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.

Find the Most Effective Sunscreens with EWG's 2016 Sunscreen Guide

June 7, 2016

Fun in the sun at the beachSummer is almost here, and that means you and your family will spend a lot of time outside—at the beach, by the pool, playing sports, or enjoying the outdoors. It goes without saying that your family needs adequate sun protection. While the only sure-fire way for you and your family to avoid all the sun's damaging UV rays is by covering up with shirts and hats and hanging out in the shade, that may not always be an option, so we need to resort to using sunscreen. What would summer be, after all, without the ritual of slathering up the children with gobs of UV-blocking goo?

While many sunscreens promise a lot to the consumer (especially those with sky-high SPF 50+ ratings), do they really deliver the protection the advertise? Fortunately, the Environmental Working Group's 2016 Sunscreen Guide is available to help sort the good sunscreens from those that won't help much.

Six Sensational Summer Hikes for Families in Marin

June 4, 2016

Sky Oaks and Lake Lagunitas

When it's summer and school's out, there's no better time to experience the outdoors in Marin County. Gather up the kids, lace up those hiking boots, fill your water bottles (very important in the summer heat!), slather on the sunscreen, and hit the trail.

All of these hikes are easy enough for everyone in the family to tackle, and many are manageable with a sturdy jogging-style stroller. We've included our favorite summer hikes from all parts of Marin.

Follow the links in the titles to read more about each hike. You can also visit our Outdoors page for more ideas for family hikes and outdoor adventures this summer.

"West Side Story" Brings Energy and Excitement to the 2016 Mountain Play

May 28, 2016

Mountain Play West Side Story 2016

It's always amazing to see how the Mountain Play transforms Mt. Tam's Cushing Memorial Amphitheater. Last year it was Neverland and Captain Hook's pirate ship, and this season it's the inner-city New York neighborhood setting of West Side Story. We got a chance to see the Mountain Play's production of this Broadway classic on its opening day, and as usual, it was a fantastic outdoor theater experience! My 10-year-old daughter and I really felt like we were transported to a different place and era.

With plenty of classic songs like "Maria", "America", and "I Feel Pretty" and spectacular dancing choreographed by Nicole Helfer and based on the Jerome Robbins' original work, West Side Story is exhilarating and full of energy. It's based on Romeo and Juliet, so don't expect a happy ending, though. West Side Story is directed by Jay Manley (who also directed The Sound of Music on Mt. Tam in 2013), and Leonard Bernstein's score is performed by David Möschler leading a live 18-piece orchestra.

Swimming, Play and More at McNears Beach Park in San Rafael

May 26, 2016

McNears Beach Park is one of those special places that I hold close to my heart. I grew up literally around the corner from it, and spent a lot of time there as a child. It's still one of my favorite places to spend the day in Marin, especially now that I have kids of my own. McNear's Beach is a 55-acre county park located on the shores of San Pablo Bay. It's the a perfect place to go on a warm day to wade in the bay, swim in the pool, picnic, fish, take in spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay Area, and more.

Hit the Trail at Indian Valley Open Space Preserve

May 16, 2016

Indian Valley Open Space PreserveOne of the great things about living in Marin is the amount of easily accessible open space. Almost everyone has at least one trailhead right around the corner, so there's no excuse not to take the family on an outdoor excursion whenever possible. One of the most popular areas for hiking, horseback riding, cycling, and more in northern Marin is Indian Valley Open Space Preserve in Novato.

Located adjacent to the College of Marin's Indian Valley Campus, this 885-acre preserve is criss-crossed by a wide variety of trails, most shaded by oaks and California bay laurels, making it a pleasant place to go for a hike on a hot day. During various times of the year you can find a waterfall, wildflowers, and peaceful Pacheco pond, which is often teeming with wildlife like toads, frogs, fish, and newts. It's a popular destination for school groups studying our ecosystem.

Insider's Guide to the 2016 Mountain Play: West Side Story

May 13, 2016

Mountain Play West Side Story 2016

One of Marin County's most beloved and unique events is the famous Mountain Play—an outdoor theatre experience high on the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais that's been going strong for over a century! This year's 103rd Mountain Play production is the Tony award winning musical West Side Story. Based on Shakespeare's play about two star-crossed young lovers, Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story features unforgettable songs by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, and was made famous by its Oscar-winning 1961 film version. It all makes for fantastic family entertainment in the spectacular setting of Mt. Tam!

Featuring athletic choreography and one of the most beautiful scores in musical theatre history, West Side Story is directed by Jay Manley and stars Mindy Lym as Maria, Jerry Lee as Tony, Erica Lamkin as Anita, David Crane as Bernardo, and Zachary Isen as Riff. Musical direction is by David Möschler and choreography by Nicole Helfer.

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