For families with children, public primary and secondary schools (grades K-12) in Novato belong to the Novato Unified School District. The district serves northern Marin County and is comprised of eight elementary schools, three middle schools, and two high schools. Novato Unified also administers an alternate school, Marin Oaks High, and supervises the only Independent Study program in Marin County, a magnet school, and two charter schools.
Economy and Job Market
Novato is home to many major companies and businesses as well as large and small retailers and restaurants. As such, the economy in the city is particularly diverse and integrated into an emerging new economy of the Bay Area, which represents a fundamental shift toward smaller knowledge-based businesses by entrepreneurs for typically global markets. Some of these knowledge-based industries include fields in computers and electronics, telecommunications, multimedia, biosciences, banking and finance, and environmental technology, which are the Bay Area’s most dominant and competitive industries.
The job market of nearly 25,000 is also increasingly engaged in the service-producing industry including business, legal, engineering, and various other service-related occupations. Novato is also home to a number of major companies such as Birkenstock Footprint Sandals, Smith and Hawken, TravelSmith, Marin Independent Journal, the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, and several biotech firms including the Buck Institute for Age Research, Biosearch Technologies, BioMarin Pharmaceutical, and Sonic Solutions.
Attractions and Points of Interest
There are several points of interests and attractions that surround the city of Novato. Marin County, as a center for organic food and farming techniques, has the Marin Civic Center Certified Farmer’s Market (one of the top ten markets in the nation) where over 150 vendors showcase fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables, fish, meats, fresh cut flowers, gourmet items, fresh breads, and fine arts and crafts is a favorite destination for many residents. Other Farmer’s Market locations in Marin County include Fairfax, Newark, Hayward, Novato, and Oakland.
Seven miles west of Novato is the Marin French Cheese Company, also known as The Cheese Factory, the oldest cheese manufacturer in the country. A unique part of American History, the Cheese Factory has produced hand crafted Artisan soft-ripened cheese since 1865 and is a very popular destination for local Bay Area visitors and vacationers from all over the nation as a favorite spot for picnickers, hikers, bicyclists, and tourists. Space can also be rented out for barbecues and parties of up to 150 guests, and a retail store with a deli and wine selections is part of the complex.
With Marin County being part of the North Coast Viticultural Area of California’s famed Wine Country, the Pacheco Ranch Winery in Novato is the site of a two-story Italianate home that has been producing award-winning cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay wines since 1973. Pacheco Ranch’s elegant winery and adjacent vineyards produces a small quantity of 800 cases of handcrafted wines in their small winery each year through a process that has taken over a quarter of a century to perfect. A more modern winery in Novato is Starry Night Winery that produces the finest wines that accentuate the regions from where the grapes are best grown.
Other points of interests and recreational sites around Novato include many small antique shopping vendors as well as larger chain stores in the city’s recently restored Grant Avenue. Regional malls like The Vintage Oaks Shopping Center are anchored by Costco and Target stores and includes over 50 retailers and restaurants. Novato also has two public golf courses and a network of thirty parks that dot the surrounding city’s open landscapes. There’s even a 16,000 square foot skate park for skateboarding enthusiasts of all ages. Stafford Lake Park is a 139-acre attraction for visitors and residents who enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, camping, or biking. O’Hair Park is a dog park with numerous trails for hikers who like to hike with their dogs. Nature watchers and wildlife observers would be pleased to visit Scottsdale March, Deer Island Preserve, and Pacheco Pond Wildlife Area.
Downtown Novato houses major community events including the Novato Festival of Art, Wine and Music in June, Concerts in the Park throughout the summer, the annual 4th of July parade, and the City’s Labor Day Picnic at Stafford Lake. The Novato History Museum is possibly the oldest dwelling in the city, which documents the comprehensive history of Novato. The Novato Arts Center at the historic Hamilton Field Air Base is a campus-like center for artists. Renovated to consist of three buildings with options for artist studios, classrooms, and an art gallery, the center is run by the non-profit Art League of Northern California (an arts organization in the Bay Area) to provide community access to art through education, exhibitions, and events hosted by other community arts organizations.
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