Halloween is one of our favorite holidays of year, and there's so much family fun to be found in Marin and the San Francisco Bay Area. Find a variety of family-friendly Halloween events that's right for you! We'll keep updating our list of events for Marin and beyond as we find more this fall. If you have an event you'd like to see added to the list, please contact us.
Marin and Sonoma Events
The Amazing Maze
Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
Children experience the joys and surprises of black light in this glow-in-the-dark hay maze. In this special exhibit, children are challenged to navigate a 150-bale hay maze—complete with tunnels, netting, and a slide—all under black light! In addition to the winding maze, there is a glow-in-the-dark dress-up station with white clothes and accessories for kids to try on, as well as a fluorescent Shoot-A-Hoop game. (Note: The hay used in our maze is seed-free rice straw.) Admisson applies. Location: 557 McReynolds Road, Fort Baker, Sausalito. For more info, visit their website.
Spooky Sound Stories with Trombonist Andy Strain
San Anselmo Library, Counsel Chambers
Wednesday, October 26, 3–3:45 pm Get in the Halloween spirit with scary stories presented by two talented musicians. Andy Strain is a professional trombonist and educator and Aaron is a master percussionist. Location: 110 Tunstead Ave, San Anselmo. For more info, visit their website.
Many families in Marin and the North Bay have fond memories of visiting the popular pumpkin patch at Cardoza Ranch outside Petaluma. In 2005, the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District and the Sonoma County Regional Parks Department acquired Cardoza Ranch, also known as Tolay Lake Ranch, turning its 1,737 acres of farmland into a county park.
Fall is here, and what is a better way to celebrate its arrival than with a good book? My kids and I love to go to the library and pick out some great Halloween children's books to read together, and fall is definitely one of our favorite times of year.
Here are some of our favorites that we've enjoyed over the years. All of these books should be available at public libraries throughot Marin. You can look to see if your local library has these titles available at marinlibrary.org.
Babies & Toddlers
Five Little Pumpkins by Dan Yaccarino: This Halloween version of the traditional counting rhyme features bold and colorful illustrations that little ones will love.
Having a mini muffin pan has changed my life. No really, it has—not in a big way, but it's inspired us to experiment with different muffin recipes. A healthy muffin makes a great breakfast treat, lunch box snack, playgroup munchie, or Halloween party goodie. One of our favorite muffins to make in the fall (and year-round, even), are pumpkin muffins. They're delicious, healthy (pumpkins have lots of fiber, beta carotene, and protein), and easy to make. Sometimes we just grab a box of Trader Joe's pumpkin bread mix, but more often than not, we make them from scratch. They make the house smell great when they're baking, too.
McClelland's Dairy is a family-run, certified organic dairy farm located just west of Petaluma, and their annual Halloween pumpkin patch just keeps getting better and better every year. McClelland's offers a lot of fun for families, especially if you are looking for a genuine farm experience. If you haven't been there yet, it's definitley worth putting on your fall family itinerary. Attractions and activities here range from a farm animal petting zoo and into the dairy's milking barn to a giant slide and an air-powered pumpkin cannon. You can hang out here and play all day!
The entrance to McClelland's can sneak up on you a little, so keep an eye out for their signs as you head down Bodega Road into the Two Rock area west of Petaluma. Turn into the dirt driveway and parking it to your immediate right. On your left you'll see their big pumpkin patch, where you're welcome to go pick that perfect Halloween pumpkin off the vine. All pumpkins here are organically grown.
Fall is one of our favorite times of year, and there's so much family fun to be found in Marin and beyond. Find a fall festival or fair that's right for your family! We'll keep updating our list of events for Marin and beyond as we find more this fall. If you have an event you'd like to see added to the list, please contact us.
San Domenico School Garden Faire
Saturday, October 8, 10 am–1 pm
Enjoy a family-friendly community fun day for all ages. There will be craft & games, live music, farmers' market, eco-exhibits and gourmet foods. Event website.
Lagunitas Fall Music Fest
San Geronimo Valley Community Center
Saturday, 2–6 pm This annual community music festival supports the Lagunitas Public School District’s Montessori Program and features area performers and youth bands, fun kid's activities, great food, and arts and crafts. Free admission. Food and games available for purchase. Location: 6350 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, San Geronimo. For more info, visit their website.
Fall has arrived, and for those seeking that true Halloween pumpkin patch experience, here's our annual guide to pumpkin patches in Marin and southern Sonoma counties.
In Marin County, Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch offers a real on-the-farm experience and the Godmother's Pumpkin Patch at St. Vincent's is a local tradition and an exciting Halloween experience for families. For more real live farms offering pumpkin patches this season, head up north a short distance to rural Sonoma County, where you'll find them in relative abundance. We visited as many of these pumpkin patches as we could last year, and have posted links to our reviews of them below. As always, we'll visit again this year and update our reviews.
We've included dates and hours for pumpkin patches when available. Hours are correct as of the time of publishing, but it's still a good idea to check a pumpkin patch's website or give them a call before you go in case anything changes. As a rule, most pumpkin patches are open during the whole month of October, although a few open in late September. Pumpkin patches listed here are open through October 31 unless otherwise indicated.
Fall offers some of the finest weather of the year in Marin and the San Francisco Bay Area, so make sure you take some time to hit the trail and take in a hike before the weather turns cold and wet. The coastal areas in Northern California are particularly nice in the fall, and are often warmer and clearer than inland.
Here are five of our favorite fall outdoor excursions in Marin County that are perfect for families.
The Tennessee Valley trail is one of Marin's most popular spots for outdoor recreation, and a favorite with hikers, cyclists, and trail runners of all ages. This easy 3.4-mile out-and-back hike has its halfway point at Tennessee Cove, home to a beautiful beach that's a perfect place for a picnic or mid-hike break. It's manageable with an offroad jogging stroller, too. Go during the week or in the mornings to avoid weekend crowds in the parking area.
After apple picking, and having a surplus of apples, I love to make this easy and delicous applesauce. My daughter loves to pack this in her lunch box. Homemade applesauce is very easy to make, and really beats that stuff you get in a jar at the supermarket.
Serve it to the kids as a snack, or as a side dish with potato pancakes, pork roast, and more. You can also use it as an ingredient to make other tasty treats like applesauce muffins.