Events and Outings

Marin Family Weekend Fun for October 17, 18 & 19

October 17, 2014

Great Peter Pumpkin Patch at Spring Hill Cheese in PetalumaHere 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.

Halloween pumpkin patches in Marin and Sonoma counties are now open—see our list here.

Friday, October 17

  • Just Between Friends Children's & Maternity Consignment Event
    Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa
    Friday, 9 am–8 pm, Saturday, 9 am–3:30 pm and Sunday, 9 am–2 pm

    North Bay's largest children's & maternity consignment sales event, JBF is held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds' Grace Pavilion—40,500 square feet of shopping awesomeness. Shop: huge deals on new and gently-used clothes (0–12 years and maternity), games, toys, furniture, strollers, mommy supplies, etc! Location: 1350 Bennett Valley Road. Santa Rosa. For more info, visit their website.
  • Halloween Harvest Festival!
    Marinwood Community Center
    Friday, October 17, 5–7 pm

    This fun event is for children 12 and under. Carnival games, pumpkin carving and decorating, Halloween bounce house, trick-or-treat bag decorating, face painting, caramel apples and more! Tickets: $10 in advance here; $12 at the door. Adults free. Food will be available for purchase. Location: Marinwood Community Center, 775 Miller Creek Road, San Rafael. For more info, call (415) 479-0775 or visit their website.

Saturday, October 18

  • Marin Country Mart Farmers Market
    Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    Enjoy pony rides and a petting zoo for the kids from 10 am–2 pm, crafts by SCRAP from 9 am–2 pm, children's music or storytelling from 9:30–10:30 am, and more live music from 11 am–12:30 pm, as well as fresh produce, prepared foods, and great local restaurants. For more info, visit their website.
  • Tolay Fall Festival
    Tolay Lake Regional Park
    Lakeville Highway at Cannon Lane, Petaluma
    Saturday and Sunday, 11 am–5 pm
    The 8th annual Tolay Fall Festival takes place over two long weekends in October. In addition to pumpkins and fall decorative items for sale, attractions and activities include a Native American village, the Nighttime Creatures Barn with Creepy Crawly Critters Room, nature hikes, a giant straw maze, a hands-on children's area and kiddie corral, and hay rides. Admission: $4 adults, $1 children 12 and under; free for Sonoma County Regional Parks members. Parking for non-members is $7. For more info, call (707) 565-2041 or visit their website.
  • Goblin Jamboree Fundraiser
    Bay Area Discovery Museum
    Saturday and Sunday, 10 am–4 pm
    Bring the whole family in costume to explore all the fun at the Bay Area Discovery Museum’s Goblin Jamboree Family Fundraiser. Experience the museum as it’s transformed into a spooktacular Halloween wonderland complete with Witches and Wizards school, pony rides, petting zoo, live entertainment, and much more. Tickets available at the door. Admission: $16 general, $13 members, free for children under 6 months. For more info, visit their website.
  • Halloween Carnival
    Twin Cities Community Preschool, Corte Madera
    Saturday, 10 am–2 pm

    The Twin Cities Community Preschool presents a non-scary Halloween carnival for preschool through elementary aged children. Activities include games, photo booth and arts and crafts. There will also be food available. Free admission; game tickets for sale. Location: 56 Mohawk Avenue in Corte Madera. For more info, visit their website.
  • Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival
    Historic Main Street, Half Moon Bay
    Saturday & Sunday, 9 am–5 pm

    The World Pumpkin Capital of Half Moon Bay celebrates its bountiful fall harvest and autumn splendor with a special display of gigantically enormous, heavyweight champion pumpkins, three stages of smashing entertainment, non-stop live music, the Great Pumpkin Parade, a bone-chilling haunted house, harvest-inspired crafts, homestyle foods, pie-eating and costume contests, and pumpkin carving for fun (not a contest). Admission is free. For more info, visit their website.
  • Potrero Hill Festival
    San Franicisco
    Saturday, 11 am–4 pm
    Experience the flavor of the Potrero community in this event for all ages, featuring local food vendors and chefs, artists, musicians, historians, homegrown entertainment, and much more! Location: 20th Street between Wisconsin and Missouri Streets. For more info, visit their website.
  • Exploratorium Market Days: Art, Physics, Fun, and Games
    Exploratorium Plaza, Pier 15, San Francisco
    Saturday, 11 am–3 pm

    Bring your children or your inner child for a day of play with an array of fantastic toys old and new. And learn how to make awesome toys of your own. A full-sized Jeep covered in LEGO boards awaits your creative constructions. Explore assorted classic pinball machines from the Pacific Pinball Museum. Learn how to build a marshmallow launcher, a cardboard machine, or a tiny lathe, all from simple materials. See an enchanting puppet show of The Jabberwocky, plus juggling, origami, and much more. Free. For more info, call (415) 528-4444 or visit their website.
  • San Geronimo Fall Rock Festival
    San Geronimo Valley Community Center
    Saturday, 2–6 pm
    The easiest, most relaxed family music venue—see stellar music you'll enjoy while your kids enjoy the free bounce house. Find out why families love to come to these shows—and why highly talented parents love to perform at them! Featuring national touring act New Monsoon and "hard charging Americana" heroes San Geronimo. Takes place in the courtyard behind the San Geronimo Valley Community Center, 6350 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. For more info, visit their website.

Family Halloween Events & Fall Festivals in Marin & the Bay Area

October 14, 2014

Halloween Girls in Witch CostumesHalloween is one of our favorite holidays, and there's so much family fun to be had at this time of year. Find the Halloween event or fall festival that's right for you! We'll keep updating our list of events for Marin and beyond as we find more this fall. If you have an event you'd like to see added to the list, please contact us.

Marin and Sonoma Events

  • Family Musical: The Addams Family
    6th Street Playhouse, Santa Rosa
    October 16-31, various times

    It’s going to be anything but a normal night. Wednesday Addams, the ultimate princess of darkness, has grown up and fallen in love with a young man her parents have never met. And if that weren’t upsetting enough, Wednesday confides in her father and begs him not to tell her mother. Everything will change for the whole family on the fateful night they host a dinner for Wednesday’s ‘normal’ boyfriend and his parents. Location: 52 W. 6th Street, Santa Rosa. For more info, call (707) 523-4185 or visit their website.
  • Halloween Music and Magic Show
    Mill Valley Community Center
    Friday, October 24, 4–7:30 pm

    It's a sppoktacular time for the whole family! Kick off the evening with some lively music. Then... thrills and chills with Zappo the Musician as amazes us with his Halloween magic show. It's a 45-minute show for goblins ages 3 to 103. Cost: $9 general, free for kids 3 and under. For more info, visit their website.

Old-Time Family Fun at the Tolay Fall Festival

October 12, 2014

Tolay Fall FestivalYesterday we made our annual visit to the fantastic Tolay Fall Festival at Tolay Lake Regional Park outside of Petaluma. The festival, held over two weekends in October—this weekend and October 18 and 19, is the successor to the popular pumpkin patch held at the park's former incarnation as Cardoza Ranch. The Tolay Fall Festival is much more than a pumpkin patch, however. It's an old-fashioned, down-to-earth celebration of fall with tons of fun activities for the whole family, and one of our favorite autumn happenings in the Bay Area. It's a wonderful event that has plenty to do for kids of all ages.

Of course there's a pumpkin patch—it's huge and located way out in the back 40 of the park, and you need to take a tractor-drawn hay ride to get there. But there are also plenty of other other attractions, exhibits, and hands-on activities. Our children enjoyed making old-fashioned corn husk dolls, carding wool, spinning yarn, and dipping candles, and more.

There's also an animal area with the opportunity to pet some friendly goats, scarecrow-making, a world championship pumpkin-seed-spitting contest, lawn games, a giant straw maze, a demonstration of old farm equipment and early gas engines, archery for kids and grownups, an astronomy display, a Native American village, and more.

Marin Family Weekend Fun for October 10, 11 & 12

October 10, 2014
Tolay Fall Festival
The annual Tolay Fall Festival takes place near Petaluma on Saturday and Sunday.

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.

Most Halloween pumpkin patches in Marin and Sonoma counties are now open—see our list here.

Friday, October 10

  • Fleet Week 2014
    San Francisco
    Friday–Sunday, various times

    Fleet week returns to San Francisco, along with the Blue Angels, who will perform again over San Francisco Bay on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 3 pm. Fleet Week also includes a parade of ships (Friday, noon–1 pm), ship tours, band concerts, and more. Free admission; airshow bleacher seat tickets at Marina Green $50–$60. For more info, visit their website.
  • Not Afraid of the Dark Hike
    Old St. Hilary, Tiburon
    Friday, 6–7:30pm

    Halloween is coming but we’re not scared; come enjoy Old St. Hilary’s at night! Join Ranger Felicity Hartnett for a short one-mile hike at sunset with beautiful views of San Francisco. This hike is ideal for young adventurers and their families as an introduction to night hiking. Dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes, and bring a flashlight or headlamp. RSVP’s are appreciated but not required at FHartnett@marincounty.org. Meet at the gate at the end of Lyford Drive in Tiburon. For more info, visit their website.
  • Film in the Fog: Ghostbusters
    Presidio, On the lawn behind Presidio Dance Theatre
    Friday, 5:30–9 pm

    Bring the whole family out for a magical night under the stars featuring an outdoor screening of the popular comedy film Ghostbusters, accompanied by live music and food from Off the Grid's tasty food trucks. Bring a picnic or purchase wine, beer, and delicious grub at one of the food trucks! Music from ukulele-slinging, harmony-singing sensation the Paper Dolls. Movie starts at 7 pm. For more info, visit their website.
  • Children's Filmfest: Hoppity Goes to Town
    Old Mill Park, Mill Valley
    Friday, 8 pm

    Mill Valley Film Festival has partnered with the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce and the city to present a free outdoor film screening of Hoppity Goes to Town, the delightful 1941 animated film by the Fleischer Brothers—a takeoff on Jimmy Stewart films that will have everyone swinging to jazz and crooning love songs. No ticket required; movie screening is free with general admission seating. Please bring your own blanket or low beach chair. Snacks may be purchased with proceeds to benefit community programs. Location: 17 Cascade Way, Mill Valley. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, October 11

  • Marin Country Mart Farmers Market
    Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    Enjoy pony rides and a petting zoo for the kids from 10 am–2 pm, crafts by SCRAP from 9 am–2 pm, children's music or storytelling from 9:30–10:30 am, and more live music from 11 am–12:30 pm, as well as fresh produce, prepared foods, and great local restaurants. For more info, visit their website.

Pumpkins and More at the Tolay Fall Festival

October 9, 2014

Tolay Fall FestivalMany families in Marin and the North Bay have fond memories of visiting the popular pumpkin patch at Cardoza Ranch outside Petaluma. In 2005, the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District and the Sonoma County Regional Parks Department acquired Cardoza Ranch, also known as Tolay Lake Ranch, turning its 1,737 acres of farmland into a county park.

Tolay Lake Ranch is a unique spot, with a freshwater lake, wetlands, diverse wildlife, and 8,000 years human habitation with extensive archaeological and historical sites. Tolay Lake Regional Park is currently under development and access is restricted, although the public can visit the park through a day-use permit program.

The Sonoma Regional Parks Department keeps the spirit of the old Cardoza pumpkin patch alive by holding the annual Tolay Fall Festival, now in its eighth year. This popular event takes place over two  weekends in October, October 11–13 and October 18–19, from 11 am–5 pm.

In addition to Halloween pumpkins in the huge pumpkin patch, the festival features a plentiful harvest of gourds, squash, multi-colored corn, and other produce, as well as a pumpkin seed-spitting contest, ranger-led hay rides, a giant straw maze, a Native American village with demonstrations, the Night Time Creatures Barn with the Creepy Crawly Critters Room, live animals, nature hikes, old-fashioned crafts , lawn games, and more.

The Blue Angels Return to San Francisco for Fleet Week 2014!

October 7, 2014

Blue Angels perform in San Francisco for Fleet WeekCome and celebrate the men and women who serve in our country’s Navy and Marine Corps at San Francisco Fleet Week 2014. Fleet Week features a variety of events, including a parade of ships, an air show, live music, ship tours, and of course exciting performances by the Navy’s popular Blue Angels precision flying team, who return to the skies over San Francisco Bay this year after a hiatus due to federal budget cuts.

Events take place in a variety of locations on the San Francisco waterfront from October 9–13. The Blue Angels practice on Thursday, October 9, from noon to 5 pm, and rehearse on Friday, October 10 from 3 to 4 pm. They'll perform over San Francisco Bay on Saturday and Sunday, October 11 and 12, from 3–4 pm. They can be seen from a variety of locations on the Bay, including Angel Island and Fort Baker in Sausalito. The Blue Angels' performance is part of a Fleet Week airshow that also includes the Patriots jet team, the Horsemen P-51 Mustang Flight Team, the US Navy Leap Frogs parachute team, and others.

A Visit to Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch

October 5, 2014

Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin PatchThis weekend we paid a visit to the popular Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch, a certified organic pumpkin patch that has been a Marin County tradition for 19 years! Located in the small west Marin village of Nicasio, the farm is just west of the Nicasio Village Square right on Nicasio Valley Road. Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch is open seven days a week through Halloween from 10 am to 6 pm, and it's definitely worth a visit this season.

Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch offers a wide variety of certified organic pumpkins spread out in an expansive meadow on the farm. Pumpkin varieties ranged from your standard Halloween jack-o-lantern types to white ones, green Italian and Australian varieties, a weird looking warty French pumpkin, and flat European "Cinderella" style squash. The farmstand also offers of gourds, squash, and decorative cornstalks, apples, as well as drinks and snacks.

Like many Halloween pumpkin patches, Nicasio Valley Farms offers the obligatory jumpy houses and inflatable slide. There are also hay rides, pony rides, a petting zoo, farm animals to visit, a climbing wall, face painting, and a train. Many of these attractions have an admission fee, and some are available only on weekends and select days.

Marin Family Weekend Fun for October 3, 4, & 5

October 3, 2014

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.

Most Halloween pumpkin patches in Marin and Sonoma counties are now open—see our complete list here.

Friday, October 3

  • Peter Pumpkin Patch
    Spring Hill Jersey Farm, Petaluma
    Friday–Sunday, 9 am–6 pm

    Pick your own organic pumpkin, dig for potatoes, take a tractor ride, visit farm animals, taste homemade ice cream and Spring Hill cheese, milk a cow, and get lost in the hay maze. Peter Pumpkin Patch also ofers fresh fruits and vegetables and picnic baskets. Free parking. This is a wonderful and fun pumpkin patch on a real working farm. Location: 4235 Spring Hill Road (off Bodega Ave.). For more info, call (707) 762-3446 or visit their Facebook page.
  • Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch
    Nicasio
    Friday–Sunday, 10 am–6 pm

    The Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch, winner of our 2013 Marin Mommies Pumpkin Patch Poll, offers certified organic pumpkins as well as countless attractions including hay rides, farm animals, pony rides, mechanical bulls, a bounce house and giant inflatable slide, a farm stand, Big Jim's award-winning BBQ and ice cream. Popular children's recording artist Tim Cain performs every Sunday form 11 am–noon. Location: 5300 Nicasio Valley Road (1/4 mile north of Nicasio square). For more info, visit their website.
  • Petaluma Pumpkin Patch
    550 Stony Point Road
    Friday & Saturday, 10 am–10 pm and Sunday, 10 am–6pm
    Over 50 varieties of pumpkins, squash, and gourds, as well as a 4-acre Amazing Corn Maze (admission $5, 5 and under free; $9 on Friday and Saturday nights 6–10 pm), farm animals, a zip line, weekend pony rides, face painting, jumpy houses and inflatables, food vendors, covered snack area, and more. For more info, visit their website.
  • Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
    Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
    Friday 10:30 am–7 pm, Saturday & Sunday, 11 am–7 pm
    This free annual music festival of bluegrass, old time, country, and more, founded by the late Warren Hellman, takes place in Golden Gate Park's Hellman Hollow and Marx and Lindley Meadows. This year's headliners include Carlene Carter, Chris Isaak, the Time Jumpers featuring Vince Gill and Lucinda Williams, and the Handsome Family. For more info, visit their website.
  • Kids' Pajama Party with Kathryn Otoshi
    DIESEL, a bookstore, Larkspur
    Friday, 6–7 pm

    Pull on your PJs and bring your teddy bear to the bookstore! Author and illustrator Kathryn Otoshi will be here to read you a bedtime story. Get cozy in front of the fireplace, listen to a story or two, have some milk and cookies and get your books signed before heading home for bed. Kathryn Otoshi is a cat lover and an award-winning author and illustrator who lives in the Bay Area with her husband, Daniel, and two cockatiels. Location: Marin Country Mart, 2419 Larkspur Landing Circle. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, October 4

  • 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.

Marin Family Weekend Fun for September 26, 27 & 28

September 26, 2014
Pumpkin Patch
Get a head start on fall at some of our favorite pumpkin patches opening this weekend!

Here are our other 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.

Friday, September 26

  • Petaluma Pumpkin Patch
    550 Stony Point Road
    Friday & Saturday, 10 am–10 pm and Sunday, 10 am–6pm
    This is the opening weekend for the Petaluma Pumpkin Patch. Over 50 varieties of pumpkins, squash, and gourds, as well as a 4-acre Amazing Corn Maze (admission $5, 5 and under free; $9 on Friday and Saturday nights 6–10 pm), farm animals, a zip line, weekend pony rides, face painting, jumpy houses and inflatables, food vendors, covered snack area, and more. For more info, visit their website.
  • Parents Night Out
    Marinwood Community Center, San Rafael
    Friday, 5–9 pm

    Drop off the kids and enjoy a night out! While you relax, the kids will be having fun with the Marinwood Camp staff this Saturday evening. This event often sells out—register early! For ages 3–10. Cost: $22; $4 sibling discount. For more info, visit their website.
  • Seals & Slippers: Sleep under the Stars
    The Marine Mammal Center, Sausalito
    Friday, 6 pm to Saturday 10 am

    The sleepover is aimed at children ages 6–12. The overnight stay includes eating feeding season with the seals, guided hike around Rodeo Lagoon, dinner, dessert, and continental breakfast. Cost: $85 per person. Register by contacting Kristin Ku at KuK@TMMC.org or (415) 289-7330. For more info about the sleepover, visit their website.
  • Film Night in the Park: The LEGO Movie
    Creek Park, San Anselmo
    Saturday, 8 pm

    This Friday's movie is The LEGO Movie (PG). Arrive by 8 pm—films begin at dusk. Popcorn, candy, and sodas will be sold. Bring blankets, pillows, backrests, and low chairs. Film Night suggests leaving pets at home. Donations are appreciated. Creek Park is located in San Anselmo. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, September 27

  • Weekend Along Farm Trails
    Sonoma County
    Saturday & Sunday
    This Saturday and Sunday dozens of Farm Trails members are opening up their barnyard gates to give you a sneak preview of life on the farm. Several Farm Trails member businesses are also offering discounts and specials for visitors this weekend. Register for free and you'll get a map and the itinerary. This is an unique opportunity to meet your farmers and producers on their treasured turf and learn how your food is grown and produced. Offerings include tours, demonstrations, classes, samples, meals, hayrides, animal petting and feeding, to name a few. Plus, picnic spots abound. For more info and to register, visit their website.
  • Marin Country Mart Farmers Market
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    This weekend, Kids Love to Cook! DirectionFive will be joining the Marin Country Mart Farmers' Market for a cooking demonstration and tasting with hands-on participation with children of all ages from 10:30–11:30 am. Enjoy the best local and organic produce and more at this fantastic farmers market. Kids can take a pony ride and visit the petting zoo (10 am–2 pm), crafts by SCRAP, and children's entertainment (9:30–10:30 am). For more info, visit their website.
  • Peter Pumpkin Patch
    Spring Hill Jersey Farm, Petaluma
    Saturday & Sunday, 9 am–6 pm

    Pick your own organic pumpkin, dig for potatoes, take a tractor ride, visit farm animals, taste homemade ice cream and Spring Hill cheese, milk a cow, and get lost in the hay maze. Peter Pumpkin Patch also ofers fresh fruits and vegetables and picnic baskets. Free parking. This is a wonderful and fun pumpkin patch on a real working farm. Location: 4235 Spring Hill Road (off Bodega Ave.). For more info, call (707) 762-3446 or visit their Facebook page.
  • Blackie's Hay Day 
    Blackie's Pasture, Tiburon
    Saturday, 9 am–4 pm

    Blackie's Hay Day has become a community tradition that children look forward to every year. Designed for children of all ages, Blackie's Hay Day is reminiscent of an old fashioned country fair with pony rides, relay races, toy tractors, jumpies, a climbing wall, live entertainment, food trucks, and more. General admission $10. Activity tickets $1 each. Children under 2 free. For more info, visit their website.
  • Museum Day Live! at the Bay Area Discovery Museum
    Fort Baker, Sausalito
    Saturday, 9 am–5 pm

    The Bay Area Discovery Museum is participating in the Smithsonian's Museum Day Live! On Saturday, the museum will grant free admission to Museum Day pass holders. To obtain a free pass, visit here. Location: 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito. For more info, call (415) 339-3900 or visit their website.
  • Garden Pizza Party! Family Campout
    Slide Ranch, Muir Beach
    Saturday 10 am–Sunday 1 pm

    Celebrate this international day of cleaning waterways and the ocean with family-friendly ocean themed activities. Special overnight programs featuring camping in a spectacular coastal meadow. Activities include crafts and nature exploration, farm fun, a family potluck dinner, a campfire under the stars, and much more. The Slide Ranch overnight camping trip is an educational, unique, fun, and hassle-free way to camp for the whole family! Cost: Fee: $75 per person; age 2 and under free. Register here. For more info, call (415) 381-6155 or visit their website.
  • Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival & Kids Carnival
    Sonoma Plaza on the Square
    Saturday 10 am–8 pm
    & Sunday, 10 am–4 pm
    The Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival is Sonoma Valley’s annual tradition of celebrating the harvest of wine grapes and the yearly crush. California’s oldest festival, this Sonoma tradition is held on the historic town square and is fun for all ages. Festivities include Opening Night Gala, blessing of the grapes, reenactment of the Bear Flag Revolt, firefighters' water fight, family grape stomp, parade, kids carnival, tiny tacks race and 5k run/walk. For more info, visit their website.
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