Kids' Summer Movie Clubhouse in Marin

June 10, 2014

Summer Movie ClubhouseThis summer, Cinemark's Summer Movie Clubhouse offers fun weekly summer movies for kids at the bargain price of only $1 per show. You can even purchase a punch card admitting you to 10 shows for only $5! 10-show discount punch cards are limited in quantity and must be purchased in advance at the theater box office or online at

All films are rated G or PG. For more info, visit their website here. (Make sure you download the Summer Movie Clubhouse flyer for a $1-off coupon for a kids' Movie Snack Pack at the concession stand.)

All shows in Marin take place at the Century Rowland Plaza in Novato at 44 Rowland Way. Here's the schedule for this summer (all films start at 10 am):

  • June 10 & 12: Ice Age: The Meltdown (PG)
  • June 17 & 19: Epic (PG)
  • June 24 & 26: The Croods (PG)
  • July 1 & 3: Turbo (PG)

Find the Most Effective Sunscreens with EWG's 2014 Sunscreen Guide

June 9, 2014

Fun in the sun at the beachSummer is here, and that usually you and your family spend a lot of time outside—at the beach, by the pool, playing sports, or enjoying the outdoors. This of course means that your family needs adequate sun protection. While the only sure-fire way for you and your family to avoid all the sun's damaging UV rays is by covering up with shirts and hats and hanging out in the shade, that may not always be an option, so we need to resort to using sunscreen. What would summer be, after all, without the ritual of slathering up the children with gobs of UV-blocking goo?

While many sunscreens promise a lot to the consumer (especially those with sky-high SPF 50+ ratings), do they really deliver the protection the advertise? Fortunately, the Environmental Working Group's 2014 Sunscreen Guide is available to help sort the good sunscreens from those that won't help much.

Inexpensive and Fun Summer Kids' Activities in and around Marin

June 9, 2014

Kids in the poolSummer vacation is here, and it's time to start thinking of fun and affordable ways to keep the kids occupied now that they're finally out of school.

Here are a dozen ideas for great affordable summer activities and outings in Marin and the San Francisco Bay Area. From hiking to swimming to movies to farm tours, everything listed here is either free or inexpensive. You don't have to break the bank to have a great time!

  • Kids' Summer Movie Clubhouse in Marin offers fun weekly movies for kids starting Tuesday, June 10, at the Century Rowland Plaza in Novato. 10 shows for $5 in advance, or $1 per show if purchased at the box office. For a list of movies, see our article here.
  • Join the Summer Reading Program at the Marin County Public Libraries. Participants were awarded prizes based on the number of days spent reading new books for at least 20 minutes a day. This year's program is titled “Paws to Read.” It started Saturday, May 31, but it's never too late to join in. Check with your local library branch for details.
  • Cool off at one of Marin's community pools. Most community pools offer public drop-in recreational swim hours for families. Find a pool near you on our list here.

A Family That Eats Together: Mesquite Grilled Rib-Eye and Summer Corn with Rosemary-Garlic Oil

June 9, 2014

Grilled rib eyeMarin 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. We think this would be fantastic for a Father's Day BBQ!

Simplicity at this best describes this classic Tuscan dinner. The key is using the freshest, organic ingredient you can find. With only a few basic ingredients this quick and easy dinner will wow your family and friends. Serve with your favorite side salad.

Servings: 4

Prep time: 10 minutes
Inactive time: 1 hour to overnight
Cook time: 12 minutes


  • 2 pounds organic, grass-fed boneless rib-eye steaks
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper

Six Sensational Summer Hikes for Families in Marin

June 8, 2014

Sky Oaks and Lake LagunitasIt's summer, school's out (or almost out), and there's no better time to experience the outdoors in Marin County. Gather up the kids, lace up those hiking boots, fill your water bottles (very important in the summer heat!), and hit the trail.

All of these hikes are easy enough for everyone in the family to tackle, and many are manageable with an sturdy jogging-style stroller. We've included our favorite summer hikes from all parts of Marin.

Follow the links in the titles to read more about each hike. You can also visit our Outdoors page for more ideas for family hikes and outdoor adventures this summer.

Sky Oaks and Lake Lagunitas
Sky Oaks trailhead outside of Fairfax offers numerous opportunities for fantastic family hikes. Take a stroll around Lake Lagunitas or along the shores of Bon Tempe Lake. An abundance of flat, easy fire roads and trails and a shady picnic area make this a popular spot for family outdoor outings.

Point Bonita Lighthouse
The recently reopened Point Bonita Lighthouse in the Marin Headlands is a fantastic place for a summer family hike. Walk through a tunnel carved from solid rock and over a swaying suspension bridge to visit this 1850s lighthouse that warned mariners of the dangers of the Golden Gate. Take in spectacular views of the Pacific, the Golden Gate Bridge, and San Francisco while you're there.

Marin Family Weekend Events for June 6, 7 & 8

June 7, 2014

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 6

  • Children's Garden Series: The Red Panda Acrobats
    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.
  • McNears Beach Block Party
    McNears Beach County Park, San Rafael
    Friday, 4–7 pm

    Come to McNears Beach Park to launch the weekend off with a “welcome to summer” block party! There will be food available from Andy's Local Market, live music, swimming, paddleboards, and plenty of fun for the whole family. Free parking and pool admission! Location: 201 Cantera Way, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Concerts Under The Oak: Pride & Joy
    Northgate, Oak Plaza
    Friday, 6–8 pm

    Clear out your calendar, because starting in June Concerts Under the Oak are back! Performances will be the first and third Friday from June 6th- August 15th from 6pm-8pm. We look forward to collaborating with everyone on food, drinks and specials to offer our concert goers- and we hope to see you there! This Friday: Pride & Joy (R&B/Soul). A limited number of seats will be provided, but people are encouraged to bring their own seating. For more info, visit their website.
  • KidsFest at the Zoo: Monkey Madness
    San Francisco Zoo
    Friday, 6–8 pm
    KidsFest is the most popular family event at the San Francisco Zoo! Enjoy exclusive wildlife presentations, live music, dancing, face painting, magicians, arts and crafts, and food and drink. Plus, you get private access to the Zoo’s attractions, including the newly renovated Elinor Friend Playground, Dentzel Carousel, Fisher Family Children’s Zoo, and the Little Puffer steam train. KidsFest raises money to support the Zoo’s many community-building and education efforts. Tickets: $100 adults, $50 children. For more info, visit their website.
  • Jazz & Blues by the Bay
    Gabrielson Park, Sausalito
    Friday, 6:30–8 pm

    Jazz & Blues by the Bay at Gabrielson Park in Sausalito is a free event. Lawn seating available (first-come first-served). This Friday: Craig Caffall Band. For more info, call (415) 289-4100 or visit their website.

Saturday, June 7

  • 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. Closed noon to 1 pm. Admission $1. 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 Pancake Breakfast
    Tennessee Valley
    Saturday, 9 am–noon

    Come to Tennessee Valley on Saturday for a family-friendly morning of fun on National Trails Day. There will be a hearty pancake breakfast in the Tennessee Valley picnic area followed by a ranger-led hike to the beach. $10 adults, $5 children; includes pancakes, sausage or vegan sausage, and coffee or orange juice. Location: 591 Tennessee Valley Road, Mill Valley. 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.
  • Nature for Kids at Deer Island
    Deer Island Open Space Preserve, Novato
    Saturday, 10 am–1 pm
    This is a Healthy Parks Healthy People Event. Follow the 2.3-mile loop trail around this “island” and look for all of the wildlife and late blooming flowers that thrive here. There should be plenty of butterflies and other interesting insects to see as well as lizards, birds, and gorgeous trees to shade. Don’t forget to bring your lunch! High fire danger may cancel: Call (415) 893-9527 after 7 am on the morning of the event to hear a recorded message if cancelled. Naturalist David Herlocker will lead. For more info, visit their website.

Marin Symphony Performs Pirates of the Caribbean This Sunday

June 6, 2014

Pirates of the Caribbean at the Marin SymphonyThe Marin Symphony wraps up its "Fun. Seriously." 61st season with a screening of the Disney adventure Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl with live musical accompaniment by the orchestra! If you attended the Symphony's Pixar in Concert performance last June, you know how fun these movie/orchestral mashups can be.

The performance takes place on Sunday, June 8, 2014 at 3 pm, with Maestro Alasdair Neale conducting, at the Marin Veterans' Memorial Auditorium in San Rafael. The program runs for approximately 2 hours.

Single tickets cost $70, $50, or $30 for adults, and $56, $40, or $24 for youth under age 18. There's a $5 ticket fee for online or phone orders; no fee for tickets purchased at the door or in person at the box office. Order tickets online here or by calling the Marin Center Box Office at (415) 473-6800. The Marin Center Box Office is open Monday–Friday, 11 am–6 pm.

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

June 3, 2014

Marin Parents of Multiples Club Garage Sale June 8 Marin CatholicFind top quality children’s clothes, toys, and equipment at garage sale prices this Saturday, June 7, at the 10th 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 approximately 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.

Preschool Profile: St. Francis Preschool in Novato

June 3, 2014

St. Francis PreschoolNestled among tall oak and pine trees, St. Francis Preschool has been serving families in the North Bay Area for over 45 years. A semi-structured play-based program offers children the opportunity to become curious learners who are socially competent, co-operative, motivated, capable, self-reliant and considerate. We strive to prepare children to be independent and self-reliant so they are ready for elementary school. Learn more about the school and its programs at

Please describe your school's educational philosophy. What’s it all about?

At St. Francis, we provide a developmentally appropriate education with an excellent balance between structure, play, socialization and kindergarten readiness. Our semi-structured program includes periods of self-directed time where children learn and discover through their play, as well as teacher-directed activities. Our curriculum encourages problem solving, exploration, decision-making, creativity, self-expression, dramatic play, and group interaction.

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