Marin is home to many communities that really go above and beyond the call of duty when getting into the holiday spirit, and of all the places in the county I think Marinwood, the neighborhood sandwiched between Novato and San Rafael, has the most decorated holiday houses per capita!
One of my children's favorite decorated and lighted Christmas house is the Mize family's Mickey Mouse House (AKA "Mickey's Christmas House") in Marinwood. Visit it, and you'll see why it's so popular! The Mickey Mouse House, located at 417 Blackstone Drive (at Las Gallinas Avenue), looks to be just a regular lighted Christmas house at first glance. Last year, the Mize family and the Mickey Mouse Christmas House were even featured on the ABC series The Great Christmas Light Fight in 2013.
It's not every day that the circus comes to town, but it'll be here in Marin this Memorial Day weekend! American Crown Circus sets up its big top on the grounds of St. Vincent's School for Boys in Marinwood, just south of Novato, May 26–30. American Crown Circus is a family run, bilingual circus that features acrobats, high wire acts, and clowns (but no exotic animals). Read about our visit to the circus here.
The circus is the major fundraiser for the Rotary Club of Novato Sunrise, which has brought a professional traveling tent circus to Marin every year since 1997. Profits from the circus support local community projects.
One of Marin County's most beloved Halloween traditions is the Godmothers of Timothy Murphy School Pumpkin Field, AKA the St. Vincent's Pumpkin Patch. This popular seasonal fixture is located in St. Vincent's field near St. Vincent's School for Boys just south of Novato.
As usual, this year's pumpkin patch is really well done. It's attractive both for adults and children, with colorful plywood cutouts for photos ops, and plenty of spooky decorations, figures, and props to keep everyone interested. They don't actually grow their pumpkins here, but have a large selection of them ready to choose. There are wheelbarrows and red Radio Flyer wagons available for you to haul around your pumpkins (or your kids).
Like many pumpkin patches these days, pumpkins aren't the only draw, and St. Vincent's has the requisite bouncy house and giant inflatable slide for kids to play on on weekends. You need to buy tickets for these: $5 gets you on both the bounce house and the big inflatable slide.
Still looking for a fantastic preschool experience for your child? Marinwood Preschool, a highly regarded local school offering classes for children ages 2 to 4, still has a few openings for this fall.
In Marinwood's Parent-Toddler Class for 2- and 3-year-olds, parents and toddlers will meet new friends, create art, and enjoy music, storytime, and outdoor adventures. Marinwood Morning School is for 4-year-olds, and prepares children for kindergarten in a play-based, half-day program.
Marinwood classes are lower in tuition costs than most other early childhood programs in Marin County. Classes are held at Marinwood Community Center, 775 Miller Creek Road in San Rafael.
For the past few years, Novato Sunrise Rotary has brought the American Crown Circus/Circo Osorio to St. Vincent's in Marinwood for a series of performances over Memorial Day Weekend. This year we made it a point to go, since we always seem to have missed it in years past. So, not sure exactly what to expect, we rolled up to the big top on Friday night.
Standing in a freshly mowed hay field, the blue-and-yellow striped big top is actually quite a sight to behold. If you have advance tickets you can walk right in, otherwise pay at the ticket window in the circus truck parked near the tent. Inside the tent is a single circus ring surrounded by grandstands and a small concession stand selling popcorn, cotton candy, hot dogs, sodas, and other treats. We took our seats and waited for the show to begin.
Are you still looking for a fun Spring Break camp for your child? Marinwood Recreation Department in San Rafael offers an exciting Spring Break Camp with lots of fun hands-on and outdoor fun for ages 3–12 April 9–13.
The camp is divided into two age groups: Camp Grasshopper for ages 3–4, Camp Cricket for ages 5-7 and Camp Dragonfly for ages 8–12. Campers will participate in separate activities including arts, crafts, sports, group games, swimming and much more. The camp counselors are dedicated to providing a safe and fun environment for children to interact, meet new friends and participate in exciting recreation and activities.
The one-week camp is Monday–Friday from 9 am–3 pm. The cost is $160 for residents and $180 for non-residents. Before care is available from 8–9 am ($25 per week or $7 per day drop-in) and after care is available from 3–5 pm ($50 per week or $14 per day drop-in). Drop-in $40 a day. Camp goers need to bring a sack lunch, two snacks, water, swim suit, towel and sunblock to camp daily. There's a sibling discount is for full week registrations too.
Not planning on taking off to Tahoe during the upcoming "Ski Week"? If you need to find something fun for your kids to do over mid-winter break, Marinwood Recreation Department offers an exciting Mid Winter Break Camp from Tuesday–Friday, February 21–24, 2012.
Miller Creek School Gym will be transformed intoo a ski holiday right in Marinwood, with fun for all. The camp is divided into three age groups: Camp Bunny Slope for ages 3–4, Camp Snowshoe for ages 5-7 and Camp Bobsled for ages 8–12. Campers will participate in activities including games, arts and crafts, cone ball, and gaga ball.
Marinwood's Ski Week Camp starts at 9 am, with pick-up at 3 pm at Miller Creek Middle School. Campers enrolled in after care will walk over to Marinwood Community Center, where pick-up begins after 3:30 pm.
The cost is $127 for residents and $144 for non-residents; there's a $10 discount form siblings. They also offer a drop-in for $40 a day. Before and after care is available: 8–9 am, $20 per week or $7 drop-in; 3–5 pm $40 per week or $14 drop-in.
Have you visited the new Marinwood Market yet? We had a chance to go there recently and it's really a great addition to the neighborhood. We used to live in the area and shopped at the previous grocery store on the site, Ralph's, quite frequently. Ralph's closed a few years ago, and the space has been a vacant eyesore for quite some time. It's great to see a grocery store back to anchor the shopping center.
Aside from being clean, well designed, and new, Marinwood Market has a small, neighborhood market feel. With a nice selection of foods, including many locally produced items, full service meat and seafood counters, and a deli, it makes us a little sad that we don't live around the corner anymore. Marinwood Market is run by the same people who operated Boardwalk Market in Tiburon for decades.
Marinwood Market is located just off Highway 101 near the Marinwood/St. Vincents exit, at 155 Marinwood Drive. The market is open daily from 7 am to 8 pm. For information, call them at (415) 491-1965 or visit their Facebook page.