Located in Marin County near the city of San Rafael and 20 miles north of San Francisco, San Anselmo is a town that is well known for its charming downtown, tight-knit community and its status as the Northern California Antiques Capital. Home to only 12,000 residents and three major roads, this 2.7-square-mile town is small, but it is still considered one of the best places to live in the area.
The growth of San Anselmo can be attributed to the arrival of the railroad in 1874, the relocation of the San Francisco Theological Seminary in 1892 and the San Francisco earthquake in 1906. With people building permanent homes in the area and planting trees, the community developed and the town was incorporated in 1908, with a fire department, town hall and Chamber of Commerce following. When the Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937, the population was boosted even further. Today the community stays at a stable 12,000.
Surrounded by hills, San Anselmo’s skyline boasts views of Grove Hill, Red Hill, Bald Hill and Moore Hill of the Ross Valley, while Mount Tamalpais dominates the southern view. Like the rest of the area, San Anselmo enjoys mild weather, with the temperature usually staying between 53 degrees and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. However, there is typically around 30 to 40 inches of rainfall a year, which has caused problems in the town’s 100 years, since the town is built on a natural floodplain of San Anselmo Creek. Because of this flooding, San Anselmo has developed a well-thought out emergency system for its residents and business owners, including a flood horn, emergency notification systems and a gauge for measuring the creek’s water level.
Despite occasional flooding, San Anselmo has built a prosperous reputation for itself. Sunset Magazine has dubbed the town the “Best in the West” for antiquing, while Pacific Sun readers have voted it the “Best Town Other Than Your Own” and “Best Non-Mall Shopping Town in Marin County.” Aside from its famous antique stores, San Anselmo offers a number of other attractions to residents and visitors, including fine-dining restaurants, cafes, art galleries, boutiques and nature trails. Looking for historical sites? Visit the Robson-Harrington House and Park, the Carnegie Library or the American Legion Log Cabin. If you love art, wine or antiques, San Anselmo hosts several annual events focusing on these passions.
The town also takes pride in its great schools, with California Distinguished elementary schools and high school. The San Francisco Theological Seminary is also a point of pride in San Anselmo. It is the only Presbyterian seminary in the West and trains leaders in ministry from all around the world. Overall, San Anselmo has an above-average education level, with most of its residents holding a bachelor’s degree or higher. Correlating to the high education level of the community, the town’s average income level is among the highest in the state, adding to San Anselmo’s high quality of life.
San Anselmo is recognized as one of the best towns in Marin County with an enviable lifestyle, a charming downtown, annual events, close proximity to local attractions in San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area. It truly is one of the best in the west.