Marin Family Weekend Fun for October 2, 3 & 4

October 2, 2015

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.

Most Halloween pumpkin patches in Marin and Sonoma counties are now open—see our complete list here.

Friday, October 2

  • Peter Pumpkin Patch
    Spring Hill Jersey Farm, Petaluma
    Friday–Sunday, 9 am–6 pm

    Pick your own organic pumpkin, dig for potatoes, take a tractor ride, visit farm animals, taste homemade ice cream and Spring Hill cheese, milk a cow, and get lost in the hay maze. Peter Pumpkin Patch also ofers fresh fruits and vegetables and picnic baskets. Free parking. This is a wonderful and fun pumpkin patch on a real working farm. Location: 4235 Spring Hill Road (off Bodega Ave.). For more info, call (707) 762-3446 or visit their website.
  • Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch
    Friday–Sunday, 10 am–6 pm

    The Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch, winner of our 2014 Marin Mommies Pumpkin Patch Poll, offers certified organic pumpkins as well as countless attractions including hay rides, farm animals, pony rides, mechanical bulls, a bounce house and giant inflatable slide, a farm stand, Big Jim's award-winning BBQ and ice cream. Popular children's recording artist Tim Cain performs every Sunday form 11 am–noon. Location: 5300 Nicasio Valley Road (1/4 mile north of Nicasio square). For more info, visit their website.
  • Petaluma Pumpkin Patch
    550 Stony Point Road
    Friday & Saturday, 10 am–10 pm and Sunday, 10 am–6pm
    Over 50 varieties of pumpkins, squash, and gourds, as well as a 4-acre Amazing Corn Maze (admission $5, 5 and under free; $9 on Friday and Saturday nights 6–10 pm), farm animals, a zip line, weekend pony rides, face painting, jumpy houses and inflatables, food vendors, covered snack area, and more. For more info, visit their website.
  • Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
    Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
    Friday 10:30 am–7 pm, Saturday & Sunday, 11 am–7 pm
    This free annual music festival of bluegrass, old time, country, and more, founded by the late Warren Hellman, takes place in Golden Gate Park's Hellman Hollow and Marx and Lindley Meadows. This year's headliners include T Bone Burnett, Lee Ann Womack, Gillian Welch, Steve Earle, Boz Scaggs, and the Brothers Comatose. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, October 3

  • Museums on Us Free Day
    Various Museums
    Saturday & Sunday

    Bank of America cardholders can visit the following Bay Area museums for free! Enjoy the Contemporary Jewish Museum, de Young Museum, the Legion of Honor, and the Chabot Space and Science Center. Photo ID and a valid Bank of America/Merrill Lynch credit or debit card must be presented. For more information, visit their website.
  • Celebrate Tam!
    Various Locations on & around Mt. Tam
    Saturday, 8 am-4 pm
    Join us for a variety of walks, talks, volunteer, and health activities all across the mountain during the day on Saturday, October 3rd. All activities are free, but space is limited and registration is required here. For more info, check their schedule here.
  • Vintage Car Races
    Sonoma Raceway

    Saturday and Sunday, 8:30 am–5:30 am
    Vintage race cars from the '50s through the '70s compete at Sonoma Raceway this weekend. Visit the paddock to look at cars and talk to the drivers. It's like a museum on wheels! Adults $12, children free. Sonoma Raceway is located at Highway 37 and 121 between Sonoma and Novato. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin Color 5k
    Indian Valley College, Novato
    Saturday, 10 am

    A 5K walk, run, hop, skip, leap, mosey on a designated route. Along the way, participants go through stations where they are sprayed with colored powder. After the 5K, everyone will gather for a fun festival.  Rotary Club of Ignacio event to benefit the Rotary Club of Ignacio Foundation and other charitable organizations. Open to all ages; ages 6 & up must be registered. The 5K starts at 10:00 am. Packet pickup begins at 8:00 am. Register here. For more info, visit their website.
  • Yoga in the Park
    McNear's Beach, San Rafael
    Saturday, 10 am–2 pm
    Begin with service projects that will focus on beach clean-up, landscape maintenance, and habitat restoration, then switch gears at noon and enjoy a 45-minute yoga class on a flat grassy area beside the bay. The class will be led by professional yoga teacher Daniel Rauck and will be suitable for all ages and ability levels. A free, healthy lunch will be provided at 1 pm. All skill levels are welcome and no previous experience is necessary. All ages are welcome; anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a supervising adult. Park entrance fee is waived. For more info, visit their website.
  • McClelland's Dairy Pumpkin Patch
    Saturdays and Sundays, 10 am–5 pm

    Find the perfect pumpkin in McClelland's three-acre organic pumpkin field. Free admission includes pumpkin patch, petting farm animals (including cows, goats, and chickens), and watching cows being milked in the parlor. There's also a hay maze, kids' haunted hay house, hay rides, bounce houses, and u-pick squash, as well as a farm store and a food cart serving organic grilled cheese sandwiches, organic milkshakes, organic popcorn, and espresso drinks. Read our review here.
  • Library 2 Library Family Bike Tour
    Fairfax Library
    Saturday, 10 am–12:30 pm

    Families will learn safe riding tips, then ride bikes from Fairfax Library to the San Anselmo Library. After bike decorating crafts, we’ll ride back to Fairfax Library for healthy snacks and special prizes. All children must be accompanied by a parent. Space is limited; Please register at desk or call (415) 453-8151. Location: 2097 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, Fairfax. For more info, visit their website.
  • Sonoma County Harvest Fair
    Santa Rosa
    Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 am-5 pm
    Experience the best of Wine Country at the 41st annual Sonoma County Harvest Fair in Santa Rosa. Activities include: wine tasting, kids grape stomp on Sunday for ages 13 and under, live music, family activiities and more. Gate admission is $5, and tasting tickets range from $25-$55. Location: 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. For more info, visit their website.

Meet the Midwives of Marin

October 2, 2015

Midwives of Marin Moms-to-be planning to deliver their babies at Marin General Hospital can take advantage of the hospital's and Prima Medical Group's Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) for prenatal, labor and delivery, and postnatal care. The final event of the year will be held on Monday, October 5, 2015 from 7:15–8:15 pm at the Marin General Hospital Library on the 2nd floor. (Note the location was changed from the Conference Room due to construction at the hospital.)

A midwife is a trained professional with special expertise in pregnancy and delivery in low-risk, healthy women. The midwives at Marin General Hospital are all registered nurses with a MA in nursing or public health and are certified through the American College of Nurse-Midwives, which works in conjunction with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Marin General Hospital is in fact the only hospital in Marin or San Francisco that offers midwife services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you're interested, the hospital holds a series of one-hour informational meetings throughout the year. Midwives will share their philosophies and approaches, and review the services available when you choose to deliver your baby at Marin General Hospital.

You’re Invited to Bioneers Free Family Fair this October 17 & 18!

October 1, 2015

Bioneers Family FairMarin Mommies presents a guest article from the Bioneers Conference, whose first-ever, free Family Fair comes to Marin Center on October 17 and 18.

Come experience a unique learning-and-play program for families with kids 13 and under to enjoy together during the Bioneers Conference—our first-ever Family Fair!

Join some of the country’s top nature-inspired education masters for all kinds of fun, including:
  • Green chemistry and biomimicry interactive learning activities, like how to make your own solar cell out of blackberries!
  • Aquarium of the Bay Mobile Lab’s touch tank with tide pool animals.?

Visit a Museum for Free in October

October 1, 2015

ExploratoriumDid you know you can visit most of the Bay Area's major museums and cultural attractions for free every month? Just about all museums have one day a month set aside as a free day. They all aren't on the same day, too, so if you plan it right you can take in several museum outings without having to pay a thing.

Note that most museums charge for admission to special exhibitions and usually only the special exhibition fee is charged on free days; see details with each museum listing below.

Also, groups are generally not admitted on free days; check with each museum for their free day group policy.

Bank of America Museums on Us—October 3 & 4

Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card holders get free general admission on the first full weekend of every month. Present your card and a photo ID for admission (one free general admission per cardholder). Get full details here. Participating museums include:

Our Favorite Halloween Books for Kids

September 29, 2015

Halloween NightFall is here, and what is a better way to celebrate its arrival than with a good book? My kids and I love to go to the library and pick out some great Halloween children's books to read together, and fall is definitely one of our favorite times of year.

Here are some of our favorites that we've enjoyed over the years. All of these books should be available at public libraries throughot Marin. You can look to see if your local library has these titles available at

Babies & Toddlers

Peek-a-Who by Nina Laden: Little ones love to play peek-a-boo and guess who's hiding in the pages of this fun board book, which includes an owl, a ghost, and a mirror.

Petaluma Pumpkin Patch and Amazing Corn Maze

September 28, 2015

Petaluma Pumpkin Patch

A multiple-time winner of the Marin Mommies Pumpkin Patch Poll, the Petaluma Pumpkin Patch and Amazing Corn Maze is the big Halloween pumpkin patch that you see on the side of Highway 101 just north of the last Petaluma exit. You may even have been stuck in southbound traffic caused by rubberneckers slowing down to look at it and its amazing maze and pumpkin field!

Petaluma Pumpkin Patch, a Halloween fixture in Sonoma County since 1993, is popular for a number of reasons. For one, it's a real pumpkin patch that's not too far from civilization—it's right off the North Bay's major freeway. Second, it offers a nice mix of real country attractions and other more commercial activities like bounce houses, climbing walls, and pony rides. Third, their pumpkin prices are really reasonable: from $1 for mini pumpkins and gourds to $16 and up for really large examples.

Marin and Sonoma Pumpkin Patches 2015

September 28, 2015

Peter Pumpkin Patch

Fall is in the air, and for those seeking that true Halloween pumpkin patch experience, here's our annual guide to pumpkin patches in Marin and southern Sonoma counties.

In Marin County, Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch offers a real on-the-farm experience and the Godmother's Pumpkin Patch at St. Vincent's is a local tradition and an exciting Halloween experience for families. For more real live farms offering pumpkin patches this season, head up north a short distance to rural Sonoma County, where you'll find them in relative abundance. We visited as many of these pumpkin patches as we could last year, and have posted links to our reviews of them below. As always, we'll visit again this year and update our reviews.

Easy Baja Fish Tacos

September 28, 2015

Baja fish tacosMy kids love fish, so these Baja-style fish tacos are a big hit in our house. They're easy to make, and most of the work comes in prepping the add-ons: crunchy shredded cabbage, radishes, salsa, and a creamy lime-infused sauce.

These tacos are fresh and light and remind me of a day at the beach in Southern California. Take a bite and it's summertime at the beach, even if it's the middle of winter.

If you're really short for time, you can make these with frozen fried fish filets like the halibut filets from Trader Joe's, but they're so much better with delicious fresh fish. I made our last batch with some wonderful local lingcod that I got from Real Good Fish, a community supported fishery (or CSF—it's like a farm CSA but for fish) with pick up sites in southern Marin.


  • 1 lb lingcod, rockfish, or other whitefish filets
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground ancho chile

Pumpkin Patches Further Afield

September 28, 2015

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 had recommended to us.

Solano County

  • Western Railway Museum Pumpkin Patch Festival
    5848 Highway 12
    Suisun 94585
    (707) 374-2978
    Saturdays and Sundays, October 10–25, 9:30 am–5 pm

    The Western Railway Museum in rural Solano County holds its celebrated annual Pumpkin Festival every Saturday and Sunday from October 11–26. Ride a vintage electric express train to the pumpkin patch at Gum Grove Station for pumpkins, tractor rides, games, music, a hay fort, a pumpkin launcher, and pumpkins for sale, of course. Admission is $12 for adults, $11 for seniors 65+, and $9 for children 2–14. Admission includes museum entry, unlimited train rides, picnic area use, and parking. Reservations are not accepted.
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