Photos and Breakfast with Santa Claus in Marin and Beyond

November 23, 2016

Santa Claus photos Marin

Photo Courtesy Town Center Corte Madera

It goes without saying that every Holiday season Santa Claus is an extremely popular guy. He and his small army of little helpers will be making the rounds for photos, breakfasts, and other holiday fun at various shopping centers and other locations in Marin County and beyond. (And of course you'll need to tell him what you want for Christmas, too!)

Here's our 2016 guide to photo ops with Santa and more. We make every effort to assure that all listings and hours are as accurate as possible, but occasionally Santa has to take a break to feed the reindeer or tidy up his beard, so make sure to stay on his "nice" list and call or check the venue's website before visiting. Santa's elves are still finalizing his holiday schedule, so check back here for updates throughout the season.

Photos with Santa

  • Santa Photos
    Town Center Corte Madera
    November 25–December 24

    Shopping during the holidays at Town Center Corte Madera is always a festive occasion for the entire family, with a chance to have a free photo for the kids with Santa Claus, have your gifts wrapped for free by volunteers from Hospice by the Bay, and enjoy some live music to provide the holiday spirit. Schedule: Friday, Saturday, Sunday November 25–November 27, 11 am–4 pm; Saturday and Sunday, December 3–4, 11 am–4 pm, and daily December 10–11, 11 am–4 pm and December 17–24, 11 am–4 pm. More info: www.shoptowncenter.com
  • Santa Photos
    Northgate Mall in San Rafael
    November 17–December 24

    Northgate in San Rafael invites children to visit Santa and have their picture taken with Santa Claus at his winter wonderland house in the Macy's wing. Individual photos and packages are available. Through December 15, Santa will be on hand Monday–Thursday from 3–7 pm, Friday–Saturday from10 am–9 pm (breaks 1-1:45pm & 3:45-4:30pm), and Sunday from 11 am–7 pm (break 2-3pm). December 16 - 23 Santa will be on hand daily from 10am - 9pm (Breaks 1-1:45pm & 3:45-4:30pm). Last-minute visits can be had on Christmas Eve (December 24) from 10 am–5 pm (break: 1-1:45pm). Closed Thanksgiving. More info: www.shopatnorthgate.com
  • Photos with Santa
    PIER 39, San Francisco
    November 19–December 24

    Santa is coming to PIER 39. Stop by the Bay Theater on Level 2 to take a photo with Santa on November 19–20, 25–27 and December 3, 4, 10, 11, and 17–24 from noon to 6 pm. Photo packages start at $27. For more info, visit their website.

Special Thanksgiving Farmers Market Tomorrow at Northgate Mall!

November 22, 2016

Still need ingredients for your Thanksgiving feast? Finish up your shopping at tomorrow's (Wednesday, November 23) special Thanksgiving Farmers Market from 8 am to 1 pm at Northgate Mall, 6000 Northgate Drive (next to Sears) in San Rafael.

There will be no San Rafael Farmers Market on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 24. That way we all get a little extra time to prepare our feasts, and the farmers get the day off too!

The Civic Center Farmers' Market in San Rafael (temporarily located to Northgate) offers lots of organically grown produce, breads, eggs, fresh cut flowers, prepared food, and more. For more information, visit www.agriculturalinstitute.org.

Ring In the Holiday Season at Mill Valley Winterfest!

November 22, 2016

Mill Valley Winterfest

Mill Valley's downtown plaza will once again be filled with an eclectic mix of live music, children playing, and community togetherness when the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce and the City of Mill Valley present the annual Winterfest, taking place Sunday, December 4, from 11 am to 5 pm. Winterfest celebrates the holiday season with a fun-filled afternoon for children, families, and anyone who enjoys the holidays!

A Winter Circus for the Holidays at Cornerstone Sonoma

November 21, 2016

Cirque de Boheme at Cornerstone SonomaThis Thanksgiving and Christmas, Cornerstone Sonoma presents a winter circus for the holidays by Le Cirque de Bohème: Somewhere. Experience the magic of a 1920s-style circus based on the French tradition, featuring an amazing cast of characters including a unicycle, hand-to-hand acrobats, tight-rope funambule, hand chair balancing, aerial fabrics, hooper aerialist, mime, clown, and more.

This intimate circus gathering takes place under the charming tent in the gardens at Cornerstone Sonoma, and is limited to 140 guests per performance. Shows take place Thanksgiving and Christmas weekends only: Friday–Sunday, November 25–27 and Saturday and Sunday, December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, and 18 at 3 and 5 pm. (December 3 shows at 11 am and 1 pm.)

Ice Skating Fun at Snoopy's Home Ice in Santa Rosa

November 21, 2016

Snoopy's Home Ice Redwood Empire Ice ArenaOne of our must-do family tradions during the holidays is to visit Snoopy's Home Ice, as well as the Charles M. Schulz Museum right next door. The arena was a gift to the North Bay community from the late Santa Rosa resident and Peanuts cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, and has been going strong since 1969.

I always consider an outing here a holiday tradition, especially since I grew up watching A Charlie Brown Christmas every year, and attended a few holiday ice shows here over the years, too. It was always a treat to see Charles Schulz himself sitting in the audience, enjoying the show and chatting with visitors. 

Ten Fun Family Things to Do on Thanksgiving Break

November 21, 2016

Snow sledding in San Rafael
Go snow sledding in downtown San Rafael at the annual Parade of Lights and Winter Wonderland

Thanksgiving week is next week, and since most Marin County schools give kids the entire week off, you'll probably be looking for ways to keep them occupied before and after Turkey Day. Here are our top 10 activities for families for Thanksgiving break:

  1. Go snow sledding in downtown San Rafael at the annual Parade of Lights and Winter Wonderland.
  2. Go ice skating at a Bay Area skating rink like Marin on Ice at Northgate and the Bay Area Discovery Museum's Iceless Skating Rink.
  3. Get a head start on the holidays at the West End Nursery Christmas House in San Rafael.
  4. Take a fantastic fall hike with the family.
  5. Make a cute pumpkin turkey centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table.

Festive Holiday Teas for the Family in Marin and San Francisco

November 20, 2016

Holiday Tea Falkirk

Holiday teas are a fun seasonal treat for children and their parents, whether they're at a local library or a fancy hotel in the city. There are several in Marin this season. Holiday teas are popular and space is often limited, so reserve your spot as soon as possible if you plan to go. Here are a few of our favorites in Marin, San Francisco, and the Wine Country.

Marin

A Holiday Magic Toy Box Tea at Falkirk

Saturday and Sunday, December 10 & 11 seatings at noon & 3 pm
1408 Mission Avenue at "E" Street, San Rafael
The tea is an old-fashioned tour de force in the elegant Queen Anne Victorian Falkirk Mansion. Homemade tea sandwiches and sweets are served, along with tea, hot chocolate, and other beverages. Features include life-sized toys, a raffle, and plenty of photo opportunities. Make sure you bring your teddy bear or other favorite toy! The Magic Toy Box Tea is hosted by the Cultural Affairs Service League. This extremely popular event is by reservation only and always sells our early! Reserve your spot by calling (800) 838-3006 or online here. The cost is $28 for adults and $24 for children or $50 for an adult-and-child combination ticket. For more info, visit www.falkirkculturalcenter.org.

Marin Weekend Family Fun for November 18, 19 & 20

November 18, 2016

PIER 39 holiday Christmas tree lighting San Francisco
PIER 39 Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place on Saturday and Sunday. Photo: PIER 39

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.

There's also holiday ice skating at numerous locations throughout the Bay Area, as well as opportunities to visit with Santa Claus at local shopping centers.

Friday, November 18

  • Bel Marin Keys Holiday Warehouse Sale
    Bel Marin Keys, Novato
    Friday & Saturday, 10 am–5 pm

    On Friday and Saturday, many of the warehouses in the Bel Marin Keys will open their doors for direct-to-seller deals waiting for you. This semi-annual sale is one of the hidden shopping gems in Marin County and has been in existence for over 20 years! Shop for a wide variety of goods from food and wine to decor and fine art. For more info, visit their website.
  • Holiday Ice Skating in Union Square
    San Francisco
    Friday–Sunday, 10 am–11:30 pm

    Union Square, San Francisco's main shopping district, gets into the ice skating spirit during the holiday season with an outdoor ice rink sponsored by Safeway. 90-minute sessions start on every even hour. Admission: $11 for adults, 7 children 8 and under. Skate rental $6. Information: (415) 781-2688 or visit their website.
  • Embarcadero Center Holiday Ice Rink
    Justin Herman Plaza, San Francisco
    Friday & Saturday, 10 am–11:30 pm and Sunday, 10 am–9:30 pm
    The Bay Area's largest outdoor ice rink offers 90-minute skating sessions Sunday through Thursday from 10 am to 9:30 pm, and Fridays and Saturdays from 10 am to 11:30 pm. Admission is $11 for adults and $7 for children ages 7 and under; skate rental is $5. They also offer group rates, as well as birthday parties and private rentals. For more info, call 415) 837-1931 or visit their website.
  • Santa Photos
    Northgate Mall in San Rafael
    Friday & Saturday, 10 am–9 pm and Sunday, 11 am–7 pm

    Northgate in San Rafael invites children to visit Santa and have their picture taken with Santa Claus at his winter wonderland house in the Macy's wing. Breaks on Friday and Saturday (breaks 1-1:45pm & 3:45-4:30pm), and Sunday (break 2-3pm). For more info, visit their website.
  • French Storytime (L'Heure du Conte)
    San Anselmo Library
    Friday, 11–11:30 am

    For children of all ages and their parent or caregiver. Talk, sing, read, and play together. Share books, stories, rhymes, music in French. No registration required. Parents/caregivers are expected to stay with children during all storytime sessions. Free. Location: 110 Tunstead Avenue, Council Chambers, San Anselmo. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin on Ice
    Northgate Mall, San Rafael
    Friday, 2
    –10 pm, Saturday, noon–10 pm, Sunday, noon–9 pm
    This Saturday, Marin on Ice opens for another season of outdoor ice skating at San Rafael's Northgate Mall, where it runs through January 11. Marin's only holiday ice skating rink features 6,300 square feet of real ice and will be open daily for outdoor skating. Skating is $15 per person, which includes skate rental. Private ice cabanas will also be available for rental and "Skate Buddies" are available for beginners. For more info, visit their website.
  • Friday Fun Days
    South Novato Library
    Friday, 3–4 pm

    Enjoy an afternoon of fun with the family at the South Novato Library. Whether it’s story, art, music or science, this drop-in program promises to be packed with fun! Location: 931 C St., Novato. For more info, visit their website.
  • Building Lighting Ceremony & Carnival
    Embarcadero Center, San Francisco
    Friday, 4–7 pm
    Four iconic buildings lit with 15,000 holiday lights, fireworks bursting in the sky and a magical show presented by Disney on Ice. The Building Lighting Ceremony begins at 5:30 pm and live performances from Disney On Ice presents Frozen! The Building Lighting Ceremony at Embarcadero Center is a San Francisco tradition and the official start of the holiday season in the City. For more info, visit their website.
  • Friday Nights at the de Young
    de Young Museum, San Francisco
    Friday, 5–8:45 pm

    Friday Nights at the de Young are after-hours art happenings that include a mix of live music, dance and theater performances, film screenings, panel discussions, lectures, artist demonstrations, hands-on art activities, and exhibition tours. The café offers a delicious prix-fixe menu and specialty cocktails, and the Hamon Tower observation level is open until 8 pm. For more info, visit their website.
  • Tam Valley Craft Fair
    Tam Valley Community Center, Mill Valley
    Friday, 5–9 pm & Saturday, 10 am–3 pm
    Shop for unique holiday gifts at this year's Tam Valley Craft Fair. Location: 203 Marin Avenue, Mill Valley. For more info, visit their website.

Sonoma and Napa Wine Country Family Holiday Fun

November 15, 2016

Cornerstone Lighting of the Snowmen
Don't miss the annual Lighting of the Snowmen Holiday Festival at Cornerstone Sonoma

One of the benefits of living in the North Bay is having the Wine Country of Sonoma and Napa right in our own backyard. It's a short trip from Marin but a world away, especially during the holidays, when the area does itself up in style.

Here are some selected family-friendly holiday events and happenings in Sonoma and Napa, as well as a few of our favorite places to visit in the Wine Country. There's nothing quite like taking in the Wine Country scenery (and maybe a glass of pinot noir) on a crisp and clear December day! Some of these events require tickets or advance reservations, so make sure you check for availability before you go.

Sonoma Valley

Victorian Christmas Crafts Workshop
General Vallejo's Home, Sonoma
Sunday, November 20, 11 am–3 pm

Craft handmade, affordable historical gifts or stocking stuffers at General Vallejo’s Home. Meet a special holiday guest. Free admission for ages 12 and under (accompanied by an adult), $2 for ages 13–17, and $3 for adults. Rain or shine. More information

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