Broadway Birthdays Come to Marin

December 10, 2016

Broadway Birthdays

Looking for a birthday party with plenty of singing and dancing for your Broadway-bound child? Broadway Birthdays is now offering exciting birthday parties in Marin! Led by New York Broadway professionals, Broadway Birthdays lets children take center stage to rehearse and perform their very own show.

Broadway Birthdays has 11 themes to choose from for all ages. The Signature party theme—“Broadway Show” Performance—transforms children into stars of their very own show as they sing, dance, act, giggle, smile and sparkle! Four main package options range from Activity & Entertainment experiences to a fully planned and serviced party for today’s busy parents. Custom parties themes and packages can be tailored on an individual basis to your child. Parties for all occasions and ages are offered, and additional party add-ons even include your very own Broadway professional in concert.

Marin Weekend Family Fun for December 9, 10 & 11

December 9, 2016

The Rombeiros' Christmas HouseVisit the Amazing Rombeiro Christmas House in Novato this Weekend!

Other Holiday Happenings: holiday ice skating, visit with Santa Claus, North Bay Christmas Tree Farms and Lots, festive holiday teas, holidays in San Francisco, and visit one of Marin's Amazing Lighted Houses.

Friday, December 9

  • Victorian Holiday Tea
    Haas-Lilienthal House, San Francisco
    Friday, 3 pm & Saturday & Sunday, noon & 3 pm

    Celebrate the holidays by stepping back in time and enjoying perfectly-blended pots of tea, savory finger sandwiches, delicate scones, and holiday sweets in the formal dining room of the 1886 Haas-Lilienthal House. Cost: $48 adults, $24 children. RSVP here. Location: 2007 Franklin Street, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Great Dickens Christmas Fair
    Cow Palace, San Francisco
    Friday–Sunday, 10 am–7 pm

    The Dickens Fair runs on weekends through December 20. 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.
  • Holiday Ice Skating in Union Square
    San Francisco
    Friday–Sunday, 10 am–11:30 pm

    Union Square, San Francisco's main shopping district, gets into the ice skating spirit during the holiday season with an outdoor ice rink sponsored by Safeway. 90-minute sessions start on every even hour. Admission: $11 for adults, 7 children 8 and under. Skate rental $6. Information: (415) 781-2688 or visit their website.
  • The Velveteen Rabbit
    Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco
    Friday, 11 am, Saturday, 1 & 4 pm and Sunday, 2 pm

    Bring the family for this beloved Bay Area holiday tradition. ODC/Dance enlivens Margery Williams’ classic tale of a well-worn nursery rabbit that becomes real. Told though music, dance and a powerful narrative, The Velveteen Rabbit celebrates the unique relationship between a little boy and his stuffed rabbit, and the enduring power of love. Tickets range from $15 to $75. For more info, 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.
  • Marinwood's WinterFest Family Event
    Marinwood Community Center, San Rafael
    Friday, 5–7 pm
    Come celebrate the holiday season at Marinwood's annual WinterFest! Ticket prices include: photos with Santa, arts and crafts, face painting, bounce house, holiday treats, live music and more. Tickets: $10 in advance kids ages 2–12, $15 at the door. Adults are free! Location: 775 Miller Creek Road, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Rombeiro Christmas House
    Devonshire Drive, Novato

    Friday–Sunday, 6–10 pm
    Their home is something that truly has to be seen to be believed, and photos don't really do it justice. There are something like 140,000 lights as well as countless figurines, dioramas, and decorations adorning the front and side yards, walls, and roof of the Rombeiro house. If you think the outside is impressive, then you need to go on inside and get a healthy dose of Christmas spirit. You'll find model trains, more figurines, Christmas trees, and the biggest lighted holiday village you've ever seen. Location: 34 Devonshire Drive, off of Center Road, Novato. For more info, read about our visit here.
  • The Berkeley Playhouse: Disney's Beauty and the Beast
    The Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, Berkeley
    Friday, 7 pm, Saturday, 1 & 7 pm, Sunday, 2 pm

    The Disney (and Broadway!) favorite gets the Berkeley Playhouse makeover as founding Associate Artistic Director Kimberly Dooley helms this all new production featuring a diverse and multigenerational cast of dozens. Featuring some of Disney’s most popular songs and characters, you won’t want to miss this magical musical adventure guaranteed to delight audiences of all ages. Location: 2640 College Avenue, Berkeley. Tickets: $25–40. For more info, visit their website

Saturday, December 10

  • Polar Express Train Ride
    Santa Cruz
    Saturday, various times

    The Polar Express Train Ride departs from Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, complete with dancing chefs, singing elves, and a special gift from Santa Claus himself—a silver sleigh bell. Don't forget to wear your pajamas while you enjoy cookies, hot chocolate, and a reading of The Polar Express while on board. First-class tickets still available for rides this weekend. For more info and tickets, call (877) 726-7245 or visit their website.
  • Breakfast with Santa
    Ross Valley Fire Station
    Saturday, 8 & 10 am

    Bring the family to the annual Breakfast with Santa event at Ross Valley Fire Station #19. Breakfast with Santa is a fun family event and a great way to celebrate the holiday season. $6 kids, $8 adultFor more info, call (415) 258-4640 or visit their website.
  • Pancakes at the North Pole
    Corte Madera Parks & Recreation
    Saturday, 8–10 am

    Santa and his friends are waiting for you! The elves at the Corte Madera Community Center have been hard at work preparing a very special pancake breakfast for you and your family. Santa Claus is very excited to see all his favorite families and take pictures! As many of us know, it can get a little chilly at the North Pole. Frosty the Snowman will be taking donations for the Kids Club Warm Coat and Toasty Toes Drive during the breakfast as well. Cost: $9 per person. For more info, call (415) 927-5072 or visit their website.
  • Breakfast With Santa
    Belvedere Community Center
    Saturday, 9–10:30 am

    Join Santa for breakfast, music, crafts, and a photo opportunity (bring your own camera). Make reservations by calling (415) 435-4355; space is limited. Cost: $20 per person, free for 2 and under. The Belvedere Community Center is located at 450 San Rafael Avenue in Belvedere. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin Country Mart Farmer's Market
    Marin County Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm
    The farmer's market features plenty of family fun, including pony rides, face painting, seasonal music, and more. In addition to a great selection of farmers' market organic produce, pastured meats, artisan cheeses, baked goods, nuts, jams, confections, wreaths and holiday flowers, you can also shop for unique farm inspired locally made arts and crafts. For more info, visit their website.
  • Iceless Skating Rink
    Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
    Saturday & Sunday, 9 am–5 pm

    Hit the “ice” this winter with family and friends at the Bay Area Discovery Museum's Iceless Skating Rink, which will be open from November 19, 2016 to January 8, 2016. Children can strap on skates and glide around on a synthetic ice rink in the museum's Discovery Hall. The synthetic ice rink provides all the fun of a real ice rink but without the cold and icy falls. Get in the holiday spirit with this classic winter activity. Free with museum admission or membership. Location: 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito. For more info, visit their website.
  • Winter Wonderland
    Tam Valley Community Center
    Saturday, 10–3 pm
    Bring the family to have breakfast with Santa at the Tam Valley Winter Magic Event. Then make crafts and play in some real snow! RSVP early because this event sells out. Don't forget to bring a camera for this wonderful photo opportunity. 10 am breakfast seating sold out; space available at 11:30 am. Cost: $15 per person, includes breakfast, crafts, jumpee, and snow; $8 without breakfast. Register by calling (415) 388-6393. For more info, visit their website.
  • Pixie Park Holiday Bake Sale and Photos with Santa
    Marin Art and Garden Center, Ross
    Saturday, 10 am–2 pm

    Pixie Park's annual holiday bake sale offers delicious homemade baked goods-perfect for holiday gift-giving. Come choose from cookies, cakes, candies, baking mixes and gingerbread houses. Come support Pixie Park, have a photo taken with Santa Claus (10:30 am–1:30 pm) and enjoy some children’s holiday cookie decorating (10:30 am–1:30 pm) and entertainment! Location: 30 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, Ross. For more info, visit their website.
  • Gingerbread Doghouse Workshops
    Charles Schulz Museum, Santa Rosa
    Saturday, 10 am, 1 pm and Sunday, 1 pm

    Assemble and decorate Snoopy’s doghouse out of gingerbread complete with a marshmallow Snoopy on top. Choose from one of the dates online here. Cost: $25 members, $32 non-members, $10 additional child. For more info, visit their website.
  • Indoor Antique Market 32nd Annual Christmas Show
    Marin Center Exhibit Hall, San Rafael
    Saturday, 10 am–6 pm & Sunday, 10 am–5 pm
    Enjoy an old fashioned shopping experience as you are taken back through times gone by. Over seventy booths of antiques and collectibles. Highlights include fine art, Asian and Native American art, watches, clocks, books, photographs, postcards, posters, prints, coins, vintage toys, kitchen collectibles, vintage clothing, and more. Admission: $6. Location: 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Sausalito Winterfest
    Sausalito Yacht Harbor Parking Lot
    Saturday, 10 am–2 pm

    Photo op with Mr. and Mrs. Claus and their elves. Make sure to bring your camera. Free but please RSVP For more info, visit their website.
  • Reindeer Romp
    San Francisco Zoo
    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–4 pm

    Santa is sending his favorite reindeer, Belle, Holly, and Peppermint to spread holiday cheer at San Francisco Zoo & Gardens! Until January 1, majestic reindeer will be romping at SF Zoo's Playfield Lawn, near the spectacular Elinor Friend Playground. Zoo admission applies. Location: Sloat Blvd. at the Great Highway, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Dream Circle Holiday Concert
    Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
    Saturday, 10:30 & 11:45 am

    A jovial Holiday Sing-along for young children at the Discovery Museum! The 7-member band Dream Circle features four of Marin's top children's singers  and piano, bass, and drums. It's a real treat for the little ones, and parents too. Come and join in on the fun! Tickets: $5 BADM members, $7 non-members. For more info, visit their website.
  • 7th Annual Teddy Bear Tea à la Française
    Saturday, 10:30 am–noon
    Red Hill Church of San Anselmo
    Come for tea and hot cocoa, finger sandwiches, holiday cookies, and fun with Le Petit Jardin! You and your little ones will enjoy tea service, traditional live holiday music, a fireside telling of the story of the first Christmas in English and French, and a professional photo seating! Each child should dress in dapper style and bring his or her own teddy bear pal from home to share tea time with! $10 per seat; space limited. Book your reservation online. Location: 921 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, San Anselmo. For more info, visit their website.
  • Gingerbread House Workshop
    Marin Humane Society, Novato
    Saturday, 10:30 am–noon

    Calling all kids! Get in the holiday spirit and join in the fun of an age-old holiday tradition - gingerbread house decorating. Gingerbread house masters John and Megan Lorenzen will be here to help you create a gingerbread dog house or a gingerbread kitty condo. Workshop is designed for 8–12-year-old children. For more info, visit their website.
  • Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas
    Osher Studio, Berkeley
    Saturday & Sunday, 10:30 am, 1:30 pm & 4:30 pm

    What could be fancier than Christmas? Presents with elegant wrapping paper, festive decorations, Christmas cookies with sprinkles - and who could forget the tree? This year, Nancy bought a brand-new sparkly tree topper with her own money and can't wait to decorate the Christmas tree. But when things don't turn out the way Nancy planned, will Christmas still be splendiferous?Tickets: $25 for adults, $20 for children (14 and under) and $23 for senior. Location:2055 Center Street, Berkeley.
    For more info, visit their website.
  • Fairfax Craft Faire
    Pavilion, Fairfax
    Saturday, 11 am–5 pm
    The annual Fairfax Craft Faire is held at the Pavilion in the heart of Fairfax. A wonderful selection of crafts, music and food will fill the Pavilion for this event. Location: 142 Bolinas Road, Fairfax. For more info, visit their website.
  • Wreath Making Workshop
    McNears Beach Park, San Rafael
    Saturday, 11 am–1 pm

    Bring the beauty of nature to your front door with a festive, homemade wreath! Join rangers at McNears Beach for a day of sipping hot chocolate, listening to holiday tunes, and creating your own natural wreath to take home. Fresh greenery, pinecones, and other natural materials will be provided. You are encouraged to bring your own decorations to use. For all ages. Hot chocolate and snacks provided. Rain will cancel. Free. Location: 201 Cantera Way, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Mark Foehringer's Nutcracker Sweets
    Saturday & Sunday, 11 am & 1 pm
    Fort Mason Center, San Francisco

    Mark Foehringer's Nutcracker Sweets is a unique 50-minute version of the Nutcracker specifically designed for families with young children. The production features a live 9-piece chamber orchestra, Brian Fisher as Drosselmeyer, musical direction by Michael Morgan, set design by Peter Crompton, costume design by Richard Battle, and production direction by Frederic O. Boulay. Tickets: $21 and $31. For more info, visit their website.
  • A Holiday Magic Toy Box Tea at Falkirk
    Saturday & Sunday, noon & 3 pm
    1408 Mission Avenue at "E" Street, San Rafael
    The tea is an old-fashioned tour de force in the elegant Queen Anne Victorian Falkirk Mansion. Homemade tea sandwiches and sweets are served, along with tea, hot chocolate, and other beverages. Features include life-sized toys, a raffle, and plenty of photo opportunities. Make sure you bring your teddy bear or other favorite toy!  This extremely popular event is by reservation only and always sells our early! Cost: $28 adults, $24 for children, $50 adult-and-child combination ticket. For more info, visit www.falkirkculturalcenter.org.
  • Saturdays with Santa
    Bon Air Center, Greenbrae
    Saturday, noon-4 pm
    Find Santa and his elves in front of Mollie Stone’s Market where photos are taken compliments of Bon Air and CVS/ Pharmacy. Sit for a portrait with Santa—family and friends, the furry ones too—and receive sweet treats of candy canes and dog biscuits.
  • Photos with Santa
    West End Nursery, San Rafael
    Saturday, 1–3 pm

    Santa will be on hand for photos at the famous West End Nursery Christmas House in San Rafael. Please bring a toy for San Rafael Santa Cop and get free pictures with Santa. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin Ballet Nutcracker
    Marin Veterans' Memorial Auditorium
    Saturday, 1 & 5 pm
    Marin Ballet's Nutcracker production is one of the county's cultural jewels! With over 200 dancers, intricate costuming, lavish sets, and artful choreography, it's a holiday event not to miss. Meet Clara, the Nutcracker Prince, the Sugar Plum Fairy and special guest characters for photos and autographs at the Candy Cane Party following the 1 pm performances on both Saturday and Sunday. Tickets: $43 adults, $27 seniors and youth 18 and under; $10 for the Candy Cane Party. For more info, visit their website.

Marin & Sonoma Christmas Tree Farms & Lots 2016

December 9, 2016

Christmas tree farm

For many families, the day after Thanksgiving is the day to get or to start thinking about getting their Christmas tree. For many, there's no better way to get a tree than to take the trip to one of the many North Bay Christmas tree farms and cut one down themselves! If playing lumberjack isn't your thing, there are plenty of local lots in Marin that offer quality trees for your holiday.

We've linked to our Christmas tree farm reviews where appropriate. Keep in mind that many of our Christmas tree farm reviews were written last year or earlier and some information may be out of date. We'll be hitting the road to check out this year's Christmas tree farms in person, so make sure you check back for updates.

Although we make every effort to make sure our information is up to date, please keep in mind that Christmas tree farms and lots do go out of business (there used to be many more in Petaluma and Sebastopol, and even one in Olema), and may be closed due to weather or other conditions. Make sure you call, email, or check their website before you go.

Marin County Christmas Tree Lots

There aren't any cut-it-down-yourself Christmas tree farms in Marin, although there are a number of well known Christmas tree lots where you can pick out that perfect tree and immerse yourself in that holiday spirit. Here are some of our favorite Christmas tree lots (if you have your own favorite you'd like to share with us, let us know).

Cousins' Christmas Trees

7416B Redwood Boulevard, Novato 94945
Daily, 9 am–8 pm
This family-run Christmas tree lot in Novato offers quality Noble, Douglas, and Grand firs, as well as wreaths, garlands, and other holiday products. Cousins' also offers a goat petting zoo; arts and crafts; bake sales; free hot cider, cookies, candy canes; visits with Santa on select weekends; and more. Cousins' Christmas Trees is partnering with Novato School Fuel, the foundation that supports Novato public schools. Open daily starting November 25 from 9 am to 8 pm. They're at 7416B Redwood Boulevard in Novato (next to Chianti restaurant). More info at www.cousinschristmastrees.com or (415) 250-6117.

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.

Easy Handmade Holiday Bead Ornaments

December 8, 2016

Your kids can exercise their holiday creativity by making these easy and festive bead ornaments for the Christmas tree. They also look great attached to wrapped gifts as a little holiday extra.

These ornaments are simple to make, although the candy cane ornament is easier to put together than the star and probably a better project for younger children. All you'll need to make these are pipe cleaners, plastic beads in various colors and shapes, some ribbon, and scissors.

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.

Indoor Drop-in Activities for the Little Ones for Marin & Beyond

December 7, 2016

Indoor playLooking for fun indoor play spaces for the little ones? There are several places to take the kids to get them out of the house and burn off all that extra energy, especially on a cold or rainy day. Here are a few ideas for fun indoor drop-in activities in Marin County and beyond:

Berkeley

  • Habitot Children's Museum
    2065 Kittredge Street
    Berkeley
    (510) 647-1111

    Discovery Museum for young children, toddlers and infants. Fun activities, hands on exhibits, arts & crafts, fun classes, music and much more. Cost: $10.00 per child (free under 12 mo.) and $10.00 per adult For more info, visit their website.

Family Friendly New Year's Eve Events in Marin and the Bay Area

December 6, 2016

New Year's Even Bell Ringing Asian Art MuseumSay goodbye to 2016 and welcome in the New Year at one of these family friendly events taking place in Marin and elsewhere in the Bay Area. Many of these celebrations take place earlier in the day or evening on December 31 so little ones can get a taste of New Year's Eve fun without staying up past their bedtimes.

  • Noon Year's Eve
    Bay Area Discovery Museum
    , Sausalito
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm
    Ring in the New Year with your little ones at the Bay Area Discovery Museum’s Noon Year’s Eve! This kid-friendly affair includes music by DJ ManCub, a celebratory ball drop at noon, dancing, and various art activities like crown making. In addition, enjoy access to the museum’s indoor and outdoor exhibits like Lookout Cove and Bay Hall. (Note: Iceless Skating Rink is closed during Noon Year’s Eve.) For more info, visit their website.
  • Annual Japanese Bell Ringing Ceremony
    Asian Art Museum, San Francisco
    Saturday, 9:30–noon

    Ring in the New Year by taking a swing at a giant 2,100-pound, 16th-century, Japanese temple bell at the Asian Art Museum. Participants may take turns ringing the museum’s bronze bell to leave behind any unfortunate experiences, regrettable deeds, and ill luck of the previous year. This time slot is exclusive to members. Bell-ringing opens to general admission at 11:30 am. First come, first served. Pick up tickets to ring the bell at the admission desk. Location: 200 Larkin Street, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.

Winter Break Camps in Marin and Beyond

December 6, 2016
studio 4 artLooking for something fun for the kids to do over the upcoming winter break? Check out some of the great winter day camps here in Marin and the Bay Area.
  • Andrew's Day Camp
    Location: 400 Tamal Plaza, Corte Madera
    Dates: December 23–January 6
    Cost: $75 per day; extended care $10 hr
    Ages: kindergarten and up
    Andrew's Camp offers games, crafts, sports and more. Camps take place from 9 am–5 pm with extended care from 8–9 am and 5–6 pm. ABring lunch and snack. For more info,call (415) 446-8946 or  visit their website.
  • Bay Area Discovery Museum
    Location: 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito
    Dates:
    December 19–23, 26–30 & January 2–6
    Cost:
    $425/session; general: $450/session
    Ages: 4–8
    The BADM is offering a Winter Discovery Camp that focuses on learning through project-based, hands-on activities designed to intentionally boost creativity, STEM skills, and critical thinking. Camps hours:  9 am–2 pm; extended care from 2–4 pm (extended care $50/per day). For more info, call (415) 339-3900 or visit www.baykidsmuseum.org.
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