Outdoor Activities

Hiking, nature walks, beaches, and more.

Bat Night Returns to Olompali State Historic Park in Novato

August 4, 2016

Bat Night

This Saturday, August 6, 2016, Bat Night returns to Olompali State Park in Novato. This fun family event features an evening of bat-related crafts and activities and a chance to meet live bats in person. You'll also get to see bats exiting the park's old barn at night. It's a lot of fun, and you'll learn about the vital role bats play in our ecosystem.

Bat Night starts at 6 pm with bat snacks and bat mask decorating. A presentation by NorCal Bats follows at 8:30, and bats will emerge from the barn at dusk. Bring a flashlight and chairs or blankets to sit on while observing bats.

Get Away to Amazing Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe

July 31, 2016

Emerald Bay Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is one of California's premier vacation destinations and for us, there's no place that showcases the area's natural beauty more than Emerald Bay. Located off Highway 89 about 12 miles north of South Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay offers stunning views and outdoor activities for the whole family, including hiking, swimming, kayaking, and more.

The focus point of Emerald Bay State Park is centered on the area around Vikingsholm, a Scandanvian-style mansion built back in the 1920s. To get there, park in the lot and then, after taking in the view at the scenic overlook, hike down to the beach. The hike is about one mile with a 500-foot elevation change; while the trip down is easy, the hike back can be a bit of a challenge. We saw plenty of families with small kids tackling it, though, and it's not that tough if you take it in stages.

Outdoor Family Fun at Marin's China Camp State Park

July 28, 2016

China Camp State Park San Rafael One of Marin's underrated treasures is China Camp State Park, located east of San Rafael. It's not as famous or flashy as other local outdoors spots like Mt. Tam, Muir Woods, or Point Reyes, but it has a charm all its own and offers plenty for families to do and see.

Situated on the shores of San Pablo Bay, China Camp State Park offers stunning views, plenty of hiking and mountain biking trails, walk-in camp sites, picnic areas, beaches, and a historic 19th-century Chinese fishing village. Topography ranges from oak woodland to grassland to salt marsh, with even some redwoods thrown in for good measure.

Explore Nature and Science with Half Acre Woods

July 20, 2016

Half Acre WoodsMarin Mommies presents a sponsored article from Half Acre Woods, a new outdoor enrichment class for kids ages 2 to 7 in Marin.

Bugs, birds, seeds, and science make up the wonderful world of Half Acre Woods! We are a new outdoor enrichment class designed to engage kids, from the ages of two through seven, in the skills and practice of science. Exploring the world with our senses we smell bay leaves and mint, listen to the crackling of madrone bark, watch for woodpeckers and fence lizards, and touch anything we can get our hands on! (Except for poison oak that is.) Based on the new Next Generation Science Standards that California adopted in 2013, we strive to provide a strong basis for success with science in the classroom while enjoying all the benefits of outdoor education.

The majority of our day is spent observing natural phenomena, like quail families scurrying along in a line, and discussing our findings as we explore. Our approach focuses on the fundamentals of observation, evidence based argument, and construction of explanations. Our dedication to science practice and skills is steeped in a deep understanding and appreciation for positive social emotional development. As we explore we discover opportunities to practice sharing, volunteering, and considerate communication as well as working to build an understanding of the connections between our feelings, our actions, and the natural world.

Movie Night on Angel Island!

July 18, 2016

Angel Island Movie Night PosterPack a picnic, gather up the kids, and spend a summer weekend night watching a family friendly movie at Angel Island State Park! You don’t want to miss this one-of-a-kind event, which takes place on Saturday, July 23, from 5 to 10:30 pm. Come enjoy the animated movie Madagascar under the stars, have a picnic dinner, and create some fabulous memories with friends and family at this unique experience on Angel Island.

Movie Night is a fundraiser sponsored by Angel Island Conservancy to benefit Angel Island State Park, including a scholarship programs and other park improvements. All proceeds benefit the Angel Island Conservancy. Tickets cost $30 per person for adults and $15 for children 12 and under, and include the ferry ride to Angel Island from Tiburon. VIP tables for up to six guests that include ferry passage, two bottles of wine, and a picnic dinner are available for $500 each. Order your tickets online here.

Hiking with Kids in Marin: Samuel P. Taylor State Park

July 10, 2016

Samuel P. Taylor State Park

Samuel P. Taylor State Park, located off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard just outside of the small San Geronimo Valley town of Lagunitas, is a favorite spot for outdoor recreation for Marin County families. Situated among towering redwoods, rushing creeks, and oak woodlands, the park really has something to offer for everyone. Samuel P. Taylor State Park boasts numerous family friendly trails, and some of the best and most accessible are located right near the park headquarters and main picnic areas.

The park is named after Samuel Penfield Taylor, who came to California during the 1849 Gold Rush, and went on to found the West Coast's first paper mill on the park site in 1856. The land that is now the park later—after the arrival of the railroad—played host to Camp Taylor, a popular resort that offered camping, a hotel, dancing, swimming, boating, and more to guests from the 1870s to the early 20th century.

Find the Most Effective Sunscreens with EWG's 2016 Sunscreen Guide

June 7, 2016

Fun in the sun at the beachSummer is almost here, and that means you and your family will spend a lot of time outside—at the beach, by the pool, playing sports, or enjoying the outdoors. It goes without saying that your family needs adequate sun protection. While the only sure-fire way for you and your family to avoid all the sun's damaging UV rays is by covering up with shirts and hats and hanging out in the shade, that may not always be an option, so we need to resort to using sunscreen. What would summer be, after all, without the ritual of slathering up the children with gobs of UV-blocking goo?

While many sunscreens promise a lot to the consumer (especially those with sky-high SPF 50+ ratings), do they really deliver the protection the advertise? Fortunately, the Environmental Working Group's 2016 Sunscreen Guide is available to help sort the good sunscreens from those that won't help much.

"West Side Story" Brings Energy and Excitement to the 2016 Mountain Play

May 28, 2016

Mountain Play West Side Story 2016

It's always amazing to see how the Mountain Play transforms Mt. Tam's Cushing Memorial Amphitheater. Last year it was Neverland and Captain Hook's pirate ship, and this season it's the inner-city New York neighborhood setting of West Side Story. We got a chance to see the Mountain Play's production of this Broadway classic on its opening day, and as usual, it was a fantastic outdoor theater experience! My 10-year-old daughter and I really felt like we were transported to a different place and era.

With plenty of classic songs like "Maria", "America", and "I Feel Pretty" and spectacular dancing choreographed by Nicole Helfer and based on the Jerome Robbins' original work, West Side Story is exhilarating and full of energy. It's based on Romeo and Juliet, so don't expect a happy ending, though. West Side Story is directed by Jay Manley (who also directed The Sound of Music on Mt. Tam in 2013), and Leonard Bernstein's score is performed by David Möschler leading a live 18-piece orchestra.

Insider's Guide to the 2016 Mountain Play: West Side Story

May 13, 2016

Mountain Play West Side Story 2016

One of Marin County's most beloved and unique events is the famous Mountain Play—an outdoor theatre experience high on the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais that's been going strong for over a century! This year's 103rd Mountain Play production is the Tony award winning musical West Side Story. Based on Shakespeare's play about two star-crossed young lovers, Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story features unforgettable songs by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, and was made famous by its Oscar-winning 1961 film version. It all makes for fantastic family entertainment in the spectacular setting of Mt. Tam!

Featuring athletic choreography and one of the most beautiful scores in musical theatre history, West Side Story is directed by Jay Manley and stars Mindy Lym as Maria, Jerry Lee as Tony, Erica Lamkin as Anita, David Crane as Bernardo, and Zachary Isen as Riff. Musical direction is by David Möschler and choreography by Nicole Helfer.

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