Named after Lord Charles Snowden Fairfax, a Virginian who became a state Assemblyman and Marin supervisor in the 19th century, the town was noted for its lavish parties. Shortly after the turn of the century, Fairfax drew crowds to its “funicular railroad,” a cable-drawn car that took visitors up the hillside from 1913 to 1929 for barbecues and land auctions. The area also gained fame for huge Fourth of July picnics, Big Band parties at the Town and Country Club, and in the ’60s, for Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters and colorful crowds of party-happy, tie-dyed hipsters, some of whom still remain. Fairfax is an ideal spot for outdoor lovers. Residents and visitors bike and climb its hills, and picnic at Bon Tempe, Lagunitas and Alpine lakes, and other forested watershed lands surrounding the town.

Housing and Education

Housing prices in Fairfax are on the low end for the county. Real estate sales have stayed steady in the double digits over the last two years, with very few new homes built. Zoning restrictions vary. Tax rates are steady. The Ross Valley School District serves both Fairfax and San Anselmo with three elementary schools for grades K-5 and one middle school. District enrollment is just over 1,700, with class sizes averaging 20-24 students. The district offers alternative education, Title 1, and Gifted and Talented Education programs. Students who live in Fairfax go to Sir Francis Drake High School in San Anselmo, which is part of the Tamalpais Union High School District.


Although driving to work is still the preferred method of >commute for citizens of Fairfax, residents are more open to public transportation than many others in the county, with a fair percentage taking the bus or ferry to work. The primary reason is the arduous traffic along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to Highway 101, which can take up to 30 minutes in peak hours.


Fairfax is one of the more moderately-sized towns in the county, with a little over 7,000 citizens. A quarter of the town’s populace is under the age of 25, but the median age is about 37. Employment areas are split between managerial, technical, and service fields, with the average income being a little under $50,000.


Average temperature is 59 degrees, with an average maximum temperature of 70 degrees and an average low of 48. From July to September, highs get into the 80s. Fairfax doesn’t get too much fog, and since it is inland it tends to be hotter in the summer than other communities closer to the coast.

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