Holidays in Marin

Marin on Ice

Our annual guide to Christmas and holiday events for families in Marin and the Bay Area

Sponsored by Marin on Ice.

'Tis the Season for Science at the California Academy of Sciences

December 3, 2017

'Tis the Season for Science

This winter break, take in some holiday cheer at San Francisco's California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. Through Sunday, January 7, 2018 you can take in not only classic Cal Academy sights like the giant T-Rex skeleton, aquarium, planetarium, rain forest, and African hall, but special winter-themed programming and attractions as well as part of its annual "'Tis the Season for Science" lineup.

Step into the museum's East Garden and hit the ice on their holiday ice rink, which offers 55-minute skating sessions for visitors this winter. Skating costs $12 ($10 for Academy members) and includes skate rental.

Visit Marin's Amazing Lighted Holiday Houses!

December 2, 2017

Rombeiro Holiday House Novato Marin County Christmas

Perhaps our favorite thing about the holiday season is visiting amazing lighted and decorated holiday houses here in Marin. We've been taking in the displays all of these houses for years, and visiting them again each December is like dropping in to see an old friend. We love to find out what sort of wonderful new displays have been thought up for the season!

Double-Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

November 30, 2017

Double-chocolate candy cane cookies

These moist and chewy cookies contain plenty of two iconic holiday ingredients: chocolate and candy canes! They're the perfect addition to a holiday cookie platter, and I bet Santa wouldn't turn his nose up to a couple of them on Christmas Eve. If you really want to supercharge the peppermint flavor, replace the vanilla with peppermint extract. My kids think the crushed candy canes on top of these cookies give them plenty of peppermint flavor, so I usually just leave it at that. These are also great made with whole-wheat pastry flour, but plain old all-purpose flour is fine, too.

Ingredients

Try Cross Country Skiing With the Family This Winter

November 27, 2017

cross country skiing

With more snow moving into the Sierra, it's time to start thinking about winter sports family fun in the mountains. While downhill skiing and snowboarding are synonymous with snow sports to many people, cross country skiing is a fun and low-key alternative to the lift lines. Cross country skiing is fun, easy to learn, and requires a minimum of equipment. Dress in warm active clothing, put on your boots and skis, grab your poles, and you're good to go!

When we first tried cross-country, my kids picked it up right away; after 20 minutes on the practice loop they were off skiing the trails. The whole family can join in, too—you can even get a jogging stroller on skis and pull your little one along, and many cross country trails allow dogs, too. An added bonus: cross country skiing is one of the best aerobic exercise activities you can do. It's a great way to get active and enjoy the beauty of the mountains in winter.

Ring In the Holiday Season at Mill Valley Winterfest!

November 27, 2017

Mill Valley Winterfest

Mill Valley's downtown plaza will once again be filled with an eclectic mix of live music, children playing, and community togetherness when the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce and the City of Mill Valley present the annual Winterfest, taking place Sunday, December 3, from 11 am to 5 pm. Winterfest celebrates the holiday season with a fun-filled afternoon for children, families, and anyone who enjoys the holidays!

12 Days of Christmas Cookies: Peanut Butter Blossoms

November 27, 2017

Peanut butter blossom cookies

These delicious cookies were one of my favorite holiday treats when I was a child, so I've made sure to include them in my own Christmas baking repertoire. They're easy to make and the kids love to help mix ingredients and roll the dough into balls.

Some of Our Favorite Family Holiday Movies

November 27, 2017

Christmas Movie Collage

During the holidays, we're inundated with Christmas-themed movies and TV specials of all different kinds. But what's really worth spending your time watching? Being something of a family of movie buffs, we decided to put together our list of favorite holiday movies and specials, so here are seven seasonal offerings that we think are worth repeat watching each December. You can find all of these films on DVD or Blu-ray at the Marin County Free Library.

Go Play in the Snow! Great Places for Family Snow Play in Northern California

November 26, 2017

Tubing in the Sierras

The winter season in the Sierra is starting! While we love the skiing and winter fun at Lake Tahoe, we know that not everyone's a skiier, and sometimes families just want to go up and have some fun in the snow. While many of the Tahoe ski resorts like Northstar, Squaw Valley, and Heavenly have tubing parks, ice skating, and other winter non-skiing activities for the family, there are plenty of other places in the mountains where you can get your snow play fix without the ski resort hustle and bustle (and price tag).

Holiday Family Fun in San Francisco

November 25, 2017

Union Square Ice Rink
Photo: Union Square Ice Rink

When I was growing up, one of the highlights of my holiday season was a trip into San Francisco. It's something that I still love to do with my family, and there's so much fun to be had. Here are 6 ideas for festive family holiday fun in the city.

U-Cut Christmas Tree Farms in Sebastopol

November 25, 2017

Garlock Tree Farm in SebastopolTake a horse-drawn wagon ride at Garlock Tree Farm in Sebastopol

It's time to think about getting that must-have of the holiday season—the Christmas tree. There are those practical people who merely unpack the artificial tree from its storage boxes, and assemble it in the living room, pre-wired, perfectly shaped and sized, and flame-resistant. Then there are those of us who have to have the real deal, despite any inconvenience.

For the hopeless holiday romantics among us, nothing beats the experience of going to a honest-to-goodness genuine Christmas tree farm, getting our hands dirty, and cutting a tree down ourselves. Of course it's a great family photo op and it's usually a lot of fun, too. Those annual trips to the Christmas tree farm remain some of my fondest childhood memories, and now it's a tradition with my own family