Old Town neighborhood is home to an array of beautifully preserved historical buildings, including the iconic city hall, which is housed in a striking red Carpenter Gothic church that was built in the 1890s, the Novato History Museum, which dates back to 1850, Druid’s Hall (1899), and the City Hall, which is housed in a former Presbyterian church built in 1896. The Old Town also has several businesses, and plenty of shops and restaurants to grab a bite and a drink while exploring.
Grant Avenue, Novato, CA 94949
2.Hamilton Field History Museum
© Hamilton Field History Museum
The Hamilton Field History Museum is dedicated to exploring, presenting and preserving California’s airfield history. Built on reclaimed marshland near Novato, the Hamilton Field History Museum features several permanent and rotating exhibits that delve into the history and heritage of the Hamilton Army Airfield and the Air Force Base and the vital role they have played throughout history. The airfield was built in 1932 during the Great Depression and was named after World War I flying-ace Lloyd Hamilton and operated as an air force base for just under 40 years as an Army Air Corps field and a U.S. Air Force station before being decommissioned. Today, the Museum features excellent exhibits of photographs, medals, pins, and other items, as well as a cockpit simulator and a research library stocked with books, posters, and videos. The Hamilton Field History Museum is open to the public on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, or by appointment and admission is free.
555 Hangar Ave, Novato, CA 94949, Phone: 415-382-8614
3.Marin Museum of Contemporary Art
© Marin Museum of Contemporary Art
The Marin Museum of Contemporary Art (Marin MOCA) is a non-collecting museum that focuses on exhibiting a range of contemporary and modern art from local and international artists. The museum features several exhibition galleries, more than 50 studios for local and visiting artists to encourage contemporary art to flourish, a classroom wing for studio art classes, and a museum store and hosts new exhibitions throughout the year that runs for up to six weeks at a time. The Marin Museum also offers a range of art classes for visitors and is open seven days a week with free admission.
500 Palm Dr, Novato, CA 94949, Phone: 415-506-0137
4.The Space Station Museum
© The Space Station Museum
Located in the Pacheco Plaza Shopping Center, the Space Station Museum is dedicated to presenting the importance of manned space expeditions and their role in the development of civilization. The small and intimate museum features an array of artifacts and objects collected from NASA and Russian space programs as helmets, hatches, space suits, control panels and more, as well as a 9/10ths scale replica of a Lunar Module and a full-size Lunar Rover replica. The unique museum gives visitors the opportunity to touch and feel authentic space gear and equipment, like trying on a pair of moon boots and shuffling around in a small simulation of Moon dirt or fitting on an astronaut glove.
464 Ignacio Blvd, Novato, CA 94949, Phone: 415-524-3940
5.Olompali State Historic Park
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Olompali State Historic Park is a 700-acre park in Marin County that overlooks the Petaluma River and San Pablo Bay. Established in 1977 by the State of California, Olompali State Historic Park features several attractions, including the preserved foundations of two early adobe brick houses, and a two-story frame house known as the Burdell House that was built in 1870 and now serves as the ranger station. Other building and structures dotted around the park include a saltbox house, a blacksmith shop, and various barns and there are several great hiking trails, including a short flat kid-friendly walk to Miwok Village, and the Loop Trail, which winds through northern Marin County's oak-sprinkled landscapes of oak, California bay, Buckeye, and madrones.
8901 Redwood Blvd, Novato, CA 94945, Phone: 415-898-4362
6.Downtown Novato Farmer's Market
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Downtown Novato Farmer's Market is held every Tuesday evening from May through September in historic downtown Novato behind 7th Street between Grant Avenue and Novato Boulevard. The market sells an abundance of fresh produce from local farms, locally produced cheese and honey, fresh flowers, fruit and nuts, sweet kettle corn, and organic, prepared foods. There are also plenty of dining options for visitors who want to eat at the market, including rotisserie chicken, Thai food, Himalayan and Yucatan foods, and sizzling barbecue. The Novato Farmers’ Market also offers a variety of entertainment for the whole family from pony rides and bounce houses for the kids to live music for the entire family.
Grant Ave, Novato, CA 94945, Phone: 415-999-5635
7.Stafford Lake Park
© Courtesy of Viktor Fedorenko - Fotolia.com
Stafford Lake County Park is a 139-acre state park in Marin County that wide open spaces of rolling landscapes typical of a classic northern California valley surrounded by grazing farmland. Named for the Stafford Farm, on which the lake sits, Stafford Lake County Park boasts beautiful meadows, redwood groves, lakefront fields, and winding creeks. While no boating or swimming is allowed in the human-made lake, the park many events throughout the year, including music concerts, performances, festivals, and fairs. Other features of the park include a newly added bike park, featuring courses of all skill levels and great views of the lake, and a disc golf course.
3549 Novato Blvd, Novato, CA 94947, Phone: 415-897-0618
8.Marin Museum of the American Indian
© Marin Museum of the American Indian
The Marin Museum of the American Indian is dedicated to encouraging a deeper appreciation and understanding of Native American cultures. Situated on a site of an actual Miwok Village in the 35-acre Miwok Park, the Museum features a variety of exhibits that include local American Indian artifacts, and educational programs that explore the history and culture of Native Americans in the region. The Museum gallery boasts several permanent exhibits, as well as new and rotating displays of Native American cultures, and the Museum and surrounding Miwok Park host a series of educational events throughout the year, including lectures, workshops, poetry readings, and hands-on activities for all ages.
2200 Novato Blvd, Novato, CA 94947, Phone: 415-897-4064
9.Novato Arts Center at Hamilton Field
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The Novato Arts Center at Hamilton Field spans four buildings at the historic site with more than 50 studios setting for artists who work in a variety of media, from ceramics and wood to watercolors and oils. Connected by winding pathways and a beautifully maintained interior garden area, the Novato Arts Center at Hamilton Field also hosts Open Studios weekends in October for Open Studios where visitors get a chance to watch artists at work and purchase handmade art by local artists. The Center also features an on-site restaurant with indoor and outdoor patio seating that serves brunch, lunch, and dinner in a casual, relaxed setting.
500 Palm Dr, Novato, CA 94949
10.Novato History Museum
© Novato History Museum
Novato History Museum takes visitors on a journey back in time to the early 19th century to highlight what life was like in California during that era. Located in the heart of Novato’s historic downtown in the former Postmaster’s House which was built circa 1850, the Novato History Museum features a range of exhibits and displays, including clothing and costumes, agricultural tools, household items, children’s toys, and more. The Museum is also home to extensive archives that document the city’s history and cultures through historical maps and photos. A picnic area is located on the grounds of the museum, with charming views of City Hall and is the ideal spot for lunch after exploring the museum.
815 De Long Ave, Novato, CA 94945, Phone: 415-897-4320
11.Novato Theater Company
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The Novato Theater Company (NTC) was established in 1919 by the local community to give the Novato Improvement Club home and later became a robust community theater in 2004. The 99-seat theater presents a variety of performances throughout the year from plays and poetry recitals to music concerts, readings, and special events. The award-winning, professionally oriented, theater company produces up to six shows per season per year of exciting live theater and tickets can be purchased at the theater’s box office or via the Internet.
5420 Nave Drive, Novato, CA 94949, Phone: 415-883-4498
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Marvin’s Restaurant is a neighborhood staple that serves breakfast, brunch, and lunch in snug quarters with a relaxed ambiance. Voted as having the ‘best breakfast in Novato,’ Marvin’s Restaurant is famous for serving up generous portions of American-style breakfast and lunch fare at a great value, seeing customers return time and again. The quaint restaurant is run by a husband and wife team and is constantly buzzing, with quick, effective, and friendly staff and a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Signature dishes on the menu include Eggs Benedict, and French toast and diners can enjoy their food indoors or outside on the lovely patio. Marvin’s Restaurant is open for breakfast, brunch, and lunch, seven days a week.
1112 Grant Ave, Novato, CA 94945, Phone: 415-892-4482
13.Arun Thai Restaurant
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Arun Thai Restaurant is a creative, upscale Thai restaurant on Kedzie Avenue that boasts elegant, designer décor and serves refined Asian cuisine in a sophisticated ambiance. Named after the religious temple known as Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn), which is believed to have been built by Buddha, the stylish restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, offering mouthwatering signature dishes such as Pad Thai, Drunken Noodle, Pad Woon Sen, a variety of mild to hot curries, stir-fries, and fresh fish dishes. The restaurant has a small wine list of curated wines, as well as other libations and a delectable selection of sweet desserts.
4156 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60618, Phone: 773-539-1909
© Trek Winery
Established in 2007, Trek Winery is a family-owned and operated winery that has been producing award-winning wines and providing a premier venue for special occasions ever since. Inspired by the great outdoors and a love for making excellent wine, the winery was named for the beauty and complexity of the outdoors and produces a range of high quality, distinctive yet affordable wines under the Trek label. The new winery also serves as a beautiful venue for a variety of events and functions, such as live music concerts and comedy nights, as well as special celebrations such as weddings and receptions.
1026 Machin Ave, Novato, CA 94945, Phone: 415-899-9883
14 Best Things to Do in Novato, California
- Old Town Novato, Photo: City of Novato - City Government
- Hamilton Field History Museum, Photo: Hamilton Field History Museum
- Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, Photo: Marin Museum of Contemporary Art
- The Space Station Museum, Photo: The Space Station Museum
- Olompali State Historic Park, Photo: Courtesy of Gudellaphoto - Fotolia.com
- Downtown Novato Farmer's Market, Photo: Courtesy of giovinarusso - Fotolia.com
- Stafford Lake Park, Photo: Courtesy of Viktor Fedorenko - Fotolia.com
- Marin Museum of the American Indian, Photo: Marin Museum of the American Indian
- Novato Arts Center at Hamilton Field, Photo: Courtesy of sonjanovak - Fotolia.com
- Novato History Museum, Photo: Novato History Museum
- Novato Theater Company, Photo: Courtesy of fotofabrika - Fotolia.com
- Marvin's Restaurant, Photo: Courtesy of Fotolia.com
- Arun Thai Restaurant, Photo: Courtesy of Kzenon - Fotolia.com
- Trek Winery, Photo: Trek Winery
- Cover Photo: City of Novato - City Government