Whether you're heading up to Lake Tahoe for skiing or hanging around home for "Ski Week", there are plenty of fun things to do with the kids during their time off this week! Since the weather has been amazing here lately, we've included plenty of ideas for outdoor family fun.
Here's 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 failed to see his shadow, meaning that spring is on its way. All the alternate, less noteworthy groundhogs, such as Atlanta's General Beauregard Lee have concurred, so we have something of a groundhog consensus.
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.
Apparently Groundhog Day is derived from an old German superstition brought to America by early immigrants. The groundhog (Marmota monax) is a large rodent common in central and eastern North America. We don't see groundhogs out here, but we have a close relative, the marmot, which lives in the Sierras. There aren't any groundhogs in Germany, either, but marmots are common in alpine areas, so perhaps that's the original groundhog.
When it rains, we love to head outdoors and take a waterfall hike! Hikes with the family are especially fun 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! We've been hiking the trail after each recent rain storm this season to see if the waterfall is flowing yet, and we finally got what we were wishing for this week. There's not a huge amount of water right now, but the waterfall is definitely flowing (the photos here are of the waterfall in full flow last winter). It's only going to get bigger and better as the rainy season continues.
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 seven 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.
The Fairway Waterfall 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!
Snow, snow, snow! The winter season in the Sierra is off to a fantastic start! 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 other places in the mountains 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 skiing and snow play activities, read our article here.
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 6, 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 20th anniversary Winterfest will be the best one yet, with an expanded array of food vendors, new activities, and an extensive live performance program. Activities include the famous snow slide, holiday arts and crafts, games and activities, and delicious seasonal food and drink courtesy of Piazza D'Angelo, Sweetwater Music Hall & Café, Pasta Pomodoro, Equator Coffees and Tea, Good Earth Natural Foods, and Honeymoon Ice Cream.
It seems like El Niño is taking its sweet time in bringing us much-needed precipitation, but there's finally some 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 snow this fall and winter). Many of Tahoe ski resorts have already announced their anticipated opening dates for the 2015–2016 season. several are even open now, and some are even opening this weekend!
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!
This Thanksgiving and Christmas, Cornerstone Sonoma presents a winter circus for the holidays by Le Cirque de Bohème: Stolen Moonlight. Experience the magic of a 1920s-style circus based on the French tradition, featuring an amazing cast of characters including a unicycle, contortionist, juggler, slack-rope, hand chair balancing, aerial fabrics, and a hooper aerialist.
This intimate circus gathering takes place under the charming tent in the gardens at Cornerstone Sonoma, and is limited to 140 guests per performance. Shows take place Thanksgiving and Christmas weekends only: Friday–Saturday, November 27 and 28 at 1, 3, and 5 pm; Sunday, November 29 at 1 and 3 pm; and Saturday and Sunday, December 19, 20, 26, and 27 at 3 and 5 pm.
Tickets cost $28 for adults and $18 for kids under 15. Last year many of these performances sold out early, so get your tickets soon. Order tickets online here. A portion of all ticket sales go to benefit the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance.