Looking for something fun for the kids to do over the upcoming winter break? Check out some of the great winter day camps here in Marin and San Francisco.
Studio 4 Art
1133 Grant Avenue
Novato (415) 596-5546
Campers will have the choice of many different projects each day. Popular events such as clay, sewing, cartooning, and painting will be highlighted, all tought by Studio 4 Art's professional artist teachers. The camps are December 25–27, 30, and 31 and January 2 and 3 from 10 am–1 pm ($65 daily; $155 weekly for 3 day camp, $205 for 4 day camp) for ages 4–14, or 10 am–3 pm ($90 daily; $225 weekly for 3-day camp, $300 for 4-day camp) for ages 7–14. A sibling discount is offered. For more info, visit www.studio4art.net.
Ark Row Kids Winter Camp
122 Main Street
The Ark Row Center in Tiburon is offering a winter camp for ages 2–8 from December 23–January 10 from 9 am–noon ($45 per day), 9 am–1 pm ($60 per day), or 9 am–2 pm ($75 per day). There will be lots of fun holiday projects and activities. For more info, visit www.arkrowcenter.com.
On Saturday and Sunday, December 14 and 15, Falkirk Cultural Center in San Rafael welcomes kids ages 3 and up, their favorite teddy bears or other toys, and even a parent or grandparent to a holiday treat to remember! The Magic Toy Box Tea is a magical holiday 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.
The Magic Toy Box Tea features life-sized toys, antique tea settings, a raffle, and plenty of photo opportunities for your kids and their bears and friends (so make sure you bring your camera). 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! Make reservations for December 14 or 16 by calling 1(800) 838-3006 or online here. There are two seatings each day, at noon and 3 pm. The cost is $25 for adults and $22 for children, or $45 for an adult-and-child ticket.
TheGreat Dickens Christmas Fair The Cow Palace, San Francisco Friday, Saturday and Sunday 11 am–7 pm
The Dickens Fair runs on weekends through December 22. Experience Victorian London with hundreds of costumed players, shops offering one-of-a-kind gifts and Christmas treasures, dining, and pubs. Meet Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, Tiny Tim, Jules Verne, David Copperfield, Charles Darwin, and 700 costumed characters. Of course, Father Christmas himself will be on hand to join in the fun. Adults 13+ $25, children 5–11 $12, free for children under 5. Save $2 each on kids' tickets when ordering online in advance. For more info, visit their website.
San Rafael 34th Annual Parade of Lights and Winter Wonderland
Downtown San Rafael
Friday, noon–8 pm & Saturday, 9 am–noon Downtown San Rafael will once again commence the holiday season with its Winter Wonderland, Parade of Lights, and Holiday Marketplace with arts and crafts that starts the Friday after Thanksgiving and continues through Saturday November 30. On Friday, there will be free snow sledding and kids activities from noon–4:30 pm and 6–8 pm, and Holiday Marketplace from noon–8 pm. The Parade of Lights begins at 5:30 pm with Santa and Mrs. Claus's arrival and, a tree-lighting takes place immediately after. Kids activities and snow sledding continue on Saturday, November 30, from 9 am–noon. On Fourth Sreet from B Street to Lootens Place in downtown San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
Christmas Cheer at the Mission
Mission San Rafael at Saint Raphael's
Friday, noon–6 pm
The first annual Christmas Cheer at the Mission takes place during the 34th Annual Parade of Lights and Winter Wonderland in downtown San Rafael. Plenty for the entire family to enjoy including yuletide sweets and treats, savory sausages, wine, and hot cider. Visit the mission for some fun before or after your time on the sledding hill down the street. Activities include arts and crafts for kids, a Jingle Bell Cupcake Walk, and handmade ornaments for purchase. Bring an unwrapped toy to donate to Toys for Tots or canned food for St. Vincent de Paul's food pantry if you can. Location: 1100 Fifth Avenue at A Street, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
ODC/Dance's The Velveteen Rabbit
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco
Friday–Sunday, 2 pm
Bring the family for this beloved Bay Area holiday tradition. ODC/Dance enlivens Margery Williams’ classic tale of a well-worn nursery rabbit that becomes real. Told though music, dance and a powerful narrative, The Velveteen Rabbit celebrates the unique relationship between a little boy and his stuffed rabbit, and the enduring power of love. Tickets range from $17–$47. Sunday's performance is followed by a Milk and Cookies Party (separate admission, $12). For more info, visit their website.
Festival of Lights
Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
Friday, 3–6 pm Celebrate the Festival of Lights at Marin Country Mart with an art workshop and Hanukkah crafts for children. Complimentary latkes, served with crème fraiche and applesauce or smoked salmon, will be available from 4–6 pm. For more information, visit their website.
Ghirardelli Square 49th Annual Tree Lighting
Friday, 5:30 pm
Enjoy free live entertainment for the entire family throughout the day culminating with the lighting of the Ghirardelli Square tree at 5:30 pm. This year’s festivities will include live music, children’s entertainment and a visit from Santa. Christina Loren, NBC Bay Area’s Meteorologist will emcee the event. Ghirardelli Square, 900 North Point Street (at Beach and Larkin), San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
Macy's 24th Annual Union Square Tree Lighting
Union Square, San Francisco
Friday, 6 pm
Macy's gift to the city and San Francisco's most recognized Christmas tree will be officially lit in Union Square at 6 pm. Macy's 24th Annual Tree Lighting will take place in Union Square Park between Sutter and Post and Geary and Stockton Streets, right across from the front of Macy's. For more info, visit their website.
Cinnabar Theater Young Repertory Presents Annie
Cinnabar Theater, Petaluma
Friday, 7:30 pm
The popular comic strip heroine takes center stage in one of the world’s best loved musicals. Performed by a cast of over 50 7–17-year-olds. Admission: $15 adults, $10 your 21 and under. Location: 3333 Petaluma Boulevard North. For more info and tickets, visit their website.
Does it really snow in Downtown San Rafael? Well, no... not very often. But that doesn't mean that they can't truck a bunch of the frozen white stuff for sledding on the Friday after Thanksgiving!
Snow will arrive in Marin as part of the 34th annual Downtown San Rafael Parade of Lights and Winter Wonderland, taking place Friday, November 29. The event happens on Fourth Street from B Street to Lootens Place. Enjoy the Parade of Lights, Winter Wonderland, holiday market, tree lighting ceremony, live entertainment, and more! Free snow sledding and kids' activities take place from noon to 4:30 pm and 6 to 8 pm, and the Holiday Marketplace runs from noon to 8 pm.
Snow sledding takes place on the sledding hill—constructed from over 40 tons of snow—on A Street between Fourth and Fifth. Sledding is for kids only, and admission is free. Sledding will take place on Friday from noon to 4:30 pm, when it pauses for the Parade of Lights. Sledding resumes after the parade at 6 pm.
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, breakfast, 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!)
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 call or check the venue's website before visiting.
Photos with Santa
Santa Photos at Northgate
November 15–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. Santa will be on hand Monday–Thursday 11 am–8 pm, Friday–Saturday from 10 am–8 pm and Sunday from 11 am–6 pm. Santa takes breaks from 1–1:45 pm and 4:30–5:15 pm. More info: www.shopatnorthgate.com
Santa Photos at the Village at Corte Madera November 29–December 24
Santa will be available for photos and visits at Santa's station at the Center Court Christmas Tree beginning November 29. Daily, 11 am–5 pm, weather permitting. Santa breaks are from 2:15–2:45 pm.. More info: www.villageatcortemadera.com
Santa Photos at the Town Center Corte Madera
November 29–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. Photos with Santa schedule: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, November 29–December 1, 11 am–4 pm; Saturday and Sunday, December 7–8, 11 am-4 pm; Saturday and Sunday, December 14–15, 11 am–4 pm; and daily, December 16–24, 11 am-4 pm. More info: www.shoptowncenter.com
Speak to Me, Marin's premiere series of intelligent, inspiring speaking events for women, presents the second evening event in its 2013 season, "Circle of Friends" with Shasta Nelson, on Tuesday, November 19, at 6:30 pm.
Science tells us that friendships are more critical than ever to our long-term health and well-being, but in today’s fast-paced, digitally connected world, we are seeing increasing incidents of depression and isolation. Shasta Nelson will enlighten us with surprising solutions to this uniquely 21st-century phenomenon. Shasta is a life coach, CEO of GirlFriendCircles.com, and author of the book, Friendships Don’t Just Happen!
We're giving away one set of two tickets to this event to a lucky Marin Mommies reader! Simply send an email to email@example.com with "Speak to Me November" in the subject line by 11:59 pm PST on Thursday, November 14, 2013. We'll choose a random winner on Friday. Many thanks to Speak to Me for sponsoring this giveaway. Read our giveaway rules and conditions here.
Marin on Ice opens this Saturday for another season of open air skating at Northgate in San Rafael.
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.
Ice skating rinks are now open. Check out our list of ice skating locations, days, hours and more here.
Friday, November 8
Sing and Dance with Miss Kitty
San Rafael Public Library
Friday, 10:30 am
Join Marin County's favorite Miss Kitty for a series of fun family concerts just right for children aged birth to 8 years old. Free, no registration required! Location: 1100 E Street (at 5th Avenue), San Rafael. For more info, call (415) 485-3322 or visit their website.
The 63rd Annual Holly Fair
San Geronimo Community Center
Friday, 4–9 pm, Saturday, 10 am–3 pm
Bring the family for some seasonal fun with turkey dinners, kids' games, homemade preserves and pies, silent auction, white elephant sale, and holiday gift boutique. Location: 6001 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, San Geronimo. For more info, call (415) 488-1757 or visit their website.
Pajama Night at Doodlebug Marin
Doodlebug Marin, San Anselmo
Friday, 6–9 pm
Kids put on their pajamas and enjoy pizza, crafts, stories, face painting and more. Cost: $30 per child and $25 each additional family member. Reserve your spot by calling (415) 456-5989 or online here.
Throckmorton Youth Performers Presents: The Wizard of Oz
142 Throckmorton Theatre, Mill Valley
Friday, 7:30 pm, Saturday & Sunday, 2 pm
Click your heels together and join the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, Dorothy, and her little dog Toto, as they follow the Yellow Brick Road to the magical land of Oz! This beloved musical production is appropriate for kids of all ages and will be performed by the Throckmorton Youth Performers, a Mill Valley nonprofit that has successfully staged musical theater performances for years. Tickets should be purchased in advance. Location: 142 Throckmorton Avenue, in downtown Mill Valley. For more info, call (415) 383-9600 or visit their website.
Saturday, November 9
Veterans Day Weekend: Fee-Free Days
Muir Woods National Monument, Mill Valley
Saturday, 8 am–7 pm
Bring the family to visit Muir Woods on a fee-free day. Muir Woods honors our country's veterans for their selfless service to preserve and protect that which we hold most dear, including our national parks. For more info, visit their website
Marin Country Mart Farmers Market
Saturday, 9 am–2 pm
Enjoy pony rides and a petting zoo for the kids from 10 am–2 pm, crafts by SCRAP from 9 am–2 pm, children's music or storytelling from 9:30–10:30 am, and more live music from 11 am–12:30 pm, as well as fresh produce, prepared foods, and great local restaurants. For more info, visit their website.
McNears Mighty Kids Mud Run
Saturday, 9 am–noon
This is the adventure race where kids will test their grit and endurance, all while having the time of their lives! Kids 5 to 14 years old will be challenged with a course through grass, sand, mud, and the woods with fun and trying obstacles in their way. No animals (except service animals) are allowed at this park. Meet at the snack bar in McNears Beach Park in San Rafael. Location: 201 Cantera Way, San Rafael. For more info, call (415) 446-4424 or visit their website.
Family Farm Day: Honeybee Family Farm Day
Slide Ranch, Muir Beach
Saturday, 10 am–2 pm
This new program will help you learn more about honeybees and native pollinators. An observation hive will be on display and you'll learn the basics of backyard beekeeping. Kid-friendly crafts will be extra sweet today! Fee: $30 per person; $95 for a family of 4 or more; age 2 and under free. Location: 2025 Shoreline Hwy, Muir Beach. For more info, call (415) 381-6155 or visit their website.
Holiday Craft Fair
Petaluma Community Center
Saturday, 10 am–5 pm
Beautiful and unique crafts for sale, entertainment, food, prizes, and holiday photos with Santa. Admission is free. Location: 320 North McDowell Boulevard, Petaluma. For more info, call (707)778-4488 or visit their website.
Leap's 30th Annual Sandcastle Contest
Ocean Beach, San Francisco
Saturday, 10:30 am–4:30 pm
Teams of architects, designers, contractors, corporations, engineers, and local elementary school students compete on Ocean Beach. Money raised goes to support Leap's arts education programs, but admission is free to all. Come see what teamwork and creativity can do for kids and view these magical, fantastical creatures! For more info, visit their website.
Want to tour Novato's spectacular holiday lights the old fashioned way this winter? Book a trip via horse-drawn carriage or wagon from Gary Sello and Indian Valley Carriage. Novato residents have probably seen Gary and his team cruising the streets at Christmas time, especially near the famous Rombeiro Christmas House on Devonshire Drive.
50-minute tours start at Center Road and Wilson Avenue (across from Miss Sandie's School) at 5:30, 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30 pm, and include a pass by the famous Rombeiro house on Devonshire Drive (and maybe even a stop to tour the inside, depending on schedule and how busy the house is). Gary's carriage seats six average size adults, and his large covered wagon seats twelve. The wagon also has rain protection, although tours will be canceled in the event of heavy rain or wind. Reservations are required, and tours do sell out during the holiday season, so reserve your spot early!
We've ridden in Gary's covered wagon before, and it's spacious and comfortable with plenty of room, and it's also a lot of fun. So get your friends and family together and book a tour before they're sold out. (By the way, babies, infants, and small children riding on laps don't count toward the total number of riders.)
Even though it's an activity that you can do year-round, ice skating seems to be something that's especially appealing around the holidays. Marin on Ice brings returns to Northgate in San Rafael for another season of outdoor ice skating, so you don't have to leave Marin County to go skate! Here's our list of places in the Bay Area where you can hit the ice this holiday season.
Marin on Ice
Marin on Ice outdoor skating rink in San Rafael's Northgate Mall returns to offers al fresco skating from November 9 through January 12. This year the rink is even bigger, with 5,600 square feet of real ice. Special sessions include "Family Night" on Tuesdays and "Rock the Rink" on Friday evenings.
Skating costs $15 per person, which includes skate rental, and "Skate Buddies" (the blue plastic chair-like supports) are available to rent for beginnners. The rink will be open daily from 11 am to 9 pm, including holidays. Marin on Ice also offers birthday parties and private rentals. For more information, visit www.marinonice.com or call (707) 738-8496. Northgate Mall is located off Highway 101 in San Rafael's Terra Linda area, between Northgate Drive and Las Gallinas Avenue.
Snoopy's Home Ice
In Santa Rosa you can find Snoopy's Home Ice at the Redwood Empire Ice Arena.Opened by the late Santa Rosa resident and Peanuts cartoonist Charles M. Schulz in 1969, the Redwood Empire Ice Arena offers daily public skating hours (check their schedule for details), skating lessons, birthday parties, and special events. The entire place is decorated with a Swiss theme and offers a charming alpine ambience. The Redwood Empire Ice Arena is also home to Snoopy's Warm Puppy Cafe, where you can sit by the fire and eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or just have a hot chocolate and watch the action on the Snoopy's Home Ice.