Fun, Sun, and Sand at San Francisco's Crissy Field

June 19, 2014

Crissy FieldThe San Francisco Presidio's Crissy Field has undergone many changes in its lifetime, from tidal marsh to military airfield to one of the Bay Area's premier recreation areas. Crissy Field is a great place to spend the day with the family, and has a wonderful mix of outdoor attractons, amenities, and local businesses, as well as spectacular views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Crissy Field is a fantastic destination for walking, bicycling, kite flying, or playing at the beach. It offers a waterfront promenade and trails that are popular with dog walkers, runners, and cyclists (and parents, judging from the number of strollers we usually see there), as well as a clean stretch of sand along San Francisco Bay.

The water here is perfect for wading and playing in the gently lapping waves. Lawn areas and picnic tables, some with charcoal grills, are available, too, so bring a picnic and your beach blanket and umbrella and spend the day. Torpedo Wharf, a pier on the north end of the field, is a popular spot for fishing and crabbing.

Summer Family Fun at San Rafael's McInnis Park

June 17, 2014

mini golf at McInnis Park in San RafaelIf you've never ventured out to McInnis Park, in the northern part of San Rafael, you owe it to yourself to check it out this summer. McInnis Park, formally known as John F. McInnis Park, is 450-acre regional park, and a one-stop destination for all kinds of active family fun, from golf and baseball to hiking and skateboarding.

If you haven't been you really should pay it a visit. And if you have, you should resolve to go there more often! Here are some of the things that keep us coming back multiple times every summer (and at other times of the year, too).

Golf at McInnis Park

McInnis Park is home to McInnis Park Golf Center, with a nine-hole golf course and driving range, as well as Marin County's only miniature golf course. While many visit the park to play nine holes or hit a bucket of balls at the course and driving range (with its attendant pro shop and clubhouse), we love the beautiful, 18-hole, artist-designed mini golf course, with its whimsical sculptures and beautiful flowers.

Mini Golf in Marin at McInnis Park

June 17, 2014

mini golf at McInnis Park in San RafaelI'd driven by McInnis Park off Smith Ranch Road in San Rafael many times before I realized that—hidden amongst the driving range, nine-hole golf course, clubhouse, and batting cages—there was a miniature golf course there too (it was the a little windmill and castle on the hill that tipped me off). Since then, it's been a favorite place for us to go with the kids for a fun day out.

McInnis Park's miniature golf course is a colorful, 18-hole, artist-designed course with fanciful features including an elephant with moving feet, a snail, a castle, a lighthouse, a waterfall, and a much more. The tiered, lushly landscaped course winds its way up a hill as you play and the views from the top are spectacular.

The course also offers two bonus holes at the end. Keep your ball after the 18th hole, then go down below to the bonus course that includes a dinosaur, which is always a favorite with my kids.

Summer Travel Tips: Traveling with a Baby or Toddler

June 16, 2014

During summer vacation, traveling with an infant or toddler can be a unique challenge, especially when it comes getting them to sleep. Marin parent coach, infant/toddler sleep researcher, and family therapist Angelique Millette has complied the following list of handy tips for traveling with children.

Angelique works throughout the Bay Area and across the country supporting families and helping them meet life's challenges. You can learn more about her and her events and classes at

General tips for traveling with a baby or toddler

  • If you will be using a travel crib, the week or two before your trip, practice setting up the travel crib and napping baby/toddler in the travel crib.
  • Good travel crib brands: Baby Björn, Lotus Travel Crib, or Graco Pack-n-Play. Be sure to check limits on age/height as well as airline restrictions for size/weight of travel crib.
  • Check out baby-rental-gear company Baby’s Away. They rent items such as playards, highchairs, cribs, pack-n-plays, and bouncy chairs and will deliver and set up in most major cities.

Petaluma's Sonoma-Marin Fair Starts This Week

June 16, 2014

Sonoma-Marin Fair 2014Summertime is fair time, and the first fair of the season is Petaluma's Sonoma-Marin Fair, which takes place at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds from Wednesday June 18 through Sunday, June 22. The Sonoma-Marin Fair is not quite but almost a county fair, and offers a wide range of fun and exciting attractions, competitions, events, and activities for the entire family.

This year the Sonoma-Marin Fair celebrates its 75th anniversary with its theme "Diamonds Are Fairever." There'll be a special anniversary exhibit in the Exhibit Hall, and you'll also see livestock shows, agricultural exhibits, chef demonstrations, a destruction derby, and more. Of course there are also traditional carnival rides, including a kiddie carnival for younger children. Of course the fair's famous World's Ugliest Dog Contest, will take place, too!

And what would a fair be without live music? The Sonoma-Marin Fair has numerous musical acts on its schedule, including Eddie Money, country up-and-comer Brett Eldredge, Uncle Kracker, and Creedence Clearwater Revisited. Concerts are free with fair admission.

Tuscan Grilled Chicken Is Perfect for Father's Day

June 15, 2014

Tuscan Grilled ChickenMarin 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. This is perfect for a Father's Day cookout!

If you love the sweet taste of fennel you will love this recipe. Fennel scented three times over, this grilled chicken recipe is alluring and reminiscent of a typical Tuscan dinner. Not only is this a quick, easy and healthy recipe but also it is perfect for the grill on a warm summer night.

Servings: 6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes


  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 small fennel bulbs, trimmed of stalks, bulbs sliced in half, reserve 1 teaspoon of fronds
  • 1 red onion, peeled and sliced in half

Savor the Taste of Summer with Strawberry Lemonade

June 14, 2014

Strawberry lemonadeThe warm days of summer call for something cool and refreshing to drink, and my family thinks this homemade strawberry lemonade fits the bill perfectly. The combination of sweet berries and tart lemons makes for a truly special summertime treat.

It's easier to make than you think, and it's much better than the stuff you get from a bottle or can. Plus, you have the added assurance of knowing exactly what goes into it.

You don't have to use strawberries, either—other sweet summer berries like blueberries or blackberries are also equally delicious. Any way you make it, it's fantastic!

The secret to great homemade lemonade is making a simple syrup first. It incorporates into the lemonade evenly and thoroughly, and here we supercharge the lemonade's citrus flavor by adding some fresh grated lemon zest to the syrup.

Marin Family Fun for Father's Day Weekend, June 13, 14 & 15

June 13, 2014

Here are our picks for great events and activities for children and families for this Father's Day weekend. Find more events for the whole week in Marin and beyond in our Family Events Calendar.

Friday, June 13

  • Children's Garden Series: Venezuelan Music Project
    Children's Garden at 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. Performing in English and Spanish, the Venezuelan Music Project is the perfect introduction to the groove and energy of Latin music! For more info, visit their website.
  • Friday Night Jazz: Lorca Hart Trio
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Friday, 6–9 pm

    Enjoy live music on Fridays in the Marin Country Mart courtyard! This Friday, Lorca Hart, the son of drumming titan Billy Hart, has proven himself to be a fantastic drummer in his own right. His trio features Josh Nelson on piano and Edwin Livingston on bass. For more info, visit their website.
  • Jazz & Blues by the Bay
    Gabrielson Park, Sausalito
    Friday, 6:30–8 pm

    Jazz & Blues by the Bay at Gabrielson Park in Sausalito is a free event. Lawn seating available (first-come first-served). This Friday: Terrie Odabi. For more info, call (415) 289-4100 or visit their website.
  • Opening Night: Creekside Fridays Music Series
    Tennessee Valley Cabin, Mill Valley
    Friday, 6:30–8 pm

    Bring the family, pets, chairs, and blankets to the weekly free musical event. Creekside Friday is a series of music events for the whole family to enjoy. Each week features local musicians playing great music, a kids area with face painting, jumpee, cotton candy, and more. This Friday: Marble Party. Food available for purchase. For more info, call (415) 289-4152 or visit their website.
  • Father Son BBQ
    Corte Madera Community Center
    Friday, 6:30–9 pm

    Fun starts at 6:30 pm. Dads and sons will have a blast playing kickball, eating barbeque, Games and activities until 9 pm. $20 per person. To register, visit their website.
  • Friday the 13th Not Afraid of the Dark Hike
    Friday, 7:30–9 pm
    Join Ranger Felicity Hartnett to avoid the black cats, ladders, and other superstitions on this day for a pleasant short hike through Old St Hilary’s preserve. Dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes, and bring a flashlight. RSVPs are appreciated but not required. Questions or to RSVP: Location: Meet at the gate at the end of Lyford Drive in Tiburon. For more info, visit their website.
  • Film Night in the Park: Up
    Contrati Ball Field, Fairfax
    Friday, 8 pm

    Kick off the Fairfax Festival with a free outdoor screening of Pixar's Up in Fairfax's Contrati Field. Show time is 8 pm, but arrive an hour early for music, a raffle, and a cartoon. Bring your picnic, blankets, and low-backed lawn chairs. Popcorn, candy, and sodas available for sale. For more information, visit their website.

Saturday, June 14

  • Father's Day Weekend Fishing Derby
    Paradise Beach Park, Tiburon
    Saturday, 9 am–1 pm

    Spend the day with Dad at Paradise Beach Park in Tiburon for the Father's Day Weekend Fishing Derby. Prizes awarded for biggest fish, first fish, and heaviest fish! No fishing license required when fishing from the pier. A limited number of fishing poles and bait will be provided to beginners on a first-come, first-served basis. For more info, visit their website.
  • Art in the Park
    Stafford Lake, Novato
    Saturday, 10 am–noon

    Bring the whole family out to scenic Stafford Lake Park to paint the oak studded grasslands of beautiful North Marin. Art supplies, smocks, and healthy snacks will be provided. Questions: Contact Ranger Sarah Burkhart at (415) 897-0618 or Meet at the gate house at Stafford Lake Park in Novato (3549 Novato Boulevard). For more info, visit their website.
  • Novato Festival of Art, Wine and Music
    Downtown Novato
    Saturday, 10 am–7 pm & Sunday, 10 am–6 pm

    The Novato Festival of Art, Wine, and Music is a perfect blend of unique handcrafted art, regional vintage wines, award-winning micro brews, and gourmet foods, and first-rate live music. Festival goers of all ages love the youth activities, including guided art projects, train rides, climbing wall and petting zoo, bounce houses, jumbo slides and a dunk tank. Select artists specialize in children's books, toys, gifts, clothing and accessories. For more info, visit their website.
  • Happy Father's Day BBQ
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    In celebration of Father's Day, take dad to an old fashioned BBQ at the Marin Country Mart Farmers’ Market. The BBQ will be complemented with live bluegrass and folk music, beer, and homemade pie from 11 am–2 pm. The farmers’ market features fun kid’s activities, including pony rides, arts and crafts, face painting, and children’s entertainment from 9:30-10:30 am. Don’t forget to shop for organic produce, meats, seafood, stone fruit and berries, flowers, pastured eggs, and bread! For more info, visit their website.
  • The 37th Annual Fairfax Festival
    Fairfax Pavilion
    Saturday & Sunday, 11 am–6 pm

    Come hear great local music at three stages, shop for crafts and flea market treasures, enjoy fresh, wholesome food, beer, organic wine tasting, entertain the kids in the expanded children’s area, and ponder social and environmental issues at the Ecofest. Free. For more info, visit their website.

Kids' Summer Movie Clubhouse in Marin

June 10, 2014

Summer Movie ClubhouseThis summer, Cinemark's Summer Movie Clubhouse offers fun weekly summer movies for kids at the bargain price of only $1 per show. You can even purchase a punch card admitting you to 10 shows for only $5! 10-show discount punch cards are limited in quantity and must be purchased in advance at the theater box office or online at

All films are rated G or PG. For more info, visit their website here. (Make sure you download the Summer Movie Clubhouse flyer for a $1-off coupon for a kids' Movie Snack Pack at the concession stand.)

All shows in Marin take place at the Century Rowland Plaza in Novato at 44 Rowland Way. Here's the schedule for this summer (all films start at 10 am):

  • June 10 & 12: Ice Age: The Meltdown (PG)
  • June 17 & 19: Epic (PG)
  • June 24 & 26: The Croods (PG)
  • July 1 & 3: Turbo (PG)
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