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Mission San Rafael Arcángel

This mission in San Rafael, which still offers services, is an interesting destination to learn more about California’s religious history. 

San Rafael Arcángel peacefully presides over the city of San Rafael from its hilltop setting. Whether you are there to worship, learn or simply find a quiet place to explore, visit this historic mission. 

The structure was originally established as an “asistencia” (sub-mission) where sick members of Mission San Francisco de Asís went to recover. Built in 1817, San Rafael Arcángel was the 20th of San Francisco’s 21 Missions founded by Spanish priests to bring Catholicism to the area.

Between government upheaval and development of San Rafael, all that remained of the original mission at the beginning of the 20th century was a single pear tree from its orchard. In 1948, Monsignor Thomas Kennedy helmed a massive rebuilding project to restore the mission to its former glory. 

The inside of the mission is airy and simple. Examine the Stations of the Cross, which are presented in the form of 3-D carvings. 

Step outside and visit the larger parish church, which is an iconic landmark in San Rafael. The statue of the mission’s namesake angel appears to bless the entire city from his vantage point. Inside, the church features beautiful stained-glass windows. 

If you want to bring home a religious artifact or a souvenir relating to the California Missions, head into the Mission Gift Shop. The Mission Museum, which is connected, is a great place to learn more about San Rafael Arcángel and the other California Missions. Browse through paintings, informative exhibits and other artifacts. Be sure to see the three surviving bells from the original mission.  

The mission is open to the public every day of the week, while the parish church is open only on weekends and for special events. Visit the Mission Museum and Gift Shop during its limited hours on Wednesday through Sunday.

Metered on-street parking is available very close to the mission. Alternatively, use nearby city parking lots.

San Rafael Arcángel is located about 18 miles (29 kilometers) north of central San Francisco. In about 30 minutes, you can make the drive from the mission to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.


Guide to Exploring Mission San Rafael Arcangel


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See all 313 properties near Mission San Rafael Arcangel
Marin Lodge £98
Marin Lodge

Marin Lodge

1735 Lincoln Ave, San Rafael, CA
     
    2.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Situated in San Rafael, this hotel is within 1 mile (2 km) of Dominican University of California and Marin History Museum. Mission San Rafael Arcangel and Marin County Civic Center Farmers' Market are also within 2 miles (3 km).

    Villa Inn £84
    Villa Inn

    Villa Inn

    1600 Lincoln Avenue, San Rafael, CA
       
      2.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Situated in San Rafael, this motel is within 1 mile (2 km) of Dominican University of California, Marin History Museum and Mission San Rafael Arcangel. Falkirk Cultural Center and Marin County Civic Center Farmers' Market are also within 2 miles (3 km).

      Embassy Suites by Hilton San Rafael Marin County £146
      Embassy Suites by Hilton San Rafael Marin County

      Embassy Suites by Hilton San Rafael Marin County

      101 Mcinnis Pkwy, San Rafael, CA
         
        3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

        Situated in the business district, this hotel is 2.9 mi (4.7 km) from Dominican University of California, and within 9 mi (15 km) of Mission San Rafael Arcangel and Fairfax Library. China Cabin and Muir Woods National Monument are also within 16 mi (25 km).

        North Bay Inn £98
        North Bay Inn

        North Bay Inn

        855 Francisco Blvd E, San Rafael, CA
           
          2.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Situated in San Rafael, this motel is within 2 miles (3 km) of Mission San Rafael Arcangel, Marin Country Mart and Dominican University of California. Gerstle Park is 2.1 mi (3.4 km) away.

          Four Points by Sheraton San Rafael Marin County £138
          Four Points by Sheraton San Rafael Marin County

          Four Points by Sheraton San Rafael Marin County

          1010 Northgate Dr, San Rafael, CA
             
            3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

            Situated in the business district, this hotel is 1.2 mi (1.9 km) from Marin County Civic Center, and within 6 mi (10 km) of Mission San Rafael Arcangel and Dominican University of California. Old Mill Park and Muir Woods National Monument are also within 16 mi (25 km).

            Travelodge by Wyndham San Rafael
            Travelodge by Wyndham San Rafael

            Travelodge by Wyndham San Rafael

            865 Franciso Blvd East, San Rafael, CA
               
              2.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Situated in San Rafael, this hotel is within 2 miles (3 km) of Mission San Rafael Arcangel, Marin Country Mart and Dominican University of California. Gerstle Park is 2.2 mi (3.5 km) away.

              Extended Stay America San Rafael - Francisco Boulevard East £104
              Extended Stay America San Rafael - Francisco Boulevard East

              Extended Stay America San Rafael - Francisco Boulevard East

              1775 Francisco Blvd, San Rafael, CA
                 
                2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                Situated in San Rafael, this hotel is 2.8 mi (4.5 km) from Mission San Rafael Arcangel and 2.8 mi (4.6 km) from Dominican University of California. Marin County Civic Center and Craneway Pavilion are also within 9 miles (15 km).

                San Anselmo Inn £135
                San Anselmo Inn

                San Anselmo Inn

                339 San Anselmo Avenue, San Anselmo, CA
                   
                  2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Situated in San Anselmo, this hotel is 0.2 mi (0.3 km) from Imagination Park, and within 3 mi (5 km) of Marin Museum of Bicycling and Mission San Rafael Arcangel. Marin County Civic Center and Drakes Bay are also within 25 mi (40 km).