Lace up those hiking boots and get your gear together... it's time to hit the trail! Marin County is a paradise for families who love the outdoors, with over 50% of the county's land dedicated as protected open space. The Point Reyes National Seashore, Mt. Tamalpais State Park, and the Golden Gate National Recreation area are only a few of the outstanding natural resources that we have right in out own backyard. It's a great way to both educate children about nature and the environment and to get some exercise.

On this page, we've collected all our posts on family-friendly hikes, walks, beaches, and other outdoor activities and resources. If you have a favorite hike or place you'd like to share, or if you'd like to submit an outdoors-related post as a guest contributor, please contact us.

The Mountain Play Goes Tropical with "South Pacific"

May 19, 2014

2014 Mountain Play South PacificThe Mountain Play makes musical magic once again with its 101st production: Rodgers and Hammerstein's South PacificSet in a tropical island paradise during World War II and featuring classic songs like "Some Enchanted Evening", "Happy Talk", "Bali Ha'i", and "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair", this year's production is directed by Bay Area theater pro Linda Dunn. Dunn also happens to be the ex-wife of veteran Mountain Play director Jim Dunn, who performs in South Pacific as US Navy Captain George Brackett.

South Pacific tells two parallel love stories, one of Ensign Nellie Forbush (Taylor Chalker), a spunky Navy nurse, and local French plantation owner Emile de Becque (Peter Vilkin); the other of Lieutenant Joseph Cable (Tyler Costin) and young island woman Liat (Mia Klenk). The cast also features Randy Nazarian in  as Luther Billis and Lily Tung Crystal as Bloody Mary.

As always, it's fantastic live musical entertainment for the whole family, and a don't-miss Marin experience. My kids look forward to going to the Mountain Play every year. Great tickets are still available for Mountain Play performances on May 25 and June 1, 7, 8, and 15. All shows begin at 2 pm.

Family Campouts at Slide Ranch

May 11, 2014

Slide Ranch family campoutCampfire: check. Animals and nature: check. Ocean view: check. Pack your tent, prepare your potluck meal, and come to Slide Ranch in Muir Beach for one of their Family Campouts! There are still a few spaces available for Slide Ranch's Ocean Exploration Family Campout on Saturday, May 17 and Sunday, May 18.

From the moment you arrive at this beautiful ranch and educational resource in Muir Beach, you'll feel immersed in nature. Together, parents and children will help care for farm animals, get crafty with flowers and food, explore tide pools, and find your green fingers in our organic garden. At night, all campers gather for a family potluck dinner and a campfire under the stars, then everyone camps in Slide Ranch's spectacular coastal meadow.

On Sunday there will be a hosted continental breakfast, then campers will spend the rest of the morning preparing homemade cheese, bread, butter, and other treats harvested from the ranch's organic garden.

The Insider's Guide to the 2014 Mountain Play: South Pacific

May 9, 2014

The Mountain Play 2014 South PacificOne of Marin County's most beloved and unique events is the famous Mountain Play—an outdoor theater experience high on the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais that's been going strong for over a century! This year's 101st Mountain Play production is Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, the Broadway classic set in a tropical paradise during World War II and based on James A. Michener's novel Tales of the South Pacific.

Featuring classic songs like "Bali Ha'i", "Younger Than Springtime", and "Some Enchanted Evening", the Mountain Play's production of South Pacific is directed by Linda Dunn and features Taylor Chalker as spunky Ensign Nellie Forbush, Peter Vlikin as French plantation owner Emile de Becque, Tyler Costin as Lieutenant Joseph Cable, and Mia Klenk as Liat. South Pacific also features Randy Nazarian as Luther Billis, Lily Tung Crystal as Bloody Mary, and James Dunn (veteran director of many Mountain Play productions) as Captain George Brackett. Musical direction is by Debra Chambliss.

Hiking with Kids in Marin: Explore Old St. Hilary's Open Space Preserve in Tiburon

March 4, 2014

Old St. Hilary's Open Space PreserveFor a short, family friendly hike in southern Marin with amazing views, head to Tiburon and the Old St. Hilary's Open Space Preserve. It's a great outdoor outing for all ages, and there's plenty to see along the way, including wildflowers, wildlife, and breathtaking views, making it another of Marin County's outdoor gems.

Old St. Hilary's Open Space Preserve surrounds the namesake church, which is now administered by the Belvedere-Tiburon Landmarks Society as a historical landmark. This rare Carpenter Gothic church was built in 1888 to serve Tiburon's Catholic railroad workers, and now serves as a venue for concerts, weddings, and special events. (Tiburon, despite its genteel image today, was at one time Marin's roughest, toughest industrial town, home to railyards, codfish canneries, and a US Navy coaling station.)

Hiking with Kids: Explore the Wetlands at Shollenberger Park in Petaluma

February 18, 2014

Shollenberger Park PetalumaFamilies looking for an easy, scenic, and educational hike should check out Shollenberger Park in Petaluma. Located just a short drive from Marin, the 165-acre Shollenberger Park lies alongside the Petaluma River, and offers miles of hiking trails that run through the wetlands and hook up to other trail systems in the area.

Park in the lot off Cader Lane in an industrial park off Lakeville Highway in southern Petaluma. While it seems a little odd that this outdoor recreation spot is located in the middle of an office park, it definitely feels a world away once you hit the trail. Trails are flat and even and hikers, cyclists, and walkers of on-leash dogs are all welcome.

Being in the middle of a wetland area, expect to see a ton of waterfowl and other birds on your walk. We saw Canada geese (of course), several diffferent kinds of ducks, coots, Red Tailed Hawks, and even a pair of Northern Harriers. If you have binoculars, definitely bring them along on your walk. You'll also enjoy sweeping views of the Petaluma River as well as Mount Burdell to the south.

Explore the Natural Wonders of Marin County with Nature for Kids Hikes

January 6, 2014

David Herlocker at Nature for Kids Marin County ParksThis year we've resolved to spend more time outdoors as a family—to get some exercise, explore Marin County's many parks open space areas, and learn about the natural wonders all around us. A fantastic way to get out and experience nature in Marin is to take part in one of the naturalist-led family outings offered by Marin County Parks.

The Nature for Kids outings take place at Marin's open space preserves, and feature a leisurely, kid-paced hike with plenty of opportunities to stop and explore along the way. We recently took part in the Nature for Kids program at Novato's Deer Island Open Space Preserve led by Marin County Parks naturalists David Herlocker and Shannon Burke.

We all met at the Deer Island trailhead at 10 am, where David and Shannon explained a bit about the outing and gave each of the kids a small gift in the form of a neat little folding magnifying lens, something that would become useful later on in the hike. The Nature for Kids hikes are informal and unstructured, and perfect for kids of all ages. Our group of kids and parents hiked along the Deer Island Loop Trail, stopping to look when someone noticed something interesting along the way.

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