Marin Family Weekend Fun for May 2, 3 & 4

May 2, 2014
Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Divide Open Space Preserve
Experience Israel in Marin at the Osher Marin JCC this Sunday, May 4, from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm.

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, May 2

  • Kids' Pajama Party with author Gianna Marino
    DIESEL Bookstore, Larkspur
    Friday, 6 pm

    Pull on your PJs and bring your teddy bear to the bookstore! Author Gianna Marino will be here to read you a bedtime story. Get cozy in front of the fireplace, listen to a story or two, have some milk and cookies and get your books signed. Gianna Marino is the author and illustrator of numerous children's books including Meet Me at the Moon, Too Tall Houses, and Following Papa's Song. Location: 2419 Larkspur Landing Circle, Larkspur. For more info, call (415) 785-8177 or visit their website.
  • Cafe Marinwood: Swing Night!
    Marinwood Community Center, San Rafael
    Friday, 7–10 pm

    Swing the night away to the music of Éclair de Lune. Whether a beginner or a swing dance pro, you’ll enjoy this evening at the Marinwood Community Center. Free dance lessons for beginners 7–8 pm by Jean & Bromley. Beer and wine available for purchase. Free child care for ages 2–8. Cost: $10 in advance or $15 at door. Location: 775 Miller Creek Road, San Rafael. For more info, call ( 415) 479-0775 or visit their website.

Saturday, May 3

  • Tour of Novato and FunFair Carnival
    City Hall, Downtown Novato
    Saturday, 7 am–2 pm

    The Tour of Novato and FunFair is a bicycling event and family fun day held annually to raise money for Novato schools. The Tour of Novato bike or walk takes place from 7:30 am–1 pm and the FunFair from 10 am–2 pm. There will be live entertainment provided by the talented students of Novato, crafts, games, jumpee, giant slide, sticky wall, and much more. Tickets: $10 per person or $25 per family. You can also register online to walk or ride here. For more info, visit their website.
  • Water Safety Day and Firefighters Pancake Breakfast
    Terra Linda Community Center & Pool
    Saturday, 8–11 am

    Come join City of San Rafael Firefighters for a free/donation pancake breakfast. After enjoying breakfast, come meet Josh the Otter and learn about water safety. There will be fun games and activities pool side to teach young children about being safe around the pool. Dress up like a lifeguard, go for a raft ride in the pool with a lifeguard, bounce in the bounce house or get your face painted. Lots of family fun and a great way to kick of Water Safety Month. Location: 670 Del Ganado Road, San Rafael. For more info, call (415) 485-3344 or visit their website.

Awesome Spots For a Mother's Day Picnic

May 1, 2014

While Mother's Day brunch is always a fun outing for the family, sometimes you want to skip the whole fine dining experience and do something a little more original for mom. How about putting together a picnic and heading out to one of the many great picnic spots in and around Marin and Sonoma County (especially since the weather this weekend is supposed to be wonderful)?

Here are some of our favorite places to bring our lunch (or brunch) and dine al fresco:

  • Bear Valley in the Point Reyes National Seashore is home to the park's visitor center as well as a large picnic area complete with tables, restrooms, charcoal grills,  and drinking water. Have a leisurely lunch outdoors, and then take a hike—there are a number of different hikes and walks you can do here that are suitable for everyone in the family, including the Earthquake Trail, the Bear Valley Trail, and the trail leading to the Morgan horse ranch. Read more about Bear Valley in our article here.
  • China Camp State Park offers a variety of beautiful picnic spots overlooking San Pablo Bay. You'll find most of these picnic spots located along the winding Point San Pedro Road, most of which have nice lawns, picnic tables, charcoal grills, restrooms, and amazing views. You can also have your picnic down in China Camp Village, which also boasts historic exhibits, a pleasant little beach for wading and swimming, and a funky little snack bar that looks like it hasn't changed since the 1930s. Read more about China Camp State Park in our article here.

Mothers Day Adventures in Marin and Beyond

April 29, 2014

Point Reyes WildflowersA leisurely Sunday brunch is a Mothers Day tradition for many, and you can find plenty of family friendly options in Marin here. If your family is the more adventurous type, however, why not check out some of these fun alternatives in Marin and the North Bay. From wineries to museums to hikes to picnics, there's plenty of fun to be had by all! Mothers Day is on Sunday, May 11, 2014.

  • Angel Island is a fantastic Mothers Day destination! This Mothers Day, the first 200 moms to board the Angel Island–Tiburon Ferry get a free sunset cruise ticket to use during the 2014 season. Pack a picnic and spend the day on the island!
  • Audubon Canyon Ranch has offered its Mother's Day BBQ for 50 years! It takes place at Martin Griffin Preserve near Stinson Beach on Sunday from 11 am–3 pm. The menu includes barbecued chicken or vegetarian quiche, green salad, home-style beans, local breads, coffee and tea, and ice cream. Wine, beer, and soft drinks are available. Guided nature hikes are offered to those who would like to explore this amazing area with its spring wildflowers, hiking trails, and egret nesting site. Cost: $28 per adult and $12 per child under 12. You can register online here.

Hiking with Kids in Marin: Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Divide Open Space Preserve

April 29, 2014

Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Divide Open Space PreserveMarin's geography can be pretty astounding at times. Who would have thought that the San Anselmo neighborhood of Sleepy Hollow was just a stone's throw from the northern San Rafael enclave of Terra Linda? If you try to drive from one of these locations to another, it will take you a good half hour, minimum, but if you take a walk at the Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Divide Open Space Preserve, you can go from one to the other in just a few minutes!

This 1,100-acre preserve encompasses the ridge that separates these two areas. It's perfect for a family hike, and the views are spectacular. You really get the feeling that you're on top of the world. The path that connects Terra Linda and Sleepy Hollow was at one point destined to be a road, but community members fought to preserve the area and now the only vehicles traversing the ridge are the human-powered, two-wheeled kind.

Start at the Open Space District gate at the end of Freitas Parkway in Terra Linda and climb the paved Mission Pass Path to the top of the ridge. When you get to the top, you can continue on Mission Pass Path, which leads to San Anselmo's Fawn Drive, or turn right onto the Terra Linda Ridge Fire Road.

Great Summer Reads for Kids from DIESEL Bookstore in Larkspur

April 28, 2014

Have You Seen My DragonMarin Mommies presents a guest article highlighting some fantastic summer reading selections, from Clare Doornbos the children's book expert at DIESEL bookstore in Larkspur.

Summer is almost here, your kids are booked into camp, the trip to Grandma's house is all planned out and the beach is calling. Now you just need to get some books together. There are so many great books to choose from for toddlers to independent readers. You already know many of the classics, so Clare from DIESEL, A Bookstore, in Larkspur has picked out some new books (or books new in paperback) that will keep your kids reading all Summer long.

Age 2–4

I've read each of these books (and many more) at our preschool Story Time, so consider these tried and tested.

Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light
This counting book has a dragon to find on every page. And, the mostly monochrome illustrations and thick paper are designed to be colored in.

Spring Vegetable Pasta is a Dinnertime Hit

April 28, 2014

spring vegetable pastaAfter seeing all the fantastic spring produce at the Marin Civic Center Farmer's Market, I've been determined to create a recipe that showcases some of the season's best vegetables. I made this spring pasta dish this weekend, and my kids loved it. It's built around the organic English peas that I picked up, and is fresh, light, and delicious. I also found the first of the season's white corn, which I usually think of as a summer thing, and I decided that would go well in this dish too (and it did).

Put the kids to work in the kitchen shelling the peas and shucking the corn. It's always fun for them to get involved in cooking a meal. If you don't have the time or inclination to deal with the fresh peas and corn, frozen would work fine, too.

Serves: 6
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes


  • 1 lb farfalle or other pasta shapes

Learn More About Homeschooling in Marin in Mill Valley on Monday

April 27, 2014

Homeschool flyer Attention Marin families interested in homeschooling: Join Pediatric Alternatives and Marin Homeschoolers for a fun and informative evening all about homeschooling. It takes place on Monday, April 28 from 6 to 9:30 pm at the Mill Valley Golf Course Clubhouse, 267 Buena Vista Avenue.

Enjoy hors d'oeuvres and browse the resources and special interest tables from 6 to 7 pm, then attend a panel discussion to learn about families' experiences, approaches, and reasons for homeschooling, discover the vibrant Marin homeschooling community, and find out about the many resources available to local homeschoolers.

Host Julie Schiffman, M.Ed. is a homeschooling mom of two with over two decades of experience in traditional and alternative education. She's also a representative for the Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO) and the Homeschool Association of California (HSC).

Little Folkies Offers Unique Music Classes for Kids

April 26, 2014

Little FolkiesParents in Marin and the Bay Area looking for a music class for their kids have many options to choose from. One of the more unique resources for musical education for little ones is Little Folkies. Run by Marin parents Irena and Joshua Smith, Little Folkies keeps kids engaged and entertained with classic music in the spirit of folk legends like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. Little Folkies' main studio is in San Francisco's Noe Valley, and they offer regular classes at locations in Marin, including San Anselmo and Mill Valley.

We asked Irena to tell us about how Little Folkies came about, and what makes it a unique music experience for children.

What makes Little Folkies different from other music classes?

There are a lot of aspects of Little Folkies which make it distinctly unique. But to what really sets Little Folkies apart from other music classes of its kind are three things… Songs, aesthetic, and the fact that the business is truly independent and locally born and bred right in San Francisco.

Marin Family Weekend Events for April 25, 26 & 27

April 25, 2014
Spring Fling at Slide Ranch
Family fun on the farm at Slide Ranch's Spring Fling this Saturday. Photo courtesy Slide 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, April 25

  • Movin' With Rosie at Jack and Jill's
    San Rafael
    Friday, 1 pm

    Rosie (of Jumping Jacks in the mornings at the San Rafael Community Center) will lead and engage your little ones in freestyle fun with dance, singing, story time, arts, acting on stage and much more! Each day is a different theme. Rosie will be at Jack and Jill's every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoon from 1 pm to 4:30 pm. Cost is included in the regular drop-in play admisson fee of $10 per child. $8 per sibling. Location: 125 Mitchell Blvd, San Rafael. For more info, call (415) 472-1120 or visit their website.
  • Parents Night Out
    Marinwood Community Center, San Rafael
    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 playing games, park time, arts, crafts, snacks & more! This event often sells out—register early! For ages 2–10. Cost: $22; $18 sibling (same family) discount. For more info and registration call (415) 479-0775 or visit their website.
  • Seals & Slippers: Sleep under the Stars
    The Marine Mammal Center, Sausalito
    Friday, 6 pm to Saturday 10 am

    The sleepover is aimed at children ages 6–12. The overnight stay includes eating feeding season with the seals, guided hike around Rodeo Lagoon, dinner, dessert, and continental breakfast. Cost: $85 per person. Register by contacting Kristin Ku at or (415) 289-7330. For more info about the sleepover, visit their website.
  • Broadway Bound Kids: Seussical the Musical
    Showcase Theater, San Rafael
    Friday, 7:30 pm, Saturday, 2 & 7:30 pm and Sunday, 2 & 5 pm
    Tony winners Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty have lovingly brought to life all of our favorite Dr. Seuss characters, including Horton the Elephant, the Cat in the Hat, Gertrude McFuzz, Lazy Mayzie, and a little child with a big imagination—Jojo. Seussical the Musical incorporates stories and scenes from 11 Seussical books. It is a wonderful family musical that will entertain all ages! Tickets: $17 adults, $15 children and seniors. For more information, visit their website.

Saturday, April 26

  • Free Fishing in the City
    Scottsdale Pond, Novato
    Saturday, 8 am–noon

    The Fishing in the City program, co-sponsored by the City, the Department of Fish and Game and the Novato Sunrise Rotary, provides the bait, tackle and rods needed for a fun filled family outing. Anyone 16 years and older must have a California fishing license. Pre-registration is advised to ensure a space, however, drop-ins are welcome if space is available. Last clinic begins at 10:30 am. Free. Register online here.
  • PV Rummage Sale
    Pleasant Valley Elementary School, Novato
    Saturday, 9 am–3 pm

    If you go to one rummage sale this year, this is the one you do not want to miss! This is the third major rummage sale for the school, and the PV's families have dug through closets, kids' rooms, and garages and contributed their treasures to this fundraiser. Sale closes from 1–1:30 pm in preparation for the half-price sale, which starts at 1:30 pm. Location: 755 Sutro Avenue (between Vineyard and Center), Novato.
  • 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 kid's storytelling, 9:30–10:30 am. For more info, visit their website.
  • Mrs. T's Mill Valley Beautification Day
    Multiple locations throughout Mill Valley
    Saturday, 9 am–noon
    All ages and ability levels are welcome to come and help with the beautification projects all over Mill Valley. You can help make Mill Valley both clean and green by participating in litter brigades and beautification projects at area parks, schools, and designated locations around town. Find out more here.
  • Novato Clean & Green Day 2014
    City of Novato Civic Green
    Saturday, 9 am–1 pm

    Bring the family and celebrate Earth Day by cleaning up our beautiful town. Help remove litter from streets, bike path, parks, creek banks and more. Some supplies will be provided. Location: Meet at Novato Civic Green near City Hall at 901 Sherman Street. Find out more here.
  • My Earth Day Marin
    Various locations throughout Marin County
    Saturday, 9 am–noon
    Marin County Parks and the My Earth Day Marin Coalition will host a wide variety of service projects and activities throughout Marin County in honor of Earth Day. This event is for all ages and abilities. Visit My Earth Day for a complete list of opportunities. For questions, contact Volunteer Coordinator Greg Reza at (415) 473-3778 or
  • Touch a Truck
    Oak View Nursery School, San Rafael
    Saturday, 9:30 am–noon
    At this special FUNdraiser, kids (and adults) can explore their favorite vehicles alongside hometown heroes! This is the chance to get behind the wheel of a fire truck, dump truck, police car, school bus, tow truck, U.S. Coast Guard rig and more! Baked goods and beverages for sale. Cost: $5 per person, kids under 1 year old free. Cash only. All proceeds will fund special programming for Oak View Nursery School students. Location: 70 Skyview Terrace, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • The 33rd Annual Butter & Egg Days Parade & Festival
    Dowtown Petaluma
    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–5 pm

    Bring the family to this year's old-fashioned Petaluma Butter and Egg Days Parade. Don't miss Petaluma Farm's Cutest Little Chick in the World Contest at 10:15 am on Kentucky Street, Clover kids' pre-parade at 11:30 am, and main parade at noon, arts and crafts exhibitors, food vendors, sponsor booths, community and non-profit booths and a large area to entertain youngsters with inflatables, rides, and hands-on activities. For a schedule, directions and more, visit their website.
  • Quarryhill Botanical Garden Earth Day Celebration
    Glen Ellen
    Saturday, 11 am–3 pm

    Bring the entire family for this free Earth Day celebration. Activities include: origami, story telling, lion dancing, arts and crafts, plant sale, fly fishing demonstration, reptile display and much more. Location: 12841 Sonoma Highway, Glen Ellen. Find more info here.
  • 10th Annual Free Create-With-Nature Earth Day Celebration
    Stinson Beach
    Saturday, 11 am–3 pm
    Celebrate Earth Day by creating art on the beach! Join in as community members, professional artists, and passers-by construct sculpture using sand, rocks, shells, seaweed and other beach treasures. The event starts with beach cleanup (bags and gloves supplied). Find more info here.
  • Slide Ranch Spring Fling
    Muir Beach
    Saturday, 10 am–4 pm

    Celebrate springtime on the farm with live music, local organic cuisine, and hands-on farm and craft activities for all ages. Learn where your food comes from by milking goats, feeding chickens, touring the organic garden, or making bread, butter, and cheese. Cost: $30 per person; ages 2 and under are free. Discounts apply for families of 4 or more. Find more info here.
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