Winter

10 Fun Family Activities for Mid-Winter Break

February 14, 2017

Snow play for mid-winter break

Whether you're getting in the car and heading up to Lake Tahoe for skiing or snow play or just hanging around the house for the holiday break, you'll find plenty of fun things to do with the kids during their time off! Here's our list of 10 fun family activities and outings in Marin and beyond for mid-winter break.

Take a Family Hike to the Fairway Waterfall in Novato

February 6, 2017

Fairway Waterfall Novato

When it rains, we love to head outdoors and take a waterfall hike! Hikes with the family are especially fun when there's something exciting to see at the end of the trail, like a rushing waterfall. Marin's waterfalls are some of the county's hidden treasures, and are best appreciated when they're running full force in winter and spring. The Fairway Waterfall, also known as Arroyo de San Jose Waterfall, is a seasonal waterfall that can be found on a trail at the end of Fairway Drive, in Novato's Country Club neighborhood.

The trail to the Fairway waterfall is short and easy and the trailhead is conveniently located, so it's a perfect hike for kids. So bundle up, put on those puddle stompers and raincoats, and head outdoors for a waterfall hike! After our recent winter storms, the waterfall is flowing in full force, so you will not be disappointed.

Groundhog Day Results: 6 More Weeks of Winter

February 2, 2017

Ground HogThis just in: Famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, meaning that winter will be here for another 6 weeks or so. All the alternate, less noteworthy groundhogs, such as Atlanta's General Beauregard Lee did not see his shadow, which means an early Southern spring.

Groundhog Day has always been America's most underappreciated holiday, but not in our house! Our kids saw it on the calendar and have been eagerly anticipating the great day for weeks. We're extra lucky this year in that Groundhog Day coincides with that other unofficial American holiday—the Super Bowl.

Chef Daddy Makes Hot Chocolate

January 11, 2014

Hot chocolateOn cool winter days, everyone loves a steaming cup of hot chocolate. It's a comforting way to warm up, and a nice treat for kids and grownups alike. Did you run out of those little packets of Swiss Miss hot chocolate that usually hang out in the back of your pantry? Don't worry—making hot chocolate from scratch is far easier than it sounds, and uses only a few simple ingredients. Here in the Marin Mommies test kitchen we tried out a few different recipes as we searched for the best hot chocolate ever.

Did you know that chocolate, in its first form, was consumed as a drink? Spanish conquistador Cortés found chocolate being consumed at the court of Aztec emperor Moctezuma, and the Aztecs in turn adopted the custom of drinking chocoloate from their Maya neighbors to the south. The big difference was that the native Mexicans drank their chocolate cold, mixed with cornmeal and flavored with herbs and chili peppers.

Are Your Kids Ready for Ski Lessons?

February 17, 2013

Group ski lesson at Northstar CaliforniaWe recently spent the weekend on the slopes at Northstar California, where our kids took ski lessons with one of their experienced instructors. We were amazed at how much progress they made in just a few hours!

When should you get your own kids started on skis? Mike Hafer, assistant director of the Northstar's Ski and Snowboard School, was kind enough to answer this and a few other questions about ski lessons for children. Mike is also a member of the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) Demo Team and father of two young daughters.

What's the best age to get your kids started on the slopes? Is it ever too late?

When the child is ready. The mountain environment can be very intimidating to a young child. I would recommend that the child experiences snow play prior to learning how to ski or snowboard. Most 2-year-olds will only last about 20–30 minutes at most on the snow with equipment. 3-year-olds will typically go anywhere from a half day to a full day depending on their normal routines. If they are in need of nap time, I would recommend sticking with a half day program.

Ski Season Starts This Wednesday at Northstar California!

November 12, 2012

Northstar California Resort opens November 14Are you and your family ready to hit the slopes this winter? Thanks to last week's early season storm (and of course the snowmaking machines), our favorite Tahoe ski destination, Northstar California Resort will open early this year.

The ski and snow fun start this Wednesday, November 14. Four lifts will be open, as well as a beginner magic carpet lift for new skiers and riders. Ski school, on-mountain dining, and Northstar's 9,000-square-foot ice skating rink will also be open starting Wednesday, and of course all the dining and shopping in the Village, too.

Learn more about what Northstar has to offer for familes in our article here. We're looking forward to heading back up later on in the season, toasting some marshmallows for s'mores at one of Northstar's fire pits, and meeting Marsh Mellow, the Northstar marketing wonder dog (pictured here—my daughter's obsessed with him).

Lodging, Dining, and Family Fun at the Village in Northstar California

February 14, 2012

Northstar Village

Note: This is the second of two articles on our experience at Northstar California Resort near Lake Tahoe. Read the first installment here.

During our visit to Tahoe's Northstar Calfornia Resort, we stayed right in the Village itself. The Village serves as the hub of activity at Northstar, and it's a fantastic place in which to stay and to hang out when you're not skiing. It may even be worth a trip in its own right, regardless of whether you're skiing or not. There's a lot to do here, and it's the ideal place for families to stay, play, shop, and dine when they're not up on the slopes. We loved the fact that we didn't have to leave the resort—everything, from ski equipment rentals to dining, was literally right outside our door.

Family Ski and Snow Fun on the Mountain at Tahoe's Northstar California

February 13, 2012

Family skiing at Northstar California ResortThis is the first of two articles on our family ski experience at Northstar California Resort near Lake Tahoe. The second article can be found here.

While it's true that we've been having an unusally dry winter in Calfornia, it's a myth that there's no snow up in the mountains. We spent last weekend at Northstar California, Tahoe's family-friendly ski resort, and they've been busy making their own snow to augment the stuff that's fallen naturally. As a result, the vast majority of their trails and lifts are open, and it's a great time to visit and hit the slopes with the family.

We've been discussing taking a trip up to the mountains for a while, so the kids were really excited to play in the snow and take ski lessons. The fantastic weather, the wide range of family activities and amentities, the magical atmosphere on the mountain and in the Village, and the amazingly friendly and warm Northstar staff all made for a memorable weekend.

As one of the premier family snow sports destinations in the Sierras, Northstar has plenty to do for both kids and adults. The Big Easy, their beginners' area at mid-mountain, boasts gently sloped terrain for a fun learning experience. The Big Easy is also home to Northstar's Ski and Snowboard School and the Burton Snowboard Academy.

Go Swimming Indoors This Winter

January 19, 2010

I decided that I’m going to do something for myself this year—I finally joined our local health club and I’m going to get myself back into shape. I signed up at the Marin YMCA a few weeks ago, and have to say that it was the best decision I’ve made so far this year. Not only am I able to take advantage of the workout room, but our entire family can participate in the classes and programs they have to offer as well.

One of our favorites features so far is the indoor pool. Believe it or not, we have been making a lot of use of it during on these recent rainy weekends, and my kids are able to burn off some energy as well as brush up on their swimming skills. My son wants to join the swim team in the spring and he needs to be able to swim the length of the pool first, so we’re getting in some valuable practice time.

There’s something I love about swimming in an indoor pool on a rainy day. At first thought it seems a little odd to want to go swimming when it’s cold and wet out, but once you get to the pool it’s warm and pleasant and a contrast to the yucky weather going just on the other side of the windows and walls.

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