All Aboard! Tickets for The Polar Express Train Ride on Sale Soon

September 16, 2015

The Polar Express

Get ready to believe! Tickets for the California State Railroad Museum's annual holiday Polar Express train rides go on sale to members only on September 22–24, 2015 and to the general public on Thursday, October 1, 2015. Members of the Californa State Railroad Museum and Railroad 1897 are eligible to participate in member advance ticket sales. The Railroad Museum's sister organization, Railtown 1897 in Jamestown will also be holding Polar Express train rides again this holiday season.

Exploring Angel Island with Kids

September 15, 2015

Angel Island with kids

One of San Francisco Bay's most prominent landmarks, Angel Island has played a considerable role in the history of California and is now one of the Bay Area's favorite spots for hikers, tourists, history buffs, and anyone who just wants to get away from the busy life on the mainland. It's a great place for a family day trip, with plenty of opportunities to picnic, hike, ride a bike, learn, and just take in the surrounding natural beauty, plus there's a boat ride involved, too!

We took the Angel Island–Tiburon ferry over to the island this past weekend and had a great time. The ferry ride there is quick and efficient, and it's half the fun of the trip. After the short 12-minute trip, you disembark at Ayala Cove and get ready to explore the island.

HUE Animation Studio Makes Stop-Motion Easy for All Ages

September 15, 2015

HUE Animation Studio

We've been experimenting with making stop-motion movies for a while now, using various tools like our DSLR and iPads, but we recently got a review copy of the new HUE Animation Studio and it's changed our filmmaking world!

HUE Animation Studio is a complete kit that includes almost everything you and your kids need to create your own stop-motion movies, including a 720p USB camera, software for Windows or Mac, and a guidebook. You have to provide the imagination! Great sources for animation fun that you probably have on hand include LEGO minifigs, Playmobil figures, and other toys and action figures, modeling clay, and even drawings.

Learning to Walk Is Fun with the New Willa Walker

September 14, 2015

Willa WalkerThe Willa Walker is a cool new baby product launched by five Marin County dads, and it's definitely not something that you think of when you hear "baby walker". It's an innovative way for parents to participate in helping their baby learn to walk, and when we saw it we knew we had to learn more about it. We asked the guy behind the Willa Walker to tell us the story behind this neat new Marin-based product.

What was the inspiration for creating the Willa Walker?

Gabe, the inventor of Willa Walker, is a mechanical engineer and cousin of Willa. He grew up in Tam Valley and went to Tam High. His cousin went kayaking with his wife and left his daughter and co-inventor Willa with him. Willa was a little under one year and was in the transition from crawling to walking.

Gabe is constantly tinkering and inventing fun, so 10 minutes into the babysitting session, Willa Walker was born from some scrap materials in the garage.

Since that time, Gabe has filed for a patent on the design and invited his cousin and three other childhood friends to launch the Willa Walker through their newly-formed Marin-based company, Playful Nature, LLC.

Oven-Baked Chicken Strips

September 14, 2015

baked chicken stripsChicken strips are ubiquitous on restaurant children's menus, but that's probably because almost everybody likes them. This healthier oven-baked alternative to the deep-fried kids' staple is perfect for school lunchboxes (it's good cold) and tasty enough for an easy weeknight meal. Serve them with dipping sauces like BBQ sauce and ranch dressing.

The kids can pitch in and help make these, too. Have them assemble the ingredients and shake the chicken in a bag to coat with breadcrumbs. Using chicken tenders means you don't have to cut anything, too. Japanese-style panko breadcrumbs make these nice and crispy, but regular breadcrumbs will work as well.


  • 1 pound chicken tenders or boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (whole milk is best)

Family Fun Under the Redwoods at the Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival

September 13, 2015

Blue Fairy at the Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival

On September 19 and 20, artists from around the country will gather beneath the redwoods at historic Old Mill Park for the 59th annual Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival. This popular family-friendly festival features the work of over 140 artists, great live music, and kids' entertainment ranging from puppet shows and magic to sing-alongs and storytelling. It all makes for a magical weekend under the trees!

The festival takes place on Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. Family entertainment, emceed by Naomi Caspe on Saturday and the Blue Fairy on Sunday, includes performances by the Fratello Marionettes and the Puppet Art Theater Company, drumming with Mika, magic with Brian Scott and Dan Chan, and music by Singers Marin, Dave Fromer, and the PAAM Broadway Ensemble. Performers on the main music stage include Blithedale Canyon, Business Casual, Barrio Manouche, and Midnight North. Check their website for a complete entertainment schedule.

Back-to-School Recipe: Homemade Granola Bars

September 12, 2015

Homemade granola barsMarin Mommies presents a guest article by Jennifer Tyler Lee, author of The 52 New Foods Challenge, with a kid-friendly recipe that's perfect for an after-school snack or lunch box treat. We're giving away a copy of The 52 New Foods Challenge! To enter to win, send an email to with "52 New Foods" in the subject line by Friday, September 18; we'll select a random winner on Saturday, September 19.

I’m a big fan of making your own granola bars. First, because you can control the ingredients which means healthier choices for your little ones. Second, it’s an easy way to stretch your grocery budget. Homemade granola bars are a fraction of the cost of the bars you’d buy in the box. Better for you and your budget. Love it!

Homemade granola bars are fun to make together and can easily be modified to feature your favorite fixings. When you’re done cutting the bars, the rimmed baking sheet will be filled with yummy chunks of granola. Perfect for sprinkling over yogurt parfaits!

Marin Weekend Family Fun for September 11, 12 &13

September 11, 2015
Chileno Valley Ranch Apple Picking
Pick organic apples this Sunday at Chileno Valley Ranch.

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 11

  • Breakfast with Enzo
    Sports Basement, San Francisco Presidio
    Friday, 10 & 11 am

    Enzo Garcia plays guitar, banjo, accordion, musical saw, Jew's harp, enzotar, appalachian dulcimer, slide flute, percussion and more. Recommended for children 7 and under. Drop in any time. Cost: $7 per person; siblings under 7 months free. For more info, call (415) 652-2474 or visit his website.
  • Picnics on the Plaza
    Town Hall Lawn, San Anselmo
    Friday, 5–8 pm

    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.
  • Film Night in the Park: Big Hero 6
    Creek Park, San Anselmo
    Friday, 8 pm

    This Friday's movie is Big Hero 6 (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 12

  • Zero Breast Cancer Free Yoga Class
    Athleta, Corte Madera
    Saturday, 8:30-9:30 am

    Join a community of like-minded women to support Zero Breast Cancer for a FREE all-levels Yoga Class at Athleta with premiere yoga teacher Sherri Mills. Then stay for a shop party with snacks and learn more about our upcoming Dipsea Hike. 10% of proceeds from sales will be donated to Zero Breast Cancer Gentle stretch yoga class: 8:30-9:30 am, snacks and shop party: 9:30-11:30 am. For more info, call (415) 507-1949 or visit their website.
  • Farmers' Market
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    Shop for great local food and have fun at Marin Country Mart. 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 entertainment from 9:30–10:30 am. For more info, visit their website.
  • Free Junior Chef Classes: Cookie Decorating
    Williams-Sonoma, Corte Madera
    Saturday, 10 am

    Support a great cause—and have fun while you’re doing it! In this hands-on class, kids will bake and decorate cookies, then eat their delicious creations. Fee is $5 per child; all proceeds will be donated to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, which strives to end childhood hunger in America. 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.
  • Re:Make Festival 2015
    Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason San Francisco
    Saturday, 10 am–5 pm

    Bring the family to try their hand at tons of free DIY projects and will stay to shop awesome handmade goods from over 100 makers. Grab a bite to eat at the food trucks, or dance the day away to top tracks mixed by the in-house DJ. All ages welcome. Come to learn, make, play and explore! Register here. 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.
  • Creative Family Fun: Presideo Puppet Pals
    Presidio Officers’ Club
    Saturday & Sunday, 11 am–6 pm

    Drop in for imaginative craft-making based on the Presidio’s natural and cultural heritage. Featuring different crafts every weekend. Coyotes, gophers, and Chorus frogs all roam the Presidio! Join us in making these Presidio friends come to life as puppets. Location: 50 Moraga Avenue, Pershing Square (across from the Presidio Officers' Club), San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Pixie Park Open House
    Marin Art & Garden Center, Ross
    Saturday, 11 am–noon

    Open Houses are a great way to learn about the history of Pixie Park and what it means to belong to this co-op playground. The new member open house is conducted in a casual environment where you can speak to a board member about the benefits and responsibilities of being a Pixie family, as well as ask questions and meet other prospective families. After learning about the park, interested families can sign-up and receive their key. Location: 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross. For more info, visit their website.
  • Patchwork Series: Alison Faith Levy
    Frieight & Salvage, Berkeley
    Saturday, 11 am

    This morning kids show is fun for all ages. Enjoy the upbeat tunes from musician, composer and educator Alison Faith Levy (of The Sippy Cups fame). Tickets: $10 advance, $12 at door. Doors open at 10:30 am. For more info, visit their website.
  • Dino Discovery Lab!
    South Novato Library
    Saturday, 11 am–noon

    Calling all young paleontologists! Come and join us for this hands-on program designed for small hands and big imaginations. We will dig for dinosaurs, create our own fossils, and so much more! Recommended for young learners, ages 3–6 years with caregivers. Location: 931 C Street (Hamilton), Novato. For more info, visit their website.
  • Family Hike: Back in Time
    Presidio, San Francisco
    Saturday, 11:30 am–6 pm

    Grab your huaraches, canteens, and rebozos–let’s get outdoors! Join us for a family hike “back in time” along the old mission road. We will learn a little history as we follow the path from Mission Dolores to the Spanish Presidio of 1776, with lots of fun along the way. In the spirit of the ancestors who originally made this trek, we’ll be walking the five-mile distance. There will be a partial shuttle bus option for those whose huaraches can’t make it all the way. At the end of our journey, we’ll arrive at the Rob Hill Campground for a special surprise! (Hint: delicious food is involved.) Reservations required: (415) 561-4323. For more info, visit their website.
  • Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival 2015
    San Francisco
    Saturday & Sunday, noon–5 pm

    Ghirardelli Chocolate Company is excited to invite you to the annual, two-day chocolate celebration that has transformed into a true San Francisco staple. The Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival hosts over 50 vendors, culinary demos by top dessert professionals, a silent auction, and the popular Chocolate & Wine Pavilion. The best part? 100% of the profits from this event are donated to San Francisco non-profit, Project Open Hand. For more info or to purchase tickets, visit their website.

Free After-School Sports Program at Dominican

September 10, 2015

Allen Sports Club at Dominican University of CaliforniaThe Allen Sports Club returns to Dominican University of California this fall! This new after-school sports program for middle and high school students to come play at Dominican University of California in San Rafael is completely free. The vision of Dominican Trustee Emeritus John F. Allen, the program builds community, promotes physical activity, and opens eyes to college opportunity.

Launched in February, the Allen Sports Club already has participants from a dozen different Marin County schools. Three days a week, participants come to Dominican to play soccer, basketball, flag football, kickball, futsal, and dodgeball. Participants get to play with their peers from other schools and receive coaching from Dominican student-athletes trained by the popular Bay Area non-profit Coaching Corps. The interaction between college and prep athletes is one of the unique aspects of the program that participants enjoy every day at Dominican's premier collegiate athletics facilities.

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