Marin's Five Favorite Playgrounds for Family Fun

July 27, 2015

Pioneer Park Novato

One of the questions we often get asked is "What's the best playground in Marin?" Rather than give our opinion, again, we decided to put that question to our readers via social media, and to let you choose the top five playgrounds in Marin County. So, without further ado, here are the five best playgrounds in Marin, as chosen by Marin Mommies readers, along with the five runners-up. Thanks to all our readers and followers for your input!

Number 1: Memorial Park, San Anselmo

San Anselmo's Memorial Park, also called Millennium Park, comes in first this year in our in our readers' picks. Memorial Park has long been a favorite with Marin County families, and features a tot lot with a train theme and an awesome play castle and dinosaur for imaginative playground adventures. This wonderful playground was built by a small army of volunteers in the amazing time span of just two days! Location: 1000 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, San Anselmo 94960

Your Baby’s Sleep Strategy

July 27, 2015

sleeping babyMarin Mommies presents a sponsored article from Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Brenda Evans. Brenda has been helping Marin families for more than 20 years. You can reach her at (415) 572-6333 or nightynightb@gmail.com for a free 15-minute consultation.

Did you know newborns have different sleep patterns than older babies and don’t develop the ability to self soothe until four to six months of age? As a pediatric nurse practitioner, lactation consultant, and sleep consultant, exhausted parents often ask me why their infant or child wakes up so often throughout the night. Parents often feel guilty or concerned that they have “spoiled” their newborns by nursing or rocking them to sleep. 

As a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach, my response is that you can’t over-indulge an infant. During the first four weeks of life, the range of sleep may be between 14 to 17 hours each day. It’s normal for babies at this age to have short periods of wakefulness and unpredictable sleep schedules.

At around four months of age an infant’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, is beginning to develop. While the baby’s internal clock is developing, exposure to outdoor light and fresh air during the day can help begin to regulate their body’s natural cycle.

Easy Summer Frittata

July 26, 2015

frittataFrittatas are a great dish for a light dinner, brunch, or lunch. This Italian-style omelet is versatile—you can make it with any number of different ingredients—delicious, and inexpensive. Make sure you use good quality eggs; bonus points if you have your own backyard chickens. We used zucchini from our summer vegetable garden, but you can use anything you like. Kale and Swiss chard are really good, as are spinach and asparagus. Leave the ham out to make it vegetarian.

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Marin Weekend Family Fun for July 24, 25 & 26

July 24, 2015

Day Out with ThomasHere 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, July 24

  • Day Out With Thomas
    Roaring Camp Railroad, Felton
    Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 10:30 am–5:30 pm

    This popular family event takes place at Roaring Camp Railroads in the Santa Cruz Mountains. You can take a train ride, meet Sir Topham Hatt, and enjoy live music. Tickets: $20 advance, $24 for peak times—Saturdays and Sundays 10:30 am–2:30 pm, $24 at the gate. Tickets required for everyone aged 2 and up and include all entertainment and activities as well as a 25-minute train ride. Parking $8 per vehicle. Location: Graham Hill Road, Felton. For more info, visit their website.
  • Sonoma County Fair
    Sonoma County Fairgrounds
    Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 11 am–11 pm

    The Sonoma County Fair offers both a classic full-scale carnival with plenty of excitement for thrill-seekers and a separate kiddie carnival area for the little ones, with scaled down thrills and lots of excitement. Fair admission is free every day for children 6 and under; Friday is Kids' Days, with free admission for all children 12 and under. Carnival rides are an additional charge. Admission is $11 for ages 13 and up, $5 for children 7–12, and free for children 6 and under. For more info, visit www.sonomacountyfair.com.
  • Gilroy Garlic Festival
    Christmas Hill Park, Gilroy
    Friday–Sunday, 10 am–7 pm

    The 37th annual “Ultimate Summer Food Fair” features three days of incredible food, beverages, arts and crafts, and live entertainment. The children’s area includes spectacular rides, fun activities, and more. Tickets: $20 adults, $10 children 6–12 and seniors 60+, children under 6 free. For more info, visit their website.
  • Children's Garden Series: Chelle! & Friends
    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. Chelle! & Friends deliver music that’s steeped in the cadences of gospel and animated by the earthy grooves of R&B and the Caribbean For more info, visit their website.
  • San Rafael Young Performers Theater: Footloose
    San Rafael Community Center
    Friday, 7 pm, Saturday, 1 & 7 pm and Sunday 3 pm

    Footloose features a cast of young actors from across Marin County. Come enjoy the upbeat tunes and lively dance! Location: 618 B Street, San Rafael. For more info or tickets, visit their website.
  • Friday Nights on Main: A Whale of a Time
    Downtown Tiburon
    Friday, 6–9 pm

    Bring the entire family for a night of fun. This Friday, dance to the Cole Tate's Band's masterful mix of country, blues and rock. Kids activities include a what scaventer hunt. For more info, visit their website.
  • Music in the Park
    Marinwood Community Center, San Rafael
    Friday, 6–8 pm

    Enjoy Friday evenings in the park, featuring live music, delicious food by Marinwood Market, wine, and beer. This Friday: Soft White Sixties. Location: 775 Miller Creek Road, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Tam Valley's Creekside Fridays
    Tennessee Valley Cabin, Mill Valley
    Friday, 6:30–8 pm

    Bring the family, pets, chairs, and blankets to the weekly free musical event. This week: Summer of Love. Food available for purchase. For more info, call (415) 289-4152 or visit their website.
  • The Outer Space from Open Space
    Mount Burdell, Novato
    Friday, 7:30–9:30 pm

    Come view outer space from open space as we identify the major constellations and talk about the legends behind them. Rangers will lead a short hike up Mount Burdell where we’ll settle in to watch the evening sky emerge into a stargazing adventure. This event is ideal for all ages. Don’t forget to bring binoculars or a telescope, flashlight, blankets, water, snacks, and star charts. Meet at the gate on San Andreas Drive in Novato. For directions, visit their website.

Saturday, July 25

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

    Enjoy pony rides and a petting zoo for the kids from 10 am–2 pm, face kids' crafts from 9 am–2 pm, children's music or storytelling from 9:30–10:30 am, and more live music from 11 am–12:30 pm, as well as fresh produce, prepared foods, and great local restaurants. For more info, visit their website.
  • Free Junior Chef Classes: DIY Ice Cream Sandwiches
    Williams-Sonoma, Corte Madera
    Saturday, 10 am

    This summer, impress your friends by whipping up ice cream sandwiches from scratch! We’ll show you how to make the outside layer—delicious brownies and cookies—and then the delicious ice cream filling and toppings. Suitable for ages 5–13. Call the store to reserve your spot (415) 924-6799. Location: The Village at Corte Madera. For more info, visit their website.
  • The 30th Annual Berkeley Kite Festival
    Cesar E. Chavez Park, Berkeley Marina
    Saturday and Sunday, 10 am–6 pm

    The Berkeley Kite Festival is an amazing free family event with fun for all! From the terrific food and arts and crafts booths to the Kids' Zone, free kite making and candy drop, the Berkeley Kite Festival has something for everyone. Parking is $15 per day at Golden Gate Fields and includes free shuttle to event. For more info and directions, visit their website.
  • 10th Annual Far West Fest
    Love Field, Pt. Reyes
    Saturday, 10 am–7 pm

    Voted Best Music Festival in Marin County, the Far West Fest is family friendly with top-notch musical entertainment. The Kids' Zone features interactive activities, healthful snacks, and kid-centric live music and storytellers. Clowns, jugglers, and other circus acts dot the landscape throughout the day. Tickets: $15–$75; children 10 and under free. Location: 11191 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard at HIghway 1. For more info, visit their website.

Hands-on Fun for Fall at Slide Ranch

July 23, 2015

slide ranch spring flingSlide 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 seeds, 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 in 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 www.slideranch.org.

Toddler Days

Enjoy experiencing the farm and gardens through your child’s eyes. Experience milking a goat, holding a warm egg from a chicken, and exploring the farm. Activities are toddler age appropriate, but all ages welcome. The Halloween Family Farm Day includes making costumes with recycled materials, face painting, taking a spooky tour of the Slide Ranch garden, investigating our worm compost, and cooking up some tasty treats in our outdoor kitchen. Toddlers will get a chance to practice trick or treating around the ranch. Costumes are welcome and encouraged! Cost: $25 per person; children 23 months and under free. Register here.

Explore Golden Gate Park's Stow Lake by Boat!

July 21, 2015

Stow Lake

My kids and I always thought it would be fun to rent a boat and explore Stow Lake in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, so that's just what we decided to do last week! We've actually never done this before, but every time we went by there, we promised ourselves we would come back and do this one day. It's a lot of fun, and a must-do activity for families visiting the park.

Make Your Own Summer Sun Tea

July 21, 2015

Sun TeaNow that we are in the middle of summer and temperatures climb, it's the perfect time to not only enjoy a cold glass of iced tea, but to make your own sun tea, too. I've found myself drinking a lot of iced tea over the past few years (it probably has something to do with parental sleep deprivation). I usually buy bottles of Tejava tea, which I love because it's unsweeted and has a good strong tea flavor.

I decided to try making my own and maybe save a little money in the process. I remember my mom making sun tea way back when, and thought I'd give it a try. The results were really fantastic, so I thought I'd share them here. It's really easy to do, really inexpensive, and the kids actually had fun helping make it.

You'll need:

Jump and Play at Rebounderz Indoor Trampoline Arena in Rohnert Park

July 20, 2015

Rebounderz Rohnert Park

Families looking for active indoor fun should head up north to Rohnert Park and check out the new Rebounderz Indoor Trampoline Arena. We paid a visit last week to give it a try and everyone had a fantastic time! Rebounderz features a truly massive trampoline area, foam pits, a giant climbing structure, a dedicated toddler park, and more! There’s also an arcade, a café, and a parents’ lounge with wifi and big-screen TVs where you can watch your kids as they play.

Spend the Night at a Bay Area Museum

July 20, 2015

museum sleepoverIf you're looking for a fun and unique overnight experience for the family, try camping out at a local San Francisco Bay Area museum, zoo, or wildlife center! Popular family destinations like the California Academy of Sciences, the Marine Mammal Center, the San Francisco Zoo, the USS Hornet Museum, and Children’s Fairyland all offer exciting programs where families can spend the night. It'll be kind of like the movie Night at the Museum, except that the dinosaurs and dioramas won't come alive after hours (we hope)!

Needless to say, all of these events require advance reservations and have limited space, so register for your overnight adventure soon! Many of these venues also offer overnight programs for scouts, schools, and other youth groups. All information is correct at time of posting; check each location’s website for complete information, pricing updates, and a schedule of events.

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