September Classes and Programs at Parents Place Marin

September 5, 2014

Parents PlaceParents Place in San Rafael has been a valuable resource for countless Marin County parents and families. This fall, they offer a wide variety of programs, from childbirth education to classes for parents and children. Here are a few of the programs they offer in September, including a webinar on positive discipline and an effective fathering workshop with author and parent coach Tom Limbert.

JAMaROO Music Time, plus bonus free play! (9 months–4 years)

JAMaROO Music Time is a fun-packed, 40-minute class that combines music, creative movement, and storytelling. Children will sing, play simple instruments, read stories, balance bean bags, and dance with streamers to a variety of music from around the world. Class themes are related to nature and the outside world.Tuesdays, September 9–23, 10–10:40 am. $39 per child; $22.50 for each additional sibling, for three-week series. Parental supervision is required. As a bonus, the playroom will be available for free play from 10:40 am until noon after each session Register here.

Terrific Toddlers and Twos (1–3 years)

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, BA, childhood development specialist. Wednesday, September 10, 6:30–8:30 pm. $40. Register here.

Take a Family Hike at Santa Margarita Island Open Space Preserve

September 4, 2014

Santa Margarita Island Open Space Preserve in San RafaelFamilies looking for a short, easy hike with interesting things to see along the way should check out Santa Margarita Island Open Space Preserve in northern San Rafael. Located in the Santa Venetia neighborhood just east of the Marin Civic Center, this small preserve really is a little island surrounded by tidal wetlands. It's home to numerous birds and other wildlife, so make sure you bring your binoculars!

Open the gate and walk across the little bridge onto the four-and-a-half-acre island. You'll see pilings and concrete walls, which are the remains of a failed development from the early 1900s that sought to transform the area into a Venice-like town, complete with canals and gondolas (and hence the name Santa Venetia). The bridge is a great place to look for shorebirds that live in the wetlands, including egrets, black-necked stilts, and the endangered California clapper rail.

Once over the bridge, you'll be on the trailhead. Go right or left—it doesn't matter, because the whole trail is a flat, .3-mile loop. It's easy for hikers of any age, and can probably be managed with an off-road capable stroller, too. No bikes are allowed here—just hikers and equestrians.

A Visit to Wildcare in San Rafael

September 2, 2014

WildCare San RafaelOne of Marin's most amazing resources is WildCare. This amazing urban wildlife rehabilitation center helps out thousands of ill, injured, or orphaned wild animals from around the Bay Area. They also undertake wildlife and nature education and operate a 24-hour Living with Wildlife Hotline.

We love to visit the courtyard and small natural history museum at their headquarters in San Rafael's Albert Park. The WildCare courtyard is home to the its Wildlife Ambassadors—animals who are unable to be released back in to the wild and whose permanent home is now in San Rafael. These animals serve as ambassadors to the community, appearing in educational programs at schools and other programs throughout the bay area. We've been coming here to visit since the kids were really little, and some of the animals here seem like old friends.

Car Seat Inspection and Installation in Marin

September 2, 2014

Rear-facing car seatOne of the most daunting things that new parents face, is… installing the car seat! Believe it or not, four out of five car safety seats are actually installed incorrectly. Before my son was born, my husband spent what seemed like many frustrating hours installing the car seat in the back of our car. Eventually he was pretty happy with the job that he did. That is, until we took the car to the CHP for a car seat inspection, where it was declared incorrect. In fact, the officer took out the seat and reinstalled it correctly in just a few minutes!

I've heard similar stories from fellow parents, so it's definitely a must to get your car seat inspected by a qualified agency or individual before you use it for your precious cargo. They'll check your installation and, if needed, show you how to properly install the seat.

Infant CPR Class Events at Whole Foods San Rafael and Mill Valley

September 1, 2014

Mill Valley Whole Foods EventAttention new parents! This week, Whole Foods Markets in San Rafael and Mill Valley will offer events for new moms and dads with an infant and child CPR class followed by a vendor fair featuring community partners including SoulCycle, fitmob, Stroller Strides, Urban Sitter, and Mill Valley Recreation, among others. There will also be free samples and a raffle for gift baskets and other prizes.

One-year CPR certification is included with the course. For both classes, the fee for the certificate has been reduced to $30 (regularly $45) for this special community event. Space for both events is limited, so register to reserve your spot now (reservation links below).

The Mill Valley event takes place at the original Whole Foods Market at 414 Miller Avenue on Friday, September 5, with the class from 9:30–11 am and the vendor fair from 11 am–1 pm. Register for the Mill Valley event here.

Fantastic Family-Friendly Labor Day Recipes

September 1, 2014

Grilled Mediterranean chickenToday is Labor Day, the traditional last gasp of summer vacation. The weather is wonderful, so we've rounded up a selection of our most popular family-friendly grilling recipes, along with a few great summer sides, desserts, and other treats. So fire up the grill and cook a feast for family and friends today!

Mediterranean Grilled Chicken

This Mediterranean-inspired grilled chicken, marinated in fresh herbs and citrus, is a hit with everyone.

Santa Maria-Style Tri Tip

Cooked slowly over charcoal with plenty of wood smoking chips, this traditional Santa Maria-style tri tip is simple to make and really delicious.

Visit a Museum for Free in September

August 31, 2014

Fun at the ExploratoriumDid you know you can visit most of the Bay Area's major museums and cultural attractions for free every month? Just about all museums have one day a month set aside as a free day. They all aren't on the same day, too, so if you plan it right you can take in several museum outings without having to pay a thing.

Note that most museums charge for admission to special exhibitions, although the general admission fee is usually deducted from the total; see details with each museum listing below.

Also, groups are generally not admitted on free days; check with each museum for their free day group policy.

Marin Family-Friendly Events for Labor Day Weekend

August 29, 2014

Sausalito Art Festival

The 62nd Sausalito Art Festival takes place this weekend at Marinship Park.

Here are our picks for great events and activities for children and families this Labor Day weekend. Find more events for the whole week in Marin and beyond in our Family Events Calendar.

Friday, August 29

  • Picnics on the Plaza
    San Anselmo Town Hall Lawn
    Friday, 5–8 pm

    Picnics feature music and family fun. Bring your picnic basket or buy food at the event. For more info, visit their website.
  • Friday Nights on Main: Main Street USA

    Friday, 6–9 pm
    Bring the family to some outdoor dining, live music and dancing on Main Street in downtown Tiburon. This Friday: a salute to Disney, with some of your favorite characters in attendance and the music of the Kyle Martin Band performing contemporary and classic rock favorites. For more info, visit their website.
  • 18th Annual Nostalgia Days Rod and Kustom Car Show
    Downtown Novato
    Friday, 4–8 pm & Saturday, 10 am–5 pm

    Novato's annual celebration of all things automotive features a salute to American Graffiti with a special appearance by actress Candy Clark ("Debbie" in the movie). Friday night cruise takes place on a loop through Novato, and Saturday features a car show, live music, raffle, and vendors. Free. For more info, visit their website.
  • Family Movie Night: Raiders of the Lost Ark
    Stafford Lake, Novato
    Friday, 7:30–10 pm

    The lawn at pastoral Stafford Lake Park sets the perfect stage for this classic outdoor summer event, featuring a screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Marin Parks will host the show and provide the popcorn; bring your family, a blanket, chairs, and a picnic dinner or snacks (portable BBQs are allowed). The show will begin 15 minutes after sunset. For more info, call (415) 897-0618 or visit their website.

Saturday, August 30

  • Sausalito Art Festival
    Marinship Park, Sausalito
    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–7 pm and Monday, 10 am–5 pm
    The country’s best art and most exciting artists, a top-name music line-up, gourmet food, and fine wines and premium beers all bring more than 30,000 art lovers together in an electrifying atmosphere of creativity, fun, discovery, and magic every Labor Day Weekend. A children and families area features hands-on activities and entertainment for all ages. Featuring local children’s music with local Tim Cain and performers including Benny and Bebe's Magic Circus. Tickets to the Sausalito Art Festival are $25 for general admission, $20 for seniors 62+, and $5 for juniors ages 6–12, and free for children under 6. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin Country Mart Farmers Market
    Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    Baby food cooking and nutrition demonstration with Baby Bites and NewboRN Solutions from 10:30 am–noon. Enjoy pony rides and a petting zoo for the kids from 10 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.
  • Muir Woods Family Walk
    Muir Woods National Monument, Mill Valley
    Saturday, 9:30 am–12:30 pm
    Can't stand to see vacation end but too tired to travel? Spend quality time with the family in an ancient redwood forest just 25 minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge. Before letting the long, lazy days of summer slip away, take a leisurely walk through an ancient redwood forest. Wear sturdy shoes, dress in layers and bring lunch, snacks and water. Entrance fees apply. All ages welcome. Strollers not advised; backpack baby carriers OK. Reservations required; call (415) 388-2596. For more info, visit their website.
  • Petaluma Reptile Expo
    Petaluma Community Center
    Saturday, 10 am-5 pm

    Open to the public. All ages welcome. Join us as we welcome a variety of vendors and exhibitors offering hundreds of snakes, lizards, geckos, turtles, tortoises, tarantulas, scorpions, supplies, jewelry, and more at this year's Petaluma Reptile Expo presented by North Bay Herpetological Society. Cost: $5.00 for Adults, Kids 12 and under $2. Location: 320 McDowell Blvd., Petaluma. For more info, visit their website.
  • Theater for Young Audiences: Five Little Monkeys
    Marin Theatre Company, Mill Valley
    Saturday, 10:30 am, 12:30 pm & 3 pm and Sunday, 10:30 am, 12:30 pm & 5 pm

    Those five little monkeys will get into as much mischief on stage as they do in their namesake picture books. Take cover when they make that birthday cake for Mama, meet up with a crocodile, and disappear in the store! The play’s all in rhyme, so you’ll have a great time! Recommended for ages 2–7, 45 minutes. Tickets are $18 for children under 14 and $22 for adults. Order online at, by phone at  (415) 388-5208, or in person at the MTC box office, 397 Miller Avenue in Mill Valley. For more info, visit their website.
  • Komodo Karnival
    San Francisco Zoo
    Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, 11 am–3 pm

    Komodo Karnival will feature good ol' fashioned fun with a nod to the Big Daddy Bahasa, the Zoo's resident Komodo dragon. After you stop by and see him at Komodo Alley, try your luck at games like Crazy Ball, Ring the Bottle, Hoop Shot, Milk Can, Fat Cats and Fish Are Jumping; you may even win a prize! After some cotton candy and a hot dog and soda, show off your strength on the Komodo High Striker then make like a dragon and head up our Komodo Klimbing Wall. Free after zoo admission. For more info, visit their website.

Ten Terrific Family Outings for Labor Day Weekend

August 28, 2014

Hamilton Community Pool NovatoLabor day weekend is summer vacation's last hurrah (even if most kids are in school already). Make the most of this last long weekend of summer with a fun family outing or activity in Marin or elsewhere in the Bay Area.

For more fun family events for this weekend, check out the special Labor Day Weekend edition of our weekly event guide.

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