Centered in idyllic Marin County, the town of San Anselmo is in the Ross Valley, nestled below hills and mountains just 14 miles north of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Situated between the larger city of San Rafael to the east, Ross to the south, and Fairfax to the west, there is easy accessibility to outdoor recreational activities yet is minutes away from major cities across the Bay Area. The lush landscape, great weather all year round, and central location make San Anselmo a highly sought after destination.
Other aspects of this quaint community, which add to its appeal, are its excellent school district, thriving downtown area, and fascinating history. San Anselmo Avenue, the main business street, has many boutique shops that define the town's character. In fact, Sunset Magazine named San Anselmo the "Best in the West" for antique shopping. The town is also renowned for its annual outdoor Art and Wine festival and summertime film nights in the park. It is an amazing environment to invest in real estate and to raise a family.
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San Anselmo History
San Anselmo has been a center of activity since the days when the Coast Miwok roamed the surrounding oak-studded hills and fished the fresh waters of San Anselmo Creek. A land grant by the Mexican Government later marked the area now known as San Anselmo as the "Canada del Anselmo" or Valley of Anselm. It was mostly farmland until it was included on the North Pacific Coast Railroad line. In 1874, this line ran from Sausalito to Tomales. There were two stations, Lansdale and Yolanda. Remnants of the rail line can be seen where Center Boulevard was constructed on a raised roadbed that used to be the railroad track. This was discontinued after the Golden Gate Bridge completion and the increased accessibility by automobiles.
San Anselmo also has some historical locations, one of which is the Theological Seminary. Originally founded in San Francisco, the seminary relocated to San Anselmo in 1892, becoming one of the ten oldest institutions of higher learning in California. The opening of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937 boosted San Anselmo's population, which continued to grow until 1960, when the number leveled off to where it still basically remains at 12,000.
Location, Climate and Weather in San Anselmo
San Anselmo is about 2.6 square miles and is situated in the middle of Marin County at the intersection of Sir Francis Drake, Center Boulevard and Miracle Mile, the latter of which is the direct route from San Anselmo through San Rafael to Highway 101. This intersection is known to locals as "The Hub".
The majority or the town lays within the 28 square mile Ross Valley Watershed that flows into San Francisco Bay. The principal waterway is San Anselmo Creek. Two of San Anselmo Creek's tributaries, Sleepy Hollow Creek and Sorich Creek, also flow through the town, as do East Fork Creek and West Fork Creek, Sorich Creek's two tributaries. The town's natural skyline is dominated by the hills of Ross Valley. To the north are Red Hill and Grove Hill. To the south-west is Bald Hill. To the east is Moore Hill. In the distance to the south is Mount Tamalpais.
Experiencing a Mediterranean climate, San Anselmo's temperature ranges from an average low of 41 degrees, to a high of 85 degrees. The rainfall averages 47 inches per year. This temperate weather, and amazing location is perfect for outdoor recreation.
San Anselmo Real Estate
San Anselmo has a high rate of owner-occupied single family homes, which tends to reflect stability with the residents. In the year of 2011, single family home prices in San Anselmo ranged from $379,000 to a high of $2,770,000. This excludes a few homes sold for lot value. In 2011 there were 131 homes that sold in San Anselmo and the average price was $888,369. Most homes were built in 1939 or earlier and there are a number of these large older homes that have been well-maintained and remodeled. Some of San Anselmo is built in a natural flood plain and older homes were built with raised foundations to mitigate the minor periodic floods.
San Anselmo is a coveted community even within Marin. Its excellent school district, low crime, and proximity to both biodiversity in the countryside and major cities in the Bay Area make it an ideal setting.
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San Anselmo Schools
San Anselmo schools are part of the Ross Valley School District serving Fairfax, San Anselmo and Sleepy Hollow. This is a distinguished school district and is highly sought after. All schools in the districts have API's over 850, and all schools are ranked at a 9 or better on the state wide ranking system.
There is Lower Brookside (grades 1-5), Hidden Valley (grades 1-5), Wade Thomas Elementary School (grades K-5), White Hill Middle School (grades 6-8). Saint Anselm's Catholic School, a private school founded in 1924 by the Catholic Church (grades K-8), San Domenico School with a co-ed elementary (grades PK-8) and an all-women high school (grades 9-12). The main public high school is Sir Francis Drake High in the Tamalpais Union School District, but others elect to attend Marin Catholic, Redwood or Tamalpais High Schools.
The location of any property is very important as it determines the school district for your children. San Anselmo has some of the best schools in the nation and education is a top priority for the town's residents.
Transportation and Commuting from San Anselmo
San Anselmo has a major bus hub on Center Boulevard near Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. The ride to San Francisco is just under 1 hour. San Anselmo is located 16 miles from Lombard Street in San Francisco and estimated drive time is 25 minutes without commute traffic. Alternatively the Larkspur Ferry is 4 miles away and a 10 minute drive. The ferry ride is approximately 35 minutes. For a schedule and fees please visit the Golden Gate Transit site for more details.
Activities and Things To Do in San Anselmo
You will enjoy walking by the Creek Park, a quiet place where residents can admire the beauty of the local bird life and water creatures. The Creek Park also hosts many events during summer including music festivals, film nights and other local events. According to Sunset Magazine, San Anselmo is one of the best cities for antiquing, distinguished as "The Northern California Antique Capital". There are also a number of day spas and "Shibui Garden", a Japanese inspired setting with private hot-tub rentals.
Outdoor Recreation and Parks in San Anselmo
San Anselmo happily sits among hills, creeks, meadows, oaks and redwood groves. The parks and open space around town offer outdoor recreation in a relatively untouched natural setting. There is Creek Park, Faude Park, Lansdale Park, Memorial Park and Millennium Playground, Robson-Harrington Park, and Sorich Ranch Park.
Mount Tamalpais' interlocking trails and fire roads allow the intrepid traveler to design a loop or point-to-point course from almost any starting place, but there are two perfect entries to the mountain within minutes of downtown San Anselmo. The first, at Natalie Coffin Greene Park, takes you on an easy, rolling 2.7-mile loop around the picturesque Phoenix Lake. The main fire road also leads to two other trails: Eldridge Grade, which journeys to the top of Mount Tamalpais, roughly five miles away; and Shaver Grade, which leads to two other lakes: Lake Lagunitas and Bon Tempe Lake. These areas are sanctuaries that locals cherish and have been frequenting for years.
It is a healthy community that enjoys hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, and picnicking.
Nightlife and Entertainment
San Anselmo has many options when it comes to community entertainment. There is Film Night in the Park where residents sit out on blankets and watch movies on a huge screen, Marin Community Playhouse that serves as an arts center for dance recitals, local theatrical companies and music concerts, and several bars. Two new wine bars worth taking note of are Lincoln Park and La Loggia. Nightlife in San Anselmo is family oriented and the downtown area is a safe place for a nice evening stroll. The town has continually added different venues that bring entertainment to the area, but still maintains the ambiance of a small town.
San Anselmo Events
There are many events that are held in town throughout the year. Some of the most exciting ones are the Holiday Tree Lighting in December, the Children's Easter Egg Hunt, Music in the Park, and Movies in the Park, the County Fair, and the Art and Wine Festival. People come from all over the Bay Area to attend this Art and Wine festival. The Pacific Sun voted it the "Best Town-Wide Festival" in Marin County. It is the town's premier event, features 200 juried artists from across the United States, gourmet-food booths, live entertainment by top Bay Area musicians and a large family area with rides and arts-and-crafts activities. There is also the Annual Silent Art Auction Fundraiser. It is an evening of amazing music, food, wine and art by Marin artists. Proceeds fund the volunteer-run San Anselmo Arts Commission, which supports community art, provides free summer concerts, and funds children and teen art programs.
Shopping in San Anselmo
San Anselmo's downtown area is the center of commerce. This main business street is called San Anselmo Avenue. The town is world renowned for its many antique stores and it calls itself the "antique capital of Northern California". Along with the many antique shops, there are creek-side restaurants, cafes, galleries, clothing boutiques, small wineries and ice cream shops. The street is perfect for a pleasant walk downtown and there are plenty of stores to suit your every need. A large shopping center is also located in San Anselmo called Red Hill Shopping Center. It has grocery stores, banks, restaurants and other business.
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