Pick Your Own Apples in the North Bay!

August 16, 2014

Picking apples at Twin Hill Ranch in SebastopolLate summer marks the start of apple season, and plenty of the tasty and popular fruits can be found in the North Bay, especially in the area around Sebastopol in western Sonoma County. Sebastopol is the de facto apple capital of the Bay Area, and it's justifiably famous for its Gravenstein apples, a variety that you won't find grown commerically anywhere else.

While it's fun to eat and cook with apples, it's even more fun (and educational) to head out into an orchard and pick them yourselves!

If you're not lucky enough to have an apple tree growing in your backyard, then head up to one of the local apple farms that offers a u-pick experience. It's a fun family outing, and prices and quality are usually bettter than you'll find in the supermarket. There's nothing quite like an afternoon on the farm, too.

Marin Weekend Family Fun for August 15, 16 & 17

August 15, 2014
Civil War Days at Fort Point
Step back in time and experience Civil War Days at San Francisco's Fort Point 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, August 15

  • Children's Garden Series: The Unique Derique
    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. This Friday: The Unique Derique delights all ages by clowning, dancing, and turning his agile limbs into a drum set or a harpsichord keyboard. His interactive performance is percussive, syncopated and dynamic. For more info, visit their website.
  • Benefit Family Concert: Uncle Gerry
    Knights of Columbus Hall, San Anselmo
    Friday, 4 pm
    On Friday, August 15 and Sunday, August 17, Sing-Dance-Play and Music Together of Marin will host concerts for young children and their families featuring recording artist "Uncle" Gerry Dignan, whose music is featured on the CDs given to children who take Music Together classes. Friday's show takes place at 4 pm at San Rafael Community Center, 618 B Street, and Sunday's performance takes place at 4 pm at the Homestead Valley Community Center, 315 Montford Avenue in Mill Valley. For more info, visit their website.
  • Friday Family Date Nights: Enzo
    Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
    Friday, 5–7:30 pm

    Bring your family to enjoy later hours, live entertainment, special outdoor activities, and more. All activities and performances included with all-day museum admission. Free admission for members. This Friday: Enzo is a one man band, playing cool instruments like the 5-string banjo, accordion, harmonica, and musical saw. For more info, call (415) 339-3900 or visit their website.
  • Picnics on the Plaza
    Town Hall Lawn, San Anselmo
    Friday, 5–8 pm

    In its fifth year, the popular Picnics on the Plaza events feature music and family fun in downtown San Anselmo. Bring your picnic basket or buy food at the event. Sponsored by the San Anselmo Economic Development Committee. Location: 525 San Anselmo Avenue, Town Hall Lawn, San Anselmo. For more info, visit their website.
  • Pacheco Plaza Summer Music Series
    Pacheco Plaza, Novato
    Friday, 6–9 pm

    Enjoy the tunes of Creation—"Caribbean groove" best describes this Bay Area top reggae band—and an al fresco dinner from Boca Pizzeria, Taki Japanese Restaurant, or Paradise Foods under the stars! Free shows start at 6 pm and are free of charge. Arrive early for best parking. Location: 366 Ignacio Boulevard, Novato. For more information, visit their website.
  • Jazz & Blues by the Bay
    Gabrielson Park, Sausalito
    Friday, 6:30–8:30 pm

    Jazz & Blues by the Bay at Gabrielson Park in Sausalito is a free event. Lawn seating available, first-come first-served. This Friday: Dennis Johnson and the Mississippi Ramblers, sponsored by Sausalito Youth Sailing Foundation. For more info, visit their website.
  • Parents' Night Out!
    Marinwood Community Center
    Friday, 5–10 pm
    Drop off the kids and enjoy a night out! While you relax, the kids will be having fun with the Marinwood Camp staff. Games, park time, arts and crafts, snacks and more! Cost: $20; $18 each additional sibling. Register here. Location: 775 Miller Creek Road, San Rafael. For more info, call (415) 479-0775 or visit their website.
  • Film Night in the Park: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
    Creek Park, San Anselmo
    Friday, 8 pm

    This Friday's movie is Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (UR). 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 at the 400 block of Sir Francis Drake Blvd. in San Anselmo. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, August 16

  • Run for the Seals 2014
    Marine Mammal Center
    Saturday, 7 am–5 pm
    Enjoy breathtaking views of the Marin Headlands and the California coastline with your family as you take part in the 30th Anniversary Run for the Seals on Saturday, August 16. There are two routes to choose from: a 4-mile fun run on roads/dirt tracks and a 2-mile hill walk on a fire road. The event is open to all ages. Dogs on leashes are welcome too! And costumed people and dogs are especially encouraged. Your registration fee includes Run for the Seals and Fun Day, so after your run or walk, come to the Center and enjoy free food and drinks, take educational tours, listen to stories and learn about the important work of the Center. For more info, visit their website.
  • 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 Entertainment, 9:30-10:30 am, and live music from 12-2 pm, as well as fresh produce, prepared foods, and great local restaurants.  For more info, visit their website.
  • Fort Point Civil War Days
    Fort Point, San Francisco
    Saturday, 10 am–5 pm

    This event is for the entire family. Join the American Civil War Association as part of commemorations of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War 2011–2015. Stop by and watch Fort Point come to life with music, marching, and the colorful uniforms of Civil War soldiers. See infantry and artillery drills and demonstrations, and learn about civilian life during the Civil War. For more info, call (415) 556-1693 or visit their website.
  • Climb Aboard Weekend
    Pacific Coast Air Museum, Santa Rosa
    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–4 pm

    Climb aboard the museum's vintage aircraft and learn about the history of where and how they were used from the crew who has lovingly restored them. This is a rare opportunity to get a close-up look and sit in the cockpits of these historic aircraft. Admission: $10 adults, $7 seniors 65+, $5 children 6–17, free for kids 5 and under and active and retired military with ID; $30 maximum for a family group. For more info, call (707) 575-7900 or visit their website.
  • Back to School Weekend
    San Francisco Zoo
    Saturday and Sunday, 10 am–5 pm
    It's time to go back to school! On August 16 and 17, the first 500 people to donate a new or gently used school backpack will receive a limited-edition set of Zoo folders, featuring Jillian the Sumatran tiger, Kabibe the western lowland gorilla, Tenzing the red panda, and Erin the reticulated giraffe calf. And to get those young minds back in shape for the classroom, the Zoo will be filled with fun educational opportunities. The collected backpacks will be donated to a Bay Area school community in need. For more information, visit their website.
  • Ranch Tour: Stemple Creek Ranch
    Saturday, 11 am–2 pm

    Bring the kids, friends, and neighbors for a tour of Stemple Creek Ranch, where you'll learn about the ranch's history and how they do things, and take in the beautiful scenery of West Marin. They'll even BBQ some tasters. Bring your own picnic lunch if you like. RSVP required. For more info, call (415) 883-8253 or visit their website.
  • Bat Night
    Olompali State Historic Park, Novato
    Saturday, 6–9 pm

    Meet live bats, view bat houses, create a bat mask, and make bat-style s’mores. Just after dusk, Corky Quirk of NorCal Bats will present a slide show about the wonderful diversity and benefits of bats worldwide. At dark, see some of the park’s residents swoop and dive while they catch insects on the wing. All ages are welcome. Bring a blanket or chair to sit on while we watch the bats. Parking is $8 per car; event is free. Olompali is located just north of Novato at 8901 Redwood Highway. For more info, visit their website.

U-Pick Apples and More Farm Fun at Chileno Valley Ranch

August 14, 2014

Picking apples at Chileno Valley RanchApple season is getting underway, so why not make a day trip to the farm and pick your own? While most of the apple farms in the North Bay are clustered around the western Sonoma County town of Sebastopol (which is famous for its apples), you can actually pick apples right here in Marin County at beautiful Chileno Valley Ranch.

Located in West Marin's Chileno Valley, this ranch offers u-pick apples every Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm from Labor Day Weekend through October, as well as Sunday, August 17 (closed on August 24). Owners Sally and Mike Gale also raise grass-fed beef, sheep, and chickens on the ranch, and there's a lot to see and do there for apple-picking families.

The centerpiece of the ranch is its meticulously restored Victorian farmhouse, which is surrounded by flowers, vegetable gardens, and an apple orchard. Chileno Valley Ranch offers a huge variety of heirloom apples, some of which we've never heard of! Apple varieties include Honeycrisp, Molly's Delicious, Zesta, Mutzu, Arkansas Black, Northern Spy, Wolfriver, Jonagold, Goldrush, and more. Pears and Asian pears are available for picking, too.

Building a Fun Lunch Box: Chicken Teriyaki Skewers

August 12, 2014

teriyaki skewersMarin 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.

I haven’t met a kid yet who doesn’t love the sweet and salty taste of teriyaki. So, this week, we will focus on an Asian inspired lunch box with fun to eat and dip skewers, sweet and tangy fruit and salty Japanese rice sticks. To make your life easy, make the chicken using my Ginger Soy Chicken Thigh recipe the day before and eat it for dinner while reserving some as leftovers for the next day’s lunch. Both parents and kids will love this lunch the next day.

Lunch Box Fixings

Uncle Gerry Performs Two Family Concerts in Marin This Weekend

August 12, 2014

Uncle Gerry DignanOn Friday, August 15 and Sunday, August 17, Sing-Dance-Play and Music Together of Marin will host concerts for young children and their families featuring recording artist "Uncle" Gerry Dignan, whose music is featured on the CDs given to children who take Music Together classes. Friday's show takes place at 4 pm at San Rafael Community Center, 618 B Street, and Sunday's performance takes place at 4 pm at the Homestead Valley Community Center, 315 Montford Avenue in Mill Valley.

Admission is on a sliding scale of $5–$10 per person or $20 per family. The concert is suitable for families with children from birth to 8 years old.

The concerts will also feature Music Together of Marin and Sing-Dance-Play staff and teachers singing favorite Music Together songs. Both concerts benefit Bread & Roses, the Marin nonprofit organization dedicated to uplifting the human spirit by providing free, live, quality entertainment to people who live in institutions or are otherwise isolated from society. Bread & Roses produces almost 600 shows a year for children, adults, and elders in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Fresh and Healthy Summer Garden Chili

August 11, 2014

summer chiliChili is one of those meals that can be on the hearty, heavy side and not something you necessarily want to eat for a summer dinner—except for this fresh and healthy version. For this summer chili, I lighten things up considerably and take advantage of fresh summer produce like the zucchini growing in our backyard garden and sweet corn.

Serve this chili with a variety of toppings and add-ons so each diner can customize it to his or her taste. You can make it vegetarian (or vegan, really) by omitting the ground turkey and doubling the amount of beans and squash. Either way, it's delicious! And our kids even eat it, too. There's probably no reason you couldn't make this year-round, either, although you'd have to subsitute frozen corn for the fresh.



Hiking, History, and Nature at Olompali State Historic Park in Novato

August 11, 2014

Olompali Miwok VillageJust north of Novato, on the eastern slopes of Mount Burdell, lies Olompali State Historic Park. This gem of a local resource is often overlooked by families as they drive by on Highway 101, but it's well worth a visit. With miles of hiking trails, historic sites spanning 8,000 years of human habitation, and sweeping views of the Petaluma River Valley, Olompali has much to offer for visitors of all ages.

The story of Olompali starts with the Coast Miwoks, who lived on the site for thousands of years. Olompali was one of the primary Miwok settlements in Northern California until the 1850s. At the park, you'll find evidence of their presence here in the form of a "Kitchen Rock", a large stone used as a mortar by the Miwok people to grind acorns and seeds, and a reconstructed village with redwood bark and tule reed kotchas—traditional Coast Miwok dwellings. There's also a native plant garden with educational panels describing how the Miwok used each plant for food or medicinal purposes.

Spend a Day on the Farm at Tara Firma Farms in Petaluma

August 10, 2014

Tara Firma FarmsPetaluma's Tara Firma Farms is a family-run farm that produces humanely raised chickens, pigs, turkeys, and cattle on 300 acres just across the Sonoma County line. In addition to raising and selling their products, they're committed to educating the public about life on the farm, healthy food, and environmentally sustainable agriculture.

Tara Firma farms offers free farm tours on weekends at 10 am, noon, and 2 pm. The tours are a fantastic farm experience for parents, kids, and anyone who wants to get an up-close-and-personal look at where their food comes from. Come experience the sights, sounds, and, yes, smells of the farm first-hand!

Tara and Craig Smith were inspired to start the farm in 2009 after reading Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, and modeled their operation off of Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm, which is prominently featured in the book. Today you can purchase their products at local farmer's markets, their on-site farm store, and through their popular CSA membership program, which includes their meats and eggs as well as produce and dairy products from other local organic producers.

Theater for Young Audiences Returns to Marin Theatre Company for 2014-2015

August 9, 2014

Children's theater at Marin Theatre CompanyThis year, Marin Theatre Company (MTC) and Bay Area Children's Theater (BACT) team up again to present another season of fantastic live theater for young audiences. The 2014–2015 series features four exciting BACT productions: Five Little Monkeys, James and the Giant Peach, Three Little Birds, and Fancy Nancy, the Musical!, as well as an original MTC production of Around the World in 80 Days.

This season kicks off with Five Little Monkeys, which runs from August 30 through September 7. Based on the picture book series by Eileen Christelow, Five Little Monkeys follows the adventures of the titular simian siblings as they make a birthday cake for mama, meet up with a crocodile, and disappear in the store. Of course there's plenty of jumping, too. The play (all in rhyme, by the way) is recommended for ages 2 to 7 and runs 45 minutes.

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