A Winter Circus for the Holidays at Cornerstone Sonoma

November 3, 2015

Cirque de Boheme Stolen Moonlight This Thanksgiving and Christmas, Cornerstone Sonoma presents a winter circus for the holidays by Le Cirque de Bohème: Stolen Moonlight. Experience the magic of a 1920s-style circus based on the French tradition, featuring an amazing cast of characters including a unicycle, contortionist, juggler, slack-rope, hand chair balancing, aerial fabrics, and a hooper aerialist.

This intimate circus gathering takes place under the charming tent in the gardens at Cornerstone Sonoma, and is limited to 140 guests per performance. Shows take place Thanksgiving and Christmas weekends only: Friday–Saturday, November 27 and 28 at 1, 3, and 5 pm; Sunday, November 29 at 1 and 3 pm; and Saturday and Sunday, December 19, 20, 26, and 27 at 3 and 5 pm.

Tickets cost $28 for adults and $18 for kids under 15. Last year many of these performances sold out early, so get your tickets soon. Order tickets online here. A portion of all ticket sales go to benefit the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance.

Hit the Ice! Holiday Ice Skating in the Bay Area

November 2, 2015

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 itself, but you'll find more opportunities to skate 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 7, 2015 through January 10, 2016. This year the rink, located near the center's Oaktree Plaza, is even bigger, with 6,400 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.

Weeknight Recipe: Easy Mexican Chicken and Rice Soup

November 2, 2015

Mexican chicken and rice soupAt this time of year, my family and I love making a warm pot of comforting soup for dinner. The kids love chicken soup in all its forms, so I created this Mexican-inspired version of chicken and rice soup to mix things up a bit.

This definitely isn't your run-of-the-mill bowl of chicken soup—it's simple but delicious and everyone loved it. Filled with chicken, rice, and vegetables, you can also mix in garnishes to personalize your bowl.

While the "right" way to make this is probably to simmer a whole chicken for a long time, this weeknight one-pot-meal is easy and quick to put together with boneless skinless chicken breasts and good quality chicken broth.


  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast or tenders (frozen is OK)
  • 2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth

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

November 1, 2015

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!

Visit a Museum for Free in November

November 1, 2015

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 and usually only the special exhibition fee is charged on free days; 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.

First Sunday of the Month—November 1

First Tuesday of the Month—November 3

Marin on Ice Returns to Northgate this Holiday Season!

October 31, 2015

Marin on Ice

Marin on Ice, Marin County's only holiday ice skating rink, returns to Northgate in San Rafael for a third season of open-air skating, opening Saturday, November 7, 2015 and running through January 10, 2016. The rink will be open daily, including holidays. Opening times vary, but the rink is generally open from 2 to 9 pm during the week, noon to 10 pm on Saturdays, and noon to 9 pm on Sundays, with extended hours during Thanksgiving week and around the holidays.

The Marin on Ice rink will be located in the same spot as in previous years, in Northgate's Oaktree Plaza near Kohl's. This year the Marin on Ice rink is bigger than ever, with 6,400 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 beginners 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.

Frequent skaters can purchase books of 10 tickets for $120—a 20% discount. Marin on Ice will also offer group skating lessons for kids ages 5 and up, taught by certified instructors.

Marin Weekend Fun for October 30, 31 & November 1

October 30, 2015

Halloween trick-or-treat kidsHere are our picks for great events and activities for children and families this Halloween weekend. Find more events for the whole week in Marin and beyond in our Family Events Calendar.

Looking for a neighborhood to trick-or-treat? Look no further... check out our list of places in Marin here.

Friday, October 30

  • Sing and Dance with Miss Kitty
    San Rafael Public Library
    Friday, 10:30–11:15 am

    Join Marin County’s favorite Miss Kitty for a series of fun family concerts just right for children aged birth to 8 years old. Free. Sponsored by the Friends of the San Rafael Public Library. Location: 1100 E Street, Downtown San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Kids Costume Contest & Trick-or-Treating
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Friday, 4–6 pm

    Put on your best costumes and come trick-or-treat at the local stores at Marin Country Mart in Larkspur. For more info, visit their website.
  • Spooky Spaghetti Bingo
    Corte Madera Community Center

    Friday, 6–9 pm

    Join Corte Madera Parks and Recreation for a night of food and fun! Enjoy a buffet-style spaghetti dinner from 6–7 pm, then bingo for prizes until 9 pm! Fun for the whole family! $15 per person, includes 3 bingo cards, additional cards are available for $1 each. Register here. Location: 498 Tamalpais Drive, Corte Madera. For more info, visit their website.
  • The Berkeley Playhouse presents Peter Pan
    The Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, Berkeley
    Friday, 7pm, 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.
  • Novato Horsemen Haunted House
    600 Bugeia Lane, Novato
    Friday, 7–10 pm

    Bring the kids out for a night of scare and fun at the Novato Horseman Haunted House in Novato. Admission is $5 per person. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, October 31 (Happy Halloween!)

  • Halloween Festival
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    Bring the kiddos for an old-fashioned Halloween Festival. Activities include kids music, caramel apple making, face painting, pony rides, crafts, and an organic pumpkin patch. Dress up your pup for the pup parade at 11 am at George. Location: across from the Larkspur ferry terminal. For more info, visit their website.
  • Not-Too-Spooky Halloween
    Habitot Children's Museum, Berkeley
    Saturday, 9:30 am–4:30 pm

    Come to our not-too-spooky celebration for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Play miniature golf in the garden graveyard, paint miniature pumpkins and y paper ghosts in the Wind Tunnel. Visit the witches’ apothecary in the grocery store. Treats and prizes. Come in costume! Location: 2065 Kittredge Street, Berkeley. For more info call (510) 647-1111 or visit their website.
  • Día de los Muertos Celebration
    Mill Valley Community Center
    Saturday, 10:30 am–1 pm

    Mill Valley Recreation joins the joyful celebration of dearly departed family, friends, and pets during the Mexican festival Day of the Dead. Join in the celebration by participating in several free activities, decorating sugar skulls, getting your face painted, and creating memory boxes. All ages are welcome! Location: 180 Camino Alto, Mill Valley. For more info, visit their website.
  • 10th Annual Harvest & Halloween Carnival
    Francis Ford Coppola Winery,
    Saturday, 11 am–2 pm

    Join us for a day of game-playing, costume-wearing fun. Tickets are just $10 per child (ages 14 and under). Proceeds from this event will go to benefit the Valley Fire Fund. Purchase tickets here. Location: 300 Via Archimedes, Geyserville. For more info, call (707) 857-1471 or visit their website.
  • Cascada de Flores: Celebrate All Souls' Day!
    Novato Library
    Saturday, 11–11:30 am

    Celebrate All Souls' Day with music, dancing and laughter! Festeja Dia de Muertos con musica! Free. Location: 1720 Novato Boulevard, Novato. For more info, visit their website.
  • Halloween Trick-or-Treating Event
    The Village Corte Madera
    Saturday, noon–3 pm

    Participating retailers will hand out candy to costumed trick-or-treaters on Saturday, October 31 from noon–3 pm. Look for a decal on the window of each store to see if they have candy! For more info, visit their website.
  • Pirate Halloween Party
    Falkirk Mansion, San Rafael
    Saturday, 2 seatings only at noon & 3 pm

    Put on your best Pirate gear, bring your crew an' come th' Falkirk on Halloween! Event includes a "pirate feast" with real pirates, treasure hunt, individual treasures, and Halloween tricks and treats! Tickets: Tickets are $18 per child and $20 per adult. Make reservations by calling (800) 838-3006 24 hours, 7 days a week, or visit Brown Paper Tickets. Location: 1408 Mission Avenue at E Street, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Halloween Bash & Bay Area Science Festival
    Bon Air Center, Greenbrae
    Saturday, noon–4 pm

    A mashup of Halloween and makers, celebrating community-made arcade games, with the Marin Maker Mobile, free trick-or-treating and a food drive benefiting Marin Food Bank. Part of the Bay Area Science Festival. This event is the perfect mix of technology, creativity, and Halloween fun. Free. For more info, visit their website. 
  • 15th Annual Halloween Hoopla
    Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, San Francisco
    Saturday, noon–1:30 pm

    Halloween Hoopla features interactive performances and games for kids under 10 and their adults. Led by the ever-popular Unique Derique, the program features live music from Venezuelan Music Project, roaming shenanigans from Pi Clowns, mysterious palm reader Madam Z, crafting with Trash Mash-Up and the Children’s Creativity Museum. Join the annual Mummy Wrap and more games. Bring your camera for the Ghoulish Photo Booth! The program culminates in the Halloween Costume Parade, where everyone shows off their Halloween finery. For more info, visit their website.
  • Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
    Marin City Library
    Saturday, 1–3 pm

    This not-so-scary Halloween and Fall celebration will be filled with ghoulish games, spooky crafts, and awesome treats! Free. Location: 164 Donahue Street, Marin City. For more info, visit their website.
  • Trick-or-Treat Fourth Street
    Saturday, 2–5 pm

    Berkeley's Fourth Street invites all costumed kids to trick or treat on the street. Activities include facepainting, photo booth, live music and more. For more info, visit their website.
  • Halloween Trick-or-Treat Trail
    Downtown Petaluma
    Saturday, 3–5:30 pm

    Join over 60 participating downtown Petaluma merchants for a fun and safe community Halloween for the entire family and goodies for costumed kids under 12. Prepare for a hautingly "ghould" time  as the scary, the cute, the ugly and the creepy descend on downtown Petaluma. For more info, visit their website.
  • Santa Venetia's 6th Annual Halloween Party
    San Rafael
    Saturday, 4:30–8:30 pm

    Santa Venetia's 6th Annual Halloween Block Party takes place on Adrian Way (between Mabry and Meadow), which will be closed to all traffic for this event. Explore a haunted cemetery, check out what the witches are brewing in the Witches Kitchen, and enjoy the local band and the new Massacre Disco, not to mention the San Rafael Fire Department, who will be bring their best fire truck. Of course there will be trick-or-treating, too! Free, thanks to the Santa Venetia Neighborhood Association. Location: Adrian Way between Meadow and Mabry, San Rafael.

Special Marin Ballet Nutcracker Storytime for Marin Mommies Readers!

October 29, 2015

Marin Ballet Nutcracker Storytime Marin Ballet's Nutcracker Storytime is a lighthearted introduction to the full-length Nutcracker production they perform in December. With a live storyteller and music, combined with special choreography for Marin Ballet's Level 1 students, and surprises from the Nutcracker cast, young children learn the story of how Clara makes her way from a Victorian Christmas Eve to the Land of the Sweets. It's a wonderful way to get ready for going to the big theater this holiday season!

Marin Ballet has offered us 40 free tickets to this special Nutcracker Storytime on Saturday, November 14 at 10:30 am. All tickets have been given away.

The performance will take place at Marin Ballet's Phyllis Thelen Theater at 100 Elm Street in San Rafael, near Dominican University of California. The show is approximately 45 minutes long, and is suitable for families with children ages 3 to 7. Please plan to arrive 15 minutes early to park and get settled in your seats.

Best Trick-or-Treat Neighborhoods in Marin

October 27, 2015

Rombeiro House on Halloween in Novato Marin CountyHalloween 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.)

  • Hamilton, Novato—The Hamilton neighborhood in Novato is full of families and enjoys a close-knight, small-town atmosphere. It's the go-to trick-or-treat spot of many Marin families.
  • Santa Venetia, San RafaelAdrian Way between Meadow and Mabry was highlighted on KPIX last year as a safe place to trick-or-treat in Marin County, the Santa Venetia Neighborhood Association brings you our Annual Halloween Party. Adrian Way will be closed off to all through traffic on Halloween.
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