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.

Winter Whale and Elephant Seal Watching at Point Reyes National Seashore

December 26, 2016

Whale Watching Point Reyes

The New Year always heralds the start of whale-watching season on Northern California's coast. This is the time of year when California Gray Whales (eschrichtius robustus) pass by the coast on their annual southern migration, so start planning your winter trip out to Point Reyes National Seashore to do some whale watching now. Dust off those binoculars and your telephoto lens and head out to the Point Reyes Lighthouse!

While we've had mixed results in our own whale-watching outings, we've usually seen at least a whale or two, and on one visit we saw at least a dozen pass by the lighthouse! It's an amazing experience that you'll never forget, and it's definitely worth the time it takes getting out to the lighthouse.

Four Easy Waterfall Hikes for Families in Marin

December 16, 2016

Fairway waterfall Novato

One of the things I love most about winter in Marin is being able to hike to a beautiful waterfall, and when it rains families have many to choose from. The waterfalls in our list here all involve hikes of varying length, and all are perfect destinations for a family outdoor outing. There's something for hikers of every ability here.

Winter Break Camps in Marin and Beyond

December 6, 2016

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 the Bay Area.

  • Andrew's Day Camp
    Location: 400 Tamal Plaza, Corte Madera
    Dates: December 23–January 6
    Cost: $75 per day; extended care $10 hr
    Ages: kindergarten and up
    Andrew's Camp offers games, crafts, sports and more. Camps take place from 9 am–5 pm with extended care from 8–9 am and 5–6 pm. ABring lunch and snack. For more info,call (415) 446-8946 or  visit their website.

Hiking with Kids in Marin: Las Gallinas Wildlife Ponds

December 5, 2016

Hiking with Kids: Las Gallinas Wildlife Ponds

I 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, at the 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!

Ten Fun Family Things to Do on Thanksgiving Break

November 21, 2016

Snow sledding in San Rafael
Go snow sledding in downtown San Rafael at the annual Parade of Lights and Winter Wonderland

Thanksgiving week is next 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:

  1. Go snow sledding in downtown San Rafael at the annual Parade of Lights and Winter Wonderland.
  2. Go ice skating at a Bay Area skating rink like Marin on Ice at Northgate and the Bay Area Discovery Museum's Iceless Skating Rink.
  3. Get a head start on the holidays at the West End Nursery Christmas House in San Rafael.
  4. Take a fantastic fall hike with the family.
  5. Make a cute pumpkin turkey centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table.

Hiking with Kids in Marin: Rush Creek Open Space Preserve

November 13, 2016

Rush Creek Open Space Preserve

Hiking with children is a great way to get them into the outdoors and introduce them to nature, but it can be a bit of a challenge. Small legs seem to tire out faster than larger ones, and when they outgrow both the stroller and the backpack it's best to seek out some shorter hikes with few hills or elevation changes that the whole family can enjoy with a minumum of complaining. One of our favorite easy family hikes can be found at Rush Creek Open Space Preserve, on the northern end of Novato.

This 552-acre preserve features wide and gentle trails that are perfect for families. They're easily manageable with an off-road capable jogging stroller, and kids' bikes should be able to tackle the fire roads with ease. You'll share the trails with plenty of hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders, as well as birders checking out the countless shorebirds and waterfowl that make their homes in the adjacent wetlands.

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