Labor day weekend is summer vacation's last hurrah (even if most kids are in school already). Make the most of this last long weekend of summer with a fun family outing or activity in Marin or elsewhere in the Bay Area. Many of the destinations and activities here close up shop after Labor Day, so this is your last chance to visit until next summer!
Today, August 10, is National S'mores Day! In case you don't know what a s'more is, it's a treat consisting of a graham cracker topped with square of milk chocolate (Hershey's is traditional), then topped with a warm toasted marshmallow and then another graham cracker. "S'more" is a contraction of "some more," which is what everyone says after they finish their first one.
If you don't have a campfire or fire pit handy today, try making these amazingly delicious s'mores cookies. They incorporate all the ingredients of a s'more in an easy to make and eat cookie form, so you can enjoy the deliciousness of s'mores anytime without having to wait to go on a camping trip. My son said these were the best cookies he ever tasted, and I'm inclined to agree with him.
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Late summer marks the start of apple season, and plenty of the tasty and popular fruits can be found in the North Bay, especially in the area around Sebastopol in western Sonoma County. Sebastopol is the de facto apple capital of the Bay Area, and it's justifiably famous for its Gravenstein apples, a variety that you won't find grown commerically anywhere else. While it's fun to eat and cook with apples, it's even more fun (and educational) to head out into an orchard and pick them yourselves!
If you're not lucky enough to have an apple tree growing in your backyard, then head up to one of the local apple farms that offers a u-pick experience. It's a fun family outing, and prices and quality are usually bettter than you'll find in the supermarket. There's nothing quite like an afternoon on the farm, too.
When the temperature rises in the summer, we like to make these frozen watermelon pops to help beat the heat. They're easy to make, delicious, healthy (they're all fruit, after all), and fun to eat on a hot summer day.
You don't need much to make these, just the watermelon, a little sugar (if needed), a blender or food processor, and ice pop molds. You can use other fruits to make these, too—fresh strawberries are particularly good—but the classic summer flavor of watermelon just seems to be perfect for a frozen treat like this.
The kids like to pitch in and help make these, too, although it can be hard for them to wait while the pops firm up in the freezer. Needless to say, grownups may want to take charge of the blending, for safety's sake.
When the summer temperatures start to heat up, then it's time to find a place to cool off with the kiddos. Here are our favorite ways to beat the heat with the family on hot day in Marin and the Bay Area.
Take a ferry ride to Angel Island
Hop on the ferry in Tiburon and take a refreshing ferry ride over the Bay to Angel Island State Park. Explore historic sites, splash on the beach in Ayala Cove, have a picnic, or just relax.
Ice cream is one of those foods that's synonymous with summer, although it's pretty wonderful at any time of year! On a hot day, there's not much better than getting a big scoop of your favorite ice cream on a waffle cone. To help you find that summer joy, we've put together this guide to our favorite ice cream scoop shops in Marin County (and we've thrown in a couple of our Sonoma County favorites that are worth the trip, too).
Marin's own boys of summer, the San Rafael Pacifics, continue another season of fantastic baseball action at downtown San Rafael's Albert Park. This Wednesday, July 20, is Kids Day: All kids 12 and under are admitted to the game free and all supervisors get in at half price! In addition to enjoying the game, kids can take part in fun activities like an ice cream sundae eating contest, a home run derby, and much more!
Wednesday's game starts at 12:35 pm at Albert Park in downtown San Rafael, and the Pacifics take on their North Bay Rivals, the Sonoma Stompers. Albert Park's intimate setting is the perfect venue for old-fashioned, family-friendly, and affordable local baseball. General admission tickets are just $12, grandstand reserved seats are $25. Find out more about the San Rafael Pacifics and order tickets at www.pacificsbaseball.com.
Chili is one of those meals that can be on the hearty, heavy side and not something you necessarily want to serve for a summer dinner—except for this fresh and healthy version. For this summer chili, I lighten things up considerably and take advantage of fresh summer produce like the zucchini growing in our backyard garden and sweet corn.
Serve this chili with a variety of toppings and add-ons so each diner can customize it to his or her taste. You can make it vegetarian (or vegan) by omitting the ground turkey and doubling the amount of beans, corn, and squash. Either way, it's delicious! And our kids even eat it, too. There's probably no reason you couldn't make this year-round, either, although you'd have to substitute frozen corn for the fresh.
It seems like one of the summer rites of passage is piling into the car and heading to a water park, preferably one with thrilling water slides, for a day of fun in the sun. If you grew up in Marin or the North Bay, surely you spent a summer afternoon or two at the long-gone Windsor Water Works north of Santa Rosa.
These days, you'll have to venture event further away, to the East Bay or South Bay, for a taste of this summertime tradition. Here's the rundown on water parks in the San Francisco Bay Area. All of these parks offer thrilling water slides and gentler aquatic adventures like lazy rivers, wave pools, and kids' activity areas. (Don't forget the amusement park junk food, too!) They're fun for all ages. Note that opening days are approximate; check parks' websites for detailed schedules.