It's hard to resist the romantic notion of riding the rails in a car pulled by an old-fashioned steam locomotive. It's something that captivates most kids—and many adults, too. Fortunately for railroad-obsessed kids and their parents, we have plenty of opportunities to take a real train ride in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California, even if it is on a working scale-model! Many of these train rides are a short distance away, and some are great excuses for a day trip or weekend getaway. All of them are a lot of fun! Whether it's a miniature scale railroad or the full-size real deal, the sights and sounds of a train ride are unforgettable.
Keep in mind that many of these railroads keep to seasonal schedules, and rides are often weather permitting. Some offer train rides on weekends only. Make sure you check their websites or give them a call before you plan your visit.
Did you know you can visit most of the Bay Area's major museums and cultural attractions for free every month? Just about all museums have one day a month set aside as a free day. They all aren't on the same day, too, so if you plan it right you can take in several museum outings without having to pay a thing.
Note that most museums charge for admission to special exhibitions and usually only the special exhibition fee is charged on free days; see details with each museum listing below.
Also, groups are generally not admitted on free days; check with each museum for their free day group policy.
Bank of America Museums on Us—April 1 & 2
Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card holders get free general admission on the first full weekend of every month. Present your card and a photo ID for admission (one free general admission per cardholder). Get full details here. Participating museums include:
If you have a young Shakespearean or budding Broadway musical star at home, why not hone their talents at one of the theater camps being offered this summer in Marin. Here's a list of 2017 camps that have a focus on acting and musical theater in Marin County.
Left to right: Fergus Campbell as Fagin, Liev Bruce-Low as Oliver, Skylar Silvera as Nancy, Marco Lizzaraga as Bill Sikes. Photo: Throckmorton Theatre
This weekend, Throckmorton Theatre and a cast of some of the Bay Area's most talented youth performers premiere their production of the Broadway classic musical Oliver! Based on Charles Dickens' novel, this Tony- and Olivier-Award-winning show is one of the few musicals to also win an Academy Award for Best Picture.
The streets of Victorian England come to life as Oliver, a malnourished orphan in a workhouse, escapes to London and find acceptance amongst a group of petty thieves and pickpockets led by the elderly Fagin. When Oliver is arrested for a theft he didn't commit, the benevolent victim, Mr. Brownlow, takes him in. Fearing for the safety of his hideout, Fagin employs the sinister Bill Sikes and the sympathetic Nancy to kidnap him back, threatening Oliver’s chances of discovering the true love of a family.
Tiburon, that "nearly perfect" Marin town on the end of its namesake peninsula, is a fantastic place for families to visit. Tiburon has long been a favorite of locals and tourists, and boasts amazing views of San Francisco, plenty of boutiques, shops, and restaurants, and lots for everyone to see and do. So pack up the kiddos this summer and head out to Tiburon for a day of fun!
You'll probably want to head straight for downtown Tiburon. We love to walk along the path in Shoreline park and watch the sailboats as they glide by on San Francisco Bay. Along the way, you'll find a fun and interesting museum that's perfect for kids, as well as grassy areas that are ideal for a picnic or just relaxing.
If you're looking for a fun and unique overnight experience for the family, try camping out at a museum, aquarium zoo, or wildlife center! Popular family destinations in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California like the California Academy of Sciences, the Marine Mammal Center, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the San Francisco Zoo, the USS Hornet Museum, and Safari West all offer exciting programs where families can spend the night. It's be kind of like the movie Night at the Museum, except that the dinosaurs and dioramas won't come alive after hours (we hope)!
Needless to say, all of these events require advance reservations and have limited space, so register for your awesome overnight adventure soon! Many of these venues also offer overnight programs for scouts, schools, and other youth groups. All information is correct at time of posting; check each location’s website for complete information, pricing updates, and a schedule of events.
On your marks, get set, GO! As part of it ongoing Family Series, Marin Theatre Company brings the spirit of sportsmanship, friendship, and living in the moment to its magical production of Brendan Murray’s Hare & Tortoise. The third production in MTC's Family Series, Hare & Tortoise features slow and steady Tortoise versus speedy and impatient Hare, who race to understand that determination and will for success truly matter in life.
Come help put the "art" in "party" at the fourth annual de Youngsters Art Party, taking place this Friday, January 6, 2017, from 6 to 9 pm at the de Young Museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. This one-of-a-kind, after-hours festive family outing raises $50,000 annually for the museum's education department, helping to support educational initiatives like free youth programs and summer camp scholarships for children in low-income families.
This year's Art Party theme is inspired by the special exhibition Frank Stella: A Retrospective. Partygoers can explore the exhibition, experience live performances by Velocity Circus, experience an "activation station" created by Adobe, enjoy mocktails in the Tween Glow Lounge, make flipbooks, and much more. We attended the de Youngsters Art Party last year, and had a blast!
Museum visitors are often told not to touch anything, but not at the museums listed here! These seven local Marin County and San Francisco Bay Area museums offer lots of fun hands-on activities for kids and families. They're perfect for rainy-day outings or any time, really.
Bay Area Discovery Museum
Families with kids up to age 8 love Sausalito's Bay Area Discovery Museum for its combination of hands-on fun, exciting programs and performances, rotating special exhibitions (currently it's Curious George: Let's Get Curious), and a great play area overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay. It's a fantastic place to play away the day and take in the amazing views. Location: Fort Baker, 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito, 94965. Hours: Tuesday–Sunday, 9 am–5 pm. More info: www.baykidsmuseum.org or (415) 339-3900.
Children's Museum of Sonoma County
Recently opened in its new home adjacent to the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, the Children's Museum of Sonoma County offers hands-on art-, nature-, and science-focused exhibits and experiences for children 10 and younger. "Shop" at the Farmers' Market, play in Mary's Garden, and get creative in Ella's Art Studio. Additional exhibitions are under construction and due to open at the museum this spring. Location: 1835 West Steele Lane, Santa Rosa, 95403. Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 9 am–4 pm; Sunday, noon–4 pm. More info: www.cmosc.org or (707) 546-4069.