Cool Off This Summer with Melon Aguas Frescas

May 31, 2016

Watermelon agua fresca

When the weather warms up, one of the things we often cool off with are aguas frescas, those refreshing traditional Mexican-style drinks made from various kinds of fruit. You don't have to go to your local taqueria to get them, either—they're inexpensive and really easy to make at home. Kids love them, and they're a healthy alternative to sodas and other soft drinks.

We often make aguas frescas with melons like cantaloupe or watermelon; whatever we happen to have on hand. It's a great way to use up all that watermelon that's been sitting in the refrigerator, which is what we made out latest batch out of. You can use other fruits, like strawberries and even pineapple, but melon is an economical choice and a delicious one, too.

Visit a Museum for Free in June

May 31, 2016

ExploratoriumDid you know you can visit most of the Bay Area's major museums and cultural attractions for free every month? Just about all museums have one day a month set aside as a free day. They all aren't on the same day, too, so if you plan it right you can take in several museum outings without having to pay a thing.

Note that most museums charge for admission to special exhibitions and usually only the special exhibition fee is charged on free days; see details with each museum listing below.

Also, groups are generally not admitted on free days; check with each museum for their free day group policy.

Marin Family Weekend Events for June 3, 4 & 5

May 31, 2016
MPOMC Garage Sale
Find a great deal on clothing, toys, and gear for kids of all ages at the MPOMC Garage Sale this Saturday.

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, June 3

  • Children's Garden Series
    Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco
    Friday, 11–11:30 am & 12:15–12:45 pm

    This free event is part of the Children's Garden Series at Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco. The Red Panda Acrobats take the ancient art of Chinese acrobatics into the 21st century with awe-inspiring displays of strength, balance, and dexterity. For more info, visit their website.
  • Friday Nights at the de Young
    de Young Museum, San Francisco
    Friday 5–8:45 pm

    Friday Nights at the de Young are after-hours art happenings that include a mix of live music, dance and theater performances, film screenings, panel discussions, lectures, artist demonstrations, hands-on art activities, and exhibition tours. This Friday: Cuban Rhythms at the de Young with Compañia All Stars of Santiago de Cuba. Free Cuban salsa dance lessons for all levels from 5–6 pm. Free. Location: 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Jazz & Blues by the Bay
    Gabrielson Park, Sausalito
    Friday, 6:30–8 pm

    Jazz & Blues by the Bay kicks off its 2016 season with the Second Street Band. This free event takes place at Gabrielson Park in Sausalito. Lawn seating is first-come first-served. Reserved tables available for $60 ($50 Sausalito residents). For more info, call (415) 289-4100 or visit their website.

Saturday, June 4

  • Museums on Us
    Various Locations
    Saturday & Sunday
    Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card holders get free general admission on the first full weekend of every month. Present your card and a photo ID for admission (one free general admission per cardholder). Get full details here. Participating museums include the de Young Museum, the Legion of Honor, Contemporary Jewish Museum, and the Chabot Space & Science Center.
  • Marin Parents of Multiples Club Garage Sale
    Marin Catholic High School
    Saturday, 8 am–2 pm
    (closed from noon–1 pm)
    Marin's largest garage sale for babies and kids has clothes for pregnant moms, babies and children up to age six. Other items include toys, baby equipment, and furniture.This sale has the reputation for providing clean, high quality items at excellent prices. Designer clothes racks too. Admission $1; free for children 12 and under. Closed from noon to 1 pm for lunch and then there's a half price sale from 1–2 pm. Marin Catholic High School is located at 675 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. in Kentfield. For more info, visit their website.
  • National Trails Day Events
    Various locations in Marin and the Bay Area
    Saturday, times vary
    National Trails Day is the nation’s largest celebration of trails and the outdoors. Events take place at parks throughout Marin, including the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed, Point Reyes National Seashore, and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, as well as in other outdoors spots on the San Francisco Bay Area. Help enhance our trail systems, meet fellow park lovers, and enjoy a celebration of our great park! Learn more and find an event near you on their website.
  • Free Saturday Morning Yoga
    Old Mill Park Amphitheater, Mill Valley
    Saturday, 9–10 am

    Practice a modification of alignment-based anusara-inspired Hatha yoga with a combination of breathing, standing, and seated postures in front of the beautiful redwood trees. Prepare to sweat, breathe, align, and stretch. Enjoy a fun unique environment of mindfulness and acceptance while strengthening your core, balance and long muscles. All levels welcome. Bring a mat and water bottle. Location: Throckmorton and Cascade Drive. For more info, visit their website.
  • Basics of Freshwater Fishing
    McInnis Park, San Rafael
    Saturday, 9–11 am
    Marin Parks rangers will teach tips and tricks of the trade of freshwater fishing at the McInnis Park’s pond. All skill levels are welcome and no experience is necessary. Don’t forget to bring a fishing pole. Bait and a limited amount of fishing poles provided, thanks to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. A fishing license is required for participants 16 and over. Free. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin Country Mart Farmers Market
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    Enjoy the best local and organic produce, flowers, pastured meats, seafood, organic cheeses, yogurt and milk, breads, baked goods, pasta, confections, olive oil, and brunch and lunch offerings! Kids can take a pony ride and visit the petting zoo (10 am–2 pm), try out some arts and crafts (9 am–2 pm) and listen to family music (9:30–10:30 am). For more info, visit their website.
  • Bay Area Book Festival
    Downtown Berkeley
    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–5 pm
    This indoor-outdoor festival of all things literary features a roster of diverse authors and speakers for all ages, including children and teens. Other family activities include live music and performances, pony rides and a petting zoo (Sunday only), manual typewriters to play with, a free book for every child, interactive art installations, and more. An organic beer and wine garden will be available for grownups, and food trucks and stalls will offer delicious cuisine. Admission is free. Location: downtown Berkeley between Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and Oxford Street and Addison Street and Kittredge Street. For more info, visit their website.
  • 40th Annual Union Street Festival
    Union Street from Gough to Steiner, San Francisco
    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–6 pm
    Each of the six blocks of the event will feature a unique “World” including, Fashion World, Culinary World, Tech World, Local World, Craft World and Health & Fitness World. Chef demos, kids' activities, live music, arts and crafts, fashion shows, and more. Free; tickets required for craft beer and wine pavilions. For more info, visit their website.
  • Blue at the Zoo
    San Francisco Zoo
    Saturday, 11 am–3 pm

    Come meet the men and women in blue – officers of the San Francisco Police Department! They’ll be handing out police swag for the kiddos and showing off the latest high-tech vehicles used to solve crimes! Officers will be stationed near the lawn at the Elinor Friend Playground from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. Zoo admission applies. Location: Sloat Blvd. at the Great Hightway. For more info, visit their website.
  • Helifest
    Hiller Aviation Museum, San Carlos
    Saturday, 10 am–4 pm

    Helifest showcases military, rescue, private and commercial helicopters. These aircraft are used for everything from traffic reports and power line maintenance to cliff rescues and national defense. Helicopters from around the western region will be on static display. Free with museum admission: $15 adults, $10 seniors 65+ and youth 5–17, free for kids 4 and under. Advance tickets recommended. Location: 601 Skyway Road, San Carlos. For tickets and more info, visit their website.
  • Junior Chef Summer Series: Cast Iron Mac-and-Cheese
    Williams-Sonoma, Corte Madera
    Saturday, 10 am
    Who doesn’t love mac & cheese? In this class you’ll learn how to make one that’s extra-rich and creamy, with three kinds of cheeses. We’ll bake it in a cast-iron pan and then eat. It’s the mac & cheese of your dreams! Suitable for ages 8–13. Cost: $20 per child, includes a Junior Chef Cookbook. Call the store to reserve your spot (415) 924-6799. Location: The Village at Corte Madera. For more info, visit their website.
  • Headlands Treasure Hunt
    Point Bonita YMCA, Sausalito
    Saturday, 11 am–12:30 pm

    Strengthen your navigational skills by finding your way to fun challenge checkpoints using only a compass and a map. Say goodbye to your GPS and Google Maps for a must-do summertime mission with your family and friends! All levels are welcome in this orienteering adventure. X marks the spot and we'll see you there! After, enjoy a great lunch and amazing ocean views for only $10 adults and $5 children under 12. Location: 981 Fort Barry, Sausalito. For more info and to register, call (415) 331-9622 or visit their website.

Summer County Fairs in Marin and the San Francisco Bay Area

May 31, 2016

Marin County Fair

Summer is almost here, and so are the San Francisco Bay Area's county fairs, which take place almost every week from June through August. In addition to our own fantastic Marin County Fair, which happens in San Rafael from June 30 through July 4, fairs take place in just about every county in the Bay Area. Your family can get its fill of fun all summer long with carnival rides, farm animals, concerts, competitions, games, performances, and much, much more! Each fair has its own unique offerings and fun activities for everyone.

Here's our guide to summer fairs and festivals in Marin County and the San Francisco Bay Area. We included the California State Fair in Sacramento, too. Fairs are listed in chronological order.

Contra Costa County Fair

June 2–5
Contra Costa County Fairgrounds, 1201 West 10th Street, Antioch 94509

The 2016 Contra Costa County Fair features a new free Family Fun Zone, as well as concerts, a dinosaur and dragon encounter with Prehistoric Adventures, animal shows, and more. Friday, June 3 is Fun Family Friday with free admission all day for kids 12 and under. contracostafair.com

Find a Bargain at this Saturday's Marin Parents of Multiples Club Garage Sale

May 29, 2016

Marin Parents of Multiples Club Garage Sale June 8 Marin Catholic Find top quality children’s clothes, toys, and equipment at garage sale prices this Saturday, June 4, 2016 at the 12th annual Marin Parents of Multiples Club (MPOMC) Garage Sale! Known at the largest family garage sale in Marin County, the sale features a variety of high-quality used items including maternity apparel, baby and children’s clothes (from infant to about age 10), infant and toddler gear, toys, furniture, strollers, safety equipment, feeding and nursing items, books, videos, outdoor play toys and equipment, and much more!

Because of the sale's strict quality control guidelines (it's often called the "Neiman-Marcus of garage sales"), this is the perfect place to find high-quality clothes and gear at 50%–80% below retail. This incredible sale not only benefits MPOMC members, who have early access to the huge selection of merchandise, but has a substantial community outreach component and is a service to the community at large. After the sale is closed, local families in need and non-profit organizations are invited to "shop" the remaining items at the sale for free.

Family Fun at Marin County Beaches

May 29, 2016

Marin County Beaches

My family loves to go to the beach, and there are plenty of places to do this in and around Marin. While many of the beaches along the Pacific Ocean are unsuitable for swimming, there are also many beaches that are ideal spots for swimming, wading, and splashing in the water, especially on warm summer (and also spring and fall) days. Here are some of our favorites. Click on the links for more info.

Abbotts Lagoon Beach

A one-and-a-half mile hike takes you over bridges and sand dunes to this beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore. It's home to many shorebirds, including the endangered snowy plover. A great beach for playing in the sand, but not for swimming due to dangerous surf and rip currents.

Mill Valley is the Place to Be This Memorial Day Weekend

May 28, 2016

Mill Valley Parade Fire TruckMill Valley is the place to be in Marin County this Memorial Day Weekend! From an old-fashioned parade and a pancake breakfast to a fun family carnival and a blockbuster celebration at the Community Center, there's something for everyone in the family. For more info on all these events, visit the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce website.

Kiddo! Family Carnival

The long weekend started off with the annual Kiddo! Family Carnival, which takes place today and tomorrow, May 28 and 29, from noon to 10 pm, and on Memorial Day, Monday May 30, from noon to 5 pm. This old-fashioned carnival features fun for all ages, including rides like the Tune Train, Zipper, Sizzler, and the Typhoon, and games. Delicious food and drink will be available for purchase, too.

"West Side Story" Brings Energy and Excitement to the 2016 Mountain Play

May 28, 2016

Mountain Play West Side Story 2016

It's always amazing to see how the Mountain Play transforms Mt. Tam's Cushing Memorial Amphitheater. Last year it was Neverland and Captain Hook's pirate ship, and this season it's the inner-city New York neighborhood setting of West Side Story. We got a chance to see the Mountain Play's production of this Broadway classic on its opening day, and as usual, it was a fantastic outdoor theater experience! My 10-year-old daughter and I really felt like we were transported to a different place and era.

With plenty of classic songs like "Maria", "America", and "I Feel Pretty" and spectacular dancing choreographed by Nicole Helfer and based on the Jerome Robbins' original work, West Side Story is exhilarating and full of energy. It's based on Romeo and Juliet, so don't expect a happy ending, though. West Side Story is directed by Jay Manley (who also directed The Sound of Music on Mt. Tam in 2013), and Leonard Bernstein's score is performed by David Möschler leading a live 18-piece orchestra.

Marin Memorial Day Weekend Family Events 2016

May 27, 2016
American Crown Circus comes to Marin on Memorial Day Weekend
American Crown Circus brings its big top to Marinwood this Memorial Day weekend.

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

Friday, May 27

  • American Crown Circus
    St. Vincent's, Marinwood
    Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday, various times

    This family run, bilingual circus, presented by Rotary Club of Novato Sunrise, is centered around acrobats, performers, and clowns, with no exotic animals. Performances are on Friday, May 27 at 6:30 pm; Saturday and Sunday, May 28 and 29 at 1:30, 4, and 6:30 pm; and Monday, May 30 at 1:30 and 4 pm. Advance tickets are $14 and are good for any performance; two children under 12 admitted free per paid advance adult ticket. Tickets at the gate $20. For more info or to order tickets, vist their website.
  • Kiddo Family Carnival
    Mill Valley Community Center
    Friday, 4–10 pm, Saturday & Sunday, noon–10 pm & Monday, noon–5 pm

    Bring the family for a four-day real old-fashioned carnival. There will be rides for all ages, plus food and games. The littlest ones in your family will love the Berry-Go-Round and the Tune Train, while your teenagers will be thrilled with the Sizzler, Zipper, Century Wheel, and the Typhoon. Advance discounted ticket books will be available in the Kiddo! office and Mill Valley Community Center while they last. Books are $25 advance, $35 once the carnival begins. Books may be turned in for a one-day wrist band for unlimited rides. Food and games extra. Location: 180 Camino Alto, Mill Valley. For more info, visit their website.
  • Friday Nights on Main
    Main Street, Downtown Tiburon
    Friday, 6–9 pm

    Bring the family to some outdoor dining, live music and dancing on Main Street in downtown Tiburon. This season's kickoff event features Mustache Harbor performing the hits of the '70s and '80s. For more information, visit their website.
  • Penguins+Pajamas Sleepover
    California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco
    Friday, 6 pm–Saturday, 8 am

    Experience your own night at the museum! Explore the exhibits after-hours and discover the deepest depths of the oceans, travel to the tops of rainforests, blast off into outer space at your own private planetarium show, and then settle in for story time after snacking on milk and cookies. When the lights go out, roll out your sleeping bag next to the California Coast tank or the Swamp window face-to-face with Claude the albino alligator. In the morning head over to the Academy Café for breakfast. Cost: $109 per person. For more info, visit their website.
  • Katia & Co Presents: The Wizard of Oz
    Showcase Theater, San Rafael
    Friday, 7 pm, Saturday & Sunday, 2 pm

    The Wizard of Oz starring young actors ranging in age from 5 to 16 from all over Marin County. This show is directed and choreographed by Katia McHaney. Tickets: adults $15 and Children $12. Purchase tickets here.
  • Throckmorton Youth Present Sweet Charity
    142 Throckmorton Theatre, Mill Valley
    Friday, 7:30 pm, Saturday & Sunday, 1 pm
    Sweet Charity, the spring Throckmorton Youth Production, is a hit! Bring your family, bring your friends—you will be singing along all week! Have you ever known a girl who wanted something so badly that she tried too hard to get it? Meet Sweet Charity, the girl who wants to be loved so much that she has lost sight of who she is. Charity sings, dances, laughs and cries her way through romances in the all too real… Tickets: $15–$20 general, $35 reserved. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, May 28

  • Marin Country Mart Farmers Market
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    Enjoy the best local and organic produce, flowers, pastured meats, seafood, organic cheeses, yogurt and milk, breads, baked goods, pasta, confections, olive oil, and brunch and lunch offerings! Kids can take a pony ride and visit the petting zoo (10 am–2 pm), try out some arts and crafts (9 am–2 pm) and listen to music (9:30–10:30 am). For more info, visit their website.
  • Exhibition Opening: The Magic Tree House
    Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
    Saturday–Sunday, 9 am–5 pm

    Based on the best-selling children’s book series written by Mary Pope Osborne and published by Random House, the Magic Tree House traveling exhibition allows children to branch out through history via a magical, time-traveling tree house. Museum admission applies. For more info, visit their website.
  • Carnivore Carnival 2016
    San Francisco Zoo
    Saturday–Monday, 10 am–5 pm

    Carnivore Carnival will feature good ol' fashioned fun with a nod to the zoo's amazing bears, lions, tigers, wolverines, fishing cats, and otters. After you stop by and see these magnificent animals, try your luck at many fun carnival games... you may even win a prize!  After some cotton candy, a hot dog and soda, show off your strength on the Rock Climbing Wall. Zoo admission applies. Location: Sloat Boulevard at the Great Highway, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • The 38th Annual San Francisco Carnaval
    Harrison Street, San Francisco
    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–6 pm

    Come celebrate at the 37th annual Carnaval San Francisco, a free two–day family festival in San Francisco’s Mission District over Memorial Day weekend on Harrison Street between 16th and 24th Streets and experience global cuisine, international music, dance, arts and crafts, and other fun activities and entertainment on every street corner for the entire family to enjoy. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin Greek Festival
    Nativity of Christ Greek Orthodox Church, Novato
    Saturday and Sunday, 11 am–10 pm
    Come celebrate the culture of Greece with fabulous authentic Greek cuisine, live Greek music and dance, children's activities, cooking demonstrations, and more. Adults $5, seniors 55+ $4, children 16 and under free. The Nativity of Christ Greek Orthodox Church is at 1110 Dickson Drive in Novato. For more info, call (415) 883-1998 or visit their website.
  • Creative Family Fun: Memorial Day Paper Poppies
    Presidio Officers' Club, San Francisco
    Saturday & Sunday, 11 am–4 pm

    Bring the kids to make Memorial Day paper poppies. Best for kids aged 5 to 12. Drop in anytime between 11 am and 4 pm. Free. Read about our visit to the Officers' Club here. Location: 50 Moraga Avenue, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Family Hike: Come to Your Senses at Crissy Field
    San Francisco
    Saturday, 2–4 pm

    Come experience sites sounds, smells, and flavors of Crissy Field on a one-mile easy walk at the Crissy Marsh. Look for crabs, taste strawberry treats; listen to legends, smell a sea shore habitat; touch and play on the sands of Crissy field under the cypress trees. Free: for the whole family; pre-registration is required; 415 561-2805. For more info, visit their website.
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