Summer Activities

Free Outdoor Family Movies in Marin and the Bay Area

June 19, 2017

Film Night in the Park Marin County Summer

Summer means its time for free outdoor movies in Marin and the Bay Area, so grab your blankets and pillows, pack the picnic basket, and get ready to enjoy some family flicks al fresco. Here's our guide to free outdoor movies this summer and fall in Marin, San Francisco, and Sonoma County.

Most movies begin at dusk or around 8 pm; check the organizer's website for exact time and location. Some feature food trucks and even wine pairings. Popcorn is often offered for free!

In addition, the North Bay Mobile Drive-In screens movies on the side of the Old Hamilton Theater building in Novato; join their Meetup page to get notified about upcoming screenings.

June

The Family Friendly Summer Nights Outdoor Music Festival Returns to the Osher Marin JCC

June 15, 2017

Summer Nights at the Marin JCC

This summer, the Osher Marin JCC reprises its most popular event series: the Summer Nights Outdoor Music Festival. Bring your picnic, blanket, low-backed lawn chairs, and dancing shoes—there's fun for the whole family! Concerts take place on Saturday evenings from July 8 through August 5, 2017 at 7 pm. Dinners from a variety of local pop-up restaurants will be available for purchase, along with beer, wine, non-alcoholic drinks, and snacks.

Summer Challenge for Kids and Teens at the Marin County Library!

June 10, 2017

Kids Summer Challenge Marin Library 

It's hard to believe that it's already the end of the school years. You can keep the learning—and fun—alive this summer by participating in the Marin County Free Library's 2017 summer learning program. To participate in the Kids Summer Learning Challenge, all you have to do is visit your local branch of the Marin County Free Library, pick up a summer reading folder, and start reading.

Young readers will earn a Book Buck for each 100 minutes that they read or are read to. Book Bucks can then be redeemed for a variety of prizes, and kids who complete the Learning Challenge will get a Gold Medal Reader button. Participants can also donate their Book Bucks to the library's Giving Program; this year the Friends of the Library will donate a dollar to Marin Foster Care Association for every Book Buck donated.

Teens can participate in the 2017 Teen Summer Challenge, where they can earn scratcher tickets by checking out books, writing book reviews, and attending teen events a the library. More visits to the library mean more chances to win!

Water Parks in the San Francisco Bay Area

June 6, 2017

Water World in Concord

It seems like one of the summer rites of passage is piling into the car and heading to a water park, preferably one with thrilling water slides, for a day of fun in the sun. If you grew up in Marin or the North Bay surely you spent a summer afternoon or two at the long-gone Windsor Water Works north of Santa Rosa.

Lights, Camera, Fair! at the 2016 Sonoma County Fair

July 18, 2016

Sonoma County Fair carnival

In case you missed or just didn't get enough of the Marin County Fair, you'll be happy to know that the 2016 Sonoma County Fair starts Friday, July 22 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, and runs through Sunday, August 7. It's worth checking out if you've never been: it's bigger and a lot different than Marin's smaller, more intimate fair, and has more of an agricultural focus, which is natural for a more rural county like Sonoma. The Sonoma County Fair also features the largest themed flower show in the country, which is usually pretty stunning—this year's theme is "Sonoma Cinema".

The fair includes a kids' area with free age-appropriate entertainment and activities with the theme "Let's Put on a Show!" Young fairgoers can take part in a show three times a day, which might feature pirates, clowns, astronauts, or even dinosaurs. There’s plenty of lawn and shade as well as a parents rest station with changing tables and chairs for nursing. The Kids Area is open from 11 am to 8 pm, with activities and entertainment from noon to 6:30 pm.

Wine Country Family Fun at Cornerstone Sonoma

July 16, 2016

Cornerstone Sonoma

One of our must-visit Wine Country family destinations is Cornerstone Sonoma. It's a fun, family-friendly place where you can explore, play, and take in the beauty of their six acres of gardens and art installations. Of course this being Sonoma you can shop, dine, and wine taste here, too. We always make a point of visiting whenever we head up to the Wine Country. It's constantly changing, and there's always something new to see. Best of all, admission to the gardens is free!

You'll find Cornerstone just outside the town of Sonoma, across from the Gloria Ferrer winery on Highway 121, so it's easy to get to. Look for the long white picket fence and Big Blue Chair on your right as you head towards Sonoma, and you'll know you're there.

Kids' Summer Movie Clubhouse in Marin

June 11, 2016

This summer, Cinemark's Summer Movie Clubhouse offers fun weekly summer movies for kids at the bargain price of only $1 per show or 10 movies for only $5! 10-show discount punch cards are limited in quantity and must be purchased in advance at the theater box office or online at cinemark.com.

All films are rated G or PG. For more info, visit their website. (Make sure you download the Summer Movie Clubhouse flyer for a $1-off coupon for a kids' Movie Snack Pack at the concession stand.)

Strawberry Yogurt Sorbet Is a Healthy and Sweet Summer Treat

June 20, 2015

strawberry yogurt sorbet cone Who doesn't love a sweet, refreshing, frozen treat during the summertime? Make it a little more healthy with sweet fresh strawberries and tangy Greek yogurt. You don't even need an ice cream maker to make this dessert.

It's fantastic scooped into a cone or frozen into ice pop molds—whatever tickles your fancy this summer. My kids and I made this sorbet with fresh strawberries that we picked up at the farmers market.

While our recipe calls for strawberries, you can use whatever fresh berries you happen to have. Frozen berries work perfectly well, too, so you can make this at any time of year. You can also feel free to substitute low-fat yogurt, but do try to use extra thick Greek yogurt; it makes a difference.

Ingredients

Explore California History at the Gold Country's Columbia State Historic Park

July 25, 2014

One of our favorite destinations for a quick family getaway is California's Gold Country in the Sierra Foothills. It's a relatively short 3 hour drive from the Bay Area, and there are plenty of things for families to do. You can visit historic mining towns, pan for gold, explore caves, go wine tasting (for mom and dad, of course), take a ride on a 19th-century steam train, hike, fish, and more.

The highlight of our visits to the Gold Country always Columbia State Historic Park in the Tuolumne County town of Columbia. In fact, much of Columbia is the park itself. While most of the small Mother Lode towns along Highway 49 are filled with California history, Columbia takes this to an extreme—its downtown has been preserved to represent its mid 19th-century heyday, and in fact it's the best preserved Gold Rush town in California.

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