Hiking with Kids in Marin: Tennessee Valley Trail

October 17, 2017

Tennessee Valley

Tennessee Valley near Mill Valley is one of the most popular hiking and outdoor recreation spots in all of Marin County, and for good reason—it has a combination of easy walks, dramatic views, and a spectacular beach at the end of the trail. Tennessee Valley Trail, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, is a perfect hike for families, and can be easily managed with an offroad-capable stroller. With few hills, the 3.4-mile round trip hike out to the beach at Tennessee Cove and back is easy for hikers (and mountain bikers, too) of all ages. Fall is the perfect time to tackle this hike, since the weather at the coast is often clear, sunny, and spectacular.

Does Your Child Love Minecraft? Join the Minecraft City Champs Tournament This Saturday!

October 17, 2017

Super League Minecraft City Champs Tournament

Marin Mommies presents a sponsored article from Super League Minecraft City Champs Tournament.

Does your child love Minecraft? This weekend on Saturday morning, instead of just playing at home, they can enjoy the game while meeting new friends as part of a local team representing San Francisco, thanks to Super League Gaming and their Minecraft City Champs tournament, run in partnership with Nickelodeon. It’s like little league for Minecraft players! Fun, positive and a special opportunity to get out and play with other kids their age. Past players clearly have had a GREAT time!

Five Fantastic Fall California Getaways for Families

October 17, 2017

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Fall can be a fantastic time to travel in California, with less crowded destinations and wonderful weather, especially at the coasts. There's no shortage of fantastic destinations for families—from the Pacific to the Sierra mountains, there's something for the whole family! Here are our picks for five fantastic places to head to this fall, all of which are only a few hours away from Marin and the Bay Area.

Fall Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

October 17, 2017

I'm a big fan of cooking with pumpkin, which is one of the reasons I love the fall. Pumpkin soup, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bars, pumpkin ravioli—they're all delicious. My kids' favorite are these pumpkin oatmeal cookies, which are chewy and, I like to think, actually good for you. These cookies are a great treat for the lunchbox too.

I mix in in dark chocolate chunks (chocolate chips work equally well), walnuts, and dried cranberries to make them more interesting. They're also fantastic with toasted pumpkin seeds instead of the walnuts. In fact, feel free to use whatever you like to mix in: white chocolate chips, raisins, dried cherries, and pecans are all good.Ingredients

Our Favorite Halloween Books for Kids

October 16, 2017

Halloween book cover collage

Fall is here, and what is a better way to celebrate its arrival than with a good book? My kids and I love to go to the library and pick out some great Halloween children's books to read together, and fall is definitely one of our favorite times of year.

Here are some of our favorites that we've enjoyed over the years. All of these books should be available at public libraries throughot Marin. You can look to see if your local library has these titles available at marinlibrary.org.

Get Spooked this Halloween at a Haunted House in Marin!

October 16, 2017

Haunted house Marin

Everyone loves to get scared at Halloween—even if it's just a little scared—and the perfect place to get some thrills and chills this October is at a family-friendly haunted house. Here's our rundown of haunted houses here in Marin this Halloween season. All are suitable for the entire family, unless otherwise noted.

Keep in mind that some haunted houses have different versions for different audiences at different times, and some kids' tolerance for the spooky and scrary can vary.

Novato Horsemen Haunted House

600 Bugeia Lane, Novato
October 20 & 21, 27 & 28, 7–10 pm

Bring the kids out for a night of scare and fun at the Novato Horseman Haunted House in Novato. Admission is $5 per person. For more info, visit their website.

Tam Valley Haunted House

Tam Valley Community Center, Mill Valley
Friday–Sunday, October 20–22

The theme for TCSD's annual Tam Valley Haunted House is "Summon the Reaper". The Haunted House has three different tours: 3:30–4:30 pm: Not Scary, for children under 8 with all the lights on and a fun tour of the different areas; 5-6:30 pm: Scary, for children over 9; closed 6:30–7:30 pm to feed the volunteer monsters then back open 7:30–9 pm for a truly horrifying experience. Cost: $6 per person. Location: 203 Marin Avenue, Mill Valley. For more info, visit their website.

Halloween Craft: Recycled Glass Pumpkin Votives

October 15, 2017

Halloween pumpkin votives recycled craft

This easy craft project is so much fun to make, and the finished product looks fantastic, especially when lit with a flickering LED candle. Best of all, you can make them using materials from your recycling bin! These Halloween pumpkin votives are simple to make, and are a perfect craft project for all ages, with parental supervision, of course. My daughter and I created the pair of jack-o-lanterns lanterns shown here.

This project is a little messy, so make sure you have a good work area that's easy to clean up. You can also create variations on this craft: use white tissue to make ghost lanterns, and green to make monsters.

Marin Weekend Family Fun for October 13, 14 & 15

October 14, 2017

Tolay Fall Festival

Due to the current wildfires in the North Bay many events have been cancelled this weekend, including the Tolay Fall Festival, the Marin Waldorf School Children's Faire, the Mountain School Apple Faire, the Cornerstone Harvest Pumpkin Patch Festival, Weekend Along the Farm Trails, and the Kunde Giant Pumpkin Festival. Other events may be cancelled; check with the organizer before attending.

Halloween pumpkin patches in Marin and Sonoma counties are open—see our list here.

Friday, October 13

  • Mill Valley Film Festival
    Various Locations
    Friday–Sunday, various times

    The 40th annual Mill Valley Film Festival features a variety of fantastic family films from around the world. Location: various theaters within Marin. For a complete listing of films, visit their website here.
  • Santa Rosa Pumpkin Patch
    Santa Rosa
    Friday–Sunday, 9 am

    Santa Rosa Pumpkin Patch offers eight acres of pumpkins, a huge seven-acre corn maze, kiddy corn mazes, hay and sunflower mazes, jack-o-lantern tether ball, tire swings, a 10-bale-high hay pyramid, a huge jumpy pillow, pedal trike races, a corn play box, a petting zoo, face painting, and more. Location: 5157 Stony Point Road (at Rohnert Park Expressway). For more info, visit their website.
  • The Great Peter Pumpkin Patch
    Spring Hill Jersey Farm, Petaluma
    Friday–Sunday, 9 am–6 pm

    Pick your own organic pumpkin, dig for potatoes, take a tractor ride, visit farm animals, taste homemade ice cream and Spring Hill cheese, milk a cow, and get lost in the hay maze. Peter Pumpkin Patch also offers fresh fruits and vegetables and picnic baskets. Activities are free and so is the parking. This is a wonderful and fun pumpkin patch on a real working farm. Location: 4235 Spring Hill Road (off Bodega Ave.). For more info, call (707) 762-3446 or visit their website.
  • Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch
    Nicasio
    Friday–Sunday, 10 am–6 pm

    Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch offers a wide variety of certified organic pumpkins spread out in an expansive meadow on the farm. Kids activities: jumpy houses, inflatable slide, hay rides, pony rides, a petting zoo, farm animals to visit, a climbing wall, and face painting. Some of these attractions have an admission fee, and some are available only on weekends and select days. Shaded seating area with picnic tables, so you can relax and take in the scenery, listen to some great live music, and even eat lunch. If you arrive hungry, Big Jim's BBQ is on hand on weekends. Tim Cain performs on Sunday from 11 am to noon. Location: 5300 Nicasio Valley Road, Nicasio. Read our review here. For more info, visit their website.

Free Activities for Families Affected by the North Bay Fires

October 14, 2017

California Academy of SciencesThe California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate park is offering free admission to families affected by the North Bay fires through this Sunday.

Many of our readers live in Sonoma County, and we're heartbroken at the destruction from the fires raging there right now. With many Sonoma and Napa families evacuated from their homes, and many families in Marin hosting them (we're one of them!), everyone is by now looking for something to take their minds off the sad situation. Many local museums, indoor play areas, and other attractions are offering free admission for those affected by the fires so families can get out of the smoke and enjoy themselves, recharge, and relax for a while.

Here's a list of places offering free admission to those affected by the North Bay fires. Listings with an asterisk (*) denote indoor spaces where you can get out of the smoke. Most require eligible visitors to check in at the admission desk when visiting. Follow the links in the titles for more information.

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