Outdoor Activities

Hiking, nature walks, beaches, and more.

Nature Deficit Disorder? No Way!

October 24, 2008

"Nature deficit disorder" is a real thing, and families can prevent it by getting up and heading outdoors. Go on a hike, head to the beach, or even just visit the park. Whatever you do, it's important just to get outside and get active. The SF Chronicle's outdoors writer, Tom Stienstra, explores this problem and tell us what we can do about it.

Luckily, in the Bay Area and Marin in particular, there is no shortage of amazing state and national parks, open space areas, beaches, hiking trails, and nature preserves. It's all in our own backyard, so take advantage of it.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road to This Year's Mountain Play

April 11, 2008

Dorothy and Toto from the 2008 Mountain Play, The Wizard of OzI’ve always wanted to experience one of the Mountain Plays up on beautiful Mount Tamalpais--with a picnic lunch, of course--but so far have just never made it. The 2008 production will be a family favorite, The Wizard of Oz. My son, who recently saw part of The Wizard of Oz on TV (we skipped the creepy flying monkeys and other scary stuff), noticed the Mountain Play flyer the other day, and decided that he wanted to go. Here is my chance to finally experience one of these unique productions!

West Marin Wildflowers at Abbott's Lagoon

March 28, 2008

Abbott's Lagoon trail in Point Reyes National SeashoreThe coming of spring ushers in California's all too brief wildflower season. One of the best places to see wildflowers in the Bay Area is the Point Reyes National Seashore in West Marin. Repeat visitors to this site know that Point Reyes is probably our favorite place for a family outdoor outing, and in March and April you can also see some pretty spectacular wildflower displays, especially since we've had a wet winter.

Save Our California State Parks!

January 19, 2008

As most everyone knows by now, the plan to alleviate California's current budget woes includes closing 48 of our state parks. In Marin and the North Bay, we stand to lose access to local parks like the Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park and one of our favorite places, Tomales Bay State Park. (Here's a map showing all the proposed park closures in the state.) Tomales Bay State Park, located in West Marin just north of Inverness, is home to the popular Heart's Desire Beach, one of the few beaches in Marin—and the Bay Area for that matter—that's actually good for swimming.

Kid-friendly bike paths in Marin

August 8, 2007

There are countless spectacular views in Marin and many of those views can be enjoyed on the many bike paths that the county has to offer. Growing up in Marin gave me the chance to try a lot of the different bike paths, and of course now I take my children to them as well. Most of the paths are mixed-use, and are appropriate for bikes, walking, big wheels, tricycles, strollers, and other kid-friendly conveyances.

A Family Stroll along the Corte Madera Creek Path

July 27, 2007

I rediscovered a wonderful scenic walking path a few weeks ago that is perfect for the babies in strollers or for kids on foot or on a bike. The starts at Creek Park, which is right across from Marin General Hospital. Parking can be a little tricky, depending on the time of the day, but it’s worth the trip. As soon as you get out of your car, you can’t miss the spectacular view of Mount Tamalpais. The nice wide bike path is great for strollers, and follows Corte Madera Creek. The creek has lots of birds, like egrets, blue herons, and black-crested night herons, as an assortment of ducks swimming around in the water, so there’s some nature involved for children to see. The path leads to the College of Marin and on into Ross if you follow it far enough.

Baby and Toddler-Friendly Sunscreens

May 30, 2007

kid on the beachWhen my family hits the great outdoors for a walk, hike, or swim, I always try to remember to put lots of sunscreen on them. I usually don’t do much more than buy what’s on sale, and make sure it has an SPF of at least 30 to 40. I decided to do a little research on the subject to find out what really is the best sunscreen for children. One thing I discovered is that it’s important to buy a sunscreen or sunblock with either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. I also found out the sunscreen and sunblock are totally different; I thought the two terms were interchangeable, and they aren’t. Sunblock physically blocks the sun's UV rays, whereas sunscreen actually absorbs the ultraviolet light so it doesn’t reach your skin.

When you buy a sunscreen with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide (which is recommended) it sits on top of the skin and forms a barrier against the sun's rays. When using a chemical sunscreen without either of those two ingredients, your skin actually absorbs the sunscreen, which may cause irritation or allergic reactions. It doesn't matter if you buy a so called "broad-spectrum" product, just make sure that it contains the all important zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or both.

Rodeo Beach and the Marin Headlands

May 18, 2007

marin headlandsFor Mothers Day, I decided that we were going to have a picnic at the beach, so we ended up going to Rodeo Beach at Fort Cronkhite in the Marin Headlands. I hadn’t been there in a long time, and since it was such a nice day I thought it would be a really fun beach to revisit. It’s also a little closer than schlepping all the way out to Point Reyes, where we usually go. My kids loved the long tunnel you use to enter onto Bunker Road and the open space of the Marin Headlands. I had forgotten how beautiful the drive was out to the beach.

Wildflower Season and a Beach Hike in Point Reyes

April 7, 2007

california poppies at point reyesSpring naturally brings a bounty of beautiful wildflowers to Marin, but the window of time in which to see them is short. Perhaps the best place to see them in the county, if not the Bay Area, is Point Reyes National Seashore. Take a drive out to the beach at Point Reyes and see stunning wildflowers that blanket the hills in colors such as yellow, purple, pink, orange, and white. I always like to point them out to my kids and talk about the beauty of them, in hopes that they grow to appreciate them too.

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