Come to the San Francisco Zoo this Memorial Day Weekend, May 25–27, to see the animals (including the Zoo's adorable baby Sumatran tiger who now has a name—Jillian). Then make sure you stick around for a Hullabuzoo!
What's a Hullabuzoo? It's what you get when you bring a performing circus group, an inflatable obstacle course, and a climbing wall challenge to the zoo! Bring the kids to the zoo's Pachyderm Building to blow off a little steam in the free inflatable playhouse, where they can climb, play, and shoot baskets. Then relax and re-energize with a picnic on the Patas Lawn as you watch a circus group perform.
Kids can also test their skills on the climbing wall ($3). Every time someone rings the bell at the top of the wall, the zoo will donate $1 to animal conservation programs!
McNear's 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.
McNear's 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.
McNear's Beach offers a variety of things to do for visitors of all ages. The beach itself is a somewhat rocky affair, with lots of broken shells and interesting stones to pick over. You can wade and splash in the shallow and gentle San Pablo Bay waters, but the biggest attraction is the swimming pool, which gets pretty busy on a hot day. In addition to the popular main pool, there's a toddler pool, too. The McNear's Beach pool opens to the public this Memorial Day weekend (May 25–27), and stays open through Labor Day.
Summer's almost here, and one of the season's time honored traditions for children is swimming lessons. Not only are swimming lessons a fun way to get some exercise and cool off on a hot summer day, but they're essential from a safety standpoint.
Below is our list of local Marin County providers of swimming lessons for children. Although many of the facilities listed are private clubs, unless otherwise indicated, all locations offer public lessons open to all. Most programs require pre-registration; follow the links or call to sign up or for more information. As always, if you have a favorite swim class or teacher that you think should be added to the list, let us know by leaving a comment or contacting us.
This June, Marin's own boys of summer return to downtown San Rafael's Albert Park for another season of professional minor league baseball! The 2013 San Rafael Pacifics season begins on Tuesday, June 11, and runs through August 25.
Albert Park's intimate setting is the perfect venue for old-fashioned, family-friendly, and affordable local baseball. We're so lucky to have this team here, and maybe they'll repeat their championship-winning 2012 season! General admission tickets are just $10, grandstand reserved and box seats are $20, and dugout seats are $25.
Kids 12 and under can join the Rookie Club, which offers a variety of benefits, including free admission to all Sunday home games and pre- and post-game activities like playing catch with the team during warm ups. Rookie Club membership costs $25 and includes a T-shirt, membership card, and discounts on team merchandise and Silbermann's ice cream (San Rafael's Silbermann's Ice Cream is the Rookie Club sponsor).
This summer, San Rafael's Country Club Bowl will be participating in Kids Bowl Free, a summer activity program where any child aged 18 and under can bowl two free games a day! There's no catch to Kids Bowl Free—all you do is register online, and you'll receive a weekly printable coupon that allows your children to bowl for free. Kids Bowl Free was created as a way to give back to the community and offer a safe, secure, and fun way for kids to spend time this summer.
Kids Bowl Free also helps local teachers with their classroom costs—elementary and middle school teachers can apply for grants to help offset the cost of classroom supplies. For more information, visit www.kidsbowlfree.com.
Kids Bowl Free times at Country Club Bowl are Monday and Tuesday from 11 am–7 pm, Wednesday–Friday 10 am–7 pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 11 am–1 pm, May 6–September 1. All participants must wear bowling shoes (bring your own or rent them at the bowling alley), and the family pass coupon is not good for daycare, business, or club outings, birthday parties, or league and tournament play.
Still looking for a fun camp for your kids this summer? Novato's Rolling Hills Club has been a favorite spot for summer fun for many Marin families for decades, and this season the club offers a full program of exciting and active summer camps for kids ranging in age from 3 to 13.
Nestled at the foot of Mt. Burdell, the club's seven-acre campus features two outdoor swimming pools, 12 tennis courts, two racquetball courts, an outdoor sports court, an outdoor playground, grassy fields for outdoor play, and more—making it the perfect place for the perfect summer experience.
Summer camps at Rolling Hills Club for 2013 include:
Sports & Splash Camp for ages 5–12, features fun weekly themes like "Magical Mayhem," "Super Heroes," and "Weird & Wacky Science." Campers will join teams and play basketball, tennis, soccer, and more—and of course swimming, in the form of free swim or group lessons, is offered every day, too. Weekly sessions run from June 17–August 16, Monday–Friday, 9 am–4 pm. Cost is $250 members/$300 guests per week, or $55/$65 per day for drop-in registrations. Extended care is available from 8:30–9 am ($3 per day) and 4–6 pm ($5 per day).
Many in Marin were excited last summer when the new San Rafael Pacifics minor league baseball team started its first season in Albert Park. They're back for 2013, and this year young sports fans can hold their birthday parties with the Pacifics at Kirby Cove in Albert Park!
Kirby Cove is perfect spot for children's birthdays, and can accommodate anywhere from 10 to 50 participants. Party guests will enjoy activities like Wiffle Ball games, ping pong, a basketball hoop, and more! Pacifics players and team mascot Sir Francis the Drake will also drop in and visit parties to say hello and sign autographs, too!
Game tickets, menu packages, and a variety of party add-on options are available. Albert Park is located near downtown San Rafael at Andersen Drive, Lindaro Street, and Albert Park Lane.
The San Rafael Pacifics minor league baseball team's opening game is on June 11. Check their game schedule here.
Remember those days at the roller skating rink back when you were a kid? The disco ball, the DJ, and doing that arm thing when they played YMCA by the Village People? (Am I dating myself here?) If you're nostalgic for the days of skating gone by, head up to Cal Skate in Rohnert Park, which hasn't changed all that much since I used to skate here when I was a kid.
We visited Cal Skate a few months ago, and had a blast—my daughter keeps asking me when we can go back. The kids loved the music, the lighting, and the disco ball, as well as skating, of course. They definitely picked roller skating up faster than ice skating, which they also love to do.
Lace up your skates—you can rent them or bring your own, if you have them—and hit the rink. Cal Skate offers special Kids' Skate sessions for families during the week, on Mondays and Thursdays from 9:30 to 11:30 am. These sessions for children ages 2 to 10 cost $6 and include instruction and quad skate rental, and parents can walk out onto the rink to lend a hand. They also offer a family night on Saturday evenigs from 6-8:30 pm and public skating during the week (times vary). Check out their weekly schdule here.
It's time to start thinking about signing up for a swim team this spring! Northern Marin families should check out the Stingrays swim team at the Rolling Hills Club in Novato.
The Rolling Hills Club Stingrays swim team has been dedicated to training young swimmers ages 4 to 18 in achieving all-around swimming success for over 25 years. The coaches promote good sportsmanship and team spirit in a recreational competitive environment with nine other Marin Swim League teams. The Stingrays swim team fosters fun, friendship, and fitness in a family and community focused program. Both my kids have been a part of Stingrays for the past few years, and they've had a blast!