Holidays

Ice Skating Fun at Snoopy's Home Ice in Santa Rosa

December 21, 2016

Snoopy's Home Ice Redwood Empire Ice ArenaOne of our must-do family tradions during the holidays is to visit Snoopy's Home Ice, as well as the Charles M. Schulz Museum right next door. The arena was a gift to the North Bay community from the late Santa Rosa resident and Peanuts cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, and has been going strong since 1969.

I always consider an outing here a holiday tradition, especially since I grew up watching A Charlie Brown Christmas every year, and attended a few holiday ice shows here over the years, too. It was always a treat to see Charles Schulz himself sitting in the audience, enjoying the show and chatting with visitors. 

10 Fun Outing Ideas for Winter Break

December 18, 2016

Tubing in Tahoe

Winter Break is almost 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.

Marin Weekend Family Fun for December 16, 17 & 18

December 16, 2016

Mickey Mouse Christmas House MarinwoodVisit the Mickey Mouse House in Marinwood this weekend. It's open nightly from 6–10 pm.

There's also holiday ice skating at numerous locations throughout the Bay Area, opportunities to visit with Santa Claus at local shopping centers, and amazing decorated holiday houses. Also, check out our North Bay Christmas Tree Farms and Lots article.

Friday, December 16

  • Great Dickens Christmas Fair
    Cow Palace, San Francisco
    Friday–Sunday, 10 am–7 pm

    Experience Victorian London with hundreds of costumed players, shops offering one-of-a-kind gifts and Christmas treasures, dining, and pubs. Meet Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, Tiny Tim, Jules Verne, David Copperfield, Charles Darwin, and 700 costumed characters. Of course, Father Christmas himself will be on hand to join in the fun. Purchase tickets here. For more info, visit their website.
  • Top of the Mark Children’s Magical Holiday Tea
    999 California Street at Mason, San Francisco
    Friday & Saturday, noon–4 pm

    Magical Holiday Tea is open to kids and adults of all ages. Guests will enjoy a cookie decorating station, Santa's sleigh in the lobby, Raul the Master Baloonatic, and face painting by Fire Pixie, Bri the Magical Holiday Character, plus a tea-time buffet. Santa will visit on Saturdays, too! $70 per person; $66 with toy donation to the San Francisco Firefighters Toy Drive. Advance reservations required: (415) 616-6941. Location: 999 California Street. For more info, visit their website.
  • San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker
    War Memorial Opera House

    Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 2 & 7 pm
    San Francisco Ballet’s awe-inspiring production is like no other, with colorful, larger-than-life scenery, over 200 dazzling costumed characters, and of course Tchaikovsky’s beautiful score performed live by the world-class San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. Ticket prices start at $65. For more info, call (415) 865-2000 or visit their website.
  • Marin on Ice
    Northgate Mall, San Rafael
    Friday, 2
    –10 pm, Saturday, noon–10 pm, Sunday, noon–9 pm
    This Saturday, Marin on Ice opens for another season of outdoor ice skating at San Rafael's Northgate Mall, where it runs through January 11. Marin's only holiday ice skating rink features 6,300 square feet of real ice and will be open daily for outdoor skating. Skating is $15 per person, which includes skate rental. Private ice cabanas will also be available for rental and "Skate Buddies" are available for beginners. For more info, visit their website.
  • The Snowman: A Holiday Film with the San Francisco Symphony
    San Francisco Symphony, Davies Hall
    Friday, 4 pm, Saturday, 2 pm & Sunday, 11 am & 2 pm

    On a cold December night, a young boy builds a snowman that magically comes to life. The two go on an enchanted adventure, soaring through the sky, making new friends, and meeting Santa Claus himself. It all happens in the Academy Award-nominated short film, The Snowman. Take part in this extraordinary tale of friendship as the movie is projected on the big screen and the SF Symphony performs the score live. Also on the program, jazzy Christmas hits with vocalist Ruthie Ann Miles, the Pacific Boychoir, and the Symphony. Tickets $15 and up; 17 and under half-price. For more info, visit their website.
  • Napa Valley Wine Train Santa Trains
    Napa
    Friday, Saturday & Sunday, 5 & 8 pm

    Napa Valley Wine Trains' Santa Express Trains are a magical experience for the whole family. Santa and some special friends will be on board, of course. Tickets do sell out very early, so check for availablity at (800) 427-4124. Tickets start at $55 per person. Refreshments available for purchase on board. More information

Christmas in Marinwood: The Nisja Bear's House

December 13, 2016

the Nisja's Bear's House in Marinwood

Marin is home to many communities that really go above and beyond the call of duty when getting into the holiday spirit, and of all the places in the county I think Marinwood, the neighborhood sandwiched between Novato and San Rafael, has the most decorated holiday houses per capita!

Some of Our Favorite Family Holiday Movies

December 8, 2016

The Snowman videoDuring the holidays, we're inundated with Christmas-themed movies and TV specials of all different kinds. But what's really worth spending your time watching? Being something of a family of movie buffs, we decided to put together our list of favorite holiday movies and specials, so here are seven seasonal offerings that we think are worth repeat watching each December.

The Snowman

Based on the picture book of the same name by Raymond Briggs, The Snowman is short 27-minute animated film that tells the story of a young boy who builds a snowman on Christmas Eve, only to find that it comes to life later on that night and takes him on a magical journey to the North Pole.

There’s no dialogue to speak of, except for some introductory narration by David Bowie (yes, David Bowie). The Snowman, with its musical interlude featuring the haunting song Walking in the Air, beautiful animation, and messages of friendship and loss, is a true classic. Your kids will love it, and I challenge any parent not to get choked up by the end.

Just in Time for the Holidays: Best Kids' Books of 2016 from Diesel

December 8, 2016

A Most Magical GirlThe holidays are here, and great books always make fantastic gifts for kids! Clare Doornbos, the children's book expert at Diesel bookstore in Larkspur, saves us all a lot of time and stress by highlighting her picks for best kids' books of 2016.

You can join Clare for storytime at the bookstore every Thursday morning at 10:30 am, where she reads classics, new kids' books, and hidden treasures. It's perfect for families with children 5 and under. Diesel is located in Marin Country Mart at 2419 Larkspur Landing Circle in Larkspur. For more information about Diesel and a complete schedule of events, visit www.dieselbookstore.com/larkspur or call the store at (415) 785-8177.

Younger Picture Books (ages 0–4)

Touch Think Learn ABC by Xavier Deneux
A modern graphical alphabet book with luxurious thick board pages. What makes this book so extraordinary are the cut-outs from one page which correspond with a raised part of the facing page. It's almost like a pop-up book for the very young.

Go Play in the Snow! Great Places for Family Snow Play in Northern California

November 28, 2016

Tubing in the Sierras

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.

Try Cross Country Skiing With the Family This Winter

November 5, 2016

cross country skiing

With more snow moving into the Sierras, it's time to start thinking about winter sports family fun in the mountains. While downhill skiing and snowboarding are synonymous with snow sports to many people, cross country skiing is a fun and low-key alternative to the lift lines. Cross country skiing is fun, easy to learn, and requires a minimum of equipment. Dress in warm active clothing, put on your boots and skis, grab your poles, and you're good to go!

We tried out cross country last winter, and had a great time. My kids picked it up right away—after 20 minutes on the practice loop they were off and hitting the trails. The whole family can join in, too—you can even get a jogging stroller on skis and pull your little one along, and many cross country trails allow dogs, too. An added bonus: cross country skiing is one of the best aerobic exercise activities you can do. It's a great way to get active and enjoy the beauty of the mountains in winter.

Help Feed the World's Largest Turkey at Town Center Corte Madera

November 1, 2016

Giant Turkey Town Center Corte Madera

This holiday season, Town Center Corte Madera proudly welcomes back the World’s Largest Turkey, who will gratefully collect your donations of canned food, non-perishable items, and toiletries. Donations will be distributed by the SF-Marin Food Bank to Marin families in need this holiday season. This year marks the Giant Turkey’s 25th annual appearance at Town Center—this year the Turkey will be “roosting” in the Center Court under the clock tower across from Blue Barn.

The Giant Turkey delights Marin families every holiday season with its bobbing head and hatch for donations. Over the years, the turkey has collected 33,100 pounds of donations!  These donations will help the Food Bank fill holiday baskets with useful items for those in need. Visiting the Giant Turkey has become a holiday tradition for families who find it a wonderful way to support their community with donations for Marin County residents who need assistance.

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