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.
Laser Tag of Santa Rosa is the Bay Area’s only stand-alone laser tag fun center North of the Golden Gate Bridge. The sparkling clean family entertainment destination is located at 3011 Santa Rosa Avenue, Santa Rosa CA 95407 (707) 755-3503 and offers a great time for people of all ages.
The state-of-the-art laser equipment is non-militaristic and offers features that have never before been available the region. The sophisticated laser packs each have a super advanced computer, speakers that prompt individual players during the laser play, versatile game formats and incredible tagging accuracy to create a thrilling game experience. It’s like playing in a real-life video game! The facility provides good, clean entertainment set to a theme of a futuristic cyber-world, similar to the classic film Tron. The private party rooms are the perfect environment for birthdays, corporate events, sports teams, church groups, scouting troops, office parties, bachelor and bachelorette parties, date night, student groups, or any groups looking to laugh, bond, and share a lot of smiles!
Calling dog lovers of all ages: you won't want to miss this weekend's annual Golden Gate Kennel Club (GGKC) dog show at the Cow Palace in Daly City! The GGKC show is the West’s premier “benched” show—a benched show offers attendees a chance to meet and get to know the dogs on special “benches” organized by breed.
Lion dancers perform at the Lunar New Year Festival on Fourth Street in Berkeley
This month, the Year of the Monkey comes to an end and the Year of the Rooster begins! Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year, starts on Saturday, January 28.
As with many major holidays, there's plenty of family fun to be found in Marin County and all over the San Francisco Bay Area, ranging from a Chinese New Year Festival at the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito on Monday, February 15 to the big blowout Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco on Saturday, February 20.
Here are a dozen fun family Chinese New Year events not to miss in Marin and the Bay Area:
San Francisco Zoo
Saturday & Sunday, January 28 & 29, February 4 & 5, 10 am–4 pm
To commemorate the Year of the Rooster, the San Francisco Zoo hosts two weekends of Lunar New Year celebrations. Marvel at traditional Chinese lion and folk dance performances, go on a zodiac scavenger hunt through the zoo to learn fun facts about the animals found on the Chinese calendar, and stop by the Family Farm to see the roosters at the zoo. Guests born in the Year of the Rooster (1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, and 2017) will receive free admission to the zoo!
Museum visitors are often told not to touch anything, but not at the museums listed here! These seven local Marin County and San Francisco Bay Area museums offer lots of fun hands-on activities for kids and families. They're perfect for rainy-day outings or any time, really.
Bay Area Discovery Museum
Families with kids up to age 8 love Sausalito's Bay Area Discovery Museum for its combination of hands-on fun, exciting programs and performances, rotating special exhibitions (currently it's Curious George: Let's Get Curious), and a great play area overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay. It's a fantastic place to play away the day and take in the amazing views. Location: Fort Baker, 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito, 94965. Hours: Tuesday–Sunday, 9 am–5 pm. More info: www.baykidsmuseum.org or (415) 339-3900.
Have fun at the Bay Area Discovery Museum’s iceless skating rink this holiday season. Photo: Bay Area Discovery Museum
The holidays are a perfect time for a family visit to a museum, where you can both have fun and learn something indoors. Many local San Francisco Bay Area museums offer fun holiday-themed programs, including hands-on activities, special exhibits, and more. You'll even find ice skating and real live reindeer! Here are six of our favorite local museums worth visiting with the kiddos this holiday season.
Bay Area Discovery Museum
During the holiday season, family favorite the Bay Area Discovery Museum offers a synthetic "iceless" skating rink for all the fun of ice skating without the cold and icy falls. They'll also hold a Noon Year's Eve party from 9 am–2 pm on December 31 with a noontime ball drop, music by DJ ManCub, and more. Location: Fort Baker, 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito, 94965. www.bayareadiscoverymuseum.org
This year, Hanukkah begins on Saturday, December 24. Families in Marin will find plenty of opportunities to celebrate the Festival of Light, with public menorah lightings and fun events featuring storytelling, games, delicious treats like latkes and sufganiyot (donuts), and more. Here's a rundown of family friendly Hanukkah celebrations and events in and around Marin this winter.
Festival of Lights at the Osher Marin JCC
Sunday, December 11, 9:30 am–2 pm
The Osher Marin JCC celebrates Hanukkah early with their Festival of Lights on Sunday, December 11! This fun and free family party features live music, delicious food, an artisan marketplace, a bounce house, face painting, and more. Location: Osher Marin JCC, 200 North San Pedro Road, San Rafael 94903. Learn more.
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:
The Bay Area Science Festival returns October 27 through November 5, 2016, providing a wide range of science and technology activities, including exhibitions, hands-on activities, concerts, plays, workshops, and more, at locations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including many in Marin and the North Bay. Programs include Discovery Days for families, held in conjunction with local science outreach groups, Signature Performances, which feature high-profile science acts from around the country, and Explorer Days, tours that highlight the scientific wonders of the Bay Area.