Outdoor Activities

Hiking, nature walks, beaches, and more.

Summer Family Fun in North Lake Tahoe

June 27, 2017

Commons Beach, Tahoe City

Lake Tahoe is without question one of California's classic family vacation destinations year-round. While a lot of people think of it in terms of winter sports, we think it has a special charm in the summer.

One of our favorite places to stay and play lakeside is in and around the lovely north Lake Tahoe town of Tahoe City. You can hike, bike, boat, kayak, swim, raft, or just relax amid the towering pines and crystal clear waters of Lake Tahoe and the Truckee River.

Family Kayak Adventures in Marin and Northern California

June 26, 2017

Kayaking

One of the activities we love to do is kayaking. It's a fantastic way to experience nature and peacefully explore local waterways. What we love most about it is that it's an activity that can be enjoyed by all ages! Tandem kayaks often have a third seat for a small child, and kids can easily pick up the skills needed to paddle their craft through the water. It's fun and great exercise.

For beginners, all these kayak rental outfits offer the sit-on-top style ocean kayaks, which are stable, lightweight, and easy to paddle. The only drawback is that you can get a little wet while you're paddling, but then that's part of the fun. We've kayak on lakes, bays, and rivers, and each type of location offers a different experience.

Swimming, Play and More at McNears Beach Park in San Rafael

June 21, 2017

McNears Beach Park is one of those special places that I hold close to my heart. I grew up literally around the corner from it, and spent a lot of time there as a child. It's still one of my favorite places to spend the day in Marin, especially now that I have kids of my own. McNear's Beach is a 55-acre county park located on the shores of San Pablo Bay. It's the a perfect place to go on a warm day to wade in the bay, swim in the pool, picnic, fish, take in spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay Area, and more.

McNears Beach has been popular with Bay Area residents since the 19th century, when the McNear family owned most of the property in what eventually would become San Rafael's Peacock Gap neighborhood. The McNears operated a beach resort at the present location of the park, as well as a nearby quarry and brickyard.

Family Fun at Marin County Beaches

June 18, 2017

Marin County Beaches

My family loves to go to the beach, and there are plenty of places to do this in and around Marin. While many of the beaches along the Pacific Ocean are unsuitable for swimming, there are also many beaches that are ideal spots for swimming, wading, and splashing in the water, especially on warm summer (and also spring and fall) days. Here are some of our favorites. Click on the links for more info.

Russian River Fun at Johnson's Beach

June 12, 2017

Johnson's Beach Guerneville

When the temperature rises, it's fun to head to a local beach and cool off. Bay Area residents have been doing this for nearly 100 years Johnson's Beach, a laid-back, family-friendly summertime getaway on the banks of the Russian River in Guerneville. There's nothing quite like lounging in an inner tube on the river on a warm summer day with redwoods towering overhead!

Seven Sensational Summer Hikes for Families in Marin

June 4, 2017

Samuel P. Taylor

When it's summer and school's out, there's no better time to experience the outdoors in Marin County. Gather up the kids, lace up those hiking boots, fill your water bottles (very important in the summer heat!), slather on the sunscreen, and hit the trail.

All of these hikes are easy enough for everyone in the family to tackle, and many are manageable with a sturdy jogging-style stroller. We've included our favorite summer hikes from all parts of Marin.

Follow the links in the titles to read more about each hike. You can also visit our Outdoors page for more ideas for family hikes and outdoor adventures this summer.

Samuel P. Taylor State Park

Shaded by redwoods and nestled alongside a peaceful creek, this state park in West Marin is an ideal place for a hike and picnic when the weather's hot. It's also one of Marin's premiere camping spots, and has something to offer for everyone.

Picnics, Nature and Play at Stafford Lake Park

May 30, 2017

Stafford Lake

Stafford Lake, the reservoir that provides the town of Novato with much of its drinking water, is also the site of one of Marin's favorite outdoor recreation spots: Stafford Lake County Park. There are so many activities to do at this 139-acre park, and I'm surprised my family and I don't come here more often, especially since it's literally just around the corner from our house. If you haven't been there, you've certainly passed it on Novato Boulevard on your way out to the Cheese Factory or Point Reyes. With an upgraded play area, picnic spots, fishing, and an awesome bike park for all ages, you owe it to yourself to stop by and see what Stafford Lake has to offer!

Live Reptile Birthday Parties at Marin Treks

May 29, 2017

Marin Treks Birthday Parties

Have you been to the Marin Treks Natural History Museum yet? It's a great place to take the kids to learn about nature and the environment and to have some hands-on fun with their collection of live animals. Did you know they also offer awesome birthday parties, too?

Let Marin Treks make your child's next birthday party a day to remember! You can hold your party at their museum in Novato, or outdoors in your backyard or in a local park. Marin Treks' exciting hands-on birthday adventures allow the birthday girl or boy and their guests to hold and learn fun facts about the museum's amazing collection of live reptiles. Discuss where they live, what they eat, how they avoid predators, and a whole lot more. The children are encouraged to ask as many questions as they can and then try to answer their own questions by carefully observing the animals, just like real scientists.

"Disney's Beauty and the Beast" Brings Charm and Fun to the 2017 Mountain Play

May 24, 2017

Mountain Play Beauty and the Beast

This year's Mountain Play—the 104th, to be exact—is Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and we had a chance to see it on its opening day last Sunday. This family-friendly production of the Broadway musical has loads of charm and energetic fun and is a must-see live theater experience this spring!

Adapted from the animated feature of the same name, this classic fairy tale features features memorable songs by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, and Tim Rice and of course plenty of Disney fun. Beauty and the Beast is directed by Jay Manley (who also directed West Side Story on Mt. Tam last season), musical direction is by David Möschler leading a live 18-piece orchestra, and choreography is by Nicole Helfer.

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