Once home to the Coast Miwok people, San Rafael got its start when Mission San Rafael Arcangel was founded in what is now downtown. The mission's original intent was to serve as a hospital site, but it was upgraded to a full mission in 1822. By 1879, the railroad extended to San Rafael, providing direct transportation to San Francisco, which helped build up the community.
Today, the Mission San Rafael Arcangel still stands as the central structure around which the city developed. San Rafael also features a number of historic landmarks, including a civic center designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The city also serves as a popular home base for those exploring the Bay Area. Whatever your reasons for visiting the city, it's important to find the right hotel that allows you to experience everything San Rafael has to offer.
Best Time to Visit San Rafael, CA
The best season to visit San Rafael and the Bay Area is in autumn when the temperatures remain warm but there are fewer crowds. Hotel rates start to drop, and the average temperatures settle in the low 70s. You'll still want to pack a few layers, though, as the bayside breezes can be chilly.
If you plan on visiting San Rafael during the winter months, you'll enjoy slashed hotel rates and average temperatures in the high 50s. The Bay Area does experience fog and gusts of wind, which can make it seem colder than it actually is, but winter is a great time for exploring the area's indoor attractions.
Spring is another great season that offers mild weather and the chance to beat the tourist rush. While hotel rates do start to climb, you'll enjoy beautiful Pacific temperatures that are ideal for sightseeing. Spring also brings a number of Bay Area festivals, including the Other Minds Festival, Carnaval San Francisco, and the International Beer Festival.
Naturally, summer is the most popular time to visit San Rafael as peak tourist season comes to the Bay Area. As travelers crowd in from all over the country, hotel rates rise, but you can defer some of these costs by booking your reservation months in advance.
Below is a chart of the current pricing seasonality of hotels and motels in San Rafael, CA:
San Rafael by Star Rating
Below we've posted 3 graphs demonstrating mean nightly cost patterns by star rating class in San Rafael, CA. You can use these charts to calculate the best time period to make a reservation in San Rafael for your upcoming travels.
Luxury Hotel Options in San Rafael, CA
4 Star Average Prices: $223.88
If you prefer luxury accommodation in San Rafael, you're in luck. Courtyard San Francisco Larkspur Landing/Marin County is a modern property close The Village at Corte Madera. Its contemporary guest rooms offer flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, work desks, coffee makers, and mini-fridges. Upgraded rooms and suites add pull-out sofas and separate living areas.
Guests can also enjoy a variety of social spaces throughout the hotel, including a living room-style lobby, an on-site Starbucks, and an American restaurant. The property also features two meeting rooms, a business center, an exercise room, an outdoor pool with hot tub, and free parking.
Embassy Suites by Hilton San Rafael Marin County places you within walking distance of the Marin County Civic Center. The contemporary hotel features a tropical atrium, an evening reception area with snacks, an on-site American grill restaurant, a fitness facility, an indoor pool, a whirlpool, and a ballroom. Guest suites include kitchenettes, separate living areas, dining tables, two flat-screen TVs, and free internet access. Many offer views of the bay.
Best Western Corte Madera Inn is an upscale lodging just 11 minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge. Modern guest rooms feature mini-fridges, coffee makers, microwaves, flat-screen TVs with cable, and free Wi-Fi. Upgraded rooms add fireplaces, whirlpool tubs, and sitting areas, while suites include wet bars and separate living rooms. Guests can enjoy a hot breakfast buffet, two whirlpool tubs, an outdoor pool, a massage room, a fitness center, a business center with meeting rooms, an on-site restaurant, laundry facilities, and a shuttle service.
Affordable Hotel Options in San Rafael, CA
3 Star Average Prices: $186.25
Finding an affordable hotel in San Rafael is easy if you know where to look and don't mind paying a bit more than you might in other U.S. cities.
Villa Inn on Lincoln Avenue is a family-owned two-story property just 17 minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge. All guest rooms feature free Wi-Fi access, microwaves, mini-fridges, and air conditioning, while some add kitchenettes. Parking and continental breakfast are included, and you can also request an in-room coffee maker and daily newspaper delivery at no additional charge.
Conveniently located off Highway 101, Motel 6 is a straightforward lodging 1.5 miles from downtown. Guest rooms feature TVs with expanded cable and free Wi-Fi in addition to basic amenities. There's also an on-site coin laundry, and both parking and morning coffee are free.
Located just off I-580, Travelodge San Rafael is less than one mile from the Mission San Rafael Arcangel. This low-rise property offers modest guest rooms with flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, coffee makers, and mini-fridges. Some rooms add whirlpool tubs and microwaves, and suites include separate sitting areas. Guests can enjoy a free continental breakfast, free parking, an on-site business center, an outdoor pool, and meeting space.