Parks and Playgrounds, Sports Activities, Outdoor Activities, Rainy Day Activities, Events and Outings, Summer Camps, Spring Break Camps, Arts and Crafts, 4th of July, Beaches, Hiking, Picnics, Summer Activities, Zoos and Wildlife Centers, Enrichment, Parent-and-Child Classes, Gardening, Drop-in Activities, Snow Sports, Bicycling

Family Hike at Phoenix Lake

August 15, 2017

Phoenix Lake

Like Tennessee Valley further to the south, Phoenix Lake is one of Marin's most popular spots for outdoor recreation. Located on Marin Municipal Water District watershed lands, Phoenix Lake sits at the base of Mt. Tamalpais near the town of Ross. It's a great place for a family hike or bike ride with small children, as the trails that lead to the lake and ring it have gentle slopes and relatively short distances that are manageable by most.

There are also numerous more challenging trails accessible from Phoenix lake that are sure to please more advanced hikers or mountain bikers. You'll see a lot of people running and walking dogs (on-leash dogs are allowed on trails) as well as hiking and mountain biking.

12 Favorite Marin Parks for Outdoor Birthday Parties

August 14, 2017

Birthday party parks in Marin

Having your child's birthday party at a local park has a lot of advantages: It's outdoors, there's plenty for everyone of all ages to do, and, best of all, you don't have to clean the house! Here are 12 terrific Marin parks that are perfect for parties. Our criteria were that they had to have plenty of space for games and the obligatory bounce house, group picnic areas, preferably with BBQs, and decent parking.

Here's our list in alphabetical order. Needless to say, reservations for group picnic areas must be made in advance; we've linked each park's name to its web page where you can get full contact information.

Free Outdoor Family Movies in Marin and the Bay Area

August 12, 2017

Film Night in the Park Marin County Summer

Summer means its time for free outdoor movies in Marin and the Bay Area, so grab your blankets and pillows, pack the picnic basket, and get ready to enjoy some family flicks al fresco. Here's our guide to free outdoor movies this summer and fall in Marin, San Francisco, and Sonoma County.

Most movies begin at dusk or around 8 pm; check the organizer's website for exact time and location. Some feature food trucks and even wine pairings. Popcorn is often offered for free!

In addition, the North Bay Mobile Drive-In screens movies on the side of the Old Hamilton Theater building in Novato; join their Meetup page to get notified about upcoming screenings.

Marin Weekend Family Fun for August 11, 12 & 13

August 11, 2017

Gravenstein Apple FairEnjoy good old fashioned family fun at this weekend's Gravenstein Apple Fair in Sebastopol.

Here are our picks for great events and activities for children and families this weekend. Find more events for the whole week in Marin and beyond in our Family Events Calendar.

Friday, August 11

  • Insect Discovery Lab
    Point Reyes Library
    Friday, 11 am–noon

    Prepare to be amazed when the Insect Discovery Lab visits the Point Reyes and Stinson Beach Libraries. Explore the fantastic lives of beetles, millipedes, tarantulas, and walking sticks at this interactive workshop. Free. Location:
    11431 State Route One, Point Reyes Station. Fore more info, visit their website.
  • Sonoma County Fair
    Sonoma County Fairgrounds
    Friday–Sunday, 11 am–11 pm

    The Sonoma County Fair offers both a classic full-scale carnival with plenty of excitement for thrill-seekers and a separate kiddie carnival area for the little ones, with scaled down thrills and lots of excitement. Carnival rides are an additional charge. Admission is $12 for ages 13 and up, $7 for children 7–12, and free for children 6 and under. For more info, visit their website.
  • Children's Garden Series: Unique Derique
    Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco
    Friday, noon & 2:15 pm

    This free event is part of the Children's Garden Series at Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco. A beloved Bay Area institution, the Unique Derique is a prince among clowns, an internationally esteemed performer who has honed a singular blend of physical comedy and hambone body percussion. For more info, visit their website.
  • End-of-Summer Reading Party with SF Bubble Guy Mike Ashe
    Creek Park, San Anselmo
    Friday, 3–4 pm
    Bring the kids for an hour of bubble fun by the San Francisco Bubble Man Mike Ashe. Free. Location: Sir Francis Drake Blvd & Center Blvd, San Anselmo. For more info, visit their website.
  • Circus Vargas
    Corte Madera
    Friday, 4:30 & 7:30 pm, Saturday & Sunday, 1, 4 & 7:30 pm

    Circus Vargas' presents its new 2017 spectacular SteamCirque! Come on a journey of fantastic proportions where children of all ages will marvel at the wacky and wonderful cast of characters that come alive in this exciting steampunk, science- fiction fantasy inspired circus odyssey. Tickets: $17–$72; under 2 free. For more info, visit their website.
  • Picnics on the Plaza
    Town Hall Lawn, San Anselmo
    Friday, 5–8 pm

    Come on downtown to San Anselmo for Picnics on the Plaza on six Friday evenings this summer: Grab dinner-to-go at a local restaurant, purchase food at the event, or pack a picnic and dine with old and new friends at the plaza. Enjoy live entertainment and activities; it's great, music, food and family fun! Location: 525 San Anselmo Avenue, Town Hall Lawn, San Anselmo. For more info, visit their website.
  • Friday Nights at the de Young
    de Young Museum, San Francisco
    Friday, 5–8:45 pm

    Friday Nights at the de Young are after-hours art happenings that include a mix of live music, dance and theater performances, film screenings, panel discussions, lectures, artist demonstrations, hands-on art activities, and exhibition tours. The café offers a delicious prix-fixe menu and specialty cocktails, and the Hamon Tower observation level is open until 8 pm. This Friday: Auricular Arrangements. For more info, visit their website.
  • Broadway Under the Stars: Fascinating Rhythm
    Jack London State Park, Glen Ellen
    Friday–Sunday, 5 pm
    Are you ready to be invigorated with a sensational blend of movement and song that celebrates the Fascinating Rhythm that keeps our hearts moving through life? Your toes will be tapping as you join us on this rousing and rhythmic journey of music and dance that will have you swaying to the beat all night long. Bring a picnic before the performance. The show begins at 7:30 pm. Tickets: $45–$149. Purchase tickets here. Location: 2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen. For more info, visit their website.
  • Nostalgia Days Rod and Custom Car Show
    Downtown Novato
    Friday, 5:45–8 pm & Saturday, 10 am–5 pm

    Now in its 20th year, this celebration of hot rods, classic cars and small-town Americana is a great reason to visit downtown Novato this weekend. This free, family-friendly event kicks off with a Friday Night Cruise, then Saturday sees Downtown Novato transform into a classic car show, all the way from 1st to 7th Street on Grant Avenue. Live music by the Four Teardrops and the Deadlies. For more info, visit their website.

Hands-on Fun for Fall at Slide Ranch

August 11, 2017

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 fall 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.

Blast Off at the Novato Space Festival Today at Pacheco Plaza

August 6, 2017

Novato Space Festival

Celebrate all things outer space at the annual Novato Space Festival at the Pacheco Plaza shopping center. This fun and educational family event is presented by the Space Station Museum and takes place Sunday, August 6 from 10 am to 4 pm at the museum and on Pacheco Plaza's Center Stage. Admission and parking are free! Over 4,000 people attended this event last year.

Meet real astronauts including Al Worden, who participated in the Apollo 15 moon mission; shuttle crew members Jerry Ross, Nicole Stott, Bruce Melnick, and Dan Bursch; and Novato's own shuttle astronaut Yvonne Cagle. This year, families with children 12 an under will get early admission at 9:30 am and can attend a special book reading by astronaut Jerry Ross in the museum's Moon Room.

In addition to meeting legendary astronauts, visitors will also get a chance to check out over 30 different space exhibits, as well as the Space Station Museum's exhibits.

Marin Weekend Family Fun for August 4, 5 & 6

August 4, 2017

Fun awaits at the Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa.

Here are our picks for great events and activities for children and families this weekend. Find more events for the whole week in Marin and beyond in our Family Events Calendar.

Friday, August 4

  • Day Out With Thomas
    Roaring Camp Railroads, Felton
    Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 10:30 am–5:30 pm

    Take a train ride drawn by Thomas himself, meet Sir Topham Hatt, and enjoy live music. Tickets: $20 advance, $24 for peak times—Saturdays and Sundays 10:30 am–2:30 pm, $24 at the gate. Tickets required for everyone aged 2 and up and include all entertainment and activities as well as a 25-minute train ride. Parking $8 per vehicle. Location: Graham Hill Road, Felton. For more info, visit their website.
  • Children's Garden Series: Caterpillar Puppets
    Esplanade at Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco
    Friday, 11–11:30 am & 12:15–12:45 pm

    Joe Leon’s Caterpillar Puppets don’t just entertain kids and parents. His eccentric menagerie draws audiences of all ages into seemingly familiar stories that take unexpected turns. Like his version of the Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Bla-bla-blas. Free. Location: Esplanade at Yerba Buena Gardens, near the MLK, Jr. waterfall.For more info, visit their website.
  • Sonoma County Fair
    Sonoma County Fairgrounds
    Friday–Sunday, 11 am–11 pm

    The Sonoma County Fair offers both a classic full-scale carnival with plenty of excitement for thrill-seekers and a separate kiddie carnival area for the little ones, with scaled down thrills and lots of excitement. Carnival rides are an additional charge. Admission is $12 for ages 13 and up, $7 for children 7–12, and free for children 6 and under. For more info, visit www.sonomacountyfair.com.
  • Picnics on the Plaza
    Town Hall Lawn, San Anselmo
    Friday, 5–8 pm

    Come on downtown to San Anselmo for Picnics on the Plaza on six Friday evenings this summer: Grab dinner-to-go at a local restaurant, purchase food at the event, or pack a picnic and dine with old and new friends at the plaza. Enjoy live entertainment and activities; it's great, music, food and family fun! Location: 525 San Anselmo Avenue, Town Hall Lawn, San Anselmo. For more info, visit their website.
  • Friday Nights at the de Young
    de Young Museum, San Francisco
    Friday, 5–8:45 pm

    Friday Nights at the de Young are after-hours art happenings that include a mix of live music, dance and theater performances, film screenings, panel discussions, lectures, artist demonstrations, hands-on art activities, and exhibition tours. Location: 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin Theatre Company: Seussical Kids
    Mill Valley
    Friday, 5:30 pm, Saturday, noon & 4 pm

    Come support our 2nd–6th Grade Production Campers performing. Tickets $5. Purchase tickets here. Location: 397 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley. For more info, visit their website.
  • Broadway Under the Stars: Fascinating Rhythm
    Jack London State Park, Glen Ellen
    Friday–Sunday, 5 pm
    Are you ready to be invigorated with a sensational blend of movement and song that celebrates the Fascinating Rhythm that keeps our hearts moving through life? Your toes will be tapping as you join us on this rousing and rhythmic journey of music and dance that will have you swaying to the beat all night long. Bring a picnic before the performance. The show begins at 7:30 pm. Tickets: $45–$149. Purchase tickets here. Location: 2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marinwood's Music in the Park Series
    Marinwood Park, San Rafael
    Friday, 6–8 pm
    Join us this summer for live music, food and fun the whole family will enjoy. Bring your picnic blanket and your appetite and kick-off the weekend Marinwood style!  Location: 775 Miller Creek Road, San Rafael. For more info, call (415) 479-0775 or visit their website.

Gravenstein Apple Fair: An Old-Time Country Festival

August 3, 2017

Gravenstein Apple Fair

Where can you spend the day walking under ancient oaks following your nose from food booth to food booth (featuring frying apple fritters or slices of four-inch high apple pie), taking in terrific acoustic music, and experiencing the sights and sounds of a turn-of-the-century barnyard? At the annual Gravenstein Apple Fair, of course!

Sonoma County's summertime jewel takes place in Sebastopol's Ragle Ranch Park this weekend, August 12 and 13. 2017's event is the 105th Gravenstein Apple Fair, which showcases the best in arts, crafts, food, wines and beers, games, entertainment, and farm life activities.

Squaw Valley Is the Place to Go for Summer Family Fun in Tahoe

August 1, 2017

Squaw Valley bike trail

It's been a while since I've spent some time in Squaw Valley, the famous resort located west of Lake Tahoe, so when my family and I went there this summer, I found myself wondering why it's been so long since I last visited! There's so much for families to do here—it's the perfect destination for a summer family getaway in the mountains.

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