Drop-in Activities

Free Activities for Families Affected by the North Bay Fires

October 14, 2017

California Academy of SciencesThe California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate park is offering free admission to families affected by the North Bay fires through this Sunday.

Many of our readers live in Sonoma County, and we're heartbroken at the destruction from the fires raging there right now. With many Sonoma and Napa families evacuated from their homes, and many families in Marin hosting them (we're one of them!), everyone is by now looking for something to take their minds off the sad situation. Many local museums, indoor play areas, and other attractions are offering free admission for those affected by the fires so families can get out of the smoke and enjoy themselves, recharge, and relax for a while.

Here's a list of places offering free admission to those affected by the North Bay fires. Listings with an asterisk (*) denote indoor spaces where you can get out of the smoke. Most require eligible visitors to check in at the admission desk when visiting. Follow the links in the titles for more information.

Not-So-Scary Halloween Fun for Toddlers and Preschoolers

October 10, 2017

Tolay Fall Festival

Halloween with really little kids is kind of a mixed bag. On one hand, they usually love the costumes and the candy. On the other, the spooky parts of the holiday can sometimes be scary and older kids can be intimidating. We've chosen eight fun and not-too-spooky Halloween events from across the Bay Area that are perfect for little ones. You can find even more family fun for this fall in our Halloween event guide, too.

Note that the annual Tolay Fall Festival has been cancelled due to the Sonoma wildfire emergency.

Free Family Fun at Novato's Sundays on Sherman

September 23, 2017

Sundays on Sherman Downtown Novato

Sundays on Sherman takes place again this Sunday, September 24, from 11 am to 3 pm on Sherman Avenue and the Civic Green in downtown Novato. This free family event will feature fun activities for all ages, including train rides, inflatables, sidewalk art, jump rope challenges, water balloon archery, scooters, sensory bins, adult coloring groups, live music, bubbles, toddler sports, fitness challenges by Novato Police Department, children’s percussion station provided by Music Together, giveaways provided by Whole Foods, and much more!

Celebrate Art and Storytelling with the Marin Comics Fest

September 9, 2017

Marin Comics Fest Celebrate art and storytelling at libraries across the county at the first Marin Comics Fest! Taking place starting today, September 9, 2017 and running through September 16, the Marin Comics Fest features fun family-friendly happenings at local Marin libraries and other venues, including Blue Moon Comics and Copperfield's Books in San Rafael.

Learn about comics, graphic novels, a from renowned cartoonists, artists, and writers like Art Roche, Thi Bui, Judd Winick, Serena Valentino, Brian Fies, and others. There will even be a Latino comics expo at the Novato Library on Saturday, September 16.

Check their page on the San Rafael Library's website for a full schedule of events and locations, and follow the Fest on Facebook for updates and info. The Marin Comics Fest is produced in in partnership with Friends of the San Rafael Public Library, Copperfield's, and Blue Moon Comics.

Celebrate the End of Summer with a Snow Party at Strawberry Village!

August 22, 2017

End of Summer Snow Party

How about celebrating the end of summer with a snow party? Grab your boots and gloves and come play in the Snow Zone at Strawberry Village in Mill Valley this Saturday, August 26, from 10 am to 1 pm. Strawberry Village's Piazza will be transformed into a winter playground, complete with a 20-by-60-foot Snow Zone filled with two feet of real snow. Not only can the kids play in the snow, but they'll enjoy live music, a photo booth, arts and crafts, a caricature artist, airbrush tattos, balloon twisting, face painting, and more.

Where to Watch the Solar Eclipse in Marin and the Bay Area

August 19, 2017

Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls

In case you haven't noticed, there's going to be a total solar eclipse on Monday morning! On August 21 at approximately 9:05 am, the moon will start to pass in front of the sun, with maximum coverage occurring at around 10:15 am. This is the first eclipse visible across the entire continental US since 1979 and the last until 2024.

Unfortunately, in the Bay Area we won't get to see the sun completely blocked—you'll have to go to parts of Oregon, Idaho, Georgia or somewhere else for that, but 78% of it will be hidden from view, so the effects should still be dramatic! Here's our guide to places for solar eclipse viewing in Marin and the Bay Area on Monday, many of which will offer free eclipse-viewing glasses, usually on a first-come, first-served basis.

Blast Off at the Novato Space Festival Today at Pacheco Plaza

August 6, 2017

Novato Space Festival

Celebrate all things outer space at the annual Novato Space Festival at the Pacheco Plaza shopping center. This fun and educational family event is presented by the Space Station Museum and takes place Sunday, August 6 from 10 am to 4 pm at the museum and on Pacheco Plaza's Center Stage. Admission and parking are free! Over 4,000 people attended this event last year.

Meet real astronauts including Al Worden, who participated in the Apollo 15 moon mission; shuttle crew members Jerry Ross, Nicole Stott, Bruce Melnick, and Dan Bursch; and Novato's own shuttle astronaut Yvonne Cagle. This year, families with children 12 an under will get early admission at 9:30 am and can attend a special book reading by astronaut Jerry Ross in the museum's Moon Room.

In addition to meeting legendary astronauts, visitors will also get a chance to check out over 30 different space exhibits, as well as the Space Station Museum's exhibits.

"Hot Amphitheater Nights" Kicks off Tonight!

July 29, 2017

Hot Amphitheater Nights Novato

Novato's Hot Amphitheater Nights free concert series kicks off tonight, Saturday, July 29, from 5 to 7 pm at Hamilton Amphitheater Park! Tonight's performer is San Francisco's Royal Jelly Jive, a retro-modern band that blends jazzy cabaret sounds with funk, rock, and soul.

Bring your family and friends and pack up your blankets, lawn chairs and picnics for this fun free event. Kona Ice will be on hand selling shave ice, too. The next concert takes place Saturday, September 9 and features nostalgic music from Mexico and the Caribbean by Cascada de Flores. For more info, visit www.novato.org/concerts.

Nature for Kids Hikes with Marin County Parks Are Fun and Fascinating

July 9, 2017

Nature for Kids Marin Parks David Herlocker

Spending time in the outdoors as a family this fall can be both fun and educational: get some exercise, explore Marin County's many parks and open space preserves, take advantage of our often lovely fall weather, and learn about the natural wonders that can be found all around us. A fantastic and eye-opening way to get out and experience nature in Marin is to take part in one of the naturalist-led family outings offered by Marin County Parks.

The parks department's Nature for Kids outings take place at Marin's many open space areas, and feature a leisurely, kid-paced hike with plenty of opportunities to stop and explore along the way. The hikes are informal and unstructured, and perfect for kids of all ages, although they seem geared for kids ages 3 to 12.

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