Summer Activities

Kids' Summer Movie Clubhouse in Marin

June 11, 2016

This summer, Cinemark's Summer Movie Clubhouse offers fun weekly summer movies for kids at the bargain price of only $1 per show or 10 movies for only $5! 10-show discount punch cards are limited in quantity and must be purchased in advance at the theater box office or online at

All films are rated G or PG. For more info, visit their website. (Make sure you download the Summer Movie Clubhouse flyer for a $1-off coupon for a kids' Movie Snack Pack at the concession stand.)

Strawberry Yogurt Sorbet Is a Healthy and Sweet Summer Treat

June 20, 2015

strawberry yogurt sorbet cone Who doesn't love a sweet, refreshing, frozen treat during the summertime? Make it a little more healthy with sweet fresh strawberries and tangy Greek yogurt. You don't even need an ice cream maker to make this dessert.

It's fantastic scooped into a cone or frozen into ice pop molds—whatever tickles your fancy this summer. My kids and I made this sorbet with fresh strawberries that we picked up at the farmers market.

While our recipe calls for strawberries, you can use whatever fresh berries you happen to have. Frozen berries work perfectly well, too, so you can make this at any time of year. You can also feel free to substitute low-fat yogurt, but do try to use extra thick Greek yogurt; it makes a difference.


Explore California History at the Gold Country's Columbia State Historic Park

July 25, 2014

One of our favorite destinations for a quick family getaway is California's Gold Country in the Sierra Foothills. It's a relatively short 3 hour drive from the Bay Area, and there are plenty of things for families to do. You can visit historic mining towns, pan for gold, explore caves, go wine tasting (for mom and dad, of course), take a ride on a 19th-century steam train, hike, fish, and more.

The highlight of our visits to the Gold Country always Columbia State Historic Park in the Tuolumne County town of Columbia. In fact, much of Columbia is the park itself. While most of the small Mother Lode towns along Highway 49 are filled with California history, Columbia takes this to an extreme—its downtown has been preserved to represent its mid 19th-century heyday, and in fact it's the best preserved Gold Rush town in California.

Paws to Read this Summer at the Marin County Free Library!

May 26, 2014

Paws to Read Summer Reading Program Marin County Free Library 2014It's hard to believe that it's almost the end of the school year. You can keep the learning—and fun—alive this summer by participating in the Marin County Free Library's 2014 summer reading program, Paws to Read. Paws to Read is packed with exciting free activities designed to inspire creativity, learning, and exploring. And it's not just for kids—the whole family can participate!

This year's program is built around Reader BINGO, with different cards available for children, teens (entering grades 6–12), and adults. Complete squares or rows on your bingo card and win prizes and get entered in raffle drawings. Kids can earn prizes like a Paws to Read T-shirt; teens can enter drawings for prizes like Giants tickets, gift cards, and even an iPad Mini; and adults can enter drawings for food and beverage gift cards from local businesses. Teens and adults can also choose a free gently used book when enrolling in Paws to Read, courtesy of the Book Place, the Library's used bookstore located in downtown Novato. Download your bingo cards and get started.

Beach to Boardwalk: A Family Getaway to Santa Cruz

April 8, 2014

Santa Cruz panorama from the Dream InnOne of the great things about living in Northern California is the fact that there's no shortage of fantastic places to visit that are only a short drive away. A destination we love to visit for its beaches, stunning views, laid-back attitude, and world-famous Boardwalk is the seaside town of Santa Cruz.

The quintessential California beachside town, Santa Cruz is an ideal place for a family getaway for a long weekend, with plenty for everyone to do, from swimming and surfing to playing at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. We also love the fact that Santa Cruz is only about two hours away by car—a road trip distance that everyone can manage without getting too cranky or rambunctious.

There's so much to do there that we can't possibly cover everything in one short article, so here are a few of our favorite highlights for a family visit on summer vacation, spring break, or any other time of year.

Home Spun Fun at the 2013 Sonoma County Fair

July 23, 2013

Sonoma County FairIn case you missed or just didn't get enough of the Marin County Fair, you'll be happy to know that the 2013 Sonoma County Fair starts Thursday, July 25 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, and runs through Sunday, August 11. It's worth checking out if you've never been: it's bigger and a lot different than Marin's smaller, more intimate fair, and has more of an agricultural focus, which is natural for a more rural county like Sonoma. The Sonoma County Fair also features the largest themed flower show in the country, which is usually pretty stunning—this year's theme is "Backyard Blossoms."

The fair includes a kids' area and playground with appropriate entertainment and activities, including craft projects, dress-up, and a parents' rest station with changing tables and chairs for nursing. Other kids' activities include the Corny Crow ventriloquism show, s LEGO building contest, sidewalk art, and a bubblegum blowing competition. You can see the full roster of family events and activities here.

Wine Country You-Pick and Picnicking at Sonoma Broadway Farms

July 15, 2013

Sonoma Broadway FarmsOn one of our recent visits to the Sonoma Valley, our favorite Wine Country destination, we discovered the newly-opened Sonoma Broadway Farms, a small organic, sustainable farm located just south of town. Tucked away on a plot of land between Broadway (hence the name) and Sonoma Creek, this six-acre farm offers a farm stand, a delightful picnic area, animals to visit, and the opportunity to go out into the field and pick your own vegetables and fruit.

Enter the farm via the driveway that it shares with the Sonoma Seventh Day Adventist Church. The farm is a cluster of weathered buildings that include a barn and a farm stand. There's a spotless picnic area to the side of the barn, with plenty of new picnic tables, each with its own patio umbrella to provide shade. It's a great place to bring your lunch and eat before or after your you-pick excursion.

The farm is just getting started for the season right now, which means that some of the you-pick options, like tomatoes, are a little limited, but give it a week or two and everything will be in full swing. Meanwhile, look for several varieties of heirloom summer squash, beets, hot and sweet peppers, kale, cucumbers, and sunflowers.

Family Friendly Summer Nights Outdoor Music Festival at the Osher Marin JCC

July 10, 2013

Summer Nights at the Marin JCCThis summer the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center reprises its most popular event series: the Summer Nights Outdoor Music Festival. Bring your picnic, blanket, low-backed lawn chairs, and dancing shoes—there's fun for the whole family! Concerts take place on Saturday evenings from July 13 through August 10 at 7 pm. Dinners from a variety of favorite local restaurants will be available for purchase, along with beer, wine, non-alcoholic drinks, and snacks.

This year, kids 17 and under are free, and the Kids Zone will include fun art projects and activities presented by local organizations like Bread & Roses, the Marine Mammal Center, and the Agricultural Institute of Marin. Of course the playground will be open for supervised play, too!

This summer's multicultural outdoor concert lineup features:

  • July 13: Bluegrass Night with Hot Buttered Rum; dinners by Roadside BBQ, Kids Zone hosted by Bread & Roses.

Surf's Up at Hamilton Pool's Family Fun Day!

August 13, 2011

Water slide at Hamilton Pool in NovatoSurf's up today at Novato's Hamilton Community Pool at their Family Fun Day from 1 to 5 pm.

Admission to the pool from 1 to 5 is half price—Novato residents pay just $3 for adults and $2 for youths and children, whil non-residents pay $4 for adults and $3 for youths and children. Have a great time at Novato's newest community pool, which features shaded picnic areas, lawns, and a fun waterslide and water play structure in the kids' pool. Read our review of the Hamilton Pool here.

For another $5, you can take part in additional Family Fun Day activities. Your wristband entitles you to a raffle for great prizes like a free season pass, and private lessons,unlimited bounce house entry, games and activities like a diving contest and swim race, and  sno-kone, too!

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