Slide Ranch is a great place for family members of all ages. We tried out one of their family farm days in the past and my kids had a great time petting the sheep planting seeds, milking a goat, and making nature crafts. They offer guided tours and lots of hands-on activities, including collecting eggs from chickens, planting seeds, sampling from their organic garden, learning to make crafts and food just like the early farmers, and exploring the nearby tide pools.
Slide Ranch is located off of Shoreline Highway in Muir Beach. Below is a list of their upcoming spring events. Their programs often sell out quickly, so you need to plan ahead if you are interested in participating. Register for programs online at www.slideranch.org.
Spring Family Farm Days
Family Farm Days at Slide Ranch are relaxed four-hour programs that feature a wide range of activities related to the day's theme. Cost: $25 per person; age 2 and under free.
One of our favorite local pumpkin patches is the Great Peter Pumpkin Patch at Spring Hill Farm, located in the Two Rock Valley area just outside Petaluma. The Great Peter Pumpkin Patch is a classic old-time pumpkin patch that's kind of out in the middle of nowhere (which is part of the fun). It's on a real working farm that produces the yummy organic Spring Hill Jersey cheese that you may have seen in farmers' markets or stores around town.
We've been going there for over 10 years, and we've watched it grow in size and scope to be a major fall production. Peter Pumpkin Patch has plenty of pumpkins—you'll find a vast field of on-the-vine pick-it-yourself pumpkins as well as pre-picked specimens, too.
This weekend we paid a visit to the popular Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch, a certified organic pumpkin patch that has been a Marin County tradition for 20 years! Located in the small west Marin village of Nicasio, the farm is just west of the Nicasio Village Square right on Nicasio Valley Road. Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch is open seven days a week through Halloween from 10 am to 6 pm, and it's always worth a visit.
Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch offers a wide variety of certified organic pumpkins spread out in an expansive meadow on the farm. Pumpkin varieties ranged from your standard Halloween jack-o-lantern types to white ones, green Italian and Australian varieties, and flat European "Cinderella" style squash. The farmstand also offers of gourds, squash, and decorative cornstalks, apples, as well as drinks and snacks. Pumpkins range in price from $5 to $32.
McClelland's Dairy is a family-run, certified organic dairy farm located just west of Petaluma, and their annual Halloween pumpkin patch just keeps getting better and better every year. McClelland's offers a lot of fun for families, especially if you are looking for a genuine farm experience. If you haven't been there yet, it's definitley worth putting on your fall family itinerary. Attractions and activities here range from a farm animal petting zoo and into the dairy's milking barn to a giant slide and an air-powered pumpkin cannon. You can hang out here and play all day!
The entrance to McClelland's can sneak up on you a little, so keep an eye out for their signs as you head down Bodega Road into the Two Rock area west of Petaluma. Turn into the dirt driveway and parking it to your immediate right. On your left you'll see their big pumpkin patch, where you're welcome to go pick that perfect Halloween pumpkin off the vine. All pumpkins here are organically grown.
In addition to producing healthy and sustainable local food, Petaluma's Tara Firma Farms also puts on fantastic family-friendly events throughout the year. This fall, their annual Pumpkins on Pikes event continues this tradition. Come on out to the farm for Halloween fun with pumpkin carving, live music, dancing, a corn maze, BBQ and more.
Pumpkins on Pikes takes place on Saturday, October 29, from 2 to 10 pm. Bring your pumpkin carving tools, blankets and coats to stay warm after dark, a sheet to cover hay bales for seating, and favorite treat for the dessert potluck. Free pumpkins for carving will be provided with admission. The carved pumpkins are placed on pikes out in the cornfield, and when the sun goes down, the pumpkins are lit. It's an amazing spectacle! A BBQ dinner will be available for purchase at the event, too.
North Bay farms are now abundant with the fall harvest. Sonoma County Farm Trails, the folks who produce the world-famous Gravenstein Apple Fair, invites families to head out to the farms for Weekend Along the Farm Trails on Saturday and Sunday, September 24 and 25. The free, self-guided tour provides fun for the whole family.
From 10 am to 4 pm both days, visitors can tour their way through Sonoma County and stop in at the participating farms of their choice. Guests can take part in demonstrations, petting friendly farm animals, hayrides, corn mazes, games and crafts for kids, tastings, cooking demos, flower arranging, and more. Some locations charge modest fees for special tours and activities, but entry to all farms and most activities are free of charge.
Many stops will offer snacks, lunches and epic picnic sites. Farm stands will be open for fresh-from-the-source purchases. Guests are encouraged to pack a cooler for toting home farm-fresh treasures.
Fall has arrived, and for those seeking that true Halloween pumpkin patch experience, here's our annual guide to pumpkin patches in Marin and southern Sonoma counties.
In Marin County, Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch offers a real on-the-farm experience and the Godmother's Pumpkin Patch at St. Vincent's is a local tradition and an exciting Halloween experience for families. For more real live farms offering pumpkin patches this season, head up north a short distance to rural Sonoma County, where you'll find them in relative abundance. We visited as many of these pumpkin patches as we could last year, and have posted links to our reviews of them below. As always, we'll visit again this year and update our reviews.
We've included dates and hours for pumpkin patches when available. Hours are correct as of the time of publishing, but it's still a good idea to check a pumpkin patch's website or give them a call before you go in case anything changes. As a rule, most pumpkin patches are open during the whole month of October, although a few open in late September. Pumpkin patches listed here are open through October 31 unless otherwise indicated.
While there are plenty of awesome pumpkin patches to choose from in Marin and southern Sonoma counties (see our list of those here), you can find other great places to pick up pumpkins and other Halloween and autumn treats throughout the greater Bay Area. Maybe you're headed on a road trip to the south bay, or bound for the grandparents' house in Sacramento this October—there's probably a pumpkin patch on the way. Here are a few out-of-town pumpkin patches, in Solano, Contra Costa, and San Mateo counties, that we've visited at one time or another or had recommended to us.
Western Railway Museum Pumpkin Patch Festival
5848 Highway 12
(707) 374-2978 www.wrm.org
Saturdays and Sundays, October 8–23, 10 am–5 pm
The Western Railway Museum in rural Solano County holds its celebrated annual Pumpkin Festival every Saturday and Sunday from October 8–23. Ride a vintage electric express train to the pumpkin patch at Gum Grove Station for pumpkins, tractor rides, games, music, a hay fort, a pumpkin launcher, and pumpkins for sale, of course. Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors 65+, and $10 for children 2–14. Admission includes museum entry, unlimited train rides, picnic area use, and parking. Reservations are not accepted.
Like many families in Marin, we lead busy lives—so busy that sometimes important things like family meals can get lost in the shuffle. Fortunately, that's where meal delivery services come in! These local culinary life-savers provide you and your family with delicious, healthy meals as well as the opportunity to sit down together at dining table in the evening, without having to resort to fast food or some other quick solution.
Here are some of the meal delivery services that deliver to homes in Marin County. All these services deliver throughout the county (usually with the exception of West Marin) unless otherwise indicated. If we've missed your favorite, please let us know about it and we'll consider adding it to the list. With all of these services, you can place your order online via the web or a mobile app. We've personally reviewed a few of these services, so read our reviews via the links to learn more.
In the late summer and fall we love to go apple picking at farms in Marin and Sonoma County. It's so much fun to choose and pick your own fruit, but sometimes you end up with more apples than you know what to do with. I've been trying to figure out different creative ways to use apples, since I hate to see any go to waste.
Fresh-baked apple walnut bread is delicious, easy to make and a great way to use up extra apples. It also makes the house smell amazing while it's baking. It's good as part of breakfast, as a snack, or even dessert. My kids love to get a slice in their lunchboxes, too.