Get Ready for the Goblin Jamboree at the Bay Area Discovery Museum

September 18, 2014

Goblin JamboreeBoo! Come get a jump on Halloween at the 28th annual Goblin Jamboree at the Bay Area Discovery Museum! Bring your little goblins to this year’s spooky fundraiser on Saturday and Sunday, October 18 and 19 from 10 am–4 pm. Come in costume and explore the Bay Area Discovery Museum transformed into a haunted Halloween wonderland complete with games, attractions and live entertainment.

Ride a spooky train or real ponies, make potions in the Witches' and Wizards' School, and enjoy a full brew of games, activities and live entertainment. This year the museum's Lookout Cove will be transformed intot the spooky (but not scary) Haunted Cove, and favorite exhibits like the shipwreck and Peekaboo Palace will get a Halloween makeover. Make sure you also stop in the Bay Hall to experience the glowing train table, too!

Get 25% off Everything This Saturday Only at Five Little Monkeys in Novato

September 18, 2014

Five Little MonkeysAs of this Saturday, September 20, there will be only 100 days until Christmas! To celebrate the occasion, Novato's independent toy store, Five Little Monkeys, is offering 25% off everything in the store on Saturday only from 9 am–6 pm. Get a head start on your holiday shopping!

Five Little Monkeys offers a wide variety of toy for kids of all ages, from babies to teens. Their unique selection of toys and children's books includes figures, dolls, dress-up, magic sets, musical instruments, games, and educational and eco-friendly toys, as well as well known brands like the Thomas the Tank Engine Wooden Railway, Playmobil, LEGO, Schleich, Breyer, Rainbow Loom, and more. They also have a wide selection of classic novelties and joke gifts. It's our go-to place for fun and unique birthday gifts and special treats.

The sale is also taking place online. Use code 100DAYS14 to get your discount. The discount is not valid with any other offer, coupon, or discount, and is not good toward gift certificates.

Marin Weekend Family Fun for September 19, 20 & 21

September 17, 2014
Fall Arts Festival Mill Valley
Family fun awaits this weekend at Mill Valley's 58th annual Fall Arts Festival in Old Mill Park.

Here are our picks for great events and activities for children and families this weekend. Find more events for the whole week in Marin and beyond in our Family Events Calendar.

Friday, September 19

  • The 6th Annual Redwood Empire Train Show
    Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa
    Friday, noon–7 pm, Saturday, 10 am–7pm
    & Sunday 10 am-5 pm
    The Redwood Empire Train Show has become one of the largest and most popular model railroad events in northern California There is nothing quite like seeing a kid's face light up the first time when they enter the 26,000-square-foot Train Show. For all ages. Cost: $7 adults, free for children 12 and under. Location: 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. For more info, visit their website.
  • Friday Nights on Main: Annual Firemen's Ball
    Downtown Tiburon
    Friday, 6–9 pm

    Bring the family and enjoy music, dancing, shopping, and food. By popular demand, the Fundamentals return to provide to provide their trademark brand of red hot rockin’ soul and rock 'n' roll. Come on down, enjoy the music, meet your local firefighters and support the Volunteer Fire Department. For more info, call (415) 435-5633 or visit their website.
  • Sunny Hills Ladies Night at the Mart!
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Friday, 5:30–9:30 pm
    Plan for an amazing night with friends, fashion, cocktails, and great food... help a child have a better and brighter future. You will enjoy an evening out with specialty cocktails and fine wines, music, and culinary delights. Shop the latest fashions and accessories followed by a spectacular live auction and exclusive fashion show! Purchase tickets here. For more info, visit their website.
  • Free Outdoor Concert at Pacheco Plaza
    Friday, 6–9 pm

    Bring the family for a night of music and fun. Bring your lawn chairs and pick up a picnic at Paradise Market and enjoy this casual fun atmosphere. It's a big crowd so come prepared dance the evening away with classic Motown by the GTS Band. Location: 366 Ignacio Boulevard, Novato. For more info, visit their website.
  • Film Night in the Park: The Butler
    Creek Park, San Anselmo
    Saturday, 8 pm

    This Friday's movie is The Butler (PG-13). Arrive by 8 pm—films begin at dusk. Popcorn, candy, and sodas will be sold. Bring blankets, pillows, backrests, and low chairs. Film Night suggests leaving pets at home. Donations are appreciated. Creek Park is located in San Anselmo. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, September 20

  • California Coastal Cleanup Day
    Various Marin locations
    Saturday, 9 am–noon

    On the third Saturday of every September volunteers all over the world converge on beaches, shorelines, and inland waterways to pick up trash and remove dangerous debris. Considered the largest marine-related volunteer event in the world, Coastal Cleanup Day is a wonderful opportunity to lend a hand and make a significant difference. There are over 35 sites in Marin to choose from. Check the list here.
  • Coastal Clean-up Day: Rodeo Lagoon Restoration
    Fort Cronkhite, Sausalito
    Saturday, 9 am–noon

    Celebrate the annual California Coastal Cleanup Day with stewardship at Rodeo Lagoon in the Marin Headlands. Lend a hand, learn about the impacts of marine debris, and spend some quality time with your kids outdoors. Free. For all ages. Register here. For more info, visit their website.
  • WildCare Family Adventures: Coast Cleanup at Muir Beach
    Muir Beach
    Saturday, 10 am–12:30 pm

    WildCare Family Adventures will participate in the statewide coastal cleanup. Vast amounts of plastic debris litter the world's oceans causing harm to wildlife. Most of this debris comes from land and, if not removed, it will end up in the ocean. On this Family Adventure we will have a little hike on the beach, and take part in this very important cleanup effort. Bring lunch! We will meet in the parking lot of the Pelican Inn at 9:30 am. For direction for more info, visit their website.
  • Wings Over Wine Country Air Show
    Sonoma County Airport, Santa Rosa
    Saturday & Sunday, 9 am-4 pm

    The Wings Over Wine Country Air Show is presented by the Pacific Coast Air Museum (PCAM) as a family-friendly community event. Lots of activities for families and children. A tremendous lineup of flying includes military jet fly-bys, world class civilian aerobatics and a host of warbirds. Static displays include the museum's collection of over 30 restored aircraft (most of which will be open for climb aboards), civilianand military statics and morning access to the warbirds that will fly later in the show. Gates open both days at 9 am for pre-show activities, including radio controlled model aircraft demonstrations. The main air show events kick off just after 11 am. Purchase tickets here. For more info, visit their website.
  • 19th Annual San Francisco International Dragon Boat Festival
    Treasure Island
    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–5 pm

    Bring the entire family for a weekend of world-class dragon boat racing, spectacular cultural performances, and fun-filled activities at the largest competitive dragon boat festival in the United States. There are over 130 dragon boat teams and 3,500 dragon boat paddlers racing. This two-day, admission-free festival has grown to include a colossal offering of cultural activities, games, creative arts, crafts, exhibits, entertainment, live dance and music, performance and immersive experiences for both kids and adults in a family-friendly space. For more info, visit their website.

Hiking with Kids in Marin: Deer Island Open Space Preserve

September 16, 2014

Deer Island Open Space PreserveOne of the great things about living in Marin is that you're never far from open space and nature. A favorite Marin spot for a quick outdoor getaway is Deer Island Open Space Preserve in Novato. Just a few minutes away from Highways 101 and 37 it's a calm oasis of nature that's perfect for a short and easy hike with children.

Despite its name, Deer Island really isn't an island. It used to be one at one time, but now it's a small hill surrounded by grassy meadows and seasonal wetlands. At this 135-acre preserve you'll find two main trails, the Deer Island Loop Trail, which circles the preserve, and the De Borba Trail, which leads up and over the hill. Two short spur trails take you to other parts of the preserve.

The 1.8-mile Deer Island Loop Trail is relatively flat and even with only minor elevation changes and is a great hiking choice for families with kids. It passes through grasslands and oak and bay forest and provides plenty of stunning vistas of northern Marin, including wetlands and Novato Creek. There's even a tumbled-down old farm to look at along the way.

Pumpkin Patches Further Afield

September 16, 2014

Pumpkin PatchWhile there are plenty of awesome pumpkin patches to choose from in Marin and southern Sonoma counties (see our list of those here), you can find other great places to pick up pumpkins and other Halloween and autumn treats throughout the greater Bay Area. Maybe you're headed on a road trip to the south bay, or bound for the grandparents' house in Sacramento this October—there's probably a pumpkin patch on the way. Here are a few out-of-town pumpkin patches, in Solano, Contra Costa, and San Mateo counties, that we've visited at one time or another or have had recommended to us.

Of course if your favorite isn't here, now's the time to let us know! Contact us and we'll consider adding it to the list.

Marin and Sonoma Pumpkin Patches 2014

September 15, 2014

Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin PatchFall is in the air, which means Halloween is just around the corner and local pumpkin patches will soon be open! For those seeking that true Halloween pumpkin patch experience, we present our annual guide to pumpkin patches in Marin and southern Sonoma counties.

In Marin County, Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch offers that on-the-farm experience and the Godmother's Pumpkin Patch at St. Vincent's offer an exciting Halloween experience for families. For more real live farms offering pumpkin patches this season, head up north a short distance to rural Sonoma County, where you'll find them in relative abundance.

We visited as many of these pumpkin patches as we could last year, and have posted links to our reviews of them below. We'll make an effort to visit again this year, and we'll add our updated reviews when they're written. We're sad to report that one of our favorite fall destinations, Peterson's Farm in Petaluma, is no longer hosting its Halloween pumpkin patch, although they are open for school fields trips to learn about beekeeping and farm life.

Hands-on Fun for Fall at Slide Ranch

September 15, 2014

Slide Ranch is a great place for family members of all ages. We tried out one of their family farm days in the past and my kids had a great time petting the sheep planting a seed, milking a goat and making nature crafts. They offer guided tours and lots of hands-on activities, including collecting eggs from chickens, planting seeds, sampling from their organic garden, learning to make crafts and food just like the early farmers, and exploring the nearby tide pools.

Slide Ranch is located off of Shoreline Highway at Muir Beach. Below is a list of their upcoming fall events. Their programs do fill up quickly, so you need to plan ahead if you are interested in participating. Register for programs online at

Family Farm Days (10 am–2 pm for all farm days)

$30 per person; age 2 and under free. 15% discount for families of 4 or more.

  • Halloween/El Dia de los Muerto Family Farm Day
    Saturday, November 1

Pasta with Italian Sausage, Cherry Tomatoes and Eggplant

September 15, 2014

Marin Mommies presents this week's guest recipe from Nicole Cibellis, Marin mom and author of the blog A Family that Eats Together, where she shares meal plans and recipes that will please foodies and children alike.

At first bite, my son turned to me and said, “This is sooo yummy!”- a resounding approval that I don’t hear very often unless he is really impressed. He even asked that he have it in his lunch. So you have heard it from the mouth of babes… not only is this dish perfect for a family dinner but for lunch too!

Servings: 6-8
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes


  • 1 pound – your favorite pasta

Is Eating Gluten Worth the Risk? Gluten Expert Dr. Rodney Ford to Speak in Mill Valley September 30

September 14, 2014

Dr. Rodney FordCan gluten be the source of many common children's ailments? Marin Mommies presents a guest article from the Gluten Intolerance Group of Marin (GIG) about the reseach done by world-renowned pediatric gastroenterologist and allergist Dr. Rodney Ford. GIG will present an evening with Dr. Ford at the Mill Valley Community Center on Tuesday, September 30 at 6 pm.

Many children cope with persistent medical and behavioral problems that confound both parents and doctors, including headaches, stomach aches, eczema, acne, ADHD, agitation, weight gain, weight loss, sleep issues, vitamin deficiencies, and more.

Increasingly, parents are discovering that gluten is the trigger for their child’s chronic health problems. There are more than 250 documented symptoms of gluten-related disorders, and the symptoms can vary between children and adults and even between infants and adolescents. And yet, more than 90% of Americans who have gluten-related disorders are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions and six to ten years is the average time a person waits to be correctly diagnosed.

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