Best Trick-or-Treat Neighborhoods in Marin

October 19, 2014

Rombeiro House on Halloween in Novato Marin County Halloween may be one of everyone's favorite holidays, but trick-or-treating is kind of a lost art these days. It used to be you'd just trick-or-treat in your neighborhood, but many communities just aren't Halloween friendly. In fact, it seems that many otherwise bustling neighborhoods become ghost towns on Halloween night (and not the lively Halloween kind).

If you happen to live in a place that does go all out for Halloween, good for you! Otherwise, you might want to seek out another neighborhood in which to find that Halloween spirit—plenty of families do.

Here's out list of Marin County's top (in no particular order) trick-or-treat Halloween hot spots, as chosen by our readers, friends, and Facebook fans. If you're sure you know of a neighborhood where the trick-or-treat action is even better than these, let us know. (Of course if you want to keep your favorite Marin trick-or-treat spot a secret, that's OK, too.)

Delicious Pumpkin Waffles for a Fall Breakfast

October 18, 2014

Pumpkin WafflesWe always experiment with a lot of pumpkin recipes every fall. The hands-down favorite of all our pumpkin creations has to be these pumpkin waffles. With a subtle spice flavor, they're moist on the inside with a crisp exterior, just like a waffle should be.

Serve them for breakfast with butter and maple syrup, or even for dessert topped with vanilla ice cream. They're a great fall treat that's so good we'll probably start making these year-round, since canned pumpkin is easy to come by!

They're easy to make, too, and you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry already.

Marin Family Weekend Fun for October 17, 18 & 19

October 17, 2014

Great Peter Pumpkin Patch at Spring Hill Cheese in PetalumaHere are our picks for great events and activities for children and families this weekend. Find more events for the whole week in Marin and beyond in our Family Events Calendar.

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

Friday, October 17

  • Just Between Friends Children's & Maternity Consignment Event
    Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa
    Friday, 9 am–8 pm, Saturday, 9 am–3:30 pm and Sunday, 9 am–2 pm

    North Bay's largest children's & maternity consignment sales event, JBF is held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds' Grace Pavilion—40,500 square feet of shopping awesomeness. Shop: huge deals on new and gently-used clothes (0–12 years and maternity), games, toys, furniture, strollers, mommy supplies, etc! Location: 1350 Bennett Valley Road. Santa Rosa. For more info, visit their website.
  • Halloween Harvest Festival!
    Marinwood Community Center
    Friday, October 17, 5–7 pm

    This fun event is for children 12 and under. Carnival games, pumpkin carving and decorating, Halloween bounce house, trick-or-treat bag decorating, face painting, caramel apples and more! Tickets: $10 in advance here; $12 at the door. Adults free. Food will be available for purchase. Location: Marinwood Community Center, 775 Miller Creek Road, San Rafael. For more info, call (415) 479-0775 or visit their website.

Saturday, October 18

  • Marin Country Mart Farmers Market
    Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    Enjoy pony rides and a petting zoo for the kids from 10 am–2 pm, crafts by SCRAP from 9 am–2 pm, children's music or storytelling from 9:30–10:30 am, and more live music from 11 am–12:30 pm, as well as fresh produce, prepared foods, and great local restaurants. For more info, visit their website.
  • Tolay Fall Festival
    Tolay Lake Regional Park
    Lakeville Highway at Cannon Lane, Petaluma
    Saturday and Sunday, 11 am–5 pm
    The 8th annual Tolay Fall Festival takes place over two long weekends in October. In addition to pumpkins and fall decorative items for sale, attractions and activities include a Native American village, the Nighttime Creatures Barn with Creepy Crawly Critters Room, nature hikes, a giant straw maze, a hands-on children's area and kiddie corral, and hay rides. Admission: $4 adults, $1 children 12 and under; free for Sonoma County Regional Parks members. Parking for non-members is $7. For more info, call (707) 565-2041 or visit their website.
  • Goblin Jamboree Fundraiser
    Bay Area Discovery Museum
    Saturday and Sunday, 10 am–4 pm
    Bring the whole family in costume to explore all the fun at the Bay Area Discovery Museum’s Goblin Jamboree Family Fundraiser. Experience the museum as it’s transformed into a spooktacular Halloween wonderland complete with Witches and Wizards school, pony rides, petting zoo, live entertainment, and much more. Tickets available at the door. Admission: $16 general, $13 members, free for children under 6 months. For more info, visit their website.
  • Halloween Carnival
    Twin Cities Community Preschool, Corte Madera
    Saturday, 10 am–2 pm

    The Twin Cities Community Preschool presents a non-scary Halloween carnival for preschool through elementary aged children. Activities include games, photo booth and arts and crafts. There will also be food available. Free admission; game tickets for sale. Location: 56 Mohawk Avenue in Corte Madera. For more info, visit their website.
  • Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival
    Historic Main Street, Half Moon Bay
    Saturday & Sunday, 9 am–5 pm

    The World Pumpkin Capital of Half Moon Bay celebrates its bountiful fall harvest and autumn splendor with a special display of gigantically enormous, heavyweight champion pumpkins, three stages of smashing entertainment, non-stop live music, the Great Pumpkin Parade, a bone-chilling haunted house, harvest-inspired crafts, homestyle foods, pie-eating and costume contests, and pumpkin carving for fun (not a contest). Admission is free. For more info, visit their website.
  • Potrero Hill Festival
    San Franicisco
    Saturday, 11 am–4 pm
    Experience the flavor of the Potrero community in this event for all ages, featuring local food vendors and chefs, artists, musicians, historians, homegrown entertainment, and much more! Location: 20th Street between Wisconsin and Missouri Streets. For more info, visit their website.
  • Exploratorium Market Days: Art, Physics, Fun, and Games
    Exploratorium Plaza, Pier 15, San Francisco
    Saturday, 11 am–3 pm

    Bring your children or your inner child for a day of play with an array of fantastic toys old and new. And learn how to make awesome toys of your own. A full-sized Jeep covered in LEGO boards awaits your creative constructions. Explore assorted classic pinball machines from the Pacific Pinball Museum. Learn how to build a marshmallow launcher, a cardboard machine, or a tiny lathe, all from simple materials. See an enchanting puppet show of The Jabberwocky, plus juggling, origami, and much more. Free. For more info, call (415) 528-4444 or visit their website.
  • San Geronimo Fall Rock Festival
    San Geronimo Valley Community Center
    Saturday, 2–6 pm
    The easiest, most relaxed family music venue—see stellar music you'll enjoy while your kids enjoy the free bounce house. Find out why families love to come to these shows—and why highly talented parents love to perform at them! Featuring national touring act New Monsoon and "hard charging Americana" heroes San Geronimo. Takes place in the courtyard behind the San Geronimo Valley Community Center, 6350 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. For more info, visit their website.

A Family-Friendy Fall Rock Festival in San Geronimo

October 17, 2014

San GeronimoSpend a fantastic fall afternoon relaxing and watching some great local bands at this Saturday's San Geronimo Fall Rock Festival. Taking place on tomorrow, October 18 from 2 to 6 pm, this family-friendly festival offers amazing music, affordable delicious food and drink, and a free bounce house for the kids!

Headliners for the festival are San Francisco rock quintet New Monsoon and hometown heroes San Geronimo. New Monsoon has been described as "…not just a band, but something transcendental", and San Geronimo (the band) perform hard-charging Americana.

Partial proceeds benefit the San Geronimo Valley Community Center food bank and other programs. Tickets at the $20 for adults and $5 kids in advance, and 25 adults and $10 for kids at the door. The advance price is only available more than 12 hours before the show. Order tickets online at Brown Paper Tickets.

Just Between Friends: North Bay's Largest Children's and Maternity Consignment Sale this Weekend!

October 16, 2014

Just Between Friends fall sale Santa RosaCome shop until you drop at this weekend's North Bay Just Between Friends Sale at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds Grace Pavilion in Santa Rosa. Taking place Thursday through Sunday, October 16–19, 2014, Just Between Friends is the North Bay's largest children's and maternity consignment event.

Get a great deal on over 100,000 consignment items in 40,500 square feet of shopping space, including toys, games; outdoor gear; mommy supplies; furniture; crafting, school and party supplies; and more. You'll save 30–90% off retail prices on tons of gently used and even new items. Cash, checks, debit cards, and Visa and Mastercard are accepted. Bring your own bags, baskets, or even a wagon to carry your deals.

Halloween Craft Project: Paper Jack-O-Lanterns

October 14, 2014

Kids always love to make fun decorative crafts, especially at Halloween, when they can help make the house or classroom extra spooky. These easy-to-make paper jack-o-lanterns are a Halloween-time take on the traditional paper lantern craft project, and are simple enough that almost anyone in the family can make them. Make a bunch with different face designs and hang them around the house.

Here's what you'll need:

  • Orange and green construction paper (we used 12 x 18" sheets, but letter size will work, too)
  • Black markers, paint, or construction paper
  • Scissors
  • A ruler

Get Your Family to Eat Healthy With the 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee

October 14, 2014

The 52 New Foods ChallengeIn many families—ours included—it can be a challenge to get kids to eat healthy. While our kids aren't particularly picky eaters, they do gravitate toward the kid staples like mac-and-cheese and pizza, but that all changes if we get them involved in the kitchen to try new things. That's also the premise behind the new book The 52 New Foods Challenge (336 pages, Avery, 2014; $20) by local San Francisco Bay Area author Jennifer Tyler Lee.

In this welcome addition to any parent's kitchen library, Lee offers a guide to getting kids to eat fresh, healthy, seasonal food by experiencing cooking adventures like exploring the farmers' market, growing food in the backyard, and of course making fun, delicious recipes together. This week-by-week guide features over 150 recipes and activities designed to inspire your kids' creativity and build confidence in the kitchen.

Family Halloween Events & Fall Festivals in Marin & the Bay Area

October 14, 2014

Halloween Girls in Witch CostumesHalloween is one of our favorite holidays, and there's so much family fun to be had at this time of year. Find the Halloween event or fall festival that's right for you! We'll keep updating our list of events for Marin and beyond as we find more this fall. If you have an event you'd like to see added to the list, please contact us.

Marin and Sonoma Events

  • Family Musical: The Addams Family
    6th Street Playhouse, Santa Rosa
    October 16-31, various times

    It’s going to be anything but a normal night. Wednesday Addams, the ultimate princess of darkness, has grown up and fallen in love with a young man her parents have never met. And if that weren’t upsetting enough, Wednesday confides in her father and begs him not to tell her mother. Everything will change for the whole family on the fateful night they host a dinner for Wednesday’s ‘normal’ boyfriend and his parents. Location: 52 W. 6th Street, Santa Rosa. For more info, call (707) 523-4185 or visit their website.
  • Halloween Music and Magic Show
    Mill Valley Community Center
    Friday, October 24, 4–7:30 pm

    It's a sppoktacular time for the whole family! Kick off the evening with some lively music. Then... thrills and chills with Zappo the Musician as amazes us with his Halloween magic show. It's a 45-minute show for goblins ages 3 to 103. Cost: $9 general, free for kids 3 and under. For more info, visit their website.

Homemade Pumpkin Soup for a Fall Dinner

October 13, 2014

pumpkin soupMy daughter wanted to make something for dinner with pumpkin in it, it being that time of year and all, and I suggested pumpkin soup. She countered with the idea of serving the soup in little scooped out pumpkins instead of bowls, and we both decided it was a great idea!

The soup turned out better than I imagined, and using the pumpkins as bowls is fun and easy, if a bit labor intensive. This soup is really simple, so make sure you use high-quality ingredients so that all the flavors come through. We found wonderful little locally grown organic sugar pie pumpkins from Full Belly Farm on sale at our local market, and we used yellow potatoes that we dug up ourselves at the Great Peter Pumpkin Patch a couple weeks ago.

You don't have to use the pumpkins to serve—the soup tastes fine eaten out of a regular bowl, but they look festive and would be great for a pre-trick-or-treak Halloween supper or as a starter for Thanksgiving or an autumn dinner party. You could save the sugar pie pumpkins for the soup itself, and hollow out some inexpensive mini pumpkins, which you can usually get for 50¢ or $1 apiece. Try to use organic pumpkins for your serving bowls, so you know they don't have any pesticides on them.

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