The history of the City of Novato in Marin County dates back to 1300 when Miwok Native Americans lived in villages at the base of Mount Burdell. The history of this early culture is celebrated in two fascinating sites about Novato – the Marin Museum of the American Indian and Olompali State Park.
In addition to its dynamic exhibits, the nationally-recognized museum sponsors a variety of community lectures and events, including the late summer Trade Feast showcasing native art, music and dance. Olompali State Park, named for a key Miwok settlement, is the site of the first Spanish colonial house believed to have been built in Marin County.
Historical buildings dot downtown Novato, including the Novato History Museum (1850), City Hall (a former Presbyterian church built in 1896) and Druid’s Hall (1899). Novato’s Old Town, hosts traditional stores, boutiques and restaurants, and speaks to an earlier time in Novato’s history.
Novato’s recently restored Grant Avenue has made downtown Novato a welcoming place for visitors and residents to shop and dine. The Vintage Oaks Shopping Center, anchored by Costco and Target, includes more than 50 retail stores and restaurants. Well-known high technology companies have made their home in Novato, including the non-profit Buck Institute for Aging, a prominent complex on Mt. Burdell designed by famed architect I. M. Pei.
Novato has more than 3,600 acres of open space, making it a haven for hiking and mountain biking. The views from the 1,558 foot high Mt. Burdell are outstanding. Novato has two public golf courses and a network of 27 oak-studded parks, including a 16,000 square foot skate park for young skateboarders. Stafford Lake Park, a 139-acre expanse is a major attraction for visitors and residents who enjoy fishing, hiking, biking or day camping. Bird watchers and wildlife observers are drawn to Scottsdale Marsh, Deer Island Preserve and Pacheco Pond Wildlife Area. Novato has two public golf courses, the StoneTree Golf Club and the Indian Valley Golf Club.
At the Pacheco Ranch Winery, the oldest land grant property in California, visitors can observe how grapes are grown and enjoy fine California wine tasting. At the Marin French Cheese Company, visitors can sample award winning cheeses and enjoy a picnic with views of the tranquil, surrounding meadow and pond.