Marin Weekend Family Fun for December 9, 10 & 11

December 7, 2016

The Rombeiros' Christmas HouseVisit the Amazing Rombeiro Christmas House in Novato this Weekend!

Other Holiday Happenings:  holiday ice skating, visit with Santa Claus, North Bay Christmas Tree Farms and Lots, festive holiday teas, holidays in San Francisco, and visit one of Marin's Amazing Lighted Houses.

Friday, December 9

  • Victorian Holiday Tea
    Haas-Lilienthal House, San Francisco
    Friday, 3 pm & Saturday & Sunday, noon & 3 pm

    Celebrate the holidays by stepping back in time and enjoying perfectly-blended pots of tea, savory finger sandwiches, delicate scones, and holiday sweets in the formal dining room of the 1886 Haas-Lilienthal House. Cost: $48 adults, $24 children. RSVP here. Location: 2007 Franklin Street, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Great Dickens Christmas Fair
    Cow Palace, San Francisco
    Friday–Sunday, 10 am–7 pm

    The Dickens Fair runs on weekends through December 20. Experience Victorian London with hundreds of costumed players, shops offering one-of-a-kind gifts and Christmas treasures, dining, and pubs. Meet Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, Tiny Tim, Jules Verne, David Copperfield, Charles Darwin, and 700 costumed characters. Of course, Father Christmas himself will be on hand to join in the fun. Purchase tickets here. For more info, visit their website.
  • Holiday Ice Skating in Union Square
    San Francisco
    Friday–Sunday, 10 am–11:30 pm

    Union Square, San Francisco's main shopping district, gets into the ice skating spirit during the holiday season with an outdoor ice rink sponsored by Safeway. 90-minute sessions start on every even hour. Admission: $11 for adults, 7 children 8 and under. Skate rental $6. Information: (415) 781-2688 or visit their website.
  • The Velveteen Rabbit
    Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco
    Friday, 11 am, Saturday, 1 & 4 pm and Sunday, 2 pm

    Bring the family for this beloved Bay Area holiday tradition. ODC/Dance enlivens Margery Williams’ classic tale of a well-worn nursery rabbit that becomes real. Told though music, dance and a powerful narrative, The Velveteen Rabbit celebrates the unique relationship between a little boy and his stuffed rabbit, and the enduring power of love. Tickets range from $15 to $75. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin on Ice
    Northgate Mall, San Rafael
    Friday, 2
    –10 pm, Saturday, noon–10 pm, Sunday, noon–9 pm
    This Saturday, Marin on Ice opens for another season of outdoor ice skating at San Rafael's Northgate Mall, where it runs through January 11. Marin's only holiday ice skating rink features 6,300 square feet of real ice and will be open daily for outdoor skating. Skating is $15 per person, which includes skate rental. Private ice cabanas will also be available for rental and "Skate Buddies" are available for beginners. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marinwood's WinterFest Family Event
    Marinwood Community Center, San Rafael
    Friday, 5–7 pm
    Come celebrate the holiday season at Marinwood's annual WinterFest! Ticket prices include: photos with Santa, arts and crafts, face painting, bounce house, holiday treats, live music and more. Tickets: $10 in advance kids ages 2–12, $15 at the door. Adults are free! Location: 775 Miller Creek Road, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Rombeiro Christmas House
    Devonshire Drive, Novato

    Friday–Sunday, 6–10 pm
    Their home is something that truly has to be seen to be believed, and photos don't really do it justice. There are something like 140,000 lights as well as countless figurines, dioramas, and decorations adorning the front and side yards, walls, and roof of the Rombeiro house. If you think the outside is impressive, then you need to go on inside and get a healthy dose of Christmas spirit. You'll find model trains, more figurines, Christmas trees, and the biggest lighted holiday village you've ever seen. Location: 34 Devonshire Drive, off of Center Road, Novato. For more info, read about our visit here.
  • The Berkeley Playhouse: Disney's Beauty and the Beast
    The Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, Berkeley
    Friday, 7 pm, Saturday, 1 & 7 pm, Sunday, 2 pm

    The Disney (and Broadway!) favorite gets the Berkeley Playhouse makeover as founding Associate Artistic Director Kimberly Dooley helms this all new production featuring a diverse and multigenerational cast of dozens. Featuring some of Disney’s most popular songs and characters, you won’t want to miss this magical musical adventure guaranteed to delight audiences of all ages. Location: 2640 College Avenue, Berkeley. Tickets: $25–40. For more info, visit their website

Saturday, December 10

  • Polar Express Train Ride
    Santa Cruz
    Saturday, various times

    The Polar Express Train Ride departs from Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, complete with dancing chefs, singing elves, and a special gift from Santa Claus himself—a silver sleigh bell. Don't forget to wear your pajamas while you enjoy cookies, hot chocolate, and a reading of The Polar Express while on board. First-class tickets still available for rides this weekend. For more info and tickets, call (877) 726-7245 or visit their website.
  • Breakfast with Santa
    Ross Valley Fire Station
    Saturday, 8 & 10 am

    Bring the family to the annual Breakfast with Santa event at Ross Valley Fire Station #19. Breakfast with Santa is a fun family event and a great way to celebrate the holiday season. $6 kids, $8 adultFor more info, call (415) 258-4640 or visit their website.
  • Pancakes at the North Pole
    Corte Madera Parks & Recreation
    Saturday, 8–10 am

    Santa and his friends are waiting for you! The elves at the Corte Madera Community Center have been hard at work preparing a very special pancake breakfast for you and your family. Santa Claus is very excited to see all his favorite families and take pictures! As many of us know, it can get a little chilly at the North Pole. Frosty the Snowman will be taking donations for the Kids Club Warm Coat and Toasty Toes Drive during the breakfast as well. Cost: $9 per person. For more info, call (415) 927-5072 or visit their website.
  • Breakfast With Santa
    Belvedere Community Center
    Saturday, 9–10:30 am

    Join Santa for breakfast, music, crafts, and a photo opportunity (bring your own camera). Make reservations by calling (415) 435-4355; space is limited. Cost: $20 per person, free for 2 and under. The Belvedere Community Center is located at 450 San Rafael Avenue in Belvedere. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin Country Mart Farmer's Market
    Marin County Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm
    The farmer's market features plenty of family fun, including pony rides, face painting, seasonal music, and more. In addition to a great selection of farmers' market organic produce, pastured meats, artisan cheeses, baked goods, nuts, jams, confections, wreaths and holiday flowers, you can also shop for unique farm inspired locally made arts and crafts. For more info, visit their website.
  • Iceless Skating Rink
    Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
    Saturday & Sunday, 9 am–5 pm

    Hit the “ice” this winter with family and friends at the Bay Area Discovery Museum's Iceless Skating Rink, which will be open from November 19, 2016 to January 8, 2016. Children can strap on skates and glide around on a synthetic ice rink in the museum's Discovery Hall. The synthetic ice rink provides all the fun of a real ice rink but without the cold and icy falls. Get in the holiday spirit with this classic winter activity. Free with museum admission or membership. Location: 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito. For more info, visit their website.
  • Winter Wonderland
    Tam Valley Community Center
    Saturday, 10–3 pm
    Bring the family to have breakfast with Santa at the Tam Valley Winter Magic Event. Then make crafts and play in some real snow! RSVP early because this event sells out. Don't forget to bring a camera for this wonderful photo opportunity. 10 am breakfast seating sold out; space available at 11:30 am. Cost: $15 per person, includes breakfast, crafts, jumpee, and snow; $8 without breakfast. Register by calling (415) 388-6393. For more info, visit their website.
  • Pixie Park Holiday Bake Sale and Photos with Santa
    Marin Art and Garden Center, Ross
    Saturday, 10 am–2 pm

    Pixie Park's annual holiday bake sale offers delicious homemade baked goods-perfect for holiday gift-giving. Come choose from cookies, cakes, candies, baking mixes and gingerbread houses. Come support Pixie Park, have a photo taken with Santa Claus (10:30 am–1:30 pm) and enjoy some children’s holiday cookie decorating (10:30 am–1:30 pm) and entertainment! Location: 30 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, Ross. For more info, visit their website.
  • Gingerbread Doghouse Workshops
    Charles Schulz Museum, Santa Rosa
    Saturday, 10 am, 1 pm and Sunday, 1 pm

    Assemble and decorate Snoopy’s doghouse out of gingerbread complete with a marshmallow Snoopy on top. Choose from one of the dates online here. Cost: $25/member, $32/non-member and $10 additional child. For more info, visit their website.
  • Indoor Antique Market 32nd Annual Christmas Show
    Marin Center Exhibit Hall, San Rafael
    Saturday, 10 am–6 pm & Sunday, 10 am–5 pm
    Enjoy an old fashioned shopping experience as you are taken back through times gone by. Over seventy booths of antiques and collectibles. Highlights include fine art, Asian and Native American art, watches, clocks, books, photographs, postcards, posters, prints, coins, vintage toys, kitchen collectibles, vintage clothing, and more. Admission: $6. Location: 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Sausalito Winterfest
    Sausalito Yacht Harbor Parking Lot
    Saturday, 10 am–2 pm

    Photo op with Mr. and Mrs. Claus and their elves. Make sure to bring your camera. Free but please RSVP For more info, visit their website.
  • Dream Circle Holiday Concert
    Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
    Saturday, 10:30 & 11:45 am

    A jovial Holiday Sing-along for young children at the Discovery Museum! The 7-member band Dream Circle features four of Marin's top children's singers  and piano, bass, and drums. It's a real treat for the little ones, and parents too. Come and join in on the fun! Tickets: $5 BADM members, $7 non-members. For more info, visit their website.
  • 7th Annual Teddy Bear Tea à la Française
    Saturday, 10:30 am–noon
    Red Hill Church of San Anselmo
    Come for tea and hot cocoa, finger sandwiches, holiday cookies, and fun with Le Petit Jardin! You and your little ones will enjoy tea service, traditional live holiday music, a fireside telling of the story of the first Christmas in English and French, and a professional photo seating! Each child should dress in dapper style and bring his or her own teddy bear pal from home to share tea time with! $10 per seat; space limited. Book your reservation online. Location: 921 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, San Anselmo. For more info, visit their website.
  • Gingerbread House Workshop
    Marin Humane Society, Novato
    Saturday, 10:30 am–noon

    Calling all kids! Get in the holiday spirit and join in the fun of an age-old holiday tradition - gingerbread house decorating. Gingerbread house masters John and Megan Lorenzen will be here to help you create a gingerbread dog house or a gingerbread kitty condo. Workshop is designed for 8–12-year-old children. For more info, visit their website.
  • Fairfax Craft Faire
    Pavilion, Fairfax
    Saturday, 11 am–5 pm
    The annual Fairfax Craft Faire is held at the Pavilion in the heart of Fairfax. A wonderful selection of crafts, music and food will fill the Pavilion for this event. Location: 142 Bolinas Road, Fairfax. For more info, visit their website.
  • Wreath Making Workshop
    McNears Beach Park, San Rafael
    Saturday, 11 am–1 pm

    Bring the beauty of nature to your front door with a festive, homemade wreath! Join rangers at McNears Beach for a day of sipping hot chocolate, listening to holiday tunes, and creating your own natural wreath to take home. Fresh greenery, pinecones, and other natural materials will be provided. You are encouraged to bring your own decorations to use. For all ages. Hot chocolate and snacks provided. Rain will cancel. Free. Location: 201 Cantera Way, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Mark Foehringer's Nutcracker Sweets
    Saturday & Sunday, 11 am & 1 pm
    Fort Mason Center, San Francisco

    Mark Foehringer's Nutcracker Sweets is a unique 50-minute version of the Nutcracker specifically designed for families with young children. The production features a live 9-piece chamber orchestra, Brian Fisher as Drosselmeyer, musical direction by Michael Morgan, set design by Peter Crompton, costume design by Richard Battle, and production direction by Frederic O. Boulay. Tickets: $21 and $31. For more info, visit their website.
  • A Holiday Magic Toy Box Tea at Falkirk
    Saturday & Sunday, noon & 3 pm
    1408 Mission Avenue at "E" Street, San Rafael
    The tea is an old-fashioned tour de force in the elegant Queen Anne Victorian Falkirk Mansion. Homemade tea sandwiches and sweets are served, along with tea, hot chocolate, and other beverages. Features include life-sized toys, a raffle, and plenty of photo opportunities. Make sure you bring your teddy bear or other favorite toy!  This extremely popular event is by reservation only and always sells our early! Cost: $28 adults, $24 for children, $50 adult-and-child combination ticket. For more info, visit www.falkirkculturalcenter.org.

Indoor Drop-in Activities for the Little Ones for Marin & Beyond

December 7, 2016

Indoor playLooking for fun indoor play spaces for the little ones? There are several places to take the kids to get them out of the house and burn off all that extra energy, especially on a cold or rainy day. Here are a few ideas for fun indoor drop-in activities in Marin County and beyond:

Berkeley

  • Habitot Children's Museum
    2065 Kittredge Street
    Berkeley
    (510) 647-1111

    Discovery Museum for young children, toddlers and infants. Fun activities, hands on exhibits, arts & crafts, fun classes, music and much more. Cost: $10.00 per child (free under 12 mo.) and $10.00 per adult For more info, visit their website.

Family Friendly New Year's Eve Events in Marin and the Bay Area

December 6, 2016

New Year's Even Bell Ringing Asian Art MuseumSay goodbye to 2016 and welcome in the New Year at one of these family friendly events taking place in Marin and elsewhere in the Bay Area. Many of these celebrations take place earlier in the day or evening on December 31 so little ones can get a taste of New Year's Eve fun without staying up past their bedtimes.

  • Noon Year's Eve
    Bay Area Discovery Museum
    , Sausalito
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm
    Ring in the New Year with your little ones at the Bay Area Discovery Museum’s Noon Year’s Eve! This kid-friendly affair includes music by DJ ManCub, a celebratory ball drop at noon, dancing, and various art activities like crown making. In addition, enjoy access to the museum’s indoor and outdoor exhibits like Lookout Cove and Bay Hall. (Note: Iceless Skating Rink is closed during Noon Year’s Eve.) For more info, visit their website.
  • Annual Japanese Bell Ringing Ceremony
    Asian Art Museum, San Francisco
    Saturday, 9:30–noon

    Ring in the New Year by taking a swing at a giant 2,100-pound, 16th-century, Japanese temple bell at the Asian Art Museum. Participants may take turns ringing the museum’s bronze bell to leave behind any unfortunate experiences, regrettable deeds, and ill luck of the previous year. This time slot is exclusive to members. Bell-ringing opens to general admission at 11:30 am. First come, first served. Pick up tickets to ring the bell at the admission desk. Location: 200 Larkin Street, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.

Winter Break Camps in Marin and Beyond

December 6, 2016
studio 4 artLooking for something fun for the kids to do over the upcoming winter break? Check out some of the great winter day camps here in Marin and the Bay Area.
  • Andrew's Day Camp
    Location: 400 Tamal Plaza, Corte Madera
    Dates: December 23–January 6
    Cost: $75 per day; extended care $10 hr
    Ages: kindergarten and up
    Andrew's Camp offers games, crafts, sports and more. Camps take place from 9 am–5 pm with extended care from 8–9 am and 5–6 pm. ABring lunch and snack. For more info,call (415) 446-8946 or  visit their website.
  • Bay Area Discovery Museum Winter Discovery Camps
    Location: 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito
    Dates:
    December 19–23, 26–30 & January 2–6
    Cost:
    $425/session; general: $450/session
    Ages: 4–8
    Winter Discovery Camps provide child-directed, inquiry driven learning through project-based, hands-on activities designed to intentionally boost creativity, STEM skills, and critical thinking. Camps hours:  9 am–2 pm; extended care from 2–4 pm (extended care $50/per day). For more info, call (415) 339-3900 or visit www.baykidsmuseum.org.

Eight Ways for Families to Give Back This Holiday Season

December 6, 2016

Giant Turkey Town Center Corte Madera SF-Marin Food BankTeach your children that the holiday season isn't just about getting gifts, but about giving back to our community, too. Here are 8 ways that families can give back, from donations of food and toys to serving a meal for the needy. If you have a favorite cause worth supporting this holiday season, please let us know.

Drop Off Food for the SF-Marin Food Bank

The SF-Marin Food Bank works to end hunger in Marin and San Francisco by providing food to families in need. You can drop off non-perishable food donations at various locations throughout Marin County, including the World's Largest Turkey at Town Center Corte Madera (through the end of November) and the SF-Marin Food Bank warehouse in Bel Marin Keys. Items like canned tuna and meat, peanut butter, soup, chili, canned beans, canned fruits and veggies, cereal, and granola are all needed. Learn more here.

Participate in Holiday Share at Novato Human Needs Center

Help the Novato Human Needs Center provide gifts to 150 families and their children in Novato via its Holiday Share program. The Center's gift wish list includes $25 gift cards from Target and Safeway, new children's books in English or Spanish, and cash donations of all amounts. Learn more here.

Dream Circle Holiday Concert at the Bay Area Discovery Museum this Weekend

December 6, 2016

Dream CircleCome and celebrate the holiday season with four of Marin's best loved kids entertainers: Tim Cain, Miss Kitty, Christopher Smith, and Cindy Cohen, accompanied by Peter Penhallow and the Dream Circle Band, for this year's Dream Circle Holiday Concert at the Bay Area Discovery Museum. The concert takes place this Saturday, December 10, 2016 with two performances at 10:30 and 11:45 am.

Bring the entire family ages 1 and up to sing and dance at this delightful and uplifting seasonal celebration featuring songs for a wide range of winter holidays, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Chinese New Year. Dream Circle is indeed a dream lineup of the superstars of local children’s entertainertainment!

Make Your Own Holiday Gingerbread House

December 5, 2016

Gingerbread House

Every year we create a gingerbread house using the nice kit sold by Trader Joe's, but last year, after constructing a house from the kit, my daughter decided she wanted to take our gingerbread house building experience a step further and create another one—this time from scratch! Fortunately, as we found out, it's easy to do and fun.

First thing you have to do is come up with a design for your house. We created a template for a basic gingerbread house that's simple to create and put together. (You can download our template, formatted for two letter-size sheets of paper; get page one here and page two here.) You can embellish and elaborate on this little house and make it your own special creation.

December Classes and Programs at Parents Place Marin

December 5, 2016

Interfaith families Parents Place in San Rafael has been a valuable resource for countless Marin County parents and families. They offer a wide variety of programs and classes for parents and children throughout the year. Here are a few of the classes they are offering for the month of December.

Terrific Toddlers and Twos (1–3 years)

Wednesday, December 7, 7–9 pm
Acquire a developmental understanding of how best to support your little ones and preserve your sanity! We will talk about setting limits, guiding behavior, developing social skills, understanding tantrums, and more. With Bonnie Romanow, childhood development specialist. $45. Register here.

Hiking with Kids in Marin: Las Gallinas Wildlife Ponds

December 5, 2016

Hiking with Kids: Las Gallinas Wildlife Ponds

I know it sounds a little strange, but a great hike that's perfect for kids can be found on the grounds of the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District in northern San Rafael, at the complex of trails and fire roads near the district's treatment plants off of Smith Ranch Road, near McInnis Park. The gravel trails here are wide and flat, and are perfect for off-road strollers and bikes. The paths wind atop levees through the wetlands bordering San Pablo Bay, and offer amazing views of Marin.

A wide variety of birds make their homes out here, and we've seen white pelicans, Canada geese (plenty of them), mallards, cormorants, turkey vultures, several kinds of egrets, black-crowned night herons, red-wing blackbirds, and others. It's kind of a "who's who" of local avian wildlife, so make sure you bring your binoculars!

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