Create Patriotic Baker's Clay Jewelry for the 4th of July

June 30, 2015

Baker's clay patriotic jewelry for the 4th of JulyYour kids can show off their patriotic pride this 4th of July with one of these baker's clay jewelry pieces that they made themselves (with an adult's supervision, of course). They're easy to make, and the basic baker's clay recipe can be used for all sorts of crafts throughout the year.

Here's what you'll need for the baker's clay:

Tomorrow Is Children's Day at the Marin County Fair

June 30, 2015

Marin County FairThe 2015 Marin County Fair opens tomorrow, Wednesday, July 1! Fortunately for families, opening day is also Children's Day, when all children 12 and under are admitted free!

This year's fear includes cool activities like the STEAM Carnival, which presents interactive and imaginitive entertainment at the intersection of technology and spectacle, the Peking Acrobats, 28 fun-filled carnival rides, concerts, healthy food, over 12,000 exhibits, and more.

Regular fair admission is $20 for adults, $15 for seniors 65+ and children 4 to 12 and under, and free for children under 4. Admission includes all exhibits, entertainment, and carnival rides. This year's Marin County Fair theme is "On With the Show!" The Marin County Fair takes place from Wednesday, July 1 to Sunday, July 5 from 11 am to 11 pm.

Find out all about this year's Marin County Fair in our article here.

Hands-on Museums for Kids and Families in Marin and the Bay Area

June 29, 2015

Exploratorium hands-on fun museumMuseum visitors are often told not to touch anything, but not at the museums listed here! These seven local Marin County and San Francisco Bay Area museums offer lots of fun hands-on activities for kids and families. They're perfect for rainy-day outings or any time, really.

Bay Area Discovery Museum

Families with kids up to age 8 love Sausalito's Bay Area Discovery Museum for its combination of hands-on fun, exciting programs and performances, rotating special exhibitions (currently it's Curious George: Let's Get Curious), and a great play area overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay. It's a fantastic place to play away the day and take in the amazing views. Location: Fort Baker, 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito, 94965. Hours: Tuesday–Sunday, 9 am–5 pm. More info: or (415) 339-3900.

Fantastic Family-Friendly 4th of July Recipes

June 29, 2015

Tri-tipThe 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!

Santa Maria-Style Tri Tip

Cooked slowly over charcoal with plenty of wood smoking chips, this traditional Santa Maria-style tri tip is simple to make and really delicious.

Mediterranean Grilled Chicken

This Mediterranean-inspired grilled chicken, marinated in fresh herbs and citrus, is a hit with everyone.

Kids Eat for Free in Marin

June 28, 2015

kids eat free in marinLike many families these days, we find ourselves grabbing lunch or dinner on the go probably more than we should. Of course all this dining out adds up after a while and has the potential to be a major drain on the wallet. Fortunately, there are plenty of great family-friendly restaurants in Marin that offer free dining for kids—usually with the purchase of an adult entree (and only when dining in)—one or more days during the week.

Here's our list of kids-eat-free offers, broken down by location. Please note that all information presented here is, to the best of our knowledge, correct at the time of publishing, but deals come and deals go, so you should confirm with the restaurant before you go, just in case.

Corte Madera

  • Best Lil' Porkhouse BBQ
    60 Madera Boulevard
    Corte Madera 94925
    415) 927-RIBS

    Kids eat free at the Best Lil' Porkhouse BBQ in Corte Madera on Mondays. Get up to one free kids' meal (for kids 6 and under) with the purchase of each adult meal.

Marin Family Weekend Fun for June 26, 27 & 28

June 27, 2015
Italian Street Painting Marin
Take a trip to Venice this weekend at the 2015 Italian Street Painting Marin in downtown San Rafael.

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

Friday, June 26

  • Sonoma-Marin Fair
    Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds, Petaluma
    Friday–Sunday, noon–11 pm

    Petaluma's Sonoma-Marin Fair offers fun for the whole family, with farm animals and demonstrations, concerts, food and drink, carnival rides, and of course the famous World's Ugliest Dog Contest. Admission at the gate is $15 for adults and $10 for children ages 4–12 and seniors 65+. Admission includes all entertainment, concerts, and carnival rides. For more info, visit their website.
  • Free Children's Garden Series: Circus Bella
    Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco
    Friday &
    Saturday, noon–1 pm
    This free event is part of the Children's Garden Series at Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco. Back by popular demand! Circus Bella is top-notch circus acrobatics, aerial artistry, and daring feats of balance and strength, set to original live music of Rob Reich and the Circus Bella All-Star Band. Meet the artists after each show! This show will take place on the Esplanade. For more info, 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: Rhythmtown Jive. 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, Mojo Rising will be performing electrifying blues. Food available for purchase. For more info, call (415) 289-4152 or visit their website.
  • Marinwood's Music in the Park Series
    Marinwood Park, San Rafael
    Friday, 6–8 pm

    Join us this summer for live music, food, and fun for the entire family at Marinwood Park! Each of these free concerts will feature high quality music from some of the Bay Area's top rock, bluegrass, and folk artists. Enjoy delicious BBQ by Marinwood Market and a bar for the adults. Bring your picnic blanket and your appetite and kick off the weekend Marinwood-style. This Friday: Go By Ocean. Location: 775 Miller Creek Road, San Rafael. For more info, call (415) 479-0775 or visit their website.
  • Friday Nights on Main: A Whale of a Time
    Downtown Tibruon
    Friday, 6–9 pm

    Bring the entire family for a night of fun. Dance to the Cole Tate Band's mix of country, blues, rock and americana. Great activities for kids, including a whale scavenger hunt, will be offered. For more info, visit their website.
  • Summer Music Series
    Pacheco Plaza, Novato

    Friday, 6–9 pm
    Bring your chairs and enjoy a picnic from Paradise Foods or sit outside the local restaurants including Boca Pizzeria, Taki Japanese restaurant, and La Coppa coffee and Tea. Enjoy the music of Edgardo & Candela, a Salsa band based in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 26 years. Location: 366 Ignacio Boulevard, Novato. For more information, visit their website.

Saturday, June 27

  • 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.
  • Opening Day: Point Reyes Farmer's Market
    Toby's Feed Barn on Main Street
    Saturday, 9 am–1 pm

    Opening day festivities include live music from the Tim Weed and Common Voice Choir, chef’s booth demonstration with Ed Vigil, a welcoming ceremony, and Kids' Zone Reading Time. For more info, visit their website.
  • Italian Street Painting Marin
    Downtown San Rafael
    Saturday, 10 am–8 pm & Sunday 10 am–6 pm

    Take a trip to Venice at Carnevale di Venezia, the 2015 Italian Street Painting Marin event! See the artwork of over 100 madonnari and a parade of costumes, take part in a pre-event mask making competition, listen to great live music, participate in fun children's activities, and experience tastes and sips of Italiy. Admission: $5 Saturday, $10 Sunday; kids 12 and under free. Location: 5th Avenue and A Street, downtown San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • San Anselmo Art & Wine Festival
    San Anselmo Avenue
    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–6 pm

    resented by the San Anselmo Chamber of Commerce, now in its 32nd year, this free festival has a long tradition of providing great entertainment, arts and crafts, terrific food and family-friendly activities to the community of Marin and the greater Bay Area. Over the years, on average, the event draws about 30,000 attendees per year. For more info, visit their website.

Watching the Fireworks in Marin

June 26, 2015

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.

With this in mind, we've sought out places to watch the fantastic fireworks display at the Marin County Fair that don't involve leaving the car, so the little ones can doze in peace. Obviously you can just pay your $17 and go to the fair, but again, if you've got two sleeping children in the car, this isn't going to work. Neither is driving over near the fair—it's hard to see anything from the area along Civic Center Drive, and the resulting post-fireworks gridlock around the fairgrounds is pretty miserable.

On a friend's suggestion, we checked out a fireworks viewing spot up at the Unitarian Universalist Church parking lot, which is on Channing Way off Professional Center Parkway in Terra Linda. It's potetentially ideal, situated on a hill that overlooks the Marin County Fairgrounds. This wasn't bad, but the number of places where you could actually see anything was pretty limited and it became obvious that we weren't the only people there to see the fireworks—it's a pretty popular spot. Those people who could find a spot where they could see through the trees were treated to a spectacular view, though.

Italian Street Painting Marin Returns to San Rafael with Carnevale di Venezia

June 25, 2015

Italian Street Painting MarinOver 100 street painters and dozens of mask makers come to downtown San Rafael on June 27 and 28 to show off their talents at the 2015 Italian Street Painting Marin's Carnevale di Venezia. Be transported to Venice during Carnevale, a time of elaborate maskes, costumes, and the unexpected! This event features amazing artwork by the participating madonnari, as well as great live music, children's activities, Italian food and drink, and more.

Kids can create their own street paintings at the popular Children's Avenue. 2x2-foot squares and chalk are available for purchase for children ages 2 to 12 to get creative and become madonnarii themselves!

Musical entertainment at Italian Street Painting Marin includes slack and steel guitar by Ken Emerson, the Lorin Rowan Trio, Midnight North, Good Karma Jazz Ensemble, Corinne West, and others. A Parade of Costumes featuring models in Venetian cloaks wearing spectacular masks and costumes will take place during the festival, too. The EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases Gallery will present two exhibits: children's and adult's mask-making competition entries and samples of art from the EveryLife Foundation's RareArtist Contest, which showcases art made by those touched by rare diseases and gives visitors an opportunity to learn about the Foundation's work.

On With the Show at the Marin County Fair 2015

June 23, 2015

Marin County FairThe Marin County Fair opens Wednesday, July 1, at the County Fairgrounds in San Rafael, near the Marin Civic Center. This year's Marin County Fair theme is "On With the Show."

This year, the Fair celebrates the STEM to STEAM concept, combining the arts with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to present events that are fun for the entire family. Highlights include the imaginative and innovative entertainment from Two Bit Circus, whose toolbox includes fire, lasers, and robots, as well as the interactive LEGOJEEP, an ex-USPS jeep covered in LEGO panels that will inspire visitors of all ages to get creative. Also appearing at the Fair will be Something Ridiculous, a high-energy juggling and acrobatic act, the Amazing Bubble Man, and Stars of the Peking Acrobats.

Of course there are also the more traditional fair offerings like farm animal exhibits and demonstrations and Great American 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), fantastic concerts, short films and videos, demonstrations on the Blue Ribbon Stage, over 13,500 exhibits, and the Fair's biggest and most elaborate fireworks display ever, presented nightly over the lagoon at 9:30 pm.

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