Parks and Playgrounds, Sports Activities, Outdoor Activities, Rainy Day Activities, Events and Outings, Summer Camps, Spring Break Camps, Arts and Crafts, 4th of July, Beaches, Hiking, Picnics, Summer Activities, Zoos and Wildlife Centers, Enrichment, Parent-and-Child Classes, Gardening, Drop-in Activities, Snow Sports, Bicycling

Family Kayak Adventures in Marin and Northern California

June 26, 2017

Kayaking

One of the activities we love to do is kayaking. It's a fantastic way to experience nature and peacefully explore local waterways. What we love most about it is that it's an activity that can be enjoyed by all ages! Tandem kayaks often have a third seat for a small child, and kids can easily pick up the skills needed to paddle their craft through the water. It's fun and great exercise.

For beginners, all these kayak rental outfits offer the sit-on-top style ocean kayaks, which are stable, lightweight, and easy to paddle. The only drawback is that you can get a little wet while you're paddling, but then that's part of the fun. We've kayak on lakes, bays, and rivers, and each type of location offers a different experience.

Watching the Fireworks in Marin

June 25, 2017

Marin County Fair FireworksFireworks at the Marin County Fair. Photo: Marin County Fair

For families with young children, the ritual of watching 4th of July fireworks can be a little inconvenient. Babies and toddlers are often scared of the noise (if you're close enough to hear), the summer sunset at around 9 pm means most kids are up way past their bedtime. It's even worse if you decide to wake them out of a deep sleep in time to see the fireworks (trust me, I've been there). Nothing's quite as crabby and grumpy as an overtired child, no matter how great the fireworks are.

Marin Weekend Family Fun for June 23, 24 & 25

June 23, 2017

Italian Street Painting Marin
Celebrate the Summer of Love this weekend at the 2017 Italian Street Painting Marin in downtown San Rafael.

Here are our picks for great events and activities for children and families in and around Marin County this weekend. Find more events for the whole week in Marin and beyond in our Family Events Calendar.

Friday, June 23

  • NASCAR Cup Series
    Sonoma Raceway
    Friday–Sunday, various times

    Experience exciting NASCAR Cup Series action on the road course at Sonoma Raceway! There are numerous events happening each day, including autograph sessions and a chance to meet Lightning McQueen and other characters from Disney/Pixar's Cars 3. Kids 12 and under admitted free on Friday and Saturday; $10 on Sunday. For more info and a complete schedule, visit their website.
  • Pasados Del Presidio: Afternoon Fun for Kids
    Presidio Officers’ Club, San Francisco
    Friday, noon–3 pm

    Ever wonder what Early California was like? Come see history come to life! Enjoy hands-on activities, storytelling, a tortilla-making demo, and more. Afternoon music and dance by Ballet Folklórico Mexicano. Free, but registration required. Location: 50 Moraga Avenue, Presidio of San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Petaluma's Sonoma-Marin Fair
    Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds, Petaluma
    Friday–Sunday, noon–12 am

    This year's theme is "Great Eggspectations", and you'll find plenty of family fun including carnival rides with a kiddie carnival for younger children, pig races, a safari adventure, "Agventure Land" for agricultural fun, strolling clowns, jugglers, and silly characters, and artst and crafts and a petting zoo at Clo's Kids Corner. You'll also find livestock shows, agricultural exhibits, chef demonstrations, a destruction derby, and more. Of course the fair's famous World's Ugliest Dog Contest, will take place, too! Admission appplies. Location: 175 Fairgrounds Drive in Petaluma, off East Washington Street on the west side of Highway 101. For more info, visit their website.
  • Children's Garden Series: Circus Bella
    Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco
    Friday, noon & Saturday, noon & 2:15 pm

    Experience the energy of Beat-era San Francisco through its latest arrival, a poet and hopeful dreamer, as he discovers the daring artists that truly make the city one of a kind. Circus Bella translates the magic of daily city life into circus infused with the poetry, live music and comedy. Free. For more info, visit their website.
  • Friday Nights at the de Young
    de Young Museum, San Francisco
    Friday, 5–8:45 pm

    Friday Nights at the de Young are after-hours art happenings that include a mix of live music, dance and theater performances, film screenings, panel discussions, lectures, artist demonstrations, hands-on art activities, and exhibition tours. The café offers a delicious prix-fixe menu and specialty cocktails, and the Hamon Tower observation level is open until 8 pm. For more info, visit their website.
  • Broadway Under the Stars
    Jack London State Historic Park, Glen Ellen
    Friday, 5 pm

    Join Transcendence for this thrilling celebration of music and dance from Broadway and beyond. Opening the season with a splash, this concert pays tribute to some of the most powerful songs and shows ever written. Kick off your summer with an evening you and your friends will never forget! Preshow picknicking starts at 5 pm, show starts at 7:30 pm. Purchase tickets here. Location: 2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marinwood's Music in the Park Series
    Marinwood Park, San Rafael
    Friday, 6–8 pm

    Join us this summer for live music, food, and fun for the entire family at Marinwood Park! Enjoy delicious BBQ by Marinwood Market and a bar for the adults. Bring your picnic blanket and your appetite and kick off the weekend Marinwood-style. This Friday: Spanish Gypsy Jazz with Barrio Manouche. Location: 775 Miller Creek Road, San Rafael. For more info, call (415) 479-0775 or visit their website.
  • Summer of Love Dance Party
    PIER 39, San Francisco
    Friday, 6–10 pm

    Make sure you wear a flower in your hair in the spirit of the Summer of 1967 at PIER 39’s free Summer of Love Dance Party, in collaboration with the official Summer of Love 50th Anniversary Celebration. Stop by the Museum of Craft & Design’s tent to make a paper flower crown from 6-8 pm and then dance the night away with music from Mania! The Live Beatles Experience from 6-8pm and DJ Bart from 8-10pm. For more info, visit their website.
  • Penguins+Pajamas Sleepover
    California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco
    Friday, 6 pm–Saturday, 8 am

    Experience your own night at the museum! Explore the exhibits after-hours and discover the deepest depths of the oceans, travel to the tops of rainforests, blast off into outer space at your own private planetarium show, and then settle in for story time after snacking on milk and cookies. When the lights go out, roll out your sleeping bag next to the California Coast tank or the Swamp window face-to-face with Claude the albino alligator. In the morning head over to the Academy Café for breakfast. Cost: $109 per person. For more info, visit their website.
  • Friends of the River Barn Dance
    Downtown Petaluma
    Friday, 6–9:30 pm

    Time to kick off summer with an old fashioned barn dance. Join Friends and the Evie Laden Band for a night of dancing, live music, local food and drinks. Adults: $20; Kids free. Purchase tickets here. Location: Steamer Landing Park – D & Copeland Street, Petaluma. For more info, visit their website.
  • Jazz & Blues by the Bay
    Gabrielson Park, Sausalito
    Friday, 6:30–8 pm

    Jazz & Blues by the Bay at Gabrielson Park in Sausalito is a free event. Lawn seating available (first-come first-served). This Friday: Lavay Smith and her Red Hot Skillet Lickers (jazz). For more info, call (415) 289-4100 or visit their website.
  • Tam Valley's Creekside Fridays
    Tennessee Valley Cabin, Mill Valley
    Friday, 6:30–8 pm

    Bring the family, pets, chairs, and blankets to the weekly free musical event. This Friday, Zydeco Flames. Food available for purchase. For more info, call (415) 289-4152 or visit their website.
  • Campfire Program at Chicken Ranch Beach
    Inverness
    Friday, 7–9 pm

    Join rangers for an evening of fun with local lore, legends, and campfire tales. This event is ideal for all ages. All skill levels are welcome and no experience is necessary. Dress in layers and wear sturdy shoes. Don’t forget to bring a flashlight. No pets (except service animals) are allowed at this park. Location: Meet at the Chicken Ranch Beach pullout.Questions: Contact Supervising Adam Craig or visit their website.

Saturday, June 24

  • Marin Country Mart Farmers Market
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    Enjoy the best local and organic produce, flowers, pastured meats, seafood, organic cheeses, yogurt and milk, breads, baked goods, pasta, confections, olive oil, and brunch and lunch offerings! Kids can take a pony ride and visit the petting zoo (10 am–2 pm), try out some arts and crafts (9 am–2 pm) and listen to family music (9:30–10:30 am). For more info, visit their website.
  • Opening Day: Point Reyes Farmer's Market
    Toby's Feed Barn on Main Street
    Saturday, 9 am–1 pm

    Opening day festivities include live music from the Tim Weed and Common Voice Choir, chef’s booth demonstration with Ed Vigil, a welcoming ceremony, and Kids' Zone Reading Time. For more info, visit their website.
  • Italian Street Painting Marin
    Downtown San Rafael
    Saturday, 10 am–8 pm & Sunday 10 am–6 pm

    Celebrate the Summer of Love at the 2017 Italian Street Painting Marin event! See the artwork of over 100 madonnari, listen to great live music, participate in fun children's activities, and more. Admission: $10, $15 for a two-day pass; kids 12 and under free. Location: 5th Avenue and A Street, downtown San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Pasados Del Presidio: San Francisco’s Birthday
    Presidio Officers’ Club
    Saturday, 10:30 am–noon

    Descendants of the original founding families of the Juan Bautista de Anza Expedition (1775–76) return to the Presidio to recognize the journey of their forefathers and the founding of El Presidio de San Francisco. Location: 50 Moraga Avenue, Pershing Square (across from the Presidio Officers' Club), San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • SF Pride Celebration and Parade
    San Francisco Civic Center
    Saturday, noon–6 pm & Sunday, 10:30 am–6 pm
    San Francisco's annual Pride Celebration is the largest LGBT gathering in the nation, and features over 200 parade contingents, 300 exhibitors, and 20 stages and venues—featuring both up-and-coming and headline acts—at the foot of the city's historic City Hall. The parade kicks off on Sunday at 10:30 am at Market and Beale Streets and ends at Market and 8th Streets. $5 suggested donation. For more information, visit their website.
  • Creative Family Fun: A-maize-ing Corn Hust Dolls
    Presidio Officer's Club, San Francisco
    Saturday & Sunday, 11 am–4 pm
    Drop in for imaginative craft-making based on the Presidio’s natural and cultural heritage. Featuring different crafts every weekend! Travel back in time and learn how to make a corn husk doll, just as the Spanish colonist children at El Presidio did. Free. Registration preferred but not required. Location: 50 Moraga Avenue, Presidio of San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Petaluma's Sonoma-Marin Fair
    Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds, Petaluma
    Saturday–Sunday, noon–12 am

    This year's theme is "Great Eggspectations", and you'll find plenty of family fun including carnival rides with a kiddie carnival for younger children, pig races, a safari adventure, "Agventure Land" for agricultural fun, strolling clowns, jugglers, and silly characters, and artst and crafts and a petting zoo at Clo's Kids Corner. You'll also find livestock shows, agricultural exhibits, chef demonstrations, a destruction derby, and more. Of course the fair's famous World's Ugliest Dog Contest, will take place, too! Admission appplies. Location: 175 Fairgrounds Drive in Petaluma, off East Washington Street on the west side of Highway 101. For more info, visit their website.
  • Children's Garden Series: Circus Bella
    Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco
    Saturday, noon & 2:15 pm

    Experience the energy of Beat-era San Francisco through its latest arrival, a poet and hopeful dreamer, as he discovers the daring artists that truly make the city one of a kind. Circus Bella translates the magic of daily city life into circus infused with the poetry, live music and comedy. Free. For more info, visit their website.
  • Nike Missile Site Open House
    Marin Headlands, Sausalito
    Saturday, 12:30–3:30 pm

    Unique in the National Park Service, this restored Cold War anti-aircraft missile site has intriguing stories to tell. Take a ranger-guided tour of this restored facility, and learn about its history from volunteers, many of whom served at sites like. Free. Read about our visit here. For more info, visit their website.
  • Pueblo Day: The Founding of Sonoma
    Sonoma State Historic Park
    Saturday, 1–4 pm

    Bring the entire family to experience a town of the Northern Frontier. Featuring Los Gu'achis band, Hurdy Gurdy Dale and his collection of 1840s pistols, tortilla making, uniformed militia, California Treks in Time activity trunks, and other activities. Free, for all ages. Location: Sonoma Barracks Courtyard, Downtown Sonoma. For more info, visit their website.
  • Family STEM Saturdays
    Habitot Children's Museum, Berkeley
    Saturday, 2:30–4:30 pm
    Encourage hands on science explorations with activities that build a foundation for understanding physical properties, mathematics, and engineering principles. Come experiment, build, and create. All ages welcome.This Month: Rainbow Crystal Sculptures. All ages welcome. Admission applies. Location: 2065 Kittredge St, Berkeley. For more info, visit their website.
  • Kid's Night at the Museum
    Charles Schulz Museum, Santa Rosa
    Saturday, 5–9 pm

    Drop your kids off for after-hours fun at the Schulz Museum. Kids will have the Museum all to themselves for pizza dinner, games, art, crafts, and cartooning. Cost: $32 per child. Discount of $5 off for siblings. Advance reservations required--register online or call (707) 284-1272. Location: 2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa. For more info, visit their website.

Swimming, Play and More at McNears Beach Park in San Rafael

June 21, 2017

McNears Beach Park is one of those special places that I hold close to my heart. I grew up literally around the corner from it, and spent a lot of time there as a child. It's still one of my favorite places to spend the day in Marin, especially now that I have kids of my own. McNear's Beach is a 55-acre county park located on the shores of San Pablo Bay. It's the a perfect place to go on a warm day to wade in the bay, swim in the pool, picnic, fish, take in spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay Area, and more.

McNears Beach has been popular with Bay Area residents since the 19th century, when the McNear family owned most of the property in what eventually would become San Rafael's Peacock Gap neighborhood. The McNears operated a beach resort at the present location of the park, as well as a nearby quarry and brickyard.

Petaluma's Sonoma-Marin Fair Starts Today!

June 21, 2017

Sonoma-Marin Fair

Summertime is fair time, and the first fair of the season is usually Petaluma's Sonoma-Marin Fair, which takes place at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds from Wednesday June 21 through Sunday, June 25. The Sonoma-Marin Fair is not quite but almost a county fair, and offers a wide range of fun and exciting attractions, competitions, events, and activities for the entire family.

This year's theme is "Great Eggspectations", and you'll find plenty of family fun including carnival rides with a kiddie carnival for younger children, pig races, a safari adventure, "Agventure Land" for agricultural fun, strolling clowns, jugglers, and silly characters, and artst and crafts and a petting zoo at Clo's Kids Corner. You'll also find livestock shows, agricultural exhibits, chef demonstrations, a destruction derby, and more. Of course the fair's famous World's Ugliest Dog Contest, will take place, too!

Festive Summer Almond Cake with Strawberries

June 20, 2017

almond strawberry cakeDuring early summer, I'm always on the lookout for recipes that use fresh local strawberries, which my whole family loves, but then who doesn't? I came across this recipe and it sounded fantastic, so I thought I'd give it a try. It's really easy to make, and it's light and delicious.

With its red berries and powdered sugar, it looks amazing, too, and has a certain patriotic flair. I think I'll even make it to take to the annual 4th of July party we go to.

Note that I changed the cooking time from the original recipe to 30 to 35 minutes as the cake was done well before the indicated 45 to 50 minute baking time.

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients

Italian Street Painting Marin Celebrates the Summer of Love in San Rafael

June 20, 2017

Italian Street Painting Marin

Over 100 madonnari, or street painters, come to downtown San Rafael on June 24 and 25 to show off their talents at the 2016 Italian Street Painting Marin's Ciao Bella Roma. This year's theme celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. This event features amazing artwork by the participating madonnari, as well as great live music, children's activities, food and drink, and more.

Highlights of this year's festival include artwork that pays homage to the Summer of Love theme and a chance to meet legendary artist Stanley Mouse from 2 to 4 pm each day. A selection of his iconic rock and roll posters will be on view, and you can even purchase posters for him to sign for a small fee.

Free Outdoor Family Movies in Marin and the Bay Area

June 19, 2017

Film Night in the Park Marin County Summer

Summer means its time for free outdoor movies in Marin and the Bay Area, so grab your blankets and pillows, pack the picnic basket, and get ready to enjoy some family flicks al fresco. Here's our guide to free outdoor movies this summer and fall in Marin, San Francisco, and Sonoma County.

Most movies begin at dusk or around 8 pm; check the organizer's website for exact time and location. Some feature food trucks and even wine pairings. Popcorn is often offered for free!

In addition, the North Bay Mobile Drive-In screens movies on the side of the Old Hamilton Theater building in Novato; join their Meetup page to get notified about upcoming screenings.

June

Family Fun at Marin County Beaches

June 18, 2017

Marin County Beaches

My family loves to go to the beach, and there are plenty of places to do this in and around Marin. While many of the beaches along the Pacific Ocean are unsuitable for swimming, there are also many beaches that are ideal spots for swimming, wading, and splashing in the water, especially on warm summer (and also spring and fall) days. Here are some of our favorites. Click on the links for more info.

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