Free Summer Outdoor Concerts in Marin 2016

May 15, 2016

One of my favorite things about summer are the free outdoor concerts that take place throughout Marin. There's something about the warm weather and the long days that make events like these really special. From Novato to Sausalito, there's something for every family!

Pack a picnic and your folding chairs and check out a free summer concert near you. Here's our list of events taking place this summer. If we've missed your favorite, please let us know.

Belvedere

  • Belvedere Concerts in the Park Summer Series
    Belvedere Community Park
    Sundays, 4 pm

    June 19, July 17, August 14 & September 4
    The Concerts-in-the-Park Committee presents four fabulous and free Sunday afternoon concerts for your enjoyment this summer. Bring a blanket, a picnic, your family and friends, and have a great time. For complete list of entertainment, visit their website.

Marin Weekend Family Fun for May 13, 14 & 15

May 13, 2016
Pixie Park
Family fun awaits at Pixie Park's Spring Fair this Sunday at the Marin Art and Garden Center in Ross.

Here 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.

Friday, May 13

  • Opening Day: Hamilton Community Pool
    Novato
    Friday, 11 am–6 pm, Saturday & Sunday, 10:30 am–6 pm

    Celebrate the opening day at Hamilton Pool in Novato. This community pool offers a kiddie pool with slide and play equipment, as well as a BBQ and picnic area. Daily drop in admission is $4 for Novato resident children ages 1–15 and $5 for Novato resident adults 16+ with photo ID; non-residents $7 for children and $9 for adults. Location: 203 El Bonito Road. For more info, call (415) 883-7126 or visit their website.
  • Friday Fun Days!
    South Novato Library Parking Lot
    Friday, 10–11 am
    Enjoy an afternoon of fun with the family at the South Novato Library. Whether it’s story, art, music or science, this drop-in program promises to be packed with fun! For All Ages.  Location: 931 C Street, Hamiliton, Novato. For more info, visit their website.
  • Kids' Pajama Party
    DIESEL, A Bookstore in Larkspur
    Friday, 6–7 pm

    Pull on your PJs and bring your teddy bear to the bookstore! Bob Barner author/illustrator of Sea Bones will be here to read you a bedtime story and help you to make collage art of your own. Get cozy, listen to a story or two, have some milk and cookies and get your books signed before you head home for bed. Location: Marin Country Mart, 2419 Larskspur Landing Circle. For more info, visit their website.
  • Del Mar PTA Presents: High School Musical
    Del Mar Middle School, Tiburon

    Friday & Saturday, 6:30 pm
    Join the students of Del Mar as they present this year's play, High School Musical. Tickets: $12. Doors open at 6 pm. Open Seating. Limited sales at the box office starting at 5:30 pm each evening. Purchase advance tickets here. Location: 105 Avenida Miraflores, Tiburon. For more info, visit their website.
  • Disney's The Little Mermaid
    Spreckels Center for the Peforming Arts, Rohnert Park
    Friday & Saturday, 7 pm, Saturday & Sunday, 1 pm

    Take an enchanting trip under the sea with everyone's favorite mermaid princess and her crabby sidekick Sebastian, as they battle the evil sea witch Ursula and win the heart of the human prince Eric. Based on the animated Disney film and the hit Broadway musical. Tickets: $16–26. Location: 5409 Snyder Lane, Rohnert Park. For more info and tickets, visit their website.
  • Fiddler on the Roof
    The Playhouse in San Anselmo

    Friday & Saturday, 7:30 pm, Sunday, 2 pm
    The Stapleton Theatre Company presents Fiddler on the Roof. Kid-friendly. Tickets: $22 adults, student $16. Purchase tickets here. For more information, visit their website.

Saturday, May 14

  • Tour of Novato and Community Fair
    Novato City Hall
    Saturday, 6:30 am–2 pm

    This Saturday, bike riders from the Novato community ride to support local schools. Day-of registration begins at 6:30 am. Community Fair and Student Showcase begins at 10 am and runs through 2 pm, with face painting, crafts, bicycle safety rodeo, carnival games and prizes, free books for kids of all ages, and more. Admission to the Community Fair is free. Location, Novato City Hall, Sherman Avenue (at Grant). For more info or to register online, visit their website.
  • Marin Country Mart Farmers Market
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    This Saturday, special performance by Sing-Marin from 1-6 pm. Enjoy the best local and organic produce, flowers, pastured meats, seafood, organic cheeses, yogurt and milk, breads, baked goods, pasta, confections, olive oil, and brunch and lunch offerings! Kids can take a pony ride and visit the petting zoo (10 am–2 pm), try out some arts and crafts (9 am–2 pm), Emily Butterfly Puppet Show 9:30. For more info, visit their website.
  • STEM Superhero Series
    Bay Area Discovery Museum
    Saturday, 9 am–5 pm

    Get ready for some serious fun! The BADM's new STEM Superhero Series invites young visitors to use their STEM superpowers to solve real world challenges. All STEM Superheroes will receive capes to adorn with badges earned at each event; attend all four to complete the mission! Events include special facilitated programs for all ages and performances, all free with admission. This Saturday: "Code Our Future: Super Solving with Robots." Location: 557 McReynolds Road, Fort Baker, Sausalito. For more info, visit their website.
  • St. Anselm Festival of Fun
    St. Anselm's School, San Anselmo
    Saturday, 10 am–8 pm

    This free family fun festival offers over 25 attractions, including carnival rides, prize games, music and entertainment, face painting, jumpy houses and slides, and more. Food and drink available for purchase. Admission is free, but tickets must be purchased for rides and games. Location: 40 Belle Avenue, San Anselmo. For more info, visit their website.
  • Living History Day
    Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park
    Saturday, 10 am–4 pm

    All are invited to meet the vaqueros, traders, cooks, crafts men and women, plus others who lived in Old California. Have fun learning basket weaving, candle making techniques, dances from the rancho, and playing games. Bring a picnic and watch history come alive! Admission: $3 adults, $2 children 6–16. Location: 3325 Adobe Road, Petaluma. For more info, visit their website.
  • Free Kids Cooking Class: We Love Tacos!
    Williams-Sonoma, Corte Madera
    Saturday, 10 am
    If you love tacos as much as we do, this is the class for you! There’s no end to the amazing fillings you can make—and then you can top your taco with whatever you please, be it sour cream, a yummy salsa or a squeeze of lime juice. Then dig in! Suitable for ages 8–13.  Call the store to reserve your spot (415) 924-6799. Location: The Village at Corte Madera. For more info, visit their website.
  • Sunset Celebration Weekend
    Cornerstone Sonoma
    Saturday, 11 am–4 pm

    Sunset is hosting its 2016 Celebration Weekend at Cornerstone Sonoma. Tour the debut of Sunset’s Test Gardens and new Outdoor Test Kitchen; mingle with writers and celebrity chefs; attend seminars on home, travel, food, and garden; enjoy fine food, wine, and shopping.  Kids 12 and under are free on Saturday with a paid adult.  Purchase tickets here. Location: 23570 Arnold Drive, Sonoma. For more info, visit their website.
  • Patchwork Series Children's Show: Octopretzel
    Freight & Salvage, Berkeley
    Saturday, 11 am

    In a show as exuberant as their whimsical name, Octopretzel returns to the Freight stage to share exciting new material! For the past year, they've been working on a new album for release this spring. "Inspiraled" brings together new fun, engaging and creative songs that range in themes from stars, animals, imagination, different instruments, and lots more. Admission: $10 advance, $12 at the door. Doors open at 10:45 am. Location: 2020 Addison Street, Berkeley. For more info, call (510) 644-2020 or visit their website.

Insider's Guide to the 2016 Mountain Play: West Side Story

May 13, 2016

Mountain Play West Side Story 2016

One of Marin County's most beloved and unique events is the famous Mountain Play—an outdoor theatre experience high on the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais that's been going strong for over a century! This year's 103rd Mountain Play production is the Tony award winning musical West Side Story. Based on Shakespeare's play about two star-crossed young lovers, Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story features unforgettable songs by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, and was made famous by its Oscar-winning 1961 film version. It all makes for fantastic family entertainment in the spectacular setting of Mt. Tam!

Featuring athletic choreography and one of the most beautiful scores in musical theatre history, West Side Story is directed by Jay Manley and stars Mindy Lym as Maria, Jerry Lee as Tony, Erica Lamkin as Anita, David Crane as Bernardo, and Zachary Isen as Riff. Musical direction is by David Möschler and choreography by Nicole Helfer.

Top 10 Marin Kids' Birthday Party Venues!

May 12, 2016

Birthday Parties for Kids Marin

There's no shortage of great places to hold your child's birthday party in Marin, but which ones are the favorites with local families? Here's our top-ten list of kids' birthday party venues throughout Marin County, as selected by us and by Marin Mommies readers. (Please note that we haven't included parks and playgrounds in this list.)

You can browse more Marin birthday party venues on our Marin Birthday Party Guide, as well as search for entertainers, caterers, party supplies, bounce houses, and more. Here they are (in no particular order):

Love2Dance

Novato's Love2Dance is not only a great place for dance classes, but for active themed birthday parties as well! Themes for Love2Dance's two-hour parties include "Pretty Princess", "Hawaiian Hula", "Hollywood", and even "Disney's High School Musical", and include lots of dancing and games like the Hokey Pokey and musical chairs. Love2Dance provides all the decorations and suppiles, and you bring snacks, beverages, and the cake! Owner Tara brings tons of energy and enthusiasm to the party and is great with the kids. Read more about Love2Dance's birthday parties here.

Splash, Slide, and Swim at the Hamilton Community Pool in Novato

May 10, 2016

Hamilton Community Pool NovatoWhen the weather turns warm, almost everyone loves going to the pool for a day of splashing and swimming in the sun. One of my family's favorite Marin public pools is the one in Novato's Hamilton neighborhood, which opens for the 2016 swim season this Friday, May 13.

My kids love Hamilton Community Pool especially for the shallow kids' pool with its play structure, water slide, and water sprayers. It's a blast for kids of all ages. There's also a larger more traditional pool for more serious swimming and water play.

Experience Maker Faire Bay Area 2016, the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth!

May 10, 2016

Maker Faire Bay Area 2016

Get ready for the greatest show (and tell) on earth as Maker Faire Bay Area returns to the San Mateo Event Center. Maker Faire describes itself as “part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new!”, and it’s a family-friendly expo of invention and creativity featuring everything from technology, science, and engineering to food, art, and education. It’s a celebration of all things “Maker” that will inspire you and your family to become Makers yourselves. Maker Faire Bay Area takes place Friday through Sunday, May 20, 21, and 22, from 1 to 5 pm on Friday, 10 am to 7 pm on Saturday, and 10 am to 6 pm on Sunday.

Easy Chinese Cashew Chicken

May 9, 2016

cashew chickenWhenever we get Chinese take-out, my kids love to order cashew chicken. Like many Chinese-American restaurant staples, cashew chicken is actually easy to make at home, and requires only a couple special ingredients, which you should be able to find in the Asian foods aisle of your local supermarket. Accompany this with stir-fried green beans and steamed brown rice for a healthy weeknight meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup roasted unsalted cashews

Playland-Not-At-The-Beach Offers Family Fun from a Bygone Era

May 9, 2016

Playland-Not-At-The-Beach

It's a safe bet that few if any of us remember Playland at the Beach, that bygone San Francisco beachside amusement park that closed back in the early 1970s. This popular attraction, once located across from Ocean Beach near Sutro Heights and the Cliff House offered up fun like the Big Dipper roller coaster, Fun House, Diving Bell, Ferris wheel, the infamous Laffing Sal automaton, restaurants, and more. It was even the birthplace of the Bay Area's favorite ice cream treat, the It's-It ice cream sandwich! Not much remains of Playland (its site is not home to a condo development), but if you want to get a taste of what it was had to offer, head across the Bay to El Cerrito and pay a visit to Playland-Not-At-The-Beach.

Calling All Kids: Get Your 2016 Marin County Fair Entries in This Week!

May 9, 2016

Marin County FairSummer is almost here, and that means the 2016 Marin County Fair will be here soon, too. One of the things we love about the fair is the wide variety of competitions they have for kids of all ages. If your kids want to enter some of their handiwork into the fair, they'll need to act soon; the deadline for entry to all competitions is this Thursday, May 12 at 5 pm.

Children ages 5–18 can enter any number of Junior Division competitions, including arts and crafts, hobbies, cartoon art, performing arts, photography, and creative writing, not to mention traditional preserved food, horticulture, and floral categories. Do you have a prize-winning cow, goat, or chicken in the backyard? Kids can enter all sorts of livestock in the fair. Don't have a farm animal? Don't worry—kids can also enter their furry friends in the Guinea Pig, Rabbit, or Pocket Pet (mice, rats, hamsters, turtles, and other critters) competitions.

Special theme categories for 2016 include merry-go-rounds, treasure chests, time capsules, Fair Memories collages or assemblages, decorated parasols, selfies, carnival rides, Etch-A Sketch art, and more. There's bound to be something for everyone in the family to enter. My kids always love entering something in the fair, and it's thrilling to see what kind of ribbon you've won when you finally find your exhibit on display.

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