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.

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 www.slideranch.org.

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.

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


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.

All Aboard! Tickets for the Polar Express at the California State Railroad Museum on Sale October 1

September 13, 2014

The Polar ExpressGet ready to believe! Tickets for the California State Railroad Museum's annual holiday Polar Express train rides go on sale to the public on Wednesday, October 1, 2014. The Railroad Museum's sister organization, Railtown 1897, will also be holding Polar Express train rides this season, too.

Climb on board a train pulled by a historic streamlined diesel locomotive from the museum's collection and read along with Chris Van Allsburg's classic holiday story as you and your family make your round-trip journey to the North Pole. Meet Santa Claus, the Train Conductor, and the ghostly Hobo. Sing Christmas carols, drink hot-hot-hot chocolate, and eat cookies—served by dancing waiters, of course.

Celebrate the Grand Opening of Teeny Cake Bakery in Novato This Weekend

September 12, 2014

Teeny CakeTeeny Cake is opening this weekend! Your favorite farmer's market cupcake booth is making a move to a permanent home in downtown Novato at 7400 Redwood Boulevard #101. Teeny Cake will hold its grand opening celebration this Saturday and Sunday, September 13 and 14, from 8 am to 4 pm, where they'll be serving coffee, espresso, tea, and of course their signature sweet treats.

Marin Mommies had a chance to take a sneak peek at the new Teeny Cake shop and to chat with owner and master cupcake baker Michelle Mahoney. It's in a great location and really looks beautful. My family is so excited to have this right in our neighborhood.

Michelle is excited to open up and be part of the local community and mentioned they'll be open early for coffee and breakfast treats like biscuits and scones. Of course she'll be offering her signature cupcakes in all her regular flavors, like classic vanilla, red velvet, chocolate, carrot, and salted caramel, as well as monthly featured flavors like organic pumpkin, caramel apple, and white chocolate peppermint.

Speak to Me: Intelligent, Inspiring Events for Women

September 11, 2014

Speak to MeWhere can you go to hear inspiring talks by fabulous speakers from around the Bay Area and beyond, taste delicious food and wine, and connect with other women like you? The 2014–2015 Speak to Me Series offers all this over four evenings from October 28, 2014 through April 28, 2015. Designed for women by women, this inspiring and fun series takes place at the Mill Valley Community Center and draws women from all over the Bay Area.

Come listen to dynamic and influential speakers like Tara Sophia Mohr, author of Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message and 10 Rules of Brilliant Women and groundbreaking expert on women’s leadership; Ken Cook, president of Environmental Working Group; Jim Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media; and Iris Krasnow, journalism professor, best-selling author, and expert in the field of relationships, personal growth and “female generational angst".

Marin Weekend Family Fun for September 12, 13 & 14

September 10, 2014
Dipsea Hike
Hike the Dipsea Trail for Zero Breast Cancer 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, September 12

  • Kids' Pajama Party with Aaron Becker
    Diesel, A Bookstore in Larkspur
    Friday, 6 pm

    Put on your PJs and bring your teddy bear to the bookstore! Author and illustrator Aaron Becker will be here to read you a bedtime story. Aaron Becker is the author and illustrator of Journey and the upcoming follow-up book, Quest. Get cozy in front of the fireplace, listen to a story or two, have some milk and cookies and get your books signed before heading home for bed. For more info, visit their website.
  • Film Night: Ghostbusters
    Strawberry Recreation, Mil Valley
    Friday, 7:30 pm
    Join Strawberry Recreation District for a fun night amongst the stars! Bring blankets, family and friends and join us for a wonderful time on the field. Popcorn and refreshments will be available for purchase. Please do not bring chairs that may block the view for others. Fee: $3 per person or $10 per family. Location: 118 East Strawberry Drive, Mill Valley. For more info, call (415) 383-6494 or visit their website.
  • Movies in the Park: The LEGO Movie
    Old Mill Park, Mill Valley
    Friday, 8 pm

    The Chamber of Commerce and the City of Mill Valley have partnered on a free outdoor film screening of The LEGO Movie, a blockbuster animated adventure comedy featuring the famous construction toys. Old Mill Park, 17 Cascade Way, Mill Valley. For more info, visit their website.
  • Film Night in the Park: Flubber
    Creek Park, San Anselmo
    Friday, 8 pm

    This Friday's movie is Flubber (PG). 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 13

  • Dipsea Hike for Zero Breast Cancer
    Old Mill Park, Mill Valley
    Saturday, 8 am–1 pm

    Get out and get physical for a great cause! This six-mile, noncompetitive, all-ages trail loop is a great way to spend time with friends—enjoy breathtaking Mount Tamalpais views, experience the legendary Dipsea steps, and enjoy food, music, and prizes with great people. Raises funds for Zero Breast Cancer’s prevention-focused research efforts. For more info or to register, visit their website.
  • Novato Bike & Hike
    Indian Valley Campus, Novato
    Saturday, 8 am–4 pm

    Spend a wonderful day cycling the back roads or hiking the hills and ridges of Marin, and then kick back ?and enjoy a fun family festival of ?food and music at Indian Valley Campus (IVC) meadow. This event helps provide school ?scholarships and fund projects for local schools and charitable organizations in the community and beyond. Bike or hiking tour ticket $75 individual, $120 couple, $150 family of four; $25 festival ticket only. Must be 14+ for biking tours and Buzzard Burn 6-mile hike. For more info, visit their website.
  • Farmers' Market and Pie Baking Contest
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    This Saturday, enter your award-winning pies in the 4th annual Pie Baking Contest at the Marin Country Mart Farmers' Market in Larkspur Landing. Enjoy pony rides and a petting zoo for the kids from 10:30 am–2 pm adjacent to the farmer's market. Arts and crafts and face painting for kids from 9 am–2 pm and kid's music or stories from 9:30–10:30 am. For more info, visit their website.
  • Greenbrae Mini Maker Faire
    Bon Air Center
    Saturday, 10 am–4 pm
    Come visit Marin's largest "do-it-yourself" festival, with hands-on learning activities and exhibits on arts, crafts, science, robotics, music, technology, sustainability, food, and creativity. It's a day of family fun that encourages the "maker" in all of us. Admission: $7.50 adults, $5 youth 4–14, free for children 3 and under. $20 for a family ticket (2 adults and up to 4 youths). For more information, visit their website.
  • LEGO Fall Preview
    Play-Well Marin, San Anselmo
    Saturday, 10 am–6 pm

    Come by and build with Play-Well's massive collection of LEGO for free and learn about their fall classes and workshops. Come and check out some of the cool workshops: Battle Track: 10:30 am–noon, Gear Cars: 1–2:30 pm, and Airplanes- 3–4:30 pm. Location 216 Greenfield Avenue, San Anselmo. For more info, call (415) 460-5210 or visit their website.
  • Sebastopol Renaissance Faire
    Ives Park, Sebastopol
    Saturday, 10 am–6 pm & Sunday, 10 am–5 pm

    Come experience Sebastopol's very own Renaissance Faire and support local public schools and programs! Ives Park, in the center of Sebastopol, is transformed into the town of Fenford in 16th-century England. The locals are celebrating the apple harvest, and Queen Elizabeth and her extensive court pay a visit to honor these humble citizens. Fun for the entire family. Cost: $14 adults, $8 children 11–17, and free for kids 10 and under. Location: 7400 Willow Avenue, in between the fire house and the Sebastopol Center for the Arts (in the Veteran's Memorial Building). For more info, visit their website.
  • Explore Martin Griffin Preserve
    Audubon Canyon Ranch, Bolinas
    Saturday, 10 am-4 pm

    Audubon Canyon Ranch eagerly welcomes you back to the Martin Griffin Preserve for fall exploring! Hike through the redwood grove under the historic heronry. Learn about spiders in the Spider Patch. Visit the ponds and the indoor teaching spaces. Volunteer naturalists called Ranch Guides will be available to answer questions from inquisitive nature lovers! Read about our visit here. Location: 4900 Shoreline Highway between the towns of Stinson Beach and Bolinas. For more info, visit their website.
  • Lyford House Open to Visitors
    Saturday, 10 am–1 pm

    Lyford House, the yellow 1876 Victorian on the shores of Richardson Bay at the Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary, will be open on Saturday for free tours. It was deeded to the Audubon Society in 1961 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. Location: 376 Greenwood Beach Road, Tiburon. For more info, call (415) 388-2524 or visit their website.
  • Family Fun: Mini Golf
    McInnis Park, San Rafael
    Saturday, 11 am–1 pm

    Rangers will host a fun afternoon of miniature golf at the McInnis Park Golf Center. Prizes will be given for anyone who gets a hole-in-one! Healthy snacks will be provided. This event is for children ages 12 and under, who must be accompanied by an adult. Meet at the Hillside picnic area. Park entrance is free. Questions: Contact Supervising Ranger Audrea Bocchi at (415) 446-4423 or visit their website.
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