Outdoor Activities

Hiking, nature walks, beaches, and more.

Outdoor Family Fun at Marin's China Camp State Park

July 28, 2016

China Camp State Park San Rafael One of Marin's underrated treasures is China Camp State Park, located east of San Rafael. It's not as famous or flashy as other local outdoors spots like Mt. Tam, Muir Woods, or Point Reyes, but it has a charm all its own and offers plenty for families to do and see.

Situated on the shores of San Pablo Bay, China Camp State Park offers stunning views, plenty of hiking and mountain biking trails, walk-in camp sites, picnic areas, beaches, and a historic 19th-century Chinese fishing village. Topography ranges from oak woodland to grassland to salt marsh, with even some redwoods thrown in for good measure.

Explore Nature and Science with Half Acre Woods

July 20, 2016

Half Acre WoodsMarin Mommies presents a sponsored article from Half Acre Woods, a new outdoor enrichment class for kids ages 2 to 7 in Marin.

Bugs, birds, seeds, and science make up the wonderful world of Half Acre Woods! We are a new outdoor enrichment class designed to engage kids, from the ages of two through seven, in the skills and practice of science. Exploring the world with our senses we smell bay leaves and mint, listen to the crackling of madrone bark, watch for woodpeckers and fence lizards, and touch anything we can get our hands on! (Except for poison oak that is.) Based on the new Next Generation Science Standards that California adopted in 2013, we strive to provide a strong basis for success with science in the classroom while enjoying all the benefits of outdoor education.

The majority of our day is spent observing natural phenomena, like quail families scurrying along in a line, and discussing our findings as we explore. Our approach focuses on the fundamentals of observation, evidence based argument, and construction of explanations. Our dedication to science practice and skills is steeped in a deep understanding and appreciation for positive social emotional development. As we explore we discover opportunities to practice sharing, volunteering, and considerate communication as well as working to build an understanding of the connections between our feelings, our actions, and the natural world.

Movie Night on Angel Island!

July 18, 2016

Angel Island Movie Night PosterPack a picnic, gather up the kids, and spend a summer weekend night watching a family friendly movie at Angel Island State Park! You don’t want to miss this one-of-a-kind event, which takes place on Saturday, July 23, from 5 to 10:30 pm. Come enjoy the animated movie Madagascar under the stars, have a picnic dinner, and create some fabulous memories with friends and family at this unique experience on Angel Island.

Movie Night is a fundraiser sponsored by Angel Island Conservancy to benefit Angel Island State Park, including a scholarship programs and other park improvements. All proceeds benefit the Angel Island Conservancy. Tickets cost $30 per person for adults and $15 for children 12 and under, and include the ferry ride to Angel Island from Tiburon. VIP tables for up to six guests that include ferry passage, two bottles of wine, and a picnic dinner are available for $500 each. Order your tickets online here.

Hiking with Kids in Marin: Samuel P. Taylor State Park

July 10, 2016

Samuel P. Taylor State Park

Samuel P. Taylor State Park, located off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard just outside of the small San Geronimo Valley town of Lagunitas, is a favorite spot for outdoor recreation for Marin County families. Situated among towering redwoods, rushing creeks, and oak woodlands, the park really has something to offer for everyone. Samuel P. Taylor State Park boasts numerous family friendly trails, and some of the best and most accessible are located right near the park headquarters and main picnic areas.

The park is named after Samuel Penfield Taylor, who came to California during the 1849 Gold Rush, and went on to found the West Coast's first paper mill on the park site in 1856. The land that is now the park later—after the arrival of the railroad—played host to Camp Taylor, a popular resort that offered camping, a hotel, dancing, swimming, boating, and more to guests from the 1870s to the early 20th century.

Find the Most Effective Sunscreens with EWG's 2016 Sunscreen Guide

June 7, 2016

Fun in the sun at the beachSummer is almost here, and that means you and your family will spend a lot of time outside—at the beach, by the pool, playing sports, or enjoying the outdoors. It goes without saying that your family needs adequate sun protection. While the only sure-fire way for you and your family to avoid all the sun's damaging UV rays is by covering up with shirts and hats and hanging out in the shade, that may not always be an option, so we need to resort to using sunscreen. What would summer be, after all, without the ritual of slathering up the children with gobs of UV-blocking goo?

While many sunscreens promise a lot to the consumer (especially those with sky-high SPF 50+ ratings), do they really deliver the protection the advertise? Fortunately, the Environmental Working Group's 2016 Sunscreen Guide is available to help sort the good sunscreens from those that won't help much.

"West Side Story" Brings Energy and Excitement to the 2016 Mountain Play

May 28, 2016

Mountain Play West Side Story 2016

It's always amazing to see how the Mountain Play transforms Mt. Tam's Cushing Memorial Amphitheater. Last year it was Neverland and Captain Hook's pirate ship, and this season it's the inner-city New York neighborhood setting of West Side Story. We got a chance to see the Mountain Play's production of this Broadway classic on its opening day, and as usual, it was a fantastic outdoor theater experience! My 10-year-old daughter and I really felt like we were transported to a different place and era.

With plenty of classic songs like "Maria", "America", and "I Feel Pretty" and spectacular dancing choreographed by Nicole Helfer and based on the Jerome Robbins' original work, West Side Story is exhilarating and full of energy. It's based on Romeo and Juliet, so don't expect a happy ending, though. West Side Story is directed by Jay Manley (who also directed The Sound of Music on Mt. Tam in 2013), and Leonard Bernstein's score is performed by David Möschler leading a live 18-piece orchestra.

Insider's Guide to the 2016 Mountain Play: West Side Story

May 13, 2016

Mountain Play West Side Story 2016

One of Marin County's most beloved and unique events is the famous Mountain Play—an outdoor theatre experience high on the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais that's been going strong for over a century! This year's 103rd Mountain Play production is the Tony award winning musical West Side Story. Based on Shakespeare's play about two star-crossed young lovers, Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story features unforgettable songs by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, and was made famous by its Oscar-winning 1961 film version. It all makes for fantastic family entertainment in the spectacular setting of Mt. Tam!

Featuring athletic choreography and one of the most beautiful scores in musical theatre history, West Side Story is directed by Jay Manley and stars Mindy Lym as Maria, Jerry Lee as Tony, Erica Lamkin as Anita, David Crane as Bernardo, and Zachary Isen as Riff. Musical direction is by David Möschler and choreography by Nicole Helfer.

Head to Sonoma Valley for Wine Country Family Fun

April 12, 2016

Sonoma Plaza and Town Hall

Living in Marin, we're lucky to have Sonoma Valley and its world-famous Wine Country as a next-door neighbor. While many think of Sonoma Valley as a destination for wine tasting, spas, and other grown-up activities, it's also one of our favorite local places to go for family fun. There's so much for families to do here, from visiting historic sites to riding trains at Sonoma TrainTown that a single day trip doesn't do it justice.

To get your Sonoma day trip planning off to a great start, here are 10 of our favorite things to do in the Wine Country.

Have a Picnic and Play on the Sonoma Plaza

The historic Plaza is the very heart of the town of Sonoma, and it's the perfect place to spend a relaxing day in the shade. Pack lunch and bottle of wine, snag a picnic table, and hang out all day while the kids feed the ducks and put the playground through its paces. Buy your picnic supplies at local institutions like the Sonoma Cheese Factory and Basque Boulangerie, both located right across from the Plaza. Read more about it here.

Family Snow Sports Adventure at Tahoe Donner

March 28, 2016

Tahoe Donner Cross Country

While spring seems to be here in full force, there's still plenty of snow this season up in the mountains. In fact, they're expected to get another dusting of snow up in the Lake Tahoe area today. This means that there's still time to pack up the family and head to the Sierra for some fun in the snow. We recently visited the new Alder Creek Adventure Center at Tahoe Donner and had a blast trying out the wide variety of snow sports activities available there. It's an amazing destination for some active family adventures!

The spectacular new Alder Creek Adventure Center opened back in November, and serves as the headquarters for cross country skiing at Tahoe Donner. There you'll find over 100 kilometers of groomed cross country ski trails, a lovely lodge building with a lounge, restaurant, locker rooms, shop, rental center, and patio, and the opportunity to try out some other fun snow sports besides cross country skiing. It's a beautiful location and a great place to try out some snow sports activities away from the fast pace of Tahoe's downhill ski resorts.

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