Parks and Playgrounds

Parks and outdoor recreation activities.

Day Out in Golden Gate Park

July 1, 2012

Golden Gate Park CarouselJust across its namesake bridge from Marin County lies a perfect day-trip destination for familes: San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. This urban oasis boasts over 1,000 acres of forests, meadows, lakes, gardens, museums, playgrounds, and other attractions. There's so much to do here that you'll probably want to visit several times to take it all in.

Established in the 1870s, Golden Gate Park stretches from Ocean Beach in the west to the city's Haight-Ashbury district in the east, and is bordered by the Sunset and Richmond districts on the south and north, respectively. Whether your family wants to play at an historic playground, visit the penguins at the Cal Academy, take in some art at a world-class museum, or have lunch with a view of the Pacific Ocean, there's something for you to do here.

Creating Community, Making Friends, and Staying Sane, One Dish at a Time.

June 12, 2012

Playdate and potluck at Sun Valley Park in San RafaelMarin Mommies presents a guest article by San Rafael dad Joey Chandler on the growing popularity of the Thursday Night Playdate and Potluck (P&P). It's a great way to make friends and meet other families in the neighborhood, and he offers some tips for starting a P&P of your own.

There is a growing movement in San Rafael that I want to share with you. This simple idea builds community, is fun for kids, and keeps parents sane.

We call it the Thursday Night Playdate and Potluck and it is exactly that. We meet on Thursday nights around 5 pm at a local park and families bring food and drinks to share. The kids run and play, the adults share adult conversation and we all have a great time. Some people bring cooked dishes and others bring just a bottle of wine because the kids were having one of those days. Commuting parents join us when they get back and visiting relatives are welcomed with open arms. There is no agenda or meal assignments, just families coming together to share food and getting to know each other. These are a blast and honestly it has become one of the highlights of my week.

Santa Rosa's Howarth Park Is Worth the Trip

June 11, 2012

Howarth Park in Santa RosaWe don't find ourselves up in Santa Rosa all that often, but when we do, we make it a point to stop by Howarth Park and play for a while. This large park on the east side of town is packed with attractions and things to do, and it's well worth a visit if your in the area; it might even merit a special trip up north.

Howarth Park has been a Sonoma County fixture since the 1950s. Not only does the park boast a large, modern set of play structures, it has plenty of other attractions as well. Kids can take a trip on a miniature train, ride a carousel, meet some animals at the barn, take a pony ride, and even rent a boat to sail on adjacent Lake Ralphine.

The main "Land of Imagination" play area is divided into several sections, each suitable for different age groups. At the center of the play area is an Old West town where kids can indulge in creative play. A Native American village area is also part of the playground. An additional playground on the other side of the parking area features swings and a rock climbing wall structure.

Marin Playground Profile: Hal Brown Park at Creekside

September 17, 2011

Hal Brown Park at CreeksideBoth my kids were born at Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae and subsequently had many checkups at the nearby pediatrician's offices, so we've been fans of Creekside Park, located right across from the hospital on Bon Air Road, for a long time. The park re-opened earlier this year as Hal Brown Park at Creekside, and the improvements make it even better than it was before, and it's still one of our all-time favorite playgrounds in Marin.

With an incomparable setting along Corte Madera Creek, two exciting playgrounds, and quite possibly the best views of Mount Tam in Marin, there's really something here for the whole family.

Imagination Playground Now Open at the Bay Area Discovery Museum

April 11, 2011

Imagination Playground at the Bay Area Discovery MuseumCome down and play in Imagination Playground, a newly opened permanent exhibition at Sausalito's Bay Area Discovery Museum. Located in the museum's Festival Plaza, Imagination Playground is a breakthrough concept in playspace design created by architect David Rockwell to encourage the child-directed, unstructured free play that is so important in nurturing children's creativity.

Imagination Playground offers kids endless possibilities for creative play. Children can use a wide array of different elements—including giant foam blocks, slides, noodles, fabric, carts, and balls—to create their own play experiences and reconfigure and modify them. They can also bring sand and water into play in their creations. Adult "Play Associates" are on hand to maintain a safe and secure environment and assure a steady supply of parts for maximum fun and creativity.

103 Things for Kids to do in San Francisco

April 28, 2009

I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting activities to do with my children. Every now and then (when I get a chance) I like to take my kids into the city and try something new. I like to read The Mommy Files on SFGate and came across a great list of 103 things all S.F. kids should do in the city before they grow up. It’s an excellent list of fun and unique things to do with your children or with visiting families from out of town. Check out the list for yourself at The Mommy Files website on SFGate.

Another Marin Indoor Play Space Gone? Gymboree Play & Music in Mill Valley to Close!

March 22, 2009

baby playing in the tunnel at Gymboree in Mill ValleyFor a county with a relatively large number of families, Marin has never had a surplus of indoor play spaces for young children. While our weather is usually nice enough for outdoor play, indoor spots are appealing during cold, rainy, or hot weather, and also because of the classes and programs that many of them offer in addition to being a place to play.

Over the last year, we've lost two great resources, Playtime Safari in Novato and San Anselmo's Playdate Café, victims of unfortunate circumstance and the sputtering economy. This week, we've learned that Mill Valley's Gymboree Play & Music, a longtime favorite spot of many Marin parents, will be most likely closing its doors for good at the end of the month! The current owner of the Gymboree Play & Music franchise has decided to close it, but it was apparently bought back by Gymboree itself (which was founded in Mill Valley and is currently headquartered in San Francisco) with the intention of keeping the facility open. Unfortunately, they have not been able to renegotiate a lease with the landlord at Strawberry Village, where it is located.

Help Save Playtime Safari! (Business has closed)

September 29, 2008

Playtime SafariIf you're a parent with small children in Novato, then you probably know all about Playtime Safari, the wonderful indoor children's playspace on Nave Drive at the south end of town. If you don't know about it, you can read about it here. Created and run by Marin mompreneur Yvonne Goodrich, Playtime Safari offers families a big 4,000-square-foot indoor playspace, as well as classes, workshops, concerts, birthday parties, and more. It's a great resource, and unfortunately it's about to go away. It seems Playtime Safari has been given a 60-day notice to terminate its lease, in an effort to get it to sign a long-term lease that will nearly triple its existing rent. So as of now, Playtime Safari will close its doors forever on November 5, 2008. If you would like to support the business and let the landlords know how you feel about Playtime Safari closing, please contact them at:

Kahl & Goveia Commercial Real Estate
c/o Bruce Kahl & Joe Goveia
250 Brooks Street
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 376-1100

There will be a signature drive at Playtime Safari, so you can stop by during opening hours and sign a letter along with other local parents. Attached below is a copy of the letter if you'd like to use it for the basis of your own message. Playtime Safari is located at 5470 Nave Drive in Novato, and is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9:30 am to 3 pm and Wednesday from 9:30 am to 6 pm.

A Few Ways to Beat the Heat (Playdate Cafe and Playtime Safari have Closed)

July 9, 2008

When it's way too hot, like it has been this week, I'm always trying to figure out things to do and places to go that will keep me and the kids cool. Playtime Safari in Novato is a 4,000-square-foot indoor play space for kids 0-6 that has air conditioning, and they are open 4 to 6 pm on Wednesday. You can read more about Playtime Safar in our article here. Another indoor play space is the recently opened Playdate Cafe in San Anselmo. This is a really fun and unique place that has a cafe for the moms (and kids) and a play space with a pirate ship and medieval castle. For more info, read our feature on Playdate Cafe.

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