As the northernmost city in Marin County, Novato maintains a rural atmosphere largely because of its low population density and the high amount of open space and parks in and near the city. Novato is home to seven open space preserves and a network of 27 oak-studded parks, making it a haven for hiking and mountain biking. Historical buildings dot downtown and recently restored Grant Avenue has made the area a welcoming place for visitors and residents to shop and dine. Numerous high-tech companies call Novato home, including the non-profit Buck Institute for Aging, a prominent complex on Mt. Burdell designed by famed architect I. M. Pei. As the fastest growing real estate market in the county, many new homes have sprung up throughout the city, while the town's older, established neighborhoods offer mid-century ranch-style homes and larger properties. Between its charming atmosphere and thriving downtown, Novato is quite a city.
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