Sonoma and Napa Wine Country Family Holiday Fun

November 16, 2015

Lighting of the SnowmenOne of the benefits of living in the North Bay is having the Wine Country of Sonoma and Napa right in our own backyard. It's a short trip from Marin but a world away, especially during the holidays, when the area does itself up in style.

Here are some selected family-friendly holiday events and happenings in Sonoma and Napa, as well as a few of our favorite places to visit in the Wine Country. There's nothing quite like taking in the Wine Country scenery (and maybe a glass of pinot noir) on a crisp and clear December day! Some of these events require tickets or advance reservations, so make sure you check for availability before you go.

Sonoma Valley

A Winter Circus for the Holidays at Cornerstone Sonoma
November 27–29, December 19–20, 26 & 27
1, 3 & 5 pm

An old style circus based on the French tradition of the 1920’s, Le Cirque de Bohème will transport you into a magical world filled with enchantment, adventure and wonder. This winter a Le Cirque de Bohème presents a new show: Stolen Moonlight. Delight in work of world class performers including a unicycle, contortionist, juggler, slack-rope, hand chair balancing, aerial fabrics, and a hooper aerialist. Tickets: $28 general, $18 kids under 15. More information

Treasures Await at the Bel Marin Keys Holiday Warehouse Sale, November 19-21

November 15, 2015

Bel Marin Keys Warehouse Sale

Marin Mommies presents a sponsored article from the Bel Marin Keys Holiday Warehouse Sale, which takes place November 19–21.

Have you ever wondered where those exceptional, distinctive items you see in your favorite boutique come from? Well you might be surprised to note that they come from right here in Marin County! Hidden in our own backyard is a quaint warehouse district on Bel Marin Keys, just off the 101 in South Novato. Here you will find a mix of small service businesses, warehouses supplying diverse products and world class restaurants and wine makers and distributors. On Thursday November 19 through Saturday November 21, many of the warehouses in the Bel Marin Keys will open their doors for direct-to-seller deals waiting for you! This semi-annual sale is one of the hidden shopping gems in Marin County and has been in existence for over 20 years!

Photos and Breakfast with Santa Claus

November 14, 2015

Photos with Santa

It goes without saying that every Holiday season Santa Claus is an extremely popular guy. He and his small army of little helpers will be making the rounds for photos, breakfasts, and other holiday fun at various shopping centers and other locations in Marin County and beyond. (And of course you'll need to tell him what you want for Christmas, too!)

We make every effort to assure that all listings and hours are as accurate as possible, but occasionally Santa has to take a break to feed the reindeer or tidy up his beard, so make sure to stay on Santa's "nice" list and call or check the venue's website before visiting.

Photos with Santa

  • Santa Photos
    Northgate Mall in San Rafael
    November 12–December 24

    Northgate in San Rafael invites children to visit Santa and have their picture taken with Santa Claus at his winter wonderland house in the Macy's wing. Individual photos and packages are available. Through December 11, Santa will be on hand Monday–Friday from 3–7 pm, Saturday from noon–8 pm, and Sunday from noon–6 pm. Santa takes breaks from 3–4 pm. December 12–18 he'll be there from 10 am–9 pm, and December 19–23 from 9 am–9 pm, with breaks from noon–12:45 pm and 3:45–4:30 pm. Last-minute visits can be had on Christmas Eve (December 24) from 10 am–5 pm. More info:
  • Santa Photos
    Village at Corte Madera

    November 25–December 24
    Santa will be available for photos and visits at Santa's station near Macy's and Talbots, beginning November 25. Hours: Daily from 11 am–5 pm, December 11–23, 10 am–6 pm and December 24, 9 am–5 pm. Santa takes breaks from 2–2:30 pm and December 11–23, 2–3 pm and December 24, 1–1:45 pm. More info:

Marin Weekend Family Fun for November 13, 14 & 15

November 13, 2015
Christmas House at West End Nursery San Rafael
Visit the amazing Christmas House at West End Nursery in San Rafael.

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, November 13

  • Christmas House at West End Nursery
    San Rafael
    Friday & Saturday, 8 am–5 pm, Sunday 9 am–4 pm

    Get in the holiday spirit and visit the amazing Christmas House at San Rafael's West End Nursery. This magical setting includes lights, decorated trees, and more. It's a holiday must-visit in Marin. Free admission; ornaments and decor are for sale. Read about our visit here. Location: 1938 5th Avenue. 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
  • Mediterranean Holiday Bazaar
    Nativity of Christ Greek Orthodox Church, Novato
    Friday, noon–7 pm & Saturday, 9 am–7 pm

    This 1st annual Mediterranean Holiday Bazaar is hosted by the Nativity of Christ Greek Orthodox Church in Novato. The event will be held on the church's campus on Highland Drive, the same venue as the annual Marin Greek Festival, This holiday shopping event will showcase the work of over 30 local Bay Area artisans. Location: 1110 Highland Drive, Novato. 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.
  • Santa Photos at Northgate
    Northgate Mall, San Rafael
    Friday, 3–7 pm, Saturday, noon–8 pm, Sunday noon–6 pm

    Northgate in San Rafael invites children to visit Santa and have their picture taken with Santa Claus at his winter wonderland house, in the Macy's wing. Individual photos and packages are available. Santa takes breaks from 3–4 pm (2:30–3:30 pm on Sundays). More info:
  • Penguins+Pajamas Sleepover
    California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco
    Friday, 6 pm–Saturday, 8 am

    Experience your own night at the museum! Explore the exhibits after-hours and discover the deepest depths of the oceans, travel to the tops of rainforests, blast off into outer space at your own private planetarium show, and then settle in for story time after snacking on milk and cookies. When the lights go out, roll out your sleeping bag next to the California Coast tank or the Swamp window face-to-face with Claude the albino alligator. In the morning head over to the Academy Café for breakfast. Cost: $109 per person. For more info, visit their website.
  • The Berkeley Playhouse: Peter Pan
    The Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, Berkeley
    Friday, 7 pm, Saturday, 1 & 6 pm, Sunday, noon & 5 pm

    Take off with Peter and the three Darling children as they fly away to Neverland! They encounter villainous pirates, a crafty crocodile, a sprightly fairy named Tinker Bell, and the cunning Captain Hook. Location: 2640 College Avenue, Berkeley. Tickets: $17–$60. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marilyn Izdebski Productions Presents, Annie
    The Playhouse San Anselmo
    Friday, 7:30 pm Saturday, 1 & 7:30 pm and Sunday, 1 pm

    Start the holiday season with the whole family in this heart warming tale of Little Orphan Annie and Daddy Warbucks. Performed by young people from throughout Marin County, is directed and choreographed by Marilyn Izdebski with musical direction by Judy Wiesen. No babies or children under three pls. Tickets: $15. Puchase tickets here. All tickets must be picked up from will call 10 minutes prior to performance. Location: 27 Kensington Rd., San Anselmo. For more info, visit their website.
  • Throckmorton Youth Performers: Mary Poppins
    142 Throckmorton Theatre, Mill Valley
    Friday, 7:30 pm, Saturday & Sunday, 2 pm

    Bring your family and be enchanted by this irresistible story and the unforgettable songs, breathtaking dance numbers, and astonishing stagecraft that makes this the musical that soars high above the rest. Believe in the magic of Mary Poppins and discover a world where anything can happen if you let it! Tickets: $20 general, $15 students, $35 reserved. Location: 142 Throckmorton Avenue, in downtown Mill Valley. For more info, call (415) 383-9600 or visit their website.

Saturday, November 14

  • Educator's Day at the Museum
    Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
    Saturday, 9 am–noon

    Are you a preschool–3rd grade Bay Area Educator? Enjoy complimentary admission to the Bay Area Discovery Museum for you and your family on Saturday from 9 am–noon! Come preview hands-on STEM activities from museum programs for schools and teachers, learn more about memberships for teachers and explore the museum's 7.5 acre site. Location: 557 McReynolds Road, Fort Baker, Sausalito. For more info, visit their website.
  • 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.
  • Pizza Party on Horse Hill
    Horse Hill Open Space Preserve, Mill Valley
    Saturday, 9 am–1 pm

    Marin County Parks is hosting a broom-busting pizza party and raffle on Horse Hill with the Alto Bowl Horseowners Association. Help pull broom and sow native grass seed. Participants will get a chance to meet the horses up close. The work requires considerable strength and stamina. OK for volunteers as young as 5 if teamed with a parent or guardian. Dress in layers you can get dirty, wear sturdy shoes, and bring water. Snacks, lunch, and extra water will be provided. RSVP’s are appreciated but not required: (415) 473-3778. For more info, visit their website.
  • Holiday Bazaar
    Mt. Tamalpais United Methodist Church, Mill Valley
    Saturday, 10 am–3 pm

    There will be hand made gifts, food, baked goods, a children's boutique, children's activities, music, and more. Location: 410 Sycamore Avenue, Mill Valley. For more info, call (415) 388-4456 or visit their website.
  • Open House: Marin Waldorf School
    San Rafael
    Saturday, 10 am–noon

    For over 40 years Marin Waldorf School has served parents and their children from the early toddler years through the 8th Grade.Come tour our beautiful campus, meet our faculty, and learn more about Waldorf education. Free childcare will be provided for children 2 years 9 months an older. RSVP at or (415) 479-8190. Location: 755 Idylberry Road, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Open House: San Domenico School
    San Anselmo
    Saturday, 10 am

    San Domenico's warm and nurturing Kindergarten program develops in students foundational habits of mind, which will serve them throughout their academic lives. Learn more about their Kindergarten at this weekend's open houe. RSVP here. Location: 1500 Butterfield Road, San Anselmo. For more info, visit their website.
  • Open House: Twin Cities Community Preschool
    Corte Madera
    Saturday, 10 am–noon

    Please join us for an open house to learn more about the Twin Cities Community Pre-School. We'll have information on our school, philosophy and fun enrichment programs like music, theater, yoga, and Spanish that our students love. In addition to the Pre-school morning program 9am-12pm (parent-participation), we offer a Stay and Play after care program led by teachers from 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm. Location: 56 Mohawk Avenue, Corte Madera. For more info, call 415-924-3150.
  • Free Junior Chef Class: Tasty Side Dishes for Thanksgiving!
    Williams-Sonoma, Corte Madera
    Saturday, 10 am

    Help make your family’s Thanksgiving feast a delicious success! Join us and learn how to cook some amazing side dishes, including a tasty stuffing and simple
    seasonal vegetables. Suitable for ages 5–13. Suitable for ages 5–13. Call the store to reserve your spot (415) 924-6799. Location: The Village at Corte Madera. For more info, visit their website.
  • STEAM Saturday: Fire Science & Safety with the San Rafael Fire Department
    San Rafael Public Library
    Saturday, 11 am

    Come to the San Rafael Library for STEAM powered stories, rhymes, songs, crafts, experiments, and sensory experiences for preschool children ages 3–6 and their caregivers. Registration required: register at the children’s reference desk or call at (415) 485-3322. Location: 1100 E Street, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Bay Area Children's Theatre: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
    Freight & Salvage, Berkeley
    Saturday, 11 am & 2 pm
    The beloved story about the adventures of the Potts family and their miraculous car comes to the stage in a special musical version for young audiences. Sing along as Jeremy and Jemima take on the Vulgarians, who want Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for the Baron’s birthday. Recommended for ages 4 and up. The performance is 90 minutes, including intermission. Tickets: $22 adults, $18 children 14 and under, $20 seniors 65+. Location: 2020 Addison Street, Berkeley. For more info, visit their website.
  • Aquarium of the Bay and BayMobile: Tentacles and Brains!
    Bay Model Visitor Center, Sausalito
    Saturday, 11:30 am–2:30 pm

    Do you know your way around a cephalopod? Come join naturalists for squid dissections and compare your own physical and mental prowess to that of the incredible octopus and its cephalopod relatives. Plus, learn how you can protect these amazing animals and their habitats. Free admission. Location: 2100 Bridgeway, Sausalito. For more info, visit their website.
  • History for Half Pints: Celebrating Picture Books
    California Historical Society, San Francisco
    Saturday, 11:30 am

    History for Half Pints is a family friendly, fun program that shares history with kids of all ages. To celebrate National Picture Book Month, CHS will dive into the fantastic world of picture books through crafts making and story time! Design your own thankful hands picture book, book corners, book marks, and more. At 12:30 pm come take a seat with Screen Actors Guild Book Pal Teresa for story time. Location: 678 Mission Street, San Francisco. For more info or to register, visit their website.
  • A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Celebration
    Charles Schulz Museum, Santa Rosa
    Saturday, noon–4 pm

    Watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on the big screen. Enjoy a re-creation of Snoopy’s Thanksgiving meal of toast, popcorn, pretzels, and jelly beans from the classic television holiday special, plus visits from Snoopy himself, hands-on crafts, and dessert from Cold Stone Creamery. Bring two cans of food to donate to the Redwood Empire Food Bank in exchange for one free child's admission. Location: 2301 Hardies Lane Santa Rosa. For more info, call (707) 579-4452 or visit their website.
  • Creative Family Fun: What’s the Buzz with Newspaper Bugs?
    Presidio Officers’ Club, San Francisco
    Saturday & Sunday, 11 am–4 pm
    Drop in for imaginative craft-making based on the Presidio’s natural and cultural heritage. Featuring different crafts every weekend! November 15 is America Recycles Day! Get creative with newspaper and upcycle it into amazing wall art. Registration not required, but preferred. Location: 50 Moraga Avenue, Presidio Main Post, San Francisco. For more info, call (415) 561-4400 or visit their website.

Help Feed the World's Largest Turkey at Town Center Corte Madera

November 13, 2015

Giant Turkey Town Center Corte MaderaThis holiday season, Town Center Corte Madera proudly welcomes back the World’s Largest Turkey, who will gratefully collect your donations of canned food, non-perishable items, and toiletries. Donations will be distributed by the SF-Marin Food Bank to Marin families in need  this holiday season through Friday, December 4, 2015.

This year marks the Giant Turkey’s 22nd annual appearance at Town Center—this year the Turkey will be “roosting” in the courtyard at the north end of the Center, between Il Fornaio and the Container Store. After December 4, the Food Bank donation barrels will be located in the Town Center Professional building at the south end of the Center near the free holiday gift wrapping table.

Nutrition For A Healthy, Vibrant, Beautiful You at Speak to Me's Lunch & Learn November 19

November 12, 2015

Sonya AngeloneJoin Speak To Me (Intelligent, Inspiring Events for Women) on Thursday, November 19th, for "Nutrition For A Healthy, Vibrant, Beautiful You" featuring Sonya Angelone, MS, RDN, CLT, a nutritional consultant, LEAP therapist and an Oprah favorite on the topic of using food to actually look and feel youthful.

A certified lifestyle counselor and nutritionist, Sonya will share her extensive knowledge and secrets to using nutrition as a tool to keep you feeling youthful, strong and happy as you age. She'll discuss the myths and truths behind everything from supplements to "power foods” and provide an action plan that just could replace all those expensive creams, serums and facials you've currently got in your arsenal.

"Nutrition For A Healthy, Vibrant, Beautiful You" takes place on Thursday, November 19, 2015 from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm at Piatti Restaurant in Mill Valley and includes a healthy and delicious lunch while you learn . Single tickets are $49 each. Learn more and order tickets online at Space is limited. Purchase today.

Marin and Bay Area Holiday Tree and Menorah Lighting Events 2015

November 10, 2015

Ghirardelli Square Tree LightingAll across Marin and the Bay Area, communities celebrate the beginning of the holiday season with a traditional tree lighting ceremony. Here's our list of tree and menorah lighting ceremonies and celebrations in Marin County, San Francisco, and Sonoma County.

  • San Rafael 36th Annual Parade of Lights and Winter Wonderland
    Downtown San Rafael
    Friday, November 27, noon–8 pm & Saturday, November 28, 9 am–noon
    Downtown San Rafael will once again commence the holiday season with its Winter Wonderland, Parade of Lights, and Holiday Marketplace with arts and crafts that starts the Friday after Thanksgiving. On Friday: free snow sledding, kids activities (noon–4:30 pm & 6–8 pm), Holiday Marketplace (noon–8 pm) and the Parade of Lights (5:30 pm) with Santa and Mrs. Claus's arrival and a tree-lighting immediately after. On Saturday: kids activities and snow sledding continues (9 am–noon). Location: On Fourth Sreet from B Street to Lootens Place in downtown San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Ghirardelli Square Annual Tree Lighting
    San Francisco
    Friday, November 27, 4–9 pm

    Enjoy free live entertainment for the entire family throughout the day culminating with the lighting of the Ghirardelli Square tree at 5:30 pm. This year’s festivities will include live music, children’s entertainment and a visit from Santa. Location: Ghirardelli Square, 900 North Point Street (at Beach and Larkin), San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.

Getting Kids off the Fast Track so They Can Play: An Interview with the Mountain School's Lori Grey

November 10, 2015

The Mountain School It’s been 14 years since Lori Grey’s everyday life revolved around the Mountain School, as her daughter, Haley, attended as a three and four-year-old. “It feels nice to come full circle.” Now a college-bound senior at San Francisco Waldorf School, Grey says Haley has fond memories of her time at the school. “She knew she was exactly where she was supposed to be. She had the experience of being fully three and fully four.”

Grey sat down with Mountain School parent Beth Tribolet on an October afternoon to discuss what constitutes Waldorf-inspired education, as the sounds of children at play wafted through her office.

At its best, what can a Waldorf-inspired preschool accomplish?

You want to bring out the best in children; you want to bring out their soul and their personalities. In Waldorf education there’s a common central theme that says children need to engage with each other, engage with nature, and engage with play in a deep and meaningful way. Essentially it is the best preparation for life. You are definitely dealing with the individual but you’re also dealing with fostering community spirit. It’s not just about them as individuals but it is about individuals in the spirit of community, which you achieve by developing empathy skills.

Lake Tahoe Ski, Snowboard & Snow Play Family Fun

November 10, 2015

Skiing in Lake Tahoe

It seems like El Niño is taking its sweet time in bringing us much-needed precipitation, but there's finally some snow up in the Sierras, which means it's time to get ready for the start of ski and snow play season in Lake Tahoe (and hope for more snow this fall and winter). Many of Tahoe ski resorts have already announced their anticipated opening dates for the 2015–2016 season. several are even open now, and some are even opening this weekend!

The Lake Tahoe area has a variety of resorts and ski areas to suit anyone's taste and budget. Here's our guide to places to ski, snowboard, tube, sled, and play in the snow around Tahoe. We're tried to focus on spots that offer not only skiing and snowboarding, but tubing, snow play, and other winter activities, too. If we've omitted your favorite, please let us know!

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