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.

A Family That Eats Together: Campfire Pizza

May 14, 2012

Campfire pizzaMarin Mommies presents this week's guest recipe from Nicole Cibellis, Marin mom and author of the blog A Family that Eats Together, where she shares meal plans and recipes that will please foodies and children alike. Nicole is also the creator of the new Little Froglet line of children's activewear.

Nicole's meal plan for this week features her usual delicious dishes, but today she shares with us this tasty recipe for campfire pizzas—just in time for summer camping season!

We spent a glorious weekend camping under a canopy of Redwood trees. Just North of Boonville all the way up into Anderson Valley, the next up and coming Wine Country of Northern California, is a special little campground that lies along the Navarro River. As we do with all our camping trips, and we do A LOT of them, each family takes on a meal so that all the meals are shared. Our good friends surprised us with Campfire Pizzas. I had no idea how this was going to workout. I envisioned pizza dough dripping through the rusty grates left over the campfire, but our friend Bill had a trick up his sleeve. Campfire Pie Irons! Who knew? He had an antique I think, but it worked just fine and we ate warm oozy, goosy pizzas around the campfire with all the trimmings.

Finding good camping recipes is not always the easiest but this recipe is foolproof and simple. Each pizza pie is made individually so it is easy to set up for everyone to make their own pizza with their favorite toppings. This recipe can be easily adjusted for the amount of pizzas you need.

As an extra bonus, you can add your favorite canned pie filling to the bread and for dessert, make Campfire Pies! So easy!

Marin's Spectacular Muir Woods is Not Just for Tourists

May 1, 2012

Muir WoodsWhile Muir Woods National Monument is one of the San Francisco Bay Area's most visited tourist attractions, it also holds a lot of appeal for locals willing to brave the potential crowds. Popular with Marin residents and visitors alike for over 100 years, this spectacular stand of old growth coast redwoods offers some amazing views and a chance to see the wonders of nature up close. Muir Woods was declared a National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, and it's been a great spot for a fun and educational family outing ever since.

For locals, a visit here is still well worth the time, but you do have to keep in mind that it's one of the region's top tourist destinations. Parking at Muir Woods is limited, so get there as early as you can—it opens at 8 am most days so it'll be ready and waiting for you.

Also, try to go during the week if you can and avoid the weekend crowds. Needless to say, the summer months are also busier than other times of the year. While it's still an amazing place regardless of how many people are there, it's even more special when it's quiet and uncrowded. Even though the parking lot was full on our last visit, once we got into the park itself the crowds thinned out and it didn't seem nearly as busy as we had expected.

Hike, Bike, and Ride at Novato's O'Hair Park

April 22, 2012

O'Hair Park in NovatoAt the west end of Novato is one of Marin's outdoor gems—O'Hair Park. Sharing space with the Dogbone Meadow dog park and Morning Star Farm equestrian center, the 100-acre O'Hair Park is a great place for a family hike or offroad bike ride.

Head into the park on the Reuben Kaehler Memorial Trail, which forms an easy loop of approximately two miles. Novato Creek parellels much of the trail, and it's fun to clamber down to the creekside to look for little fish and water bugs while you're on your hike. The trail climbs gently uphill into a bay laurel forest, down into a grassy meadow, and then again into a forest.

Along the way you'll see plenty of wildflowers in the spring, ferns, and even a small stand of redwood trees. There's even a conveniently placed bench about midway along the trail that's a perfect place to sit and relax for a few minutes.

The gentle slopes of the trail make for an easy hike. It's also a great place to get kids used to riding a mountain bike offroad. The trail is popular with dog-walkers and equestrians, so be prepared to see dogs and horses along the way. O'Hair Park is really kind of a magical place, especially in the spring, where the trails are lined with wildflowers. My kids call it "The Secret Garden" and love to see what kinds of flowers are in bloom as spring progresses.

Wildflowers and Elephant Seals at Point Reyes's Chimney Rock

April 14, 2012

Chimney Rock elephant sealsIn the spring, lovers of wildlife and wildflowers head to the Point Reyes National Seashore to experience the area's abundance of both. One of our go-to spots for an outdoors outing in Point Reyes is Chimney Rock, where you can see both amazing widlflowers and massive Northern Elephant Seals lounging on the beach below the cliffs.

Also worth visiting here is the historic Chimney Rock Lifeboat Station, where Coast Guard crews set out to rescue victims of the many shipwrecks off the coast of Point Reyes. We visited over Spring Break, and wildflowers are starting to appear all over—in coming weeks it should be pretty amazing, especially after our recent rains.

If you visit Chimney Rock in the late winter or spring, your first destination upon arrival should be the Elephant Seal Overlook. It's a short hike on a well maintained gravel trail overlooking Drakes Bay, about 1/2 mile round trip between the parking area and the overlook. The overlook at the end of the trail gives you an unsurpassed view of the Elephant Seal colony on the beach below.

Slide Ranch Summer Day Camp 2012

February 15, 2012

Goat at Slide RanchMarin's ever popular Slide Ranch once again holds its 2012 summer day camp, with sessions taking place from June through August. Slide Ranch features programs geared for all different age groups, from the Ranch Rangers (ages 5–8), Junior Farmers (ages 8–12), and Junior Camp Counselors (ages 13–18). The Ranch Rangers program will allow 9–12-year-olds to enroll the week of July 2–6, August 6–10 and August 13–17.

Program hours are 9 am to 1:30 pm for Ranch Rangers, 9 am to 3 pm for Junior Farmers, and 8:45 am to 2 pm for Junior Camp Counselors (aftercare is available until 5 pm for an hourly rate). Fees range from $150 to $420 per week.

Slide Ranch, located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area near Muir Beach, is extremely popular and offers limited enrollment, so it's important to register early. All there programs usually sell out! You can find out more information about their summer day camps, including full schedules, and download a registration form at www.slideranch.org.

Top Ten Winter Break Activities for Marin Families

December 19, 2011

Windmills at Cornerstone Place in SonomaPresenting our opinionated top ten list of fun things to do with the family during Winter Break (in no particular order):

Got your own top ten list, or additions to ours (who says it has to be only ten)? Let us know by posting a comment! Don't forget to check out our event calendar for other great ideas for Winter Break fun.

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