Halloween & Fall Fun in Marin

Fall is here, and so is our guide to all things Halloween in Marin! Get the scoop on pumpkin patches, activities and events, craft and costume ideas, and more.

Get Ready for the Goblin Jamboree at the Bay Area Discovery Museum

September 19, 2017

Goblin Jamboree

Come get a jump on Halloween at the 31st annual Goblin Jamboree fundraiser at the Bay Area Discovery Museum! Bring your little goblins to this year’s spooky family event on Saturday and Sunday, October 21 and 22 from 10 am to 4 pm. This year’s theme is "Witches and Wizards" and they have put together a cauldron of spooky themed programs and activities to entertain your entire family.

Ride a train or real ponies, create your own wand and potions, make your way through a broom obstacle course and some hay mazes, play with glow-in-the-dark trains in the Bay Hall, explore the spooky sticker room, and and enjoy a full brew of games, activities and live entertainment. This year's event will feature live musical performances from the JimBo Trout, Juice and Jelly, and Beau Mathews. This event is the perfect Halloween party for kids ages 6 months to 10 years.

Marin and Sonoma Pumpkin Patches 2017

September 19, 2017

Fall is almost here, and for those seeking that true Halloween pumpkin patch experience, here's our annual guide to pumpkin patches in Marin and southern Sonoma counties. Most pumpkin patches open in late September or early October.

In Marin County, Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch offers a real on-the-farm experience and the Godmother's Pumpkin Patch at St. Vincent's is a local tradition and an exciting Halloween experience for families. For more real live farms offering pumpkin patches this season, head up north a short distance to rural Sonoma County, where you'll find them in relative abundance. We visited as many of these pumpkin patches as we could last year, and have posted links to our reviews of them below.

We've included dates and hours for pumpkin patches when available. Hours are correct as of the time of publishing, but it's still a good idea to check a pumpkin patch's website or give them a call before you go in case anything changes. As a rule, most pumpkin patches are open during the whole month of October, although a few open in late September. Pumpkin patches listed here are open through October 31 unless otherwise indicated.

Pumpkin Patches Further Afield

September 19, 2017

Pumpkin Patch

While there are plenty of awesome pumpkin patches to choose from in Marin and southern Sonoma counties (see our list of those here), you can find other great places to pick up pumpkins and other Halloween and autumn treats throughout the greater Bay Area. Maybe you're headed on a road trip to the south bay, or bound for the grandparents' house in Sacramento this October—there's probably a pumpkin patch on the way. Here are a few out-of-town pumpkin patches, in Solano, Contra Costa, and San Mateo counties, that we've visited at one time or another or had recommended to us.

Get Your Tickets Now for Pumpkins on Pikes at Tara Firma Farms

September 18, 2017

Pumpkins on Pikes at Tara Firma Farms In addition to producing healthy and sustainable local food, Petaluma's Tara Firma Farms also puts on fantastic family-friendly events throughout the year. This fall, their annual Pumpkins on Pikes event continues this tradition. Come on out to the farm for Halloween fun with pumpkin carving, live music, dancing, a corn maze, BBQ and more.

Pumpkins on Pikes takes place on Saturday, October 28, from 2 to 10 pm. Bring your pumpkin carving tools, blankets and coats to stay warm after dark, a sheet to cover hay bales for seating, and favorite treat for the dessert potluck. Free pumpkins for carving will be provided with admission. The carved pumpkins are placed on pikes out in the cornfield, and when the sun goes down, the pumpkins are lit. It's an amazing spectacle! A BBQ dinner will be available for purchase $10 a plate at the event.

Fall Family Fairs & Festivals in the Bay Area

August 21, 2017

Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin PatchFall is one of our favorite times of year, and there's so much family fun to be found in Marin and beyond. Find a family-friendly fall festival, fair or Oktoberfest to celebrate the season. We'll keep updating our list of events for Marin and beyond as we find more this fall. If you have an event you'd like to see added to the list, please contact us.

  • Blackie's Hay Day 2017
    Tiburon
    Saturday, September 23, 10 am–4 pm
    Blackie's Hay Day has become a community tradition that families look forward to every year. Designed for children of all ages, Blackie's Hay Day is reminiscent of an old fashioned country fair with pony rides, relay races, toy tractors, jumpies, a climbing wall, live entertainment and more. General Admission $10. Children under two are free. Event website.

Have a Pumpkin Patch Birthday Party this Fall!

August 21, 2017

Pumpkin Patch Party Nicasio Valley Farms

If your child has an October birthday, then why not have a pumpkin patch party? Marin's own certified organic pumpkin patch at Nicasio Valley Farms offers party packages during the month of October. It's a perfect way to celebrate a special fall birthday! October weather is usually fantastic, too, making an outdoor party even more fun. Make your reservation soon, as they book up quickly.

Birthday parties at Nicasio Valley Farms cost $12 per child and include a private party table, a hayride, hay mazes, a visit with farm animals, and a small goodie bag. Partygoers can also choose a small pumpkin from the Kids' Patch. If you book your party on a Sunday, you can also enjoy live kids' music from Marin's favorite family entertainer, Tim Cain, who performs on Sundays from 11 am to noon. Additional activities, including bounce houses, pony rides, a climbing wall, face painting, and more, are available for an additional fee.

Halloween Candy Corn Fruit Parfaits

October 28, 2016

candy corn fruit parfaits I love candy corn, that quintessential fall candy. Wouldn't it be great if it was actually good for you? My kids and I made these cute "candy-corn" style fruit parfaits, with layers of yellow pineapple, orange mandarin slices, and white whipped cream. They're perfect as a sweet but healthy treat for a Halloween party or autumn snack.

You can use either fresh or canned fruit. We tried making these with both fresh mandarins and canned mandarin oranges, and the kids like the sweeter and more tender canned version better. You can also substitute thick vanilla Greek yogurt for the whipped cream.

If you're making them for a Halloween party, assemble the fruit in advance in containers (we used 8-ounce mason jars) and refrigerate, then add the whipped cream or yogurt just before serving.

Ingredients

Makes one parfait

Our Top 10 Spooky Halloween Movies for Families

October 27, 2016

Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were RabbitHalloween is a few weeks away, and there's nothing much better than watching a spooky (but not too scary) movie with the family and sharing a big bowl of popcorn. I polled everyone in our family to find out what their favorite Halloween movies were, and we came up with this list of ten that we think are must-sees.

Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (G)

Wallace and Gromit, the ever-charming cheese-loving claymation duo, star in this clever sendup of monster movies, where something horrible ravages gardens and threatens a village's veggie-growing competition. Cute and clever with plenty of jokes (including a few that only grown-ups will get). Ages 3 and up.

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (G)

This Halloween classic has been family favorite since 1966, so you probably watched it when you were a kid. Charlie Brown still gets nothing but rocks while trick-or-treating, Linus is always positive that the Great Pumpkin will pay a visit to the pumpkin patch, and it's still funny and touching. For all ages.

Marin Family Weekend Fun for October 21, 22 & 23

October 21, 2016

Here are our picks for great events and activities for children and families this weekend. Find more events for the whole week in Marin and beyond in our Family Events Calendar.

Check out our list of Halloween pumpkin patches in Marin and Sonoma counties—see our list here.

Friday, October 21

  • The Amazing Maze
    Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
    Friday, 9 am–4 pm and Saturday–Sunday, 9 am– 5 pm

    Children experience the joys and surprises of black light in this glow-in-the-dark hay maze. In this special exhibit, children are challenged to navigate a 150-bale hay maze—complete with tunnels, netting, and a slide—all under black light! In addition to the winding maze, there is a glow-in-the-dark dress-up station with white clothes and accessories for kids to try on, as well as a fluorescent Shoot-A-Hoop game. Admisson applies. Location: 557 McReynolds Road, Fort Baker, Sausalito. For more info, visit their website.
  • Peter Pumpkin Patch
    Spring Hill Jersey Farm, Petaluma
    Friday–Sunday, 9 am–6 pm

    Pick your own organic pumpkin, dig for potatoes, take a tractor ride, visit farm animals, taste homemade ice cream and Spring Hill cheese, milk a cow, and get lost in the hay maze. Peter Pumpkin Patch also offers fresh fruits and vegetables and picnic baskets. Activities are free and so is the parking. This is a wonderful and fun pumpkin patch on a real working farm. Location: 4235 Spring Hill Road (off Bodega Ave.). For more info, call (707) 762-3446 or visit their website.
  • Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch
    Nicasio
    Friday–Sunday, 10 am–6 pm
    Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch offers a wide variety of certified organic pumpkins spread out in an expansive meadow on the farm. Kids activities: jumpy houses, inflatable slide, hay rides, pony rides, a petting zoo, farm animals to visit, a climbing wall, and face painting. Some of these attractions have an admission fee, and some are available only on weekends and select days. Shaded seating area with picnic tables, so you can relax and take in the scenery, listen to some great live music, and even eat lunch. If you arrive hungry, Big Jim's BBQ is on hand on weekends. Tim Cain performs on Sunday from 11 am to noon. Location: 5300 Nicasio Valley Road, Nicasio. Read our review here. For more info, visit their website.
  • Godmothers Pumpkin Patch
    St. Vincents, Marinwood
    Friday–Sunday, 10 am–5 pm

    This long-time favorite pumpkin patch at St. Vincent's near Marinwood offers a variety of pumpkins as well as attractions and activities like bounce houses, a hay pile, face painting, snack shack, and a picnic area. Groups welcome. Read our review of St. Vincent's Pumpkin Patch. For more info, visit their website.
  • Petaluma Pumpkin Patch
    550 Stony Point Road
    Friday & Saturday, 10 am–10 pm, Sunday, 10 am–6 pm
    Over 50 varieties of pumpkins, squash, and gourds, as well as a 4-acre Amazing Corn Maze (admission $6, 5 and under free; $9 on Friday and Saturday nights 6–10 pm), farm animals, a zip line, weekend pony rides, face painting, jumpy houses and inflatables, food vendors, covered snack area, and more. Some of these attractions have an admission fee. For more info, visit their website.
  • Friday Fun Days
    South Novato Library
    Friday, 3–4 pm

    Enjoy an afternoon of fun with the family at the South Novato Library. Whether it’s story, art, music or science, this drop-in program promises to be packed with fun! Location: 931 C St., Novato. For more info, visit their website.
  • Tam Valley Haunted House
    Tam Valley Community Center, Mill Valley
    Friday–Sunday, various times (see below)

    The theme for TCSD's annual Tam Valley Haunted House is "Aftershock"—after the Big One, anything can happen. The Haunted House has three different tours: 3:30–4:30 pm: Not Scary, for children under 8 with all the lights on and a fun tour of the different areas; 5-6:30 pm: Scary, for children over 9; closed 6:30–7:30 pm to feed the volunteer monsters then back open 7:30–9 pm for a truly horrifying experience. Cost: $6 per person. Location: 203 Marin Avenue, Mill Valley. For more info, visit their website.
  • Novato Horsemen Haunted House
    600 Bugeia Lane, Novato
    Friday & Saturday, 7–10 pm

    Bring the kids out for a night of scare and fun at the Novato Horseman Haunted House in Novato. Admission is $5 per person. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, October 22

  • 2016 Bioneers Conference & Family Fair
    Marin Center, San Rafael
    Saturday & Sunday, 8 am–6 pm

    The Bioneers Conference highlights breakthrough ideas for solving our most pressing ecological and social challenges. Come learn from some of the country’s top nature-inspired education masters and have fun exploring a wide array of experiential education activities. Free events on-site including the Family Fair (10 am–4 pm). For more info, visit their website.
  • Thomas and Percy's Halloween Party
    Roaring Camp Railroads, Felton
    Saturday & Sunday (various times)

    Dress up for Halloween with favorites Thomas and Percy for a 20-minute train ride, entertainment, and fun filled activities for the entire family. Activities include temporary tattoos, Face Painting, Story Telling, Videos, Train Play Tables, small pumpkins for little ones, cookie decorating, photos with Sir Topham Hatt, a Thomas store, and live entertainment. Also, Thomas the Tank Engine will be able to talk to his fans! Event website.
  • Non-Spooky Halloween Carnival
    Twin Cities Community Preschool
    Saturday, 10 am–2 pm

    Calling all ghosts, goblins, Pikachu and princesses! Fun for preschool through elementary aged children! Free admission and open to the public. Bring your friends and neighbors for games, prizes, food, a photo booth and arts and crafts. Location: 56 Mohawk Avenue, Corte Madera. For more info, visit their website.
  • McClelland's Dairy Pumpkin Patch
    Petaluma
    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–5 pm

    Find the perfect pumpkin in McClelland's three-acre organic pumpkin field. Free admission includes pumpkin patch, petting farm animals (including cows, goats, and chickens), and watching cows being milked in the parlor. There's also a hay maze, kids' haunted hay house, hay rides, bounce houses, and u-pick squash, as well as a farm store and a food cart serving organic grilled cheese sandwiches, organic milkshakes, organic popcorn, and espresso drinks. Some of these attractions have an admission fee. Read our review here. For more info, visit their website. 
  • ZOOtoberfest
    San Francisco Zoo
    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–5 pm

    Bring the family and navigate through San Francisco’s largest hay maze, a 5,000-square-foot structure made from 600 bales of straw and incorporates play areas within the design. Jump in the bounce house, challenge your friends to a friendly game of ring toss and use the festive Harvest Hallow setting for photo ops. SF Zoo’s “Zoo Brew Haus” at the Depot Grill is pouring a great selection of brews, and cooking a full smorgasbord of German-inspired dishes. During lunch, dine to the upbeat sounds of a live band playing traditional polka music. Free after zoo admission. For more info, visit their website.
  • San Domenico Upper School Open House
    San Domenico School, San Anselmo
    Saturday, 10 am–noon
    This comprehensive event includes an opening welcome from the administration, mini sample classes, a student/faculty panel, and a fair exhibiting academic and extracurricular programs. Location: 1500 Butterfield Road, San Anselmo. For more info, visit their website.
  • Annual Pumpkin Patch & Train Festival
    Western Railway Museum, Suisun City
    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–5 pm

    Get your Halloween pumpkins and Jack-o-Lanterns, test your strength with the pumpkin launcher, explore our huge hay bale fortress, and enjoy a train ride too. Gather the family and begin at the Western Railway Museum. Doors open at 9:30 -- The first electric express train leaves at 10:00 AM with departures every half-hour until 4pm. Cost: adults $14, children (2–14 yrs) $10 and seniors $12. For more info, visit their website.
  • Bay Area Children's Theatre: Seussical TYA
    Saturday, 10:30 am & 1:30 pm
    Freight & Salvage, Berkeley

    The whimsical world of Dr. Seuss springs to life in this imagination-infused musical! Horton the Elephant discovers a dust speck is actually an entire planet, Gertrude McFuzz wishes she had a flashier feathered tail, and Jojo the Who's elaborate thinks keep getting him into trouble! The Cat in the Hat is your magical master of ceremonies in this sensational smorgasbord of Seuss stories. Recommended for age 3 and up. Tickets: $25 adults, $20 children, $23 seniors. Location: 2020 Addison Street, Berkeley. For more info, visit their website.
  • Tolay Fall Festival
    Tolay Lake Regional Park
    Lakeville Highway at Cannon Lane, Petaluma
    Saturday and Sunday, 11 am–5 pm
    The 10th annual Tolay Fall Festival takes place over two long weekends in October at the site of the old Cardoza Ranch off Lakeville Highway, which was famous for its pumpkin patch. In addition to pumpkins and fall decorative items for sale, attractions and activities include a Native American village, the Nighttime Creatures Barn with Creepy Crawly Critters Room, nature hikes, a giant straw maze, a hands-on children's area and kiddie corral, and hay rides. Admission: $5 adults, $3 children 12 and under; free for Sonoma County Regional Parks members. Parking for non-members is $7. For more info, call (707) 565-2041 or visit their website.
  • Presidio Pumpkin Carving Festival
    Presidio of San Francisco
    Saturday & Sunday, noon–5 pm

    Create your own Halloween décor! Basic tools and pumpkins are provided. Bring your own stencils and stickers. Food is available for purchase. Free, but registration required. Location: Main Parade Ground, Presidio of San Francisco. For more info and to register, visit their website.

Three Deliciously Spooky Halloween Treats

October 20, 2016

Mummy hot dogsIn October, my kids and I love to make fun Halloween-themed treats for parties, snacks and school lunches. Not only are most of these healthy, but they’re fun to make and eat, too.

These recipes also make a great playgroup or play date activity or girl scout or cub scout project. Feel free to vary the recipes as you see fit.

Hot Dog Mummies

Ingredients