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.
Most schools have off next week for mid-winter break, so it's great time to getaway 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 play 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.
Snow Play Resorts
While not as numerous as ski resorts, you'll find a few snow play resorts throughout the Sierras. These places usually boast a lodge or clubhouse, dining, restrooms, and other activities. You'll probably have to rent a tube or sled while you're there, as many of these facilities don't allow outside equipment. Most open around mid-December, although opening dates are dependent on weather and snowfall. Make sure you call or check their website before you go.
South Lake Tahoe's Adventure Mountain is all snow play, all the time! They offer tubing, sledding, saucers, snow play, snowshoeing, sled and tube rentals, and beginner snowboard lessons for kids, as well as dining and a gift shop. Adventure Mountain is open now for the 2013–2014 season. Hours: Weekdays, 10 am–4:30 pm and weekends and holidays 9 am–4:30 pm, weather permitting. Location 21200 Highway 50, South Lake Tahoe (at Echo Summit), 96150. More info: adventuremountaintahoe.com or (530) 659-7217
We finally have some rain in Marin! 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 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.
We've been wanting to do this hike again this season, but of course with little to no rain over the fall and winter we didn't think there would be anything to see. After this weekend's storm, we decided to check out the waterfall yesterday and it was amazing! 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!
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.
On cool winter days, everyone loves a steaming cup of hot chocolate. It's a comforting way to warm up, and a nice treat for kids and grownups alike. Did you run out of those little packets of Swiss Miss hot chocolate that usually hang out in the back of your pantry? Don't worry—making hot chocolate from scratch is far easier than it sounds, and uses only a few simple ingredients. Here in the Marin Mommies test kitchen we tried out a few different recipes as we searched for the best hot chocolate ever.
Did you know that chocolate, in its first form, was consumed as a drink? Spanish conquistador Cortés found chocolate being consumed at the court of Aztec emperor Moctezuma, and the Aztecs in turn adopted the custom of drinking chocoloate from their Maya neighbors to the south. The big difference was that the native Mexicans drank their chocolate cold, mixed with cornmeal and flavored with herbs and chili peppers.
Winter Break is here! While you'll probably spend plenty of time with family and friends for Christmas, you'll aslo 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.