Why People Love Living in Sun Valley

Why People Love Living in Sun Valley

  • April Lepito Smith
  • 05/27/21

Situated just northwest of downtown San Rafael, San Valley has plenty to offer its residents. The chic neighborhood offers the perfect mix of a suburban and urban feel. Sun Valley remains one of the most popular neighborhoods for families seeking to buy a home in Marin County’s largest city. Although home to individuals from all walks of life, Sun Valley is especially popular among a younger population and attracts a plethora of young working professionals. But, with a top-notch school system and friendly atmosphere, it has also become a popular location to raise a family. Residents enjoy the walkability of the area, with several parks, restaurants, and shops all within walking distance.

One of the main draws of the area is its convenience to downtown San Rafael and its plethora of commuting options to San Francisco located just 30 minutes away. Its close location to the 101 Freeway, approximately two miles west, enables residents to easily hop on the freeway and get out of town for the weekend. 


A drive through this quaint neighborhood will reveal a wide array of architectural styles, with many built in the middle of the 20th century. The prices of homes in the neighborhood range from $800,000 to $1.2 million, depending on the property’s size and condition. No matter what style of home you are looking for, there’s something for everyone in Sun Valley. 

Parks and Green Spaces

Sun Valley has long been known for its dedication to a healthy lifestyle. The town has a variety of community parks, sports clubs, and local events that fall under the umbrella of San Rafael itself. On a sunny weekend, consider taking the family to Sun Valley Park. This luscious park features a playground, basketball and volleyball courts, and picnic areas. Whether you are enjoying a picnic on a warm spring day or getting some exercise in playing volleyball, you’ll be sure to love all that this park has to offer. Additionally, the Rafael Racquet Club offers a wide variety of youth-oriented activities and camps. Since originally opening in 1961, the club has remained true to its roots as a tennis and swim club but also aims to be a meeting place for friends and family, with an overwhelming majority of members residing in Sun Valley and surrounding neighborhoods. The club is open year-round and is committed to offering events, programs, and classes throughout the year for those who are interested. If you’re new to town, these clubs provide the perfect opportunity for your children to get involved and make friends! 

Trails and Nature

Wanting to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life? If so, then you’ll be pleased to discover all that Marin County has in store for you! Marin County is home to over 17,900 beautiful acres, which includes 39 parks and 34 open space preserves. Whether you enjoy hiking, biking, swimming, paddling, or jogging, you can do all of that here. The Dan Abraham trail—which was recently renamed for a longtime resident who worked to maintain the Marin County wilderness—provides residents with a quick and easy hike without ever leaving the neighborhood. The trail begins at Sun Valley Elementary School and offers a great escape into nature. Meanwhile, the nearby Sorich Ranch Park in San Anselmo offers a 60-acre oasis. Here you will find a hiking trail, an off-leash dog area, and breathtaking views of Mount Tamalpais. If you’re looking for another way to get involved in your local community, consider joining the Friends of Sorich Park. This volunteer community group meets on the second Saturday of each month to tackle projects, whether it is mowing weeds, pulling brooms, planting native trees and grasses, and helping to maintain an irrigation system. 


If shopping is your guilty pleasure, then you’re in luck! Although Sun Valley does not have a designated downtown, living here puts you in close proximity to downtown San Rafael. The center of all things, downtown San Rafael is filled with a plethora of shopping and dining options. Fourth Street—as well as the surrounding side streets—are lined with an eclectic assortment of restaurants, boutiques, and high-end stores. Here you will find shops for everything from bookstores, furniture, clothing, art, jewelry, and collectibles. If you’re needing to grab something at the grocery store, Andy’s Sun Valley Market is a popular spot for locals to tackle their shopping. This chic store has pizzas, sandwiches, and BBQ, as well as top-notch groceries and wines. 

Community Events

The San Rafael City Plaza is situated in the center of town and characterized by a tranquil water wall fountain. The plaza has become a popular community meeting spot for an assortment of events. During the summer months, spend your Thursday evenings at the San Rafael Farmers Market. This thriving farmers market has plenty to offer, including fresh produce and products from local farmers. You can even grab a meal of street-style foods and dine al fresco while listening to live music! During the fall, Thursday and Friday nights are known for the 4th Street Dining Under the Lights in Downtown. Here you can expect to find a romantic European atmosphere, highlighted by lights twinkling around, and al fresco dining options from local restaurants. It’s the perfect way to embrace a special occasion, whether it is a birthday or anniversary celebration. 


Like many of Marin County’s most sought-after communities, families are drawn to the top-performing schools in Sun Valley. For instance, Sun Valley Elementary School is celebrated for its outstanding reputation locally. They scored a 913 of a possible 1,000 on the California Academic Performance Index of 2013, which is the latest year for which results are available. 

Festivals and Local Classes

Sun Valley is known for its colorful assortment of festivals that take place throughout the year. One of the most popular festivals is the Sun Valley Music Festival, which occurs in late summer. This summer, there will be four all-new concerts featuring Festival Orchestra musicians filmed in homes and stages across the United States. Award-winning and talented directors, producers, designers, and technicians bring the music to life both acoustically and visually. You can choose to watch it from the comfort of your home or on two big screens at the Sun Valley Pavilion. Regardless of where you choose to watch it, this is an inspiring musical experience that you don’t want to miss.


Credit: Johnny Doughnuts

From upscale restaurants to quaint eateries, Sun Valley and the surrounding area have it all—and everything in-between. If you’re looking for a casual and chic dinner, head over to The Kitchen Table. Here you will find rustic Italian fare and decadent homemade pasta, food that is approachable for the entire family. All of the ingredients are locally sourced, and the menu is highlighted by these fresh, seasonal ingredients. The open concept kitchen enables guests to interact with the chef, and the masterfully composed wine list will perfectly compliment your meal.

If you’re looking for a sugary treat, then hit up Johnny Doughnuts. At this quaint shop, you will find a diverse array of flavors, as well as their take on the classic light and fluffy donut with a recipe from the 1920s. Choose from a variety of flavors, including chocolate, strawberry, lime poppy, and other seasonal favorites. There are also donuts available for those with dietary needs. Whether you’re wheat-free or vegan, Johnny Doughnuts has something for you. If you’re looking for a healthier option, consider trying out Urban Remedy. This health-conscious store offers fresh organic grocery essentials as well as an assortment of juices. All of the menu items perfectly blend flavors, colors, and textures to create food so good that it’s easy to forget it’s food for you. Urban Remedy is all about empowering their guests to be thriving, and healthy, and living their best life. After all, eating clean and healthy doesn’t have to be boring! 


The 1970s brought the arrival of George Lucas to San Rafael, and, as such, the area quickly became a center for the entertainment industry. It particularly became a hot spot for high-tech elements of the business. With the presence of LucasFilms and the wild success of Star Wars, San Rafael started to attract video game developers with several major studios located in the city. Today, much of the industry in Sun Valley still centers around tech and entertainment job opportunities.

If you’re looking for homes for sale in Sun Valley, contact April Smith. Whether you’re looking for a short-term rental or a forever home, April can walk you through the process from start to finish and help you find a place that’s right for you. With years of experience in the real estate industry and deep knowledge of Sun Valley real estate, April and her team can help you find a house that truly feels like home.

*Header Credit: Visit Sun Valley



Work With April

April was honored with the California Association of Realtors Rising Star Award. She has succeeded in a multitude of varied sales positions throughout her professional career, garnering top awards at both Fortune 500 companies as well as smaller, family-operated businesses.