Outdoor Activities

Hiking, nature walks, beaches, and more.

Hiking with Kids in Marin: Rush Creek Open Space Preserve

November 13, 2016

Rush Creek Open Space Preserve

Hiking with children is a great way to get them into the outdoors and introduce them to nature, but it can be a bit of a challenge. Small legs seem to tire out faster than larger ones, and when they outgrow both the stroller and the backpack it's best to seek out some shorter hikes with few hills or elevation changes that the whole family can enjoy with a minumum of complaining. One of our favorite easy family hikes can be found at Rush Creek Open Space Preserve, on the northern end of Novato.

This 552-acre preserve features wide and gentle trails that are perfect for families. They're easily manageable with an off-road capable jogging stroller, and kids' bikes should be able to tackle the fire roads with ease. You'll share the trails with plenty of hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders, as well as birders checking out the countless shorebirds and waterfowl that make their homes in the adjacent wetlands.

Hiking with Kids in Marin: Tennessee Valley Trail

October 23, 2016

Tennessee Valley

Tennessee Valley near Mill Valley is one of the most popular hiking and outdoor recreation spots in all of Marin County, and for good reason—it has a combination of easy walks, dramatic views, and a spectacular beach at the end of the trail. Tennessee Valley Trail, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, is a perfect hike for families, and can be easily managed with an offroad-capable stroller. With few hills, the 3.4-mile round trip hike out to the beach at Tennessee Cove and back is easy for hikers (and mountain bikers, too) of all ages. Fall is the perfect time to tackle this hike, since the weather at the coast is often clear, sunny, and spectacular.

Hike, Bike, and Ride at Novato's O'Hair Park

September 20, 2016

O'Hair Park Novato

At the west end of Novato is one of Marin's outdoor gems—O'Hair Park. Sharing space with the Dogbone Meadow dog park and Morning Star Farm equestrian center, the 100-acre O'Hair Park is a great place for a family bike ride, hike or off-road stroller.

Head into the park on the Reuben Kaehler Memorial Trail, which forms an easy loop of approximately two miles. Novato Creek parellels much of the trail, and it's fun to clamber down to the creekside to look for little fish and water bugs while you're on your hike. The trail climbs gently uphill into a bay laurel forest, down into a grassy meadow, and then again into a forest. 

Truckee Is Perfect for a Fall Family Getaway

September 15, 2016

Donner Lake Truckee

While winter and summer are the most popular times to visit Truckee and the Lake Tahoe area, fall can be a fantastic time for a family trip up the mountains. The weather is often beautiful, fall color abounds, summer’s tourists and winter’s skiers are absent, and there’s still plenty to do in an amazing place. And it’s not too far away, either.

We love events like the annual Fall Festival at Tahoe Donner, a mountain community and ski area just outside town. This laid-back autumn event, which takes place this year on October 8, features family fun like pumpkin carving, arts and crafts, food, pony rides, archery, a petting zoo, and much more.

While many of Tahoe Donner’s summer programs close in the fall, the community still boasts some great restaurants and other upcoming fall events, including their free Light Up the Night holiday kick-off event in late November. Tahoe Donner offers great family winter sports opportunities, too, including cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, and even fat biking at their Alder Creek Adventure Center.

Explore Spectacular Slide Ranch in Muir Beach

September 13, 2016

Slide Ranch

Muir Beach's Slide Ranch is one of Marin's favorite family destinations for educational programs, camps, and more. But did you know you can visit the ranch's spectacular grounds any time you like? Since Slide Ranch is located within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, it's open to the public every day, with no admission fee.

It's truly an amazing place, with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, hiking trails, tidepools, a farm to explore, and one of the most amazing picnic areas we've ever encountered. It's a great place to visit even if there are no programs going on. Pack up the kids and a picnic and make a day of it!

Five Fantastic Fall Family Hikes in Marin

September 12, 2016

Tennessee Valley Trail

Fall offers some of the finest weather of the year in Marin and the San Francisco Bay Area, so make sure you take some time to hit the trail and take in a hike before the weather turns cold and wet. The coastal areas in Northern California are particularly nice in the fall, and are often warmer and clearer than inland.

Here are five of our favorite fall outdoor excursions in Marin County that are perfect for families.

Tennessee Valley

The Tennessee Valley trail is one of Marin's most popular spots for outdoor recreation, and a favorite with hikers, cyclists, and trail runners of all ages. This easy 3.4-mile out-and-back hike has its halfway point at Tennessee Cove, home to a beautiful beach that's a perfect place for a picnic or mid-hike break. It's manageable with an offroad jogging stroller, too. Go during the week or in the mornings to avoid weekend crowds in the parking area.

Fall Family Fun Runs in Marin and the Bay Area

September 10, 2016

Marin Turkey Trot
Work up an appetite for Thanksgiving dinner at the Marin Turkey Trot on November 24.

Running is a fantastic way for the whole family to get outside, get fit together, and enjoy the beauty of the Bay Area. Families have plenty of opportunities to race together in Marin and the San Francisco Bay Area this fall, from family fun runs and walks to cross-country half-marathons! There's something for every fitness and experience level.

September

Clo-Cow Half Marathon

Sunday, September 18
Downtown Petaluma

The 6th running of the Clo-Cow Half Marathon & 5K is set for September 18, 2016 in Historic Downtown Petaluma. This beautiful half-marathon course takes you through rural Sonoma County farm country, over rolling hills where you'll be cheered on by sheep, horses, and of course cows! The trip out there is a challenging one, but the inclines just make the views even more rewarding! Find event details and registration here.

October

Marin Color 5K

Saturday, October 1
Indian Valley College, Novato
A 5K walk, run, hop, skip, leap, mosey on a designated route. Along the way, participants go through stations where they are sprayed with colored powder. After the 5K, everyone will gather for a fun festival. Find event details and registration here.

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

September 4, 2016

Bear Valley Visitor Center Point Reyes National Seashore

Our 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.

Bear Valley Visitor Center Point Reyes National Seashore

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.

Explore the Giants at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve

August 30, 2016

 Armstrong Redwoods Guerneville

When people say coast redwoods, Marin's Muir Woods usually comes to mind, but the Bay Area boasts plenty of other great places to go see these towering trees, but without the tourist crowds and parking hassles at Marin's popular redwood hotspot. Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, located just outside of the Russian River town of Guerneville, has plenty of majestic old-growth redwoods, as well as easy hiking trails, picnic areas, and a small nature center. It's definitely worth taking a mini road trip through Sebastopol up to the river!

Armstrong Redwoods was set aside as a nature preserve in the 1870s by logging baron Colonel James Armstrong. Several miles of trails wind through the park, offering opportunities for a wide range of hikes. The Pioneer and Discovery trails are short trails that are ideal for hikes with kids, and they're both navigable with a sturdy stroller.

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