Eight Spectacular Stroller Hikes in Marin

January 3, 2015

Stroller hike in MarinJust because your kids are too small to go on a hike doesn't mean you can't! Fortunately for outdoor-minded parents of babies and toddlers Marin County has many outdoor destinations that are perfectly suitable for a hike with your stroller.

When my kids were little, my husband and I must have racked up thousands of miles on our trusty Kelty jogging stroller, which we used on sidewalks, paths, and unpaved trails.

Many of these hikes are over paved trails, so they're suitable for just about any kind of stroller. Just because they are on more civilized paved surfaces doesn't mean they aren't in some of the most spectacular outdoors areas of Marin, so make sure you check them out.

  • Muir Woods National Monument near Mill Valley features majestic old-growth redwoods and has been one of Marin's top tourist attractions for over a century. Stop by during the week to avoid the crowds and take in the wonder of it all in relative peace and quiet. Take your stroller on the main trail loop through Cathedral Grove, it's paved or on a wooden boardwalk the entire way.

Free Junior Chef Classes in January at Williams-Sonoma

January 2, 2015

The 52 New Foods ChallengeThis January, kids can learn how fun and easy cooking can be with a series of free junior chef classes at Williams-Sonoma. Two of the classes were created by local author Jennifer Tyler Lee using techniques and recipes from her new book The 52 New Foods Challenge, and are designed to make it easy to prepare healthy food and to inspire curiosity and confidence in kids.

Classes begin this Saturday, January 3, at 10 am with 52 New Foods: Blender Bar, which is all about creating healthy and delicious superfood smoothies. Other classes include Baking for Beginners on January 10, Better Burgers on January 17, Fun Finger Foods on January 24, and 52 New Foods: No-Bake Valentine's Treats on January 31.

The two 52 New Foods classes are for kids ages 5 to 13, and the others are suitable for children ages 9 to 13.

Marin Weekend Family Fun for January 2, 3 & 4

January 2, 2015
Elephant seal at Point Reyes
Experience Elephant Seals this weekend at Point Reyes National Seashore's Chimney Rock.

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.

You can also hit the ice at Marin on Ice or another Bay Area seasonal skating rink, which will be open during the holidays. Check out our guide to local ice skating here.

Friday, January 2

  • Make a Nightlight for 6th–12th graders
    Novato Library
    Friday, 1–3 pm

    Make a nightlight—materials and assistance provided. Feel free to bring your own figures to populate your nightlight jar. Soldering involved, so signup and permission form required. For more information, contact the Novato Library at (415) 473-2050. Location: 1720 Novato Boulevard, Novato. For more info, visit their website.
  • LEGO Play Day
    Mill Valley Library
    Friday, 2:30–4 pm

    Get in touch with your inner engineer! Free play with LEGOs supports creativity, problem solving, and reading skills, and it's FUN! Age 5 and up. No sign-up needed. Free. Location: 375 Throckmorton Avenue, Creekside Room, Mill Valley. For more info, call (415) 389-4292 or visit their website.

Saturday, January 3

  • Museums on Us
    Various locations
    Saturday & Sunday
    Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card holders get free general admission to select location museums on the first full weekend of every month. Present your card and a photo ID for admission; one free general admission per cardholder. Get full details here. Participating museums include the de Young Museum, the Legion of Honor, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, and the Chabot Space and Science Center. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin Country Mart Farmers Market
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    Enjoy the best local and organic produce, flowers, pastured meats, seafood, organic cheeses, yogurt and milk, breads, baked goods, pasta, confections, olive oil, and brunch and lunch offerings! Kids can take a pony ride and visit the petting zoo (10 am–2 pm), try out some arts and crafts (9 am–2 pm) and listen to music (9:30–10:30 am). For more info, visit their website.
  • Whale Watching at Point Reyes Lighthouse
    Point Reyes National Seashore
    Weekends, 9 am–3:30 pm

    Go see the whales out at the Point Reyes Light House and Chimney Rock. Shuttle buses leave Drakes Beach every 15–20 minutes. The cost is $7 per person; children under 16 are free. No cars allowed at Point Reyes Light House on weekends and holidays December 26 through mid-April. For more info, visit their website.
  • Explore Stafford Lake Park
    Novato
    Saturday, 10 am–1 pm

    Come out for an easy nature walk around beautiful Stafford Lake. Along the way we’ll stop and talk about some of the interesting animals and plants that live here. This activity is easy. Water and healthy snacks provided. Park entrance is free. Turn right after the gate house and follow to the first parking lot. Location: 3549 Novato Boulevard, Novato. For more info, visit their website.
  • Free Junior Chef Classes
    Williams-Sonoma, Corte Madera
    Saturday, 10 am
    Cook up family fun by joining us for a series of classes designed by Jennifer Tyler Lee, creator of the award-winning food game Crunch a Color and author of The 52 New Foods Challenge cookbook. This class will boost creativity and confidence by empowering children to make healthy smoothies in the blender. Suitable for ages 5–13. Location: The Village Corte Madera. For more info, visit their website.
  • STEAM Saturdays: Earth Science
    San Rafael Library
    Saturday, 11–11:45 am

    Join us for STEAM powered stories, rhymes, songs, crafts, experiments, and sensory experiences for preschool children ages 3–6 and their caregivers. This Saturday, Earth Science. Location: 1100 E Street, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Experience Elephant Seals
    Elephant Seal Overlook, Chimney Rock, Point Reyes National Seashore
    Weekends, 11 am–4 pm
    Weekends and holidays, late December–April. View an elephant seal colony through binoculars and scopes. A special 30-minute slide program about elephant seals may be available at the Lifeboat Station at Chimney Rock, depending on staffing availability. Check at one of the Visitor Centers for whether the slide program is being offered. Visitors will need to take the winter shuttle bus from Drake's Beach. For moore info, call (415) 669-1534 or visit their website.

Happy New Year!

January 1, 2015

Panorama of Point Reyes Beach

The Marin Mommies team wishes you, your family, and your friends all the best in 2015.

Whales and Seals and More Whales, Oh My! Winter Wildlife Watching in Point Reyes

December 30, 2014

Gray whale off Point Reyes LighthouseLate December always heralds the start of whale-watching season on Northern California's coast. This is the time of year when California Gray Whales (eschrichtius robustus) pass by the coast on their annual southern migration, so start planning your winter trip out to Point Reyes National Seashore to do some whale watching now!

We dusted off our binoculars and telephoto lens and headed out to the Point Reyes Lighthouse on Monday. It was clear and sunny, but extremely windy at the lighthouse. Nevertheless, we did manage to see a couple whales. Last year at this time we went and saw at least a dozen gray whales pass by! The National Park Service estimates between 60 to 100 whales passing the Point Reyes Lighthouse each day right now. If you manage to see some whales, it's an amazing experience that you'll never forget, and it's definitely worth the time it takes getting out to the lighthouse.

Family Fondue Party for New Year's Eve

December 29, 2014

fondueNearly everyone I know (us included) received a fondue pot as a wedding gift. If you don't have one, then your parents most certainly do, since fondue was a huge deal in the 1960s and '70s. Fondue is easy to make, if you follow the directions closely, and makes for a fun social meal—the perfect thing for a family New Year's Eve party.

On New Year's Eves past we've made the traditional Swiss style fondue using Gruyère and Emmenthaler cheeses and white wine. With its blend of wine and strong-tasting Swiss cheeses, It's never been a big hit with the kids, so last year we crafted a new, more kid-friendly version using cheddar cheese. Needless to say, it was a big hit, and ended up being a lot less expensive to make than the authentic version, too.

Explore the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco

December 29, 2014

Walt Disney Family Museum San FranciscoSan Francisco's Presidio is a great destination for family fun and a gem right in our own back yard. The Walt Disney Family Museum, located in an historic building at the Presidio's Main Post, is a fantastic and fascinating place for you and your family to visit when you're there.

The Walt Disney Family Museum chronicles the life and work of Walt Disney himself, and is a must-visit for any Disney fan. Learn about Walt's life and legacy through artwork, historic artifacts, movies, music, animation, and interactive activities. It's a fascinating look at how Disney became a pop culture powerhouse in 20th-century America, and it offers behind-the-scenes insights into the creativity and imagination of its creator.

Family Dining in Marin: Taki Japanese Restaurant

December 28, 2014

Taki Japanese restaurant in NovatoOur go-to place for Japanese food in Marin has always been Taki restaurant in Novato's Pacheco Plaza. We've been dining there for years (even before we had kids), and it's consistently provided good food, friendly service, huge portions, and a pleasant atmosphere. It's a great family dining experience.

Taki has a rustic Japanese country inn atmosphere, with lots of woodwork and Japanese art and decor. While most of the seating is at regular tables, there's a Japanese-style tatami area for larger groups in back, where you sit on the floor, courtesy of cutouts for your legs in the raised platform. There's even an outdoor dining area in front of the restaurant, in case you happen to be there on a nice day.

A Marin Winter Waterfall Hike at Cascade Canyon

December 27, 2014

Cascade Falls Fairfax Marin CountyOur family really loves hiking in Marin during the winter, especially when there's a waterfall involved. One of Marin's favorite family hikes is at Cascade Canyon Open Space Preserve near Fairfax. The trail here winds through Elliott Nature Preserve, along San Anselmo Creek, to the 20-foot Cascade Falls. It's particularly popular during the winter and spring when the creek is flowing, but it's a great place for a fun family hike at any time of year. This easy out-and-back hike is about 1.5 miles round trip.

Start out at the trailhead on Cascade Drive in Fairfax and head onto Cascade Fire Road. San Anselmo Creek burbles along to your left, and you'll find a couple good flat spots for the kids to walk down and explore the creek. Ordinarily you'll follow Cascade Fire Road for approximately a half mile until it meets with Cascade Falls Trail, fording shallow parts of the creek in a couple spots.

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