Winter Break is here! While you'll probably spend plenty of time with family and friends for Christmas, you'll also need to keep the little ones occupied, and there are plenty of fun things to do in and around Marin with the kids during their time off! Check out our list of 10 fun family activities and outings, both indoor and outdoor, for winter break.
Since we seem to be getting a break from the rain, why not take advantage of the beautiful weather by taking a family hike? There are so many amazing spots in Marin County that are perfect for a hike or nature walk with kids, whether they're in a baby backpack, a stroller, or walking on their own.
The winter landscape in Northern California can be breathtaking, too, with bright green grass and even some wildflowers showing their faces. Here are five of our favorite amazing Marin hikes for families, perfect for winter or any time, really. Remember to wear layered clothing, and it's usually a good idea to let the kids wear their rain boots on muddy winter trails.
in Novato (also known as the Arroyo de San Jose Waterfall) is a fantastic destination for a winter family hike. It's short and there's an amazing payoff at the end of the trail in the form of a 30-foot waterfall!
Most schools have winter break starting next week, so it's great time to get away and go play in the snow. While we love the skiing and winter fun at Lake Tahoe, we know that not everyone's a skiier, and sometimes families just want to go up and have some fun in the snow. While many of the Tahoe ski resorts like Northstar, Squaw Valley, and Heavenly have tubing parks, ice skating, and other winter non-skiing activities for the family, there are plenty of places in the Sierras where you can get your snow play fix without the ski resort hustle and bustle (and price tag).
Most of these snow play sites are within a few hours' drive from Marin and the San Francisco Bay Area. While some have tubes and sleds to rent, others, most notably the California State Sno-Parks, offer little more than a place to park your car so you can go play in the snow. For a list of Lake Tahoe ski resorts that offer both skiiing and snow play activities, read our article here.
When 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.
Note: Due to this weekend's anticipated rainy weather, Winterfest will be rescheduled to Sunday, December 7.
Mill Valley's downtown plaza will once again be filled with an eclectic mix of live music, children playing, and community togetherness when the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce and the City of Mill Valley present the annual Winterfest, taking place this Sunday, December 7, from 11 am to 6 pm. Winterfest celebrates the holiday season with a fun-filled afternoon for children, families, and anyone who enjoys the holidays!
This year’s Winterfest will be the biggest one yet, with expanded food, new activities, and an extensive live performance program. New for 2014 is a 15-foot-tall snow globe photo booth that can hold up to eight guests at a time and blows snow inside—just like a real snow globe. It's sure to be a hit for families looking for a fun photo opportunity!
It's no secret that it's been the dryest year on record in Northern California, but there's already snow up in the Sierras, which means it's time to get ready for the start of ski and snow play season in Lake Tahoe (and hope for more storms and snow this fall and winter). Many of Tahoe ski resorts are making snow like mad and have their opening days scheduled in November. Boreal is even open now!
The Lake Tahoe area has a variety of resorts and ski areas to suit anyone's taste and budget. Here's our guide to places to ski, snowboard, tube, sled, and play in the snow around Tahoe. We're tried to focus on spots that offer not only skiing and snowboarding, but tubing, snow play, and other winter activities, too. If we've omitted your favorite, please let us know!
We've incuded opening days, if available. Make sure you check before you head up to the high country, though, as opening dates are tentative and dependent on snowfall and weather; we've included website links and phone numbers.
This Thanksgiving and Christmas, Cornerstone Sonoma presents a winter circus for the holidays by Le Cirque de Bohème. Experience the magic of a 1920s style circus based on the French tradition, featuring a magician, contortionist, jugglers, mimes, an eccentric clown, a knife-thrower, and other assorted denizens of 1920s Paris.
This intimate circus gathering takes place under the charming tent in the gardens at Cornerstone Sonoma, and is limited to 130 guests per performance. Shows take place Thanksgiving and Christmas weekends only: Friday–Saturday, November 28 and 29 at 3 and 5 pm, Sunday, November 30 at 1 and 3 pm, Saturday–Monday, December 20–21 and Friday–Saturday December 26 and 27 at 3 and 5 pm.
Whether you're heading up to Lake Tahoe or hanging around home for "Ski Week", there are plenty of fun things to do with the kids during their time off! Check out our list of 10 fun family activities and outings in Marin and beyond for mid-winter break.
This just in: Famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow, meaning that we're in for six more weeks of winter. I think that we possibly used up spring back in January with all our wonderful (if sadly rainless) weather. Maybe he knows we need the rain out here on the West Coast.
Alternate and less noteworthy groundhog General Beauregard Lee has disagreed, however, predicting that we're in for an early spring. Let's hope that this means lots of spring showers.
Groundhog Day has always been America's most underappreciated holiday, but not in our house! Our kids saw it on the calendar and have been eagerly anticipating the great day for weeks. We're extra lucky this year in that Groundhog Day coincides with that other unofficial American holiday—the Super Bowl.