Living in the Bay Area, it's unlikely that we're going to get a white Christmas, or much snow at any time during the winter for that matter. Fortunately, Lake Tahoe, the Sierra Nevada mountains, and all the snow play fun you could possibly want are just a few hours away.
Our favorite mountain destination is Northstar California Resort near Truckee, but there are numerous ski resorts and snow play areas around Lake Tahoe to suit anyone's taste and budget.
Here's our guide to places to ski, snowboard, tube, sled, and play in the snow around Tahoe. We're tried to focus on spots that offer not only skiing and snowboarding, but tubing, snow play, and other winter activities, as well. If we've omitted your favorite, please let us know!
Due to this season's early snowfall, many resorts and ski areas are already open, especially larger operations like Northstar and Heavenly that make their own snow. Most others are tentatively scheduled to open by mid to late December. Make sure you check before you go, as opening dates are dependent on snowfall and weather; we've included website links and phone numbers.
The new Marin on Ice holiday ice skating rink opened at San Rafael's Northgate Mall this weekend, and we had a chance to stop by and check it out. The rink was bustling on Saturday afternoon with plenty of kids and families taking a spin on the ice. My kids had a blast skating in the sunshine—no coats needed, even!
Pay admission at the booth, and get your wristband. Skating is $15 per person, and includes rental of hockey-style skates (which are really easy to put on and take off). Your admission entitles you to skate all day, not just for a 90-minute or one-hour session like at other area skating rinks.
For beginners and kids who are unsteady on the ice (like mine), Marin on Ice offers "skate buddies", blue plastic walker-like supports that help wobbly skaters balance and keep them from falling on the ice. While they have quite a few available, there aren't enough to meet the demand, so you'll have to keep an eye out for a free one if they're all in use.
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. In the past you had to go elsewhere in the Bay Area to skate, but this season Marin on Ice brings outdoor ice skating to Northgate in San Rafael this holiday season. Here's our list of places in the Bay Area where you can hit the ice this holiday season.
Marin on Ice
The new Marin on Ice outdoor skating rink in San Rafael's Northgate Mall offers al fresco skating from November 10 through January 13. Marin's only holiday ice skating rink features 5,000 square feet of real ice and will be open daily for outdoor skating. Special sessions at Marin on Ice include Wednesday "Mommy and Me" skating time geared toward young children and their parents, "Family Night" on Tuesday, and "Rock the Rink" on Friday evenings.
Skating is $15 per person, which includes skate rental. Private ice cabanas will also be available for rental, and "Skate Buddies" will be on hand to assist beginners. Skating hours are noon–10 pm on weekends and holidays and 2–10 pm on weekdays. 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.
Are your little swashbucklers interested in the sport of fencing? Are you, for that matter? Then stop by Marin Fencing Academy's Family Fencing Day this Sunday, October 21, from 1 to 3 pm.
Learn about the history of fencing, the health benefits, packages for companies and school groups, and other benefits of the sport. There will be a demonstration of electric foil and épée by Marin Fencing Academy students, both adults and children, and refreshments will be provided. All attendees will be eligible to win a free month of fencing classes and one private lesson, too!
The annual Esurance Tennis Classic at Mill Valley's Harbor Point Tennis Club is a great event for all tennis lovers big or small. This year the Esurance Tennis Classic will host legendary tennis players including Lindsay Davenport, Bryan Brothers, Gigi Fernandez, Murphy Jensen, and others.
This fundraiser takes place this Friday–Sunday, September 21–23, and and raises funds for a variety of charitable causes, including the To Celebrate Life Breast Cancer Foundation and the Youth Tennis Advantage. Tickets are $35 per day or $50 for both days for adults, and $20 per day for juniors under 18.
On Friday, September 23 from 3–4:30 pm the Esurance Tennis Classic presents Kids' Day, where inner-city youth play with tennis legends; the public is welcome to watch from the stands. The gates open at 9 am on Saturday and 10 am on Sunday. Don't miss the World Cup Team Challenge: USA vs. the World on both days from 12:30–4:30 pm, and the tennis village and food court offering refreshments, product booths, and fun on Saturday and Sunday from 10 am–5 pm.
Marin Mommies presents a guest article by Anne Mannes, FOCAS Program Director in Fairfax. She highlights some of the classes and events happening through FOCAS this fall.
As the new program director for Fairfax Open Circle Arts and Sports (FOCAS), I am often asked what the history is behind the program and what type of classes we offer. FOCAS is a program that was developed over a decade ago by an artist-in-residence in response the need to have more recreational services in the community. Over the years it has fluctuated from offering some dance, drumming, and playgroup classes via the Town of San Anselmo’s recreation department to its current incarnation of offering its own Town of Fairfax seasonal field guide that provides birthday party rentals and a broad variety of classes for preschoolers to adults, including an increasingly popular camp for school-aged youth during the summer.
Since the MOU change with the Town of San Anselmo in 2011, FOCAS has appreciated the ability to improve local youth and family offerings, enhance utilization of our buildings and increase revenue for the Town of Fairfax. With the help of the Measure I / Youth Fund we are able to establish high quality and affordable programs for the community.
As we transition into the fall season, it is with excitement that I bring you this season’s field guide. We have some terrific classes and events for all ages. A sneak preview of the highlights below (catalogue available in mid-September):
It's still summer vacation for a couple more weeks, so get in your summer activities while you can. Almost everyone loves going to the pool, and one of our favorite Marin public pools is the one in Novato's Hamilton neighborhood.
My kids love Hamilton Pool especially for the shallow kids' pool with its play stucture, water slide, and water sprayers. It's a blast for kids of all ages. There's also a larger more traditional pool for more serious swimming and water play. The remodeled and renovated Hamilton Pool opened in spring of 2010 after a long construction process. We used to go to the old pool, which was left over from the old air force base and dated from the 1930s. The new pool and the surrounding facilities are a real improvement on the somewhat dilapidated old ones. The whole area is clean, modern, well kept up, and definitely worth a visit.
I'd driven by McInnis Park off Smith Ranch Road in San Rafael many times before I realized that—hidden amongst the driving range, nine-hole golf course, clubhouse, and batting cages—there was a miniature golf course there too (it was the a little windmill and castle on the hill that tipped me off). Since then, it's been a favorite place for us to go with the kids for a fun day out.
McInnis Park's miniature golf course is a colorful, 18-hole, artist-designed course with fanciful features including an elephant with moving feet, a snail, a castle, a lighthouse, a waterfall, and a much more. The tiered, lushly landscaped course winds its way up a hill as you play and the views from the top are spectacular.
Marin Mommies presents an article by guest contributor Barbara McVeigh.
Kids like to climb and clamber over rocks—that’s no big secret. But, "bouldering" is a sport not many kids and families have discovered… and I’m not talking about climbing at groomed indoor gyms.
Ring Mountain in Corte Madera, one of Marin’s precious nature reserves, offers the real deal—an opportunity to scale a 165-million-year-old metaphormic rock that once had been bubbling magma in a deep ocean floor somewhere near Mexico. One of the most popular rocks to climb is called Split Rock.
A group of kids last week donned harnesses and got to experience bouldering with Outback Adventures, a shop located in Larkspur that offers support, equipment and guides. Greg and Jeremy were our guides for they day. And, with their gentle, patient and safety-oriented approach they got the kids climbing high up past comfort zones into new realms of confidence. As a mom it was a delight to see kids conquer fears and then embrace that quiet, peaceful space that can be a challenge to find in our noisy lives.