25 Inexpensive (or Free) Things to Do for Families in July

July 5, 2017

McInnis Park

July is here, and there's so much for families to do in Marin and the Bay Area. You don't have to break the bank to have a great time with the kiddos, either! Here are 25 great ideas for great affordable activities and outings in Marin and the Bay Area in July, all of which are free or really inexpensive. Keep in mind some of these activities require advance registration, so check before you go.

  1. See some art for free at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. Fridays through August 18, 5–8:30 pm
  2. Play 18 holes of mini golf with the kiddos at McInnis Park. Open daily.
  3. Visit the seals and sea lions the Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands. Open daily, 10 am–4 pm
  4. Admission to the Bay Area Discovery Museum is free on the first Wednesday of the month. July 5, 9 am–5 pm
  5. Magician Brian Scott performs at the Mill Valley Library. July 5, 3:30–4:30 pm

2017 Marin 4th of July Parades, Fireworks and More…

July 4, 2017

4th of July

Celebrate Independence Day the Marin County way! Communities across the Marin observe the 4th of July in their own unique ways. Here’s what’s going on in your community on Tuesday, July 4. We will be updating the list as we learn of new events, so please check back. Please keep in mind that event details can change without notice, so please check the event links or call before attending.

You can also add your local Independence Day event to our Family Events Calendar.

Corte Madera and Larkspur

  • The Corte Madera-Larkspur festivities celebrate start off with at the 65th Annual Independence Day Pancake Breakfast—with pancakes, sausages, fruit, coffee, orange juice, and milk—at Larkspur's American Legion Twin Cities Post 313 at 500 Magnolia Avenue. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under, with famous 1928 recipe gin fizzes and the Post 313 Renowned Mimosa for $5 each. Breakfast is from 8–11 am; flag raising ceremony at 7:45 am. Info: call (415) 924-6283 or  www.americanlegion313.org
  • Don’t miss this year’s Corte Madera-Larkspur 4th of July Parade and Festival! One of the biggest 4th of July events in Marin, the parade boasts the elaborate floats, precision drill teams, classic cars, and the Corte Madera Town Band. This year's parade celebrates the Corte Madera's centennial! The parade starts at 10:30 am. Accompanying festivities at Corte Madera's Town Park from 9 am–5 pm include arts and crafts, food and drink, carnival games, children's activities, bounce houses, and stage shows. The parade leaves Redwood High School and winds through downtown Larkspur from Magnolia Street and into Corte Madera by way of Tamalpais Street until it reaches Corte Madera Town Center. The streets will close at 10 am. Info: (415) 924-0441 or www.cortemadera.org.

Watching the Fireworks in Marin

July 3, 2017

Marin County Fair FireworksFireworks at the Marin County Fair. Photo: Marin County Fair

For families with young children, the ritual of watching 4th of July fireworks can be a little inconvenient. Babies and toddlers are often scared of the noise (if you're close enough to hear), the summer sunset at around 9 pm means most kids are up way past their bedtime. It's even worse if you decide to wake them out of a deep sleep in time to see the fireworks (trust me, I've been there). Nothing's quite as crabby and grumpy as an overtired child, no matter how great the fireworks are.

Give Back this Summer by Hosting a Lemonde Stand for the SF-Marin Food Bank

July 3, 2017

Lemonade Stand SF-Marin Food Bank.

As parents, we're often looking for ways to teach our kids how to give back to our community. This summer, the SF-Marin Food Bank, which helps provide food to 30,000 local families every week, has created a cute DIY lemonade stand kit to help kids take action against hunger.

No Campfire? Make S'mores Cookies!

July 3, 2017

s'mores cookies

Summer means cooking outdoors and, of course, s'mores! In case you don't know what a s'more is, it's a treat consisting of a graham cracker topped with square of milk chocolate (Hershey's is traditional), then topped with a warm toasted marshmallow and then another graham cracker. "S'more" is a contraction of "some more," which is what everyone says after they finish their first one.

If you don't have a campfire or fire pit handy today, try making these amazingly delicious s'mores cookies. They incorporate all the ingredients of a s'more in an easy to make and eat cookie form, so you can enjoy the deliciousness of s'mores anytime without having to wait to go on a camping trip. My son said these were the best cookies he ever tasted, and I'm inclined to agree with him.

Fantastic Family-Friendly 4th of July Recipes

July 2, 2017

Tri-tip

The 4th of July is coming up, and what could be more all-American than a summer backyard BBQ? We've put together 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!

Marin Family Weekend Events: June 30, July 1 & 2

July 2, 2017

Meet Storm Troopers from the 501st Legion Golden Gate Garrison at the Marin County Fair, which opens Friday.

Here are our picks for great events and activities for children and families this Independence Day weekend. The Marin County Fair opens on June 30. Find out more about here.

Looking for a place to watch the fireworks in Marin? Check out our list of places here.

Friday, June 30

  • Breakfast with Enzo
    Sports Basement, San Francisco Presidio
    Friday, 10 & 11 am

    Enzo Garcia plays guitar, banjo, accordion, musical saw, Jew's harp, enzotar, Appalachian dulcimer, slide flute, percussion and more. Recommended for children 7 and under. Drop in any time. Cost: $15 for one child, $10 per each additional child, siblings under 7 months free. For more info, call (415) 652-2474 or visit his website.
  • Marin County Fair
    Marin County Fairgrounds, San Rafael
    Friday–Sunday, 11 am–11 pm

    Come to the fair for over 12,000 exhibits, carnival rides, headline entertainment, the barnyard, an international short film and video festival, nightly fireworks, and more! Admission: $20 adults, $15 children 4–12 and seniors 65+, free for children 3 and under. For more information, call (415) 473-6800 or visit their website.
  • Children's Garden Series: Ka-Hon
    Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco
    Friday, 11–11:30 am & 12:15–12:45 pm
    Founded in 2012 by some of the Bay Area’s finest Latin percussionists, Ka-Hon features Venezuelan-born Omar Ledezma, Peru’s Braulio Barrera and Pedro Rosales, and Mexican-born José Roberto Hernandez and Javier Cabanillas. Known for highly interactive performances, this band creates an experience that’s definitely outside the box.Free. For more info, visit their website.
  • Game Day!
    Mill Valley Library
    Friday, 2:30–3:30 pm

    Roll the dice, spin the spinner, or pick a card! Play board games, cards, or work a puzzle in the Creekside Room. All ages, no registration required. Location: Creekside Room, 375 Throckmorton Ave, Mill Valley. For more info, visit their website.
  • Friday Nights at the de Young
    de Young Museum, San Francisco
    Friday, 5–8:45 pm

    Friday Nights at the de Young are after-hours art happenings that include a mix of live music, dance and theater performances, film screenings, panel discussions, lectures, artist demonstrations, hands-on art activities, and exhibition tours. The café offers a delicious prix-fixe menu and specialty cocktails, and the Hamon Tower observation level is open until 8 pm. For more info, visit their website.
  • Broadway Under the Stars
    Jack London State Historic Park, Glen Ellen
    Friday, 5 pm

    Join Transcendence for this thrilling celebration of music and dance from Broadway and beyond. Opening the season with a splash, this concert pays tribute to some of the most powerful songs and shows ever written. Kick off your summer with an evening you and your friends will never forget! Preshow picknicking starts at 5 pm, show starts at 7:30 pm. Purchase tickets here. Location: 2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen. For more info, visit their website.
  • Friday Nights on Main
    Main Street, Downtown Tiburon
    Friday, 6–9 pm

    Bring the family to some outdoor dining, live music and dancing on Main Street in downtown Tiburon. We’ll be jamming to the Spirit of the Caribbean’s calypso music and hunting for treasure! Every day should feel this good!For more information, visit their website.
  • Jazz & Blues by the Bay
    Gabrielson Park, Sausalito
    Friday, 6:30–8 pm

    Jazz & Blues by the Bay at Gabrielson Park in Sausalito is a free event. Lawn seating available (first-come first-served). This Friday: David Gerald (blues). Sponsored by Sausalito On the Waterfront (serving hot dogs and hamburgers) For more info, call (415) 289-4100 or visit their website.
  • Tam Valley's Creekside Fridays
    Tennessee Valley Cabin, Mill Valley
    Friday, 6:30–8 pm

    Bring the family, pets, chairs, and blankets to the weekly free musical event. This Friday: Sugar Rush. Food available for purchase. For more info, call (415) 289-4152 or visit their website.
  • Sun Valley to Fireworks Walk
    San Rafael
    Friday, 8:30–10:30 pm

    Join a ranger for a nature walk to experience this unique preserve after dark. We’ll discuss nocturnal animals and things that go bump in the night! The highlight of the walk will be to enjoy the Marin County Fair fireworks from one of the best viewing spots on Open Space. Fireworks start at 9:30 pm. This event is ideal for all ages. Don’t forget to bring a flashlight. Meet at the Dan Abraham Trailhead. For more info, visit their website.
  • Outdoor Movie Night: The Parent Trap
    Pier 39, San Francisco
    8:45–11 pm

    Grab your blankets and settle in for a free screening of local favorite, The Parent Trap. This film is rated PG. Location: Pier 39, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, July 1

  • Free Access to All Parks
    Marin County Parks
    Saturday, All Day

    Marin County Parks is offering free access to all parks on the first Saturday of the month all year long! Includes Black Point Boat Launch, McInnis Park, McNears Beach Park, Miller Boat Launch, Paradise Beach Park, and Stafford Lake Park. For more info, visit their website.
  • Museums on Us Free Day
    Various Museums
    Saturday & Sunday

    Bank of America cardholders can visit the following Bay Area museums for free! Enjoy the Contemporary Jewish Museum, de Young Museum, the Legion of Honor, and the Chabot Space and Science Center. Photo ID and a valid Bank of America/Merrill Lynch credit or debit card must be presented. For more information, visit their website.

Visit a Museum for Free in July

July 1, 2017

Did 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 in our ultimate guide to San Francisco Bay Area museum free days below.

"Let the Funshine In!" at the 2017 Marin County Fair

June 29, 2017

Marin County Fair

Who's ready for the fair?! The 76th annual Marin County Fair opens on Friday, June 30, at the Marin County Fairgrounds in San Rafael, near the Marin Civic Center. This year's Marin County Fair theme is "Let the Funshine In!"

This year, the Fair celebrates the 50th anniversary of 1967's Summer of Love with special competitions like tie dye, macrame, and "flower power" floral art; a special exhibit on the KFRC Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival; headline concerts featuring '60s bands like Sons of Champlin and the 5th Dimension; hands-on art making; and even psychedelic virtual reality. Of course you'll also find the usual thrilling rides, popular concerts, farm animals, family activities, amazing exhibits, and a spectacular nightly fireworks display.

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