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!
Want to have fun, get some exercise, and support a great cause? Sign up for the Marine Mammal Center's Run for the Seals! This annual 5K run/walk celebrates the Center's 40th anniversary, and supports the Center's programs and rescue work. It's open to participants of all ages, including casual and serious runners, walkers, and families—strollers and on-leash dogs are welcome, too. All proceeds go directly towards the Marin Mammal Center's mission of helping sick, injured, and orphaned marine mammals.
The 2015 Run for the Seals takes place this Saturday, August 15. Check-in starts at 6:30 am, and the races begin at 8:30. Participants can choose from two different route options: a 5K road and dirt trail route hrough the headlands, or a two-mile walk on a scenic route overlooking the ocean. Both routes feature refreshment stations, and the walk/hike route will also include informative education stations along the way.
After, participants are invited to join in on the Family Fun Day, which takes place at the Marine Mammal Center. Enjoy complimentary food, drinks, fun family activities, and tours.
Ever wonder who takes care of the seals, sea lions, and other marine mammals that end up stranded on California's coast? Marin's Marine Mammal Center has been on the scene rescuing and caring for sick, injured, malnourished, and abandoned marine mammals—including elephant seals, seal lions, harbor seals, sea otters, and even whales—since 1975. Currently, the Center has over 200 patients—it's the busiest they've ever been—so it's a great time to visit and learn about what they do.
Located at Fort Cronkhite in the Marin Headlands, the Marin Mammal Center's new $32 million facility opened in the summer of 2009, and offers daily tours, as well as educational activities for the entire family, especially on Marine Science Sundays. It's a wonderful destination as an outing on its own, and as a not-to-miss part of a visit to the Headlands.
Earth Day 2015 takes place on Wednesday, April 22. It’s a great time to celebrate and teach our children the importance of preserving our planet’s resources. Families will find plenty of ways to observe the occasion here in Marin County and the Bay Area, and we've created a list of local events that either celebrate Earth Day or help families learn about nature and the planet.
Fun Events for Earth Day
Earth Day Celebration 2015
Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
Saturday, April 18, 9 am–5 pm
Join the Bay Area Discovery Museum on Earth Day to celebrate the natural beauty of our environment. Every day, the museum seeks to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards by encouraging children to immerse themselves in our unique place by the Bay. All activities included with admission unless noted otherwise. See schedule here.
Earth Day: Celebrating Urban Biodiversity
San Francisco Zoo Sunday, April 18, 11 am–3 pm
Celebrate the fifth anniversary of Greenie’s Conservation Corner at the Zoo. Not only has this space been a focal point of conservation and education, it’s been a fun, hands-on learning space for Zoo visitors and Members alike. Come to the Zoo on April 19 for a special Earth Day Celebration to mark this milestone. For more info, visit their website.
The unique Tender Tracks outdoor preschool program honors and respects the inherent need for young children to have ample time with nature, in order to develop a healthy bond and relationship to the natural world and all who dwell therein. Through stories, songs and explorations, children go on playful adventures into the heart of nature.
Tender Tracks families drop off and pick up their children at various local natural settings. Children then participate in a morning circle with stories, songs, and snack to get ready for the adventures and explorations of the day. If it rains, students put on boots and rain gear! Extra clothes are always kept available so the children can change into dry things after wet or muddy adventures.
Spring is here! Take advantage of the weather and enjoy a day on the farm. We're lucky to live in an area that's surrounded by some of the country's top agricultural producers, and some of them offer farms tours for the whole family. On a tour, you can meet animals, learn where your food comes from, and find out about the efforts that local farmers take to provide us with high quality food. My kids love to visit farms, especially at this time of year when there are plenty of baby animals to see.
Here are some of the farms in Marin and Sonoma County that offer public tours. Some are free, and some require advance reservations. Please keep in mind that these are all real working farms, some of which raise animals for human consumption. All these tours are suitable for families.
2025 Shoreline Highway, Muir Beach 94965
(415) 381-6155 slideranch.org Overlooking the Pacific in Muir Beach, Slide Ranch is a real working farm located on the lands of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Families can visit and explore the grounds, hike the trails, and have a picnic daily from dusk to dawn. The ranch also offers family programs, including Family Farm Days, campouts, and Toddler Days at various times throughout the year.
Petaluma's Tara Firma Farms is a family-run farm that produces humanely raised chickens, pigs, turkeys, and cattle on 300 acres just across the Sonoma County line. In addition to raising and selling their products, they're committed to educating the public about life on the farm, healthy food, and environmentally sustainable agriculture.
Tara Firma farms offers free farm tours on weekends at 10 am, noon, and 2 pm. The tours are a fantastic farm experience for parents, kids, and anyone who wants to get an up-close-and-personal look at where their food comes from. Come experience the sights, sounds, and, yes, smells of the farm first-hand!
Living in Marin, you don't have to look far for a summer camp that takes advantage of some of the amazing natural resources we have right in our own backyard. Parents have several outstanding nature and outdoors oriented summer camps to choose from. Here is a selection of some of our favorite day camps in Marin that have an emphasis on the outdoors and the natural world around us for ages 4 to 18. To find more fantastic summer camps, visit our 2015 Marin Summer Camp Guide.
Audubon Summer Adventures Camp is located at the Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary in Tiburon. Camp sessions start June 8 and run through August 14. Week-long sessions for kids 4–9 take place from 9 am–2 pm, include themes like Amazing Predators, The Mighty Bay, Survivor, Shark Week, and Mud Warriors. Fees for these sessions are $340 per week. They also offer Expedition Camp ($385 per week) and On the Fly Camp ($340 per week) for children in grades 4–6, where campers deliver a little deeper into the varied habitats of Marin County and visit environments like the bay, ocean, redwood forest, and more. Extended hours untiil 5 pm are available for an additional cost. Visit their website for more information and to register.
This time of year always has a way of making us ready for the warm days of spring and summer. And of course with those thoughts of warm months come dreams of our spring and summer vegetable garden! For the last few years, we've really made an effort to put in a substantial vegetable garden in our backyard. The children love to help pick out the seeds, plant them, water the plants, and pick the vegetables (and eat them, too), so it's a fun, educational, and tasty, experience for them. We also like the fact that we're getting to eat our own organically grown veggies!