The Family Friendly Summer Nights Outdoor Music Festival Returns to the Osher Marin JCC

July 7, 2014

HAPA - Summer Nights at the Osher Marin JCCThis summer the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center reprises its most popular event series: the Summer Nights Outdoor Music Festival. Bring your picnic, blanket, low-backed lawn chairs, and dancing shoes—there's fun for the whole family! Concerts take place on Saturday evenings from July 12 through August 9 at 7 pm. Dinners from a variety of favorite local restaurants will be available for purchase, along with beer, wine, non-alcoholic drinks, and snacks.

Like last year, kids 17 and under are admitted free, and the Kid Zone will include fun art projects and activities presented by local organizations like the Bay Area Discovery Museum, Drawbridge, and the Marin Symphony. Of course the playground will be open for supervised play, too! There will even be a pop-up shop from Georgi & Willow with theme-based clothing available fo

This summer's multicultural outdoor concert lineup features:

  • July 12: Uplifting music from Africa's most inspirational band, Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars. Food by Sol Food and Kid Zone hosted by Drawbridge
  • July 19: Pacific Island Night with Hawaiian supergroup HAPA, hula dance performance and instruction, dinners from Mauna Loa Hawaiian BBQ, Kid Zone hosted by the Bay Area Discovery Museum

Outdoor Outings for Kids: Bear Valley Visitor Center in Point Reyes

July 6, 2014

Bear Valley Visitor Center Point Reyes National SeashoreOur go-to spot for family hikes and outdoor excurisions in Marin is the Bear Valley Visitor Center at Point Reyes National Seashore. Home to the park's main visitor center and headquarters, it's a wonderful place for kids and adults alike to learn about nature and local history and explore the outdoors. It has so much to offer: picnics, hikes, views, and wildlife.

The visitor center itself is always our first stop. With interesting dioramas and displays about the wildlife around Point Reyes, free audio-visual programs, and an information desk manned by helpful rangers and volunteers, the visitor center is a great place to learn about Point Reyes and its amazing natural history. You can also learn about the human history of the area, too, through exhibits on the Miwok Indians who once inhabited Point Reyes, the visit of English seafarer Sir Francis Drake in the 16th century (look for the cool cutaway model of Drake's ship The Golden Hinde in the center's auditorium), and the Point Reyes Lighthouse.

Kids visiting the center can get a chance to become junior rangers by asking for a free booklet at the information desk. The booklets offer a variety of activities for kids to complete in order to earn a neat embroidered Point Reyes National Seashore Junior Ranger patch. The ranger even swore our kids in as junior rangers and announced their names over the PA system. The books have several sections, each tailored to one of the park's visitor centers, and the tasks are fun and easy to do.

Marin Family Weekend Events for July 4, 5 & 6

July 2, 2014
Marin County Fair
Meet Stormtroopers and other characters from the Star Wars universe at the Marin County Fair this weekend.

Here are our picks for great events and activities for children and families this Independence Day weekend. Find more events for the whole week in Marin and beyond in our Family Events Calendar.

Friday, July 4

Here are a few of the fantastic 4th of July events taking place in Marin this Friday. For a complete list of Independence Day events, parades, and fireworks displays in Marin and throughout the Bay Area, check out our article here.

  • Red, White, and Zoo
    San Francisco Zoo
    Friday–Sunday, 10 am–5 pm
    Red, White, and Zoo is the place to see all of the Zoo’s red, white and blue animals. See special animal feedings and hear Keeper Talks about the adorable red panda, white pelicans, polar bears, and more. You might even get up close to a blue-tongued skink! Also, don’t miss live animal shows all weekend long at the Wells Fargo Wildlife Theatre. If that’s not enough, stop by the Playfield Lawn for summertime concerts by kids folk band Hanna Banana, get your face painted, and enjoy the long weekend at the San Francisco Zoo. Free with paid Zoo admission. Location: The Great Highway and Sloat Boulevard, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Novato’s 21st Annual Fourth of July Parade
    Downtown Novato
    Friday, 10 am

    Novato’s 21st Annual Fourth of July Paradeis one of the largest in the Bay Area and begins at 10 am in downtown Novato on Grant Ave. between Reichert and 7th Avenue. Every year Novato hosts 15,000 to 20,000 spectators and over 100 parade entries ranging from classic cars and vintage military vehicles to Irish bagpipers and a Chinese drum and bell corps. Along the parade route, you will also find food and refreshment booths and souvenir t-shirts. Info:
  • Sausalito 4th of July Parade
    Friday, 10 am

    Sausalito’s one-of-a-kind 4th of July parade starts at Second and Main Streets at 10 am, and moves along Bridgeway and into Dunphy Park at noon. A picnic in Dunphy park and games follow the parade at noon. Live music starts at noon and lasts all day. Food, dancing, family games, tug-of-war and famous traditional egg toss help make this an exciting event for the whole family. For more info, visit their website.
  • Corte Madera-Larkspur Chambers of Commerce 4th of July Parade
    Redwood High School
    Friday, 10:30 am

    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. Accompanying festivities at Corte Madera's Town Park take place 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 at 10:30 am and winds through downtown Larkspur from Magnolia Street and into Corte Madera by way of Tamalpais Street until it reaches Corte Madera Town Center. Info: (415) 924-0441 or
  • Marin County Fair
    Marin County Fairgrounds, San Rafael
    Friday, Saturday, & Sunday, 11 am–11 pm

    The 2014 Marin County Fair celebrates Marin's outstanding public schools with its theme Schools Rule! 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: $16 adults, $14 children 12 and under and seniors 65+, free for children 3 and under. For more information, call (415) 473-6800 or visit their website.
  • Town of Ross 4th of July Parade and Picnic
    Ross Common
    Friday, 11 am

    The town of Ross celebrates the 4th of July at its annual parade and picnic on the Ross Common. Festivities begin at 11 am with a one-of-a-kind parade followed by a picnic lunch and old fashioned games. Food trucks will offer a tasty selection of fare for lunch. More info:
  • July 4th Fundraiser & Ice Cream Social
    Richardson Bay Audubon Center, Tiburon
    Friday, 6–9:30 pm

    Watch the fireworks over Sausalito and enjoy a family-friendly evening. Ticket price includes ice cream and popcorn and supports the Center's work. Feel free to bring your own beverages and picnic. Adults $25, children $15. Popcorn and ice cream will be available 6:30–8:30 pm. Games until dusk. Limited space—reserve your spot now. Location: 376 Greenwood Beach Road, Tiburon. For more info and reservations, visit their website.
  • Sausalito Fireworks Extravaganza
    Spinnaker Point, Sausalito
    Friday, 6:30–9:30 pm

    Enjoy live entertainment and a spectacular fireworks display off Spinnaker Point. Fireworks begin at 9:20 pm. This year, the display is set to music—tune in to 1610 AM or Comcast Cable channel 30 during the show. Info:
  • Fair Fireworks and S'Mores Feast
    McInnis Park, San Rafael
    Friday, 8:30–10:30 pm

    In celebration of our nation’s birthday, come see the Marin County Fair fireworks from the top of the Nike Site at McInnis Park. Rangers will roast up s’mores just in time for the firework show that begins promptly at 9:30 pm. Please dress in layers and wear sturdy shoes. Questions: Contact Ranger Blain Thompson at (415) 446-4423 or visit their website.

Saturday, July 5

  • Museums on Us Free Day
    Various Museums, San Francisco
    Saturday & Sunday

    Bank of America cardholders can visit the following Bay Area museums for free this weekend: the Chabot Space & Science Center, Contemporary Jewish Museum, de Young Museum, and the Legion of Honor. 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 family music (9:30–10:30 am). For more info, visit their website.
  • Point Reyes Farmer's Market
    Toby's Feed Barn on Main Street
    Saturday, 9 am–1 pm

    The Point Reyes Farmers Market features the best West Marin has to offer: the freshest locally grown organic produce, baked goods, artisan cheeses, olive oils, grass-fed beef products, homemade preserves, oysters, bee products, flowers, locally produced wool clothing, and body care products. This weekend, enjoy fun, music, and recipes from the Singing Chef, and live folk rock by Hophead. For more info, visit their website.
  • Fun Family Walk
    McInnis Park, San Rafael
    Saturday, 10 am–noon
    This is a Healthy Parks, Healthy People event. Come out and enjoy a beautiful summer morning and gorgeous views while participating in an easy going, one-mile walk with your family in this beautiful bayside park. Please dress in layers and wear sturdy shoes. Water and healthy snacks will be provided. Friendly dogs are welcome, but must be leashed. Questions: Contact Supervising Ranger Audrea Bocchi at (415) 446-4423 or Location: 310 Smith Ranch Road, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.

2014 Marin 4th of July Parades, Fireworks and More…

July 1, 2014

Kids in the 4th of July modeCelebrate 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 the Friday, 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 start off with at the 62nd 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 for $5. Breakfast is from 8–11 am; flag raising ceremony at 7:45 am. Info: call (415) 924-6283 or
  • Don’t miss this year’s 49th Annual Corte Madera-Larkspur Chambers of Commerce 4th of July Parade! 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. 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 at 10:30 am 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

The Marin County Fair Opens Wednesday, July 2

July 1, 2014

Marin County FairThe Marin County Fair opens Wednesday, July 2, at the County Fairgrounds in San Rafael, near the Marin Civic Center. This year's Marin County Fair theme is "The Happiest Fair on Earth".

In keeping with this year's theme, the 73rd Marin County Fair draws its inspiration from Disneyland, Oakland's Fairyland, and the Marin Art and Garden Fair in Ross, and offers tons of family fun. This year, Game On! makes its debut, with 36 fun and interactive games for fairgoers, including giant-sized versions of classic games like Twister, Scrabble, and Operation; challenging puzzles; and a construction zone geared for toddlers with a bubble arena, large foam blocks, a LEGO wall, and more. Also, the spectacular March Fourth Marching Band will parade across the fairgrounds starting at 6 pm on July 4. This non-traditional marching band features dazzling dancers, high-stepping stilt acrobatics, and of course plenty of music.

Of course there are also the more traditional fair offerings like farm animal exhibits and demonstrations and Hambone Express pig racing in the barnyard, free (with fair admission) rides and carnival games—including the 10-story Giant Wheel and the Marin Clean Energy solar-powered carousel, appearances by the ever-popular Imperial Storm Troopers of the 501st Legion Golden Gate Garrison (from noon–7 pm daily at the Marin Galactic Outpost in the Exhibit Hall), concerts, short films and videos, over 12,000 exhibits, and the Fair's biggest and most elaborate fireworks display ever, presented nightly over the lagoon at 9:30 pm.

Tomorrow Is Children's Day and Marin IJ Day at the Marin County Fair

July 1, 2014

The Marin County Fair opens tomorrow, Wednesday, July 2! Opening day is also Marin IJ Day and Children's Day: children 12 and under are admitted free, and the Marin Independent Journal published a coupon good for $2 off fair admission.

You can download and print the coupon online here. Present the coupon at the gate on July 2 and get $2 off on one ticket. Limit one coupon per person.

Tomorrow's fair entertainment schedule can be found here. Regular fair admission is $17 for adults, $15 for seniors 65+ and children 12 and under, and free for children 4 and under. Admission includes all exhibits, entertainment, and carnival rides. This year's Marin County Fair theme is "The Happies Fair on Earth."

Family Fun at Marin County Beaches

July 1, 2014

Chicken Ranch BeachMy family loves to go to the beach, and there are plenty of places to do this in and around Marin. While many of the beaches along the Pacific Ocean are unsuitable for swimming, there are also many beaches that are ideal spots for swimming, wading, and splashing in the water, especially on warm summer (and also spring and fall) days. Here are some of our favorites. Click on the links for more info.

Abbotts Lagoon Beach

A one-and-a-half mile hike takes you over bridges and sand dunes to this beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore. It's home to many shorebirds, including the endangered snowy plover. A great beach for playing in the sand, but not for swimming due to dangerous surf and rip currents.

Angel Island

Located just off Tiburon, Angel Island State Park Pack is the largest Island in San Francisco Bay. Pack a picnic and jump on ferry to this unique island. Quarry Point and Ayala Cove are two beaches that are both sandy and protected from the afternoon breezes, so it's perfect for an afternoon of family fun. There are no lifeguards, and swimming can be hazardous because of the strong currents.

Strawberry Yogurt Sorbet Is a Healthy and Sweet Summer Treat

June 30, 2014

strawberry yogurt sorbet coneWho doesn't love a sweet, refreshing, frozen treat during the summertime? Make it a little more healthy with sweet fresh strawberries and tangy Greek yogurt. You don't even need an ice cream maker to make this dessert.

It's fantastic scooped into a cone or frozen into ice pop molds—whatever tickles your fancy this summer. My kids and I made this sorbet with fresh strawberries that we picked up at the farmers market.

While our recipe calls for strawberries, you can use whatever fresh berries you happen to have. Frozen berries work perfectly well, too, so you can make this at any time of year. You can also feel free to substitute low-fat yogurt, but do try to use extra thick Greek yogurt; it makes a difference.


  • 1 pound fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Visit a Museum for Free in July

June 30, 2014

Fun at the 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, although the general admission fee is usually deducted from the total; 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 Tuesday of the Month—July 1

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