Marin Mommies presents a guest post by Bay Area mom blogger Naomi Tripi. You can read more of her tips for parents of babies and toddlers on her blog at www.tripibabytips.blogspot.com
Toddlers are wild and crazy, you might think that taking them out into the wild would be as natural as breathing, but it is really a lot of work. There are more ways for your snuggly little tsunami to hurt themselves out in the woods than there are in a public restroom! However, getting your favorite bunny-hopper out doors is good for them too. You might not be able to enjoy the peace and solace of nature like you used to, but with a few tips, navigating some of the common pitfalls will be much easier.
If you're looking for a vacation destination a little closer to home this summer, consider heading up to California's historic Gold Country in the Sierra Foothills. It's a relatively short 2-1/2 hour drive from the Bay Area, and there are plenty of things for families to do. You can visit historic mining towns, pan for gold, explore caves, go wine tasting (for mom and dad, of course), take a ride on a 19th-century steam train, hike, fish, and more.
We recently took some time off to take a road trip to the southern part of the Mother Lode, where we decided to make a home base of the town of Sonora in Tuolumne County. Sonora, first settled in 1848 by Mexican miners from the state of the same name, is located on the appropriately named Highway 49, which winds north to south through the foothills, Sonora is known as the "Queen of the Southern Mines," and with a population of over 4,000, is the "big city" by Gold Country standards. However, its old-fashioned downtown definitely retains the look and feel of the 19th century.
One of our favorite destinations for a family road trip is the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The aquarium is not only a world famous attraction, but an international leader in environmental education and the fight to save the world's oceans.
One of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's most immediate and accessible conservation efforts is their Seafood Watch program. The goal of Seafood Watch is to raise consumer awareness about the need to choose seafood from sustainable sources, and to advocate for environmentally friendly seafood.
It's mid-April and Northern Calfornia's wildflowers are pretty much at their peak. Spring is kind of an emphemeral time here in Marin, with the vibrant green grass quickly turning to brown by the end of May. For whatever reason we seem to have a bumper crop of magnificent wildflowers here in Marin this season. The wildflower show will be over before we know if, so make sure you get out and take a look before they're gone for another year.
One of San Francisco Bay's most prominent landmarks, Angel Island played a considerable role in the history of California and is now one of the region's favorite spots for hikers, bicyclists, tourists, and anyone who just wants to get away from the busy life on the mainland. It's a great place for a family day trip, with plenty of opportunities to picnic, hike, learn, and just take in the surrounding natural beauty.
We took the kids (2 and 5) on the ferry to Angel Island last week, and they had a great time. My son was so excited to take the ferry ride over there. Everyone had a great time riding on the top of the boat and looking around at the water and all the passing boats. The ferry ride over there is very quick and painless. We stopped at the cafe for some ice cream cones, which were very good and worth the purchase. I recommend bringing a picnic, a blanket, and some sand toys. There's a neat little beach for the kids to play in the sand and kick around in the water.
The last time we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium (back in January—you can read about the trip here), we were a little disappointed to find that the Splash Zone, their interactive education and play area for kids, was closed for renovation. But it's back now at, and, at twice the size of the old Splash Zone, it's better than ever! We weren't able to make the media preview back in March, but we were back in Pacific Grove a couple weeks ago and had the opportunity to check it out.
One of our favorite relatively short road trips is to head down to the Monterey Peninsula. It's about a 2-1/2- to 3-hour drive from Marin, making it perfect for a day trip, overnight, or weekend. (What makes this easier for us is that we have good friends in Pacific Grove who are willing to put up with us every so often for a few days.) A favorite place to visit, especially with small children, is the Monterey Bay Aquarium
We paid a visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium and its Wild About Otters special exhibition last week. The aquarium is widely considered one of the best in the world, and I'm willing to bet that it is. The displays reflect the Monterey Bay Aquarium's mission to research the biodiversity of Monterey Bay and the California coast, and they're fascinating. Our favorites include the 28-foot-high Kelp Forest exhibit, with its leopard sharks, anchovies, and other fish; the sea otters; and the spectacular Outer Bay exhibit with its amazing 1.2 million-gallon tank, and featuring denizens of the deeper waters of outer Monterey Bay, including giant bluefin tuna, humongous ocean sunfish, sea turtles, hammerhead sharks, and the world's only great white shark in captivity!
For dads with a streak of daring we’ve found the perfect Father’s Day gift: a ride in a historic airplane over the Sonoma Wine Country! The Vintage Aircraft Company, located a short distance from Marin at Sonoma Valley Airport (also known as the Schellville Aerodrome), offers rides in restored World War II-era PT-17 Stearman biplanes and a World War II SNJ/AT-6 Texan warbird.
Biplane flights include sedate 20-minute tours over the vineyards for $150.00, and a 40-minute jaunt—where you choose the direction: north to the Wine Country, west to the Pacific, or south to San Francisco—for $295.00. For an extra $50.00 add an aerobatic package to dad’s flight, with maneuvers including the barrel roll, the hammerhead, the loop, and the infamous Cuban eight! You can add a second person to any flight for $95.00; the Stearmans have been modified to hold two people in the front cockpit.