Soon it will be time again for the Marin County Fair at the County Fairgrounds in San Rafael, near the Marin Civic Center. This year's Marin County Fair theme is "Schools Rule", celebrating all things education and Marin's public schools.
In keeping with this year's theme, the 68th Marin County Fair features Marinovators, a 6,000-square-foot exhibit that showcases Marin's award-winning schools and features interactive learning spaces and a Maker Shed with hands-on maker projects, 3D printing, video games, and more.
Of course there are also the more traditional fair offerings like farm animal exhibits and demonstrations and Hambone Express pig racing in the barnyard, free (with fair admission) rides and carnival games—including the 10-story Giant Wheel and the PG&E solar-powered carousel, appearances by the ever-popular Imperial Storm Troopers of the 501st Legion Golden Gate Garrison (from noon–7 pm daily at the Marin Galactic Outpost in the Exhibit Hall), concerts, short films and videos, over 12,000 exhibits, and the Fair's biggest and most elaborate fireworks display ever, presented nightly over the lagoon at 9:30 pm.
If you've never ventured out to McInnis Park, in the northern part of San Rafael, it's really worth checking out this summer. McInnis Park, formally known as John F. McInnis Park, is 450-acre regional park, and a one-stop destination for all kinds of active family fun, from golf and baseball to hiking and skateboarding.
If you haven't been you really should pay it a visit. Here are some of the things that keep us coming back every summer (and at other times of the year, too).
Golf at McInnis Park
McInnis Park is home to McInnis Park Golf Center, with a nine-hole golf course and driving range, as well as Marin County's only miniature golf course. While many are there to play nine holes or hit a bucket of balls at the course and driving range (with its attendant pro shop and clubhouse), we love the beautiful, 18-hole, artist-designed mini golf course, with it's whimsical sculptures and beautiful flowers.
You can grab an Icee or a hot dog after your game at the Patio Cafe near the mini golf course entrance. This is a great place to hold a birthday party, too.
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.
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).
We can't think of any family that isn't a fan of Pixar movies, and we especially love the fact that they're made here right in the Bay Area. On June 9, you and your family can experience unforgettable moments from 13 of your favorite Disney/Pixar films in an all new way—accompanied live by our own Marin Symphony!
The first-ever concert of its kind in the North Bay, Pixar in Concert will feature the symphony, led by Maestro Alasdair Neale, in musical selections from Brave, Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Cars, Up, Monsters Inc. Wall-e, Ratatouille, and more. It's a great way to introduce kids to the magic of the orchestra and live music, and a fun way to celebrate the Marin Symphony's 60th season.
Pixar in Concert takes place on Sunday, June 9, at 3 pm at Marin Center's Veterans' Memorial Auditorium. Tickets are on sale now (and are apparently going fast!) and range in price from $20 to $75. You can order yours online, by calling (415) 473-6800, or in person at the Marin Center Box Office (Monday–Friday, 11 am–5 pm, and Saturday, 11 am–3 pm). Marin Center is located at 10 Avenue of the Flags in San Rafael, near the Marin Civic Center.
Parents Place in San Rafael has been a valuable resource for countless Marin County parents and families. This spring, they offer a wide variety of programs, from yoga for little ones and music time to workshops for new moms and dads and parents of spirited children. Here are a few of their offerings this season:
Yoga for Children (2 ½–5 years)
Yoga for the little ones! This ongoing series includes a playful interpretation of classical yoga poses, with songs, stories, movement, and quiet breath awareness practices for 2 ½- to 5-year-olds. Parent participation is optional, but supervision is required. This series gives kids an introduction to yoga that is both fun and educational and helps build concentration and mindfulness in preschool-aged children. Please bring a mat. With Juliana Birnbaum Fox, MA. Fridays, May 3 - 17, 11:00 - 11:45 am. $42 per child for three weeks; $21 for each sibling. Register here.
For Dads Only - Effective Fathering (all ages)
During this workshop, parent educator and coach Tom Limbert, MA will use his new book,Dad's Playbook: Wisdom for Fathers from the Greatest Coaches of All Times, as a framework for tackling the issues facing today's fathers. Tom will reveal how a father can walk the fine lines of discipline, respect, and support. You will discuss the values of listening, leading by example, staying in the moment, setting clear limits, and motivating your children. (Signed copies of Tom's book will also be available at a discount to attendees). Mon., May 6, 7:00 - 9:00 pm. Register here.
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.
This Saturday, April 20, put your imagination in gear and come to Oak View Nursery School first ever Touch a Truck event! At Touch a Truck, kids (and grownups, too) will get a chance to get behind the wheel of some amazing vehicles and rub elbows with their hometown heroes.
Come and explore your favorite vehicles including fire trucks, dump trucks, buses, tow trucks, race cars, and even Coast Guard drones. It will definitely be a day to remember!
Touch a Truck takes place from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm. Admission is $5 per person, and kids under 1 are free. The first 100 kids to attend will get a free goodie bag. All proceeds from this event will fund special programing for Oak View Nursery School students.
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.