The downtown Novato Farmers Market celebrates its opening day today, May 7, from 4–8 pm on Grant Avenue. Come check out an abundance of fresh produce from local farms, pony rides, bounce houses, live music, and fresh prepared foods from local vendors.
Bring the family for an afternoon of fun on Grant Avenue. Each year the Novato Farmers Market grows and improves, and boasts an impressive array of some of the Bay Area’s finest food purveyors, farmers, and ranchers.
The Novato Farmers Market takes place every Tuesday from May through September. For more info, visit their website.
This spring and summer, the Indian Valley Organic Farm and Garden on the grounds of College of Marin's Indian Valley Campus is a great place to get organic fruits and veggies. A project of College of Marin, Conservation Corps North Bay, and the UC Cooperative Extension, this 5.8-acre certified organic education farm and garden is open to the public for produce shopping on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 am to 3 pm.
Bring your own bags and browse the farm stand for a wide variety of seasonal produce grown right there on-site. Right now, you can get artichokes, beets, radishes, chard, kale, leeks, and more. They also sell plants like poppies and other flowers, fruit trees, and several kinds of strawberry plants.
The Indian Valley Organic Farm and Garden is located on the Indian Valley Campus at 1800 Ignacio Boulevard. To get there, take Highway 101 to the Ignacio/Bel Marin Keys Boulevard exit and head west on Ignacio Boulevard. Follow Ignacio Boulevard all the way to the end of the road near the campus police station. There's a $3 parking fee during the week. The farm is a short walk from the parking area near the baseball fields.
Do you have a budding Shakespeare, J.K. Rowling, or John Grisham at home? If your child or teen loves to write, check out these fun summer writing workshops.
Through interactive games and activities, young writers learn to wow readers with exciting scenes, compelling dialogue, and active language that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Then, they write original short stories that are published in a professional-style class anthology.
Whatever your young writer’s level, these workshops will help ramp up their skills so they can impress their teachers in the fall. In the end, they’re proud of the published book they can show off to family and friends. This camp is run by Brenda Zahn, a professional writer/journalist with 20 years of experience.
Workshops are for kids ages 8 and up (and teens, too!), and are held at Northbay ArtWorks in Novato. The cost is $110 per session. Two sessions are offered: June 24–27 and July 22–25. Sessions take place Monday–Thursday from 10 am–noon. For more information or to register, contact Brenda Zahn at firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 893-0426 or visit the Young Writer's Workshop Facebook page.
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).
While not as iconic, renowned, or tall as southern Marin's Mount Tamalpais, Novato's Mount Burdell offers its own kind of charm and appeal for families looking for an easy outdoor outing. Mount Burdell Open Space preserve boasts plenty of wide fire roads and trails that are perfect for a hike with small children. Those after more challenging treks can head uphill and look for the seasonal Hidden Lake, hike to the top of the 1,558-foot peak for amazing views of the San Francisco Bay Area, and even drop down into neighboring Olompali State Park.
On our most recent Mount Burdell outing, we chose to stick to the relatively flat San Andreas and Big Tank Fire Roads and Michako Trail, all of which cross the sweeping grasslands that cover the lower slopes of the mountain. Due to our extended rainy season this year, there are still plenty of wildfowers and green grass on Mount Burdell. Keep an eye open for birds of all sorts, including red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, and wild turkeys, as well as a variety of colorful butterflies. We even came across a pond of sorts—formed from part of a burbling stream—that was teeming with water bugs and tadpoles.
The fire roads and intersecting trails make for a good assortment of loop hikes that are suitable for a family with smaller kids who aren't going to be up for climbing up onto the mountain. These trails are popular with hikers, mountain bikers, and dog walkers. Keep in mind that the Marin County Open Space District (MCOSD) allows off-leash dogs on fire roads.
Moylan's Brewery and Restaurant has the distinction of being Novato's first (and to my knowledge only) brewpub. Operated by the same people who run Marin Brewing Company in Larkspur, Moylan's offers pub grub fare with some traditional Irish favorites thrown in, and a nice selection of good house-brewed beers to go along with it. Couple that with a reasonably priced kids' menu, and it's no wonder this is a destination for north Marin families.
Located in a distinctive building across from the Rowland Plaza Cinemas, Moylan's is an ideal place to grab a bite before or after the movies. The main dining room is a cavernous affair that can get noisy when it's busy, but that's not a big issue when you've got kids in tow, right? There's a long bar overlooking the brewing area, with several TV screens showing various sports games.
The kids were given the usual coloring menus and crayons. An added twist is that they could turn in their coloring sheets after dinner in exchange for a prize from the basket by the front entrance.
One of childhood's time-honored rituals is heading down to a local pond and feeding leftover bread to the ducks. Not only is it fun for small children, but it helps get ride of that leftover bread in your pantry, too. Feeding the ducks is something my kids always loved to do, and even still enjoy, and there are a few great places in and around Marin County where hungry ducks are plentiful.
Of course feeding the ducks isn't without its risks—pesky and aggressive gulls and Canada geese often try to elbow their way into the action, and they're pretty much ubiquitous in the Bay Area these days. We always try to make sure the ducks get their fair share and try to find a way to outwit the avian interlopers!
The Marin Civic Center
The Marin Civic Center in San Rafael is home to a large pond that's home to numerous waterfowl. There's also a new playground, nice paved walking paths, lawns, picnic tables, and even an island. It's fun to go feed the ducks after an outing to the nearby farmers market on Thursdays and Sundays.
Looking for a preschool and daycare for your child in Novato? Noah's Ark Preschool and Daycare is holding an open house tonight, Tuesday, February 5, at 5:30 pm. Teacher introductions and a general information session will be followed by an interactive tour of the school's classrooms.
The Marin Christian Academy's Kindergarten teacher will also be on hand to answer questions about Kindergarten readiness and give a tour of her classroom. The Marin Christian Academy offers a fully accredited K–8 program at its campus in Novato.
Noah's Ark Preschool is for children ages 2 to 5, and also offers a transitional Kindergarten program. They're located in Novato at 1370 South Novato Boulevard. For more information, call (415) 892-5713 or visit www.visitmca.org.
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!