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.

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.

Explore the Beauty of Paradise Beach Park in Tiburon

January 3, 2014

Paradise Beach ParkSince the weather's been so nice in Marin this winter, and since Marin County Parks is waiving parking fees through January 5, 2014, we thought we'd check out Paradise Beach Park. Located along the shores of San Francisco Bay in Tiburon, the 19-acre Paradise Beach Park offers a beach, plenty of lawns and picnic areas, a redwood grove, and an iconic fishing pier for the anglers among us. The views from this bayside gem of a park are amazing, too, with sweeping vistas of Marin and the East Bay. If you haven't been to Paradise Beach Park, it's worth a visit.

I haven't been to Paradise Park for years, so this was a great excuse to revisit it, but with my kids this time. They had a blast exploring the beach, running and playing on the grass, and watching fish jumping and harbor seals swimming by from the fishing pier.

Wright’s Beach: An Ideal Family Weekend

September 14, 2013

Wright's BeachMarin mom, food writer, recipe developer, and frequent Marin Mommies contributor Nicole Cibellis-Andrews shares her family's experiences at Wright's Beach, a fun and easy camping destination on the Sonoma Coast.

Wright’s Beach, on the Sonoma Coast—just an hour-and-a-half north of Marin County—has been one of my family’s favorite camping trips for years. With miles of beautiful beaches, campsites on the beach, and the lull of ocean waves to fall asleep to, this campground provides an ideal location for a long weekend of relaxation and recreation. Which comes in handy, since it’s one of the only Northern California campsites open year-around.

We make this trip annually with another family who enjoy this trek as much as we do. We do find that camping with another family who has kids around the same age as ours always makes camping more enjoyable.

To start our journey, we travel from Marin to Highway 12 west out of Santa Rosa. On our way, we love to stop in Freestone, home of the famous Osmosis Spa (another favorite of ours, but it’s for adults only so, that‘s for another trip). In Freestone, we hit up the equally famous Wild Four Bread Bakery, a favorite of locals and cyclists alike. They have a beautiful garden to walk the kids through, so that they can see all the yummy ingredients that the bakery adds to their outrageously edible breads.

Have a Family Picnic This Labor Day Weekend

August 28, 2013

Labor Day PicnicLabor Day Weekend, that final chance to enjoy summer vacation (even though many kids in Marin are back in school already). While a backyard barbeque is a Labor Day tradition, why not plan a picnic with friends and family? It's fun, you don't have to clean up the house either before or after, and there are plenty of awesome picnic spots in Marin and the North Bay. (This weekend's weather is supposed to be nice, too.)

Here are a few tips for planning a picnic:

  • Have every family bring a different dish, but still don't forget to pack plenty of food and drink. It’s always better to have more than less!
  • Make a checklist for all the things you’ll need to bring, like folding chairs, picnic blankets, games, food, drink, etc.
  • Plenty of active games and outdoor toys will keep the kids occupied while the grownups relax.
  • Get to your picnic spot early to find a good place, especially on a holiday weekend. I always look for a spot with a little bit of shade and some sun, too, that won’t be in total shade later on the day.

Birds, Beaches, and Boats in Bodega Bay

August 27, 2013

Birds at Salmon Creek BeachWhen I was a kid, I thought that Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds was one of the scariest movies ever. Not only was the idea of thousands of birds randomly attacking people frightening, but the fact that it all took place in the small Sonoma County coastal town of Bodega Bay, just north of Marin County, made it hit pretty close to home.

Of course now I know that Bodega Bay is great place to visit (and that a mass bird attack is really pretty unlikely). Since it's the 50th anniversary of The Birds, it's a great time to visit to check out locations from the movies and to have some family fun, too. It's one of our favorite places to visit.

Unlike the relatively unspoiled wilderness of Point Reyes National Seashore, Bodega Bay and its surrounding areas are more developed and commercialized, and have much more of that "classic beach town" atmosphere. You'll find kite shops, salt water taffy and ice cream stands, and restaurants in abundance, and many of the restaurants in Bodega Bay get their seafood from the fishing boats that tie up right alongside them.

Bodega Bay Beaches

You'll find several stretches of beach in Bodega Bay. When we're there, we like to visit Salmon Creek Beach. Part of the Sonoma Coast State Park, it's located about five minutes north of town. (Look for the sign and the parking area.) Located where Salmon Creek spills into the Pacific Ocean, this broad expanse of beach is popular with families. It's also a great place to look for shells and sand dollars, especially at low tide. Salmon Creek Beach can get really busy on weekends, so be prepared to scamble for a parking spot.

The Mountain Play is Alive with the Sound of Music!

May 20, 2013

The Sound of Music at the Mountain Play 2013The Mountain Play makes musical magic once again in its 100th anniversary production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music. Featuring classic songs that you surely know by heart, including Do-Re-Mi, My Favorite Things, Climb Ev'ry Mountain, and Edelweiss, this year's play is directed by Bay Area theater veteran Jay Manley and features a superb cast, especially the local kids in the roles of the Von Trapp children.

The Sound of Music tells the familiar story of Maria Rainer, sent from Salzburg's Nonnberg Abbey as governess to the seven children of widowed naval officer Georg von Trapp, all under the shadows of the 1938 Nazi takeover of Austria. The Sound of Music is probably most familiar in its 1965 movie form, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.

Great tickets are still available for Mountain Play performances on May 26 and June 2, 8, 9, and 16. All shows begin at 2 pm.

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