Lace up those hiking boots and get your gear together... it's time to hit the trail! Marin County is a paradise for families who love the outdoors, with over 50% of the county's land dedicated as protected open space. The Point Reyes National Seashore, Mt. Tamalpais State Park, and the Golden Gate National Recreation area are only a few of the outstanding natural resources that we have right in out own backyard. It's a great way to both educate children about nature and the environment and to get some exercise.

On this page, we've collected all our posts on family-friendly hikes, walks, beaches, and other outdoor activities and resources. If you have a favorite hike or place you'd like to share, or if you'd like to submit an outdoors-related post as a guest contributor, please contact us.

Cool Camps for Winter Break in Marin and Beyond

December 12, 2014

studio 4 artLooking for something fun for the kids to do over the upcoming winter break? Check out some of the great winter day camps here in Marin and San Francisco.

  • Studio 4 Art
    1133 Grant Avenue
    Novato

    (415) 596-5546
    Campers will have the choice of many different projects each day. Popular events such as clay, sewing, cartooning, and painting will be highlighted, all tought by Studio 4 Art's professional artist teachers. The camps are December 22–24, 29–31 and January 2 from 9:30 am–1:30 pm for ages 4–14. A sibling discount is offered. For more info, visit www.studio4art.net.
  • Bay Area Discovery Museum Winter Break Camps
    557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito
    (415) 339-3900

    The BADM is offing two two-day sessions: Art Attack on December 22 and 23 and Shipwrecks and Treasure Hunts on December 29 and 30. Both run from 9 am–3 pm and are for children ages 4–7. In Art Attack, explore your artistic potential and express yourself through paint, sculpture, nature objects, recycled materials, and the very popular messy art curriculum. Shipwrecks and Treasure Hunts campers will sing chanteys, make maps, dig for artifacts and treasures, and discover strange sea creatures. Cost: Supporting Family Members: $210 per session; general: $235 per session. Note: no extended care available. For more info, visit www.baykidsmuseum.org.

Take a Family Hike to the Fairway Waterfall in Novato

December 7, 2014

Fairway Waterfall Novato Marin County Open SpaceWhen the weather turns wet, it can be a lot of fun to head outdoors and take a hike, especially when there's something exciting to see at the end of the trail, like a rushing waterfall. Marin's waterfalls are some of the county's hidden treasures, and are best appreciated when they're running full force in winter and spring. The Fairway Waterfall, also known as Arroyo de San Jose Waterfall, is a seasonal waterfall that can be found on a trail at the end of Fairway Drive, in Novato's Country Club neighborhood.

The trail to the Fairway waterfall is short and easy and the trailhead is conveniently located, so it's a perfect hike for kids. So bundle up, put on those puddle stompers and raincoats, and head outdoors for a waterfall hike!

The trailhead is at the site of what looks like was supposed to be a gated development that never went anywhere—there's a gate and short section of street and that's it. Park the car and walk down the paved street to the start of the trail. You'll notice a burbling creek—the Arroyo de San Jose—running alongside the path. Bear right and take the lower trail, where you can cross the creak by means of a board placed across it; if you take the upper trail on the left, you'll have to wade through the water to ford the creek. The water here can get really deep if there's been recent rainfall, so use caution.

Ten Fun Family Things to Do on Thanksgiving Break

November 22, 2014

It's Thanksgiving week, and since most Marin County schools give kids the entire week off, you'll probably be looking for ways to keep them occupied before and after Turkey Day. Here are our top 10 activities for families for Thanksgiving break:

Hiking with Kids in Marin: Baltimore Canyon Open Space Preserve

October 30, 2014

Baltimore Canyon Open Space PreserveOne of the best things about living in Marin has to be the Marin County Open Space District (MCOSD). With countless miles of trails crossing unspoiled open space and wilderness areas, there's never a shortage of great hikes, amazing views, and opportunities to get close to nature.

One of the MCOSD's jewels, Baltimore Canyon Open Space Preserve, is a fantastic place for a family hike at any time of year. Located in the foothills of Mt. Tam between Kentfield and Larkspur, this 193-acre preserve offers some of the best scenery in Marin, and is relatively easy to get to, making it a convenient place for a day hike with the kids.

Baltimore Canyon used to be home to one of the largest concentrations of Coast Redwoods in the Bay Area, and was the site of a steam-powered sawmill that began operating in 1849 and provided lumber to the growing city of San Francisco. The name Baltimore, incidentally, was bestowed upon the area due to the Maryland origins of the sawmill's owners.

Hiking with Kids in Marin: Las Gallinas Wildlife Ponds

October 21, 2014

Hiking with Kids: Las Gallinas Wildlife PondsI know it sounds a little strange, but a great hike that's perfect for kids can be found on the grounds of the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District in northern San Rafael. It's a complex of trails and fire roads near the district's treatment plants off of Smith Ranch Road, near McInnis Park. The gravel trails here are wide and flat, and are perfect for off-road strollers and bikes. The paths wind atop levees through the wetlands bordering San Pablo Bay, and offer amazing views of Marin.

A wide variety of birds make their homes out here, and we've seen white pelicans, Canada geese (plenty of them), mallards, cormorants, turkey vultures, several kinds of egrets, black-crowned night herons, red-wing blackbirds, and others. It's kind of a "who's who" of local avian wildlife, so make sure you bring your binoculars!

Five Fantastic Fall Family Hikes in Marin

September 22, 2014

Tennessee Valley TrailFall's weather is some of the finest of the year in Marin and the San Francisco Bay Area, so make sure you take some time to hit the trail and take in a hike before the weather turns cold and (hopefully) rainy. The coastal areas in Northern California are particularly nice in the fall, and are often warmer and clearer than it is inland.

Here are five of our favorite fall outdoor excursions in Marin County that are perfect for families.

Baltimore Canyon Open Space Preserve
This 193-acre open space preserve in the hills above Kentfield and Larkspur is a great place to see Marin's version of fall color in the form of numerous stands of Big Leaf Maples the line the trails. The preserve's Southern Marin Line Fire Road is easily manageable by all ages, and those looking for a more strenuous hike can hook up with the Hoo-koo-ee-koo trail onto Mt. Tam, or take a side trip to Dawn Falls, a 30-foot cascade that really gets going during the rainy season (fingers crossed for this fall and winter).

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