Thanksgiving Books for Kids of All Ages

November 10, 2014

thanksgiving books for kidsThere are ton of terrific books out there dealing with all aspects of the Thanksgiving holiday. Whether it's about being thankful, turkeys, Pilgrims, Native Americans, or just gathering as a family, there's a book out there to help you and your children celebrate and learn more about this uniquely American holiday.

Here are some of our picks for great kids' books about Thanksgiving. The book links below take you to the online children's catalog of the Marin County Free Library.

The Spectacular Christmas House at San Rafael's West End Nursery

November 9, 2014

Christmas House at West End Nursery San RafaelTraditionally, our first holiday outing in Marin is always to the famous Christmas House at West End Nursery in San Rafael. We checked out this season's edition yesterday on its opening day, and, once again, it's a spectacular as ever. As a matter of fact, I think it might be the best version to date!

The venerable West End Nursery has been operating in San Rafael's Sun Valley neighborhood for over a century—since 1909, in fact. The Christmas House is located on the grounds of the nursery in a Victorian house that's over also 100 years old. It's filled to the brim with Christmas trees and decorations of all kinds, and it's amazing. A visit here will definitely put you in the Christmas spirit, even it you're thinking "But it's not even Thanksgiving yet!"

West End Nursery's Christmas house began back in 1985 as something more akin to a "Christmas corner", but it now showcases over 60 lavishly decorated and lighted trees throughout several rooms, as well as candles, Santas, nutcrackers, angels, snowmen, and just about every seasonal decorative item imaginable. Each room and each tree has a different theme, including kitchen (located in the house's kitchen, naturally), baby's room, outdoors, pirates, music, sports, pets, food, international, and more.

Create Colorful Leaf Prints for Fall

November 8, 2014

Leaf PrintsCreating colorful leaf prints is one of my children's favorite simple fall craft projects. We love to take advantage of Marin's great fall weather and go on family hikes and walks at this time of year. Along the way, the kids collect interesting autumn leaves, which we bring home to use as decorations and to make leaf prints.

Making leaf prints is an easy project that kids of all ages can do, and the results can be really beautiful. To make them you’ll need:

  • Leaves of different shapes and sizes
  • Construction paper
  • Crayons

Marin Weekend Family Fun for November 7, 8 & 9

November 7, 2014
Ice skating at Marin on Ice
Marin on Ice opens this Saturday for another season of open air skating at Northgate 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 7

  • James and the Giant Peach
    Marin Theatre Company, Mill Valley
    Friday, 4 & 7 pm, Saturday and Sunday,10:30 am, 12:30 & 3 pm

    The Bay Area Children’s Theatre production presents James and the Giant Peach for ages 4 to 11. This exciting new musical is inspired by Roald Dahl’s classic tale about the orphaned boy who escapes from his wicked aunts aboard an enormous enchanted peach inhabited by a bevy of very big bugs. Tickets: $18–22. Purchase tickets here. Location: 397 Miller Ave., Mill Valley. For more info, visit their website.
  • The 64th Annual Holly Fair
    San Geronimo Community Center
    Friday, 4–9 pm, Saturday, 10 am–3 pm

    Bring the family for some seasonal fun with turkey dinners, kids' games, homemade preserves and pies, silent auction, white elephant sale, and holiday gift boutique. Location: 6001 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, San Geronimo. For more info, call (415) 488-1757 or visit their website.
  • Throckmorton Youth Performers: Seussical the Musical
    142 Throckmorton Theatre, Mill Valley
    Friday, 7:30 pm, Saturday & Sunday, 2 pm

    Based on the splendid works of Dr. Seuss… anything's possible! Tickets: $18 general, $14 students, $45 reserved. Location: 142 Throckmorton Avenue, in downtown Mill Valley. For more info, call (415) 383-9600 or visit their website.
  • Kids' Pajama Party Katherine Applegate
    DIESEL, a bookstore, Larkspur
    Friday, 6–7 pm

    Pull on your PJs and bring your teddy bear to the bookstore! Author Katherine Applegate will be here to read you a bedtime story. Get cozy in front of the fireplace, listen to a story or two, have some milk and cookies, get your books signed, and then head home for bed.Katherine Applegate's new book is Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla, a picture book companion to The One and Only Ivan. Location: Marin Country Mart 2419 Larkspur Landing Circle. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, November 8

  • 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, kids' crafts from 10:30 am–1:30 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.
  • Harvest Festival
    Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
    Saturday, 9 am–5 pm

    Celebrate the turn of the season with a harvest festival featuring a joyous outdoor performance and hands-on activities for the whole-family Indoor performance by The Banana Slug String Band ($3). All other events free with museum admission. Location: 557 McReynolds Road, Fort Baker, Sausalito. For more info, visit their website.
  • Pizza Party on Horse Hill
    Horse Hill, Mill Valley
    Saturday, 9 am-1pm

    We are hosting a broom-busting pizza party and raffle on Horse Hill. We need your help to to clear French and Scotch broom on the preserve. The work requires considerable strength and stamina but it is possible for volunteers as young as 5 years old to join if teamed with a parent or guardian. Some members of association will talk about their horses living on the preserve. Participants will get a chance to meet the horses up close. Meet at the entrance gate across from address 49 Lomita Dr, near the intersection of Lomita Dr.and Greenfield Ct. For more info, visit their website.
  • Holiday Craft Fair
    Petaluma Community Center
    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–5 pm

    Beautiful and unique crafts for sale, entertainment, food, prizes, and holiday photos with Santa. Admission is free. Location: 320 North McDowell Boulevard, Petaluma. For more info, call (707)778-4488 or visit their website.
  • Creative Family Fun
    Presidio Officers’ Club, San Francisco
    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–3 pm

    Bring the kiddos (ages 5 to 12) for some free craft-making at the new Presidio Officers' Club in San Francisco.The Presidio is a beautiful mosaic of natural and cultural wonders. Make your own paper mosaic featuring some of your favorite Presidio scenes. Location: 50 Moraga Avenue, Presidio Main Post, San Francisco. For more info, call (415) 561-4400 or visit their website.
  • SF Parents of Multiples Children's Consignment Sale
    St Mary's Cathedral
    Saturday, 10 am–1 pm

    If you're looking for maternity wear, clothing for newborns to 5 year olds, toys, high chairs, stollers and much, don't miss this shopping event. Free parking and free admission. Location: 1111 Gough St. (at Geary Blvd.), San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Holidays on the Home Front at Fort McDowell
    Angel Island

    Saturday and Sunday, 11 am–3 pm
    Visitors will learn how the Army helped soldiers and their families celebrate the holidays while at the island during World War II. Families will have the opportunity to make 1940s style Christmas decorations to take home, and enjoy refreshments in the East Garrison Chapel and Guard House. Make special holiday decorations using recycled materials, send a holiday greeting to our service men and women, learn about a soldier’s life, and enjoy the sounds and treats of the holidays. For information call (415) 435-3161 or visit their website.
  • Marin on Ice Opening Weekend
    Northgate Mall, San Rafael
    Saturday and Sunday, noon–10 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.

Date Night Marin November: "Date Day" at the Coast

November 6, 2014

Date Night MarinBay Area locals know that the coast can be cold and miserable during the summer, but sunny and spectacular during the fall before the rain arrives in earnest. For November's Marin date night, we decided to take a look at fun activities out in West Marin coupled with a great dinner or lunch. Let's face it—you probably won't be driving out to Point Reyes for a night out, but a day out is a whole different matter!

You can find some ideas for daytime outdoor outings in our special sections dedicated to Point Reyes and the outdoors in Marin.

Do you have a favorite date night (or any time of day) spot that you'd like us to highlight in a future post? Let us know.

Point Reyes and Point Reyes National Seashore have a wealth of fun activities to do with or without the kids. Get in touch with with nature on a long hike, paddle Tomales Bay on a kayak excursion from Blue Waters Kayaking in Inverness, or visit the artisan cheesemakers of West Marin on California's Cheese Trail. Of course, a long walk on the beach might be in order, too.

Hit the Ice! Holiday Ice Skating in the Bay Area

November 4, 2014

Ice skating at Marin on IceEven though it's an activity that you can do year-round, ice skating seems to be something that's especially appealing around the holidays. Marin on Ice is back at Northgate in San Rafael for another season of outdoor ice skating, so you don't have to leave Marin County to go skate! It's the only rink in the county, but you'll find more in San Francisco, Santa Rosa, and the East Bay. Here's our list of places to hit the ice in the Bay Area this holiday season.

Marin on Ice

Marin on Ice outdoor skating rink in San Rafael's Northgate Mall returns to offers al fresco skating from November 8, 2014 through January 11, 2015. This year the rink is even bigger, with 6,300 square feet of real ice. Skating costs $15 per person, which includes skate rental, and "Skate Buddies" (the blue plastic chair-like supports) are available for beginnners.The rink will be open daily, from 2 to 9 pm Monday through Thursday and noon to 10 pm Friday to Sunday, including holidays. Marin on Ice also offers birthday parties and private rentals. For more information, visit or call (707) 738-8496. Northgate Mall is located off Highway 101 in San Rafael's Terra Linda area, between Northgate Drive and Las Gallinas Avenue.

Horse-Drawn Tours of Novato's Holiday Lights with Indian Valley Carriage

November 4, 2014

Indian Valley CarriageWant to tour Novato's spectacular holiday lights the old fashioned way this winter? Book a trip via horse-drawn carriage or wagon from Gary Sello and Indian Valley Carriage. Novato residents have probably seen Gary and his team cruising the streets at Christmas time, especially near the famous Rombeiro Christmas House on Devonshire Drive.

50-minute tours start at Center Road and Wilson Avenue (across from Miss Sandie's School) at 5:30, 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30 pm, and include a pass by the famous Rombeiro house on Devonshire Drive (and maybe even a stop to tour the inside, depending on schedule and how busy the house is). Gary's carriage seats six average size adults, and his large covered wagon seats twelve. The wagon also has rain protection, although tours will be canceled in the event of heavy rain or wind. Reservations are required, and tours do sell out during the holiday season, so reserve your spot early!

Marin on Ice Returns to Northgate this Holiday Season!

November 3, 2014

Marin on IceMarin on Ice, Marin County's only holiday ice skating rink, returns to Northgate in San Rafael for a second season of open-air skating, opening Saturday, November 8, 2014 and running through January 11, 2015. The rink will be open daily, from 2 to 9 pm Monday through Thursday and noon to 10 pm Friday through Sunday, including holidays.

The Marin on Ice rink will be located in the same spot as last year, in Northgate's Oaktree Plaza near Kohl's. This year the rink is bigger than, with 6,300 square feet of real ice.

Skating costs $15 per person, which includes skate rental, and "Skate Buddies" (the blue plastic chair-like supports) are available for beginnners of all ages. Skates are available in sizes from a child's 9 to an adult 13. Tickets are good all day, and include in-and-out privileges.

Culture, Community, and Play: Lycée Français de San Francisco Brings a New Playground to Sausalito

November 3, 2014

Lycée Français de San FranciscoMarin Mommies presents a sponsored article from Lycée Français de San Francisco, which offers preschool and K–8 education at its Marin County campus in Sausalito. To learn more, visit the school online at

The beginning of this school year marked a milestone for the Lycée Français de San Francisco’s campus in the Ebbtide neighborhood of Sausalito. The French immersion primary school started classes in in the fall of 2013, but the will and generosity of its parent community, along with the collaboration of Sausalito City Council, culminated this past September in the final touches on a playground that can be shared by children throughout Southern Marin.

The days are starting to edge towards a Bay Area winter, but the sun still shines brightly off the yellows and greens of the school’s play structure. LFSF boasts a strong community of families, and their dedication to their school and its new location brought this private and public space to fruition. The pride and personal investment of parents and classes is displayed on the colorful tile wall that runs along the playground’s northwest side.

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