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.

Take a Family Hike at Santa Margarita Island Open Space Preserve

September 4, 2014

Santa Margarita Island Open Space Preserve in San RafaelFamilies looking for a short, easy hike with interesting things to see along the way should check out Santa Margarita Island Open Space Preserve in northern San Rafael. Located in the Santa Venetia neighborhood just east of the Marin Civic Center, this small preserve really is a little island surrounded by tidal wetlands. It's home to numerous birds and other wildlife, so make sure you bring your binoculars!

Open the gate and walk across the little bridge onto the four-and-a-half-acre island. You'll see pilings and concrete walls, which are the remains of a failed development from the early 1900s that sought to transform the area into a Venice-like town, complete with canals and gondolas (and hence the name Santa Venetia). The bridge is a great place to look for shorebirds that live in the wetlands, including egrets, black-necked stilts, and the endangered California clapper rail.

Once over the bridge, you'll be on the trailhead. Go right or left—it doesn't matter, because the whole trail is a flat, .3-mile loop. It's easy for hikers of any age, and can probably be managed with an off-road capable stroller, too. No bikes are allowed here—just hikers and equestrians.

Hike Into the Past at Kule Loklo in Point Reyes

July 19, 2014

Kule LokloExplore a piece of Marin's past at Kule Loklo, a reconstruction of a Coast Miwok village located near the Point Reyes National Seashore visitor center in Bear Valley. It's just a short .3-mile hike from the parking area, but it feels like you're travelling a world away, back to a time before European settlement in California.

Kule Loklo, which means "Bear Valley", was created back in the 1970s to give visitors to Point Reyes an idea of what life was like for Native Americans in the area. The village is not built on the site of any existing Miwok settlement, but is in a place where one definitely could have been, with a nearby creek and plenty of oak trees and wildlife.

The trail to Kule Loklo is easy to manage for everyone, and perfect for an off-road stroller. On the way, you'll get a nice view of the Morgan Horse farm and other facilities at Bear Valley. Follow the trail to the right, pass a stand of tall eucalyptus trees, and you'll find yourself at Kule Loklo.

Explore the Mill Valley-Sausalito Bike Path

July 13, 2014

Mill Valley–Sausalito Multi-use PathMarin strives to be a bicycle-friendly place to live, so it's never to early to get your kids up on two wheels, even if it's with training wheels (which would actually make it four wheels). One of our go-to places to ride is the Mill Valley–Sausalito Multi-use Path, a 3.5-mile trail that's popular with cyclists and walkers in southern Marin.

The trail starts at Vasco Court near Edna McGuire Elementary School and travels through Mill Valley south past Camino Alto and Tamalpais High School, through Bothin Marsh Open Space Preserve, over bridges that cross creeks and sloughs, along Richardson Bay, and eventually to Gate 5 Road on the Sausalito waterfront. The trail is wide and flat and suitable for cyclists of all ages and abilities.

Along the way, you can look for birds and other wildlife in the marsh and in Richardson Bay, and take in amazing views of Mt. Tamalpais.

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.

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