It's a safe bet that few if any of us remember Playland at the Beach, that bygone San Francisco beachside amusement park that closed back in the early 1970s. This popular attraction, once located across from Ocean Beach near Sutro Heights and the Cliff House offered up fun like the Big Dipper roller coaster, Fun House, Diving Bell, Ferris wheel, the infamous Laffing Sal automaton, restaurants, and more. It was even the birthplace of the Bay Area's favorite ice cream treat, the It's-It ice cream sandwich! Not much remains of Playland (its site is not home to a condo development), but if you want to get a taste of what it was had to offer, head across the Bay to El Cerrito and pay a visit to Playland-Not-At-The-Beach.
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.
Some of the Bay Area's most talented youth performers come together in Mill Valley to present the Throckmorton Theatre's family-friendly production of the Broadway classic musical The King and I. The winner of four Tony awards and five Oscars, The King and I tells the story of Anna, a British schoolteacher hired by the King of Siam as part of his drive to modernize his country, and features a dazzling score and incomparable Jerome Robbins ballet, "The Small House of Uncle Thomas."
The King and I is directed by Throckmorton Youth Performers Director Steven Hess, with choreography by Bidalia E. Albanese and Maria Elena Cacciatore, and musical direction by Desirée Goyette Bogas.
The remaining performances of The King and I take place on Friday, March 11 at 7:30 pm, Saturday, March 12 at 2 pm, and Sunday, March 13 at 2 pm. General admission tickets cost $20 for adults and $15 for students; reserved seating tickets are $35. Order tickets online at tickets.throckmortontheatre.org or by calling (415) 383-9600. The box office is also open Tuesday through Sunday, from 2 to 6 pm for in-person sales.
The classic story of Jack and the Beanstalk comes to life in Masque Unit Junior Theatre’s annual live theater production for young children at Marin Center this Saturday, March 5, 2016. Masque Unit’s production, titled Jack and the Beanstalk, and the Giant, and the Goose, and the Really Truly-Uly Rotten Day, is a contemporary take on a timeless fairy tale featuring Broadway-style songs, dancing, comedy, magic, and surprises.
Characters include the adventurous Jack, an overworked and underpaid Golden Goose, and a diminutive Giant with a huge Napoleon complex. Each performance is followed by a meet-and-greet photo opportunity with Jack and the Beanstalk characters. This performance is an ideal introduction to live theater for children ages 3 and up.
Marin Theatre Company's Family Series continues this month with The Little Mermaid,an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's classic fable. When a sea witch offers a beautiful mermaid princess the chance to make her dreams come true, it comes at a heavy price. The Little Mermaid sacrifices the best parts of herself—her tail and her voice—for legs, in the hope of winning the heart of the prince she adores. But the sea witch isn’t finished with her yet. Will love conquer all? A cast of two storytellers, Flotsam and Jetsam, bring fresh energy to this timeless fairy tale.
Performances of The Little Mermaid take place on Saturday, February 27 and March 5 at 10:30 am, 12:30 pm, and 2:30 pm and Sunday, February 28 and March 5 at 10:30 am and 12:30 pm. Run time is 35 minutes, and the show is recommended for children ages 5 to 8.
Gung hay fat choy! Sausalito's Bay Area Discovery Museum opens on a Monday (something that happens rarely) today for its annual Chinese New Year Festival. The festivities take place today (February 15, Presidents' Day) from 9 am to 5 pm. At the this celebration of the Year of the Monkey, the whole family can find something to do. Try your hand at traditional Chinese calligraphy, construct a paper lantern, see a vibrant performance by the Chinese Performing Arts of America Youth Group, hear performances of Chinese music, watch martial arts demonstrations, play traditional Chinese games, and dine on delicious Chinese food.
You can also learn about the Chinese zodiac and enjoy an exciting performance by the lion dancers of the Marin Chinese Cultural Group at 10 am and 2 pm. Lion dance performances take place in the museum's Festival Plaza.
Katia and Company is one of our favorite Marin resources for drama camps and kids' theater productions, and their shows are always a treat! This month, Katia presents Please Be Seated at the Playhouse in San Anselmo from January 20 to 24. Katia is offering Marin Mommies readers a free ticket—one per family—if you mention "Marin Mommies" at the door.
This play-within-a-play, written and directed by Katia McHaney and featuring a cast of talented local kids, follows the misadventures of a group of 5th through 8th graders who try to put on their own production of Cinderella. Featuring diva actors, a stressed-out director, and incompetent stagehands—everything that can go wrong, does!
Marin Theatre Company's Family Series continues this December with The Little Prince, a musical adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Expupéry's classic fable. When a pilot crashes his plane in the desert and is stranded with hardly enough food and water rations to keep him alive, he is surprised by the appearance of a young man: the Little Prince.
As the days stretch on, the Little Prince reappears to the pilot every evening at sunset and unfolds a little bit more of his story with every visit. He explains how he came to be on earth, and the planets and creatures he left behind in the stars above.
The Little Prince’s fantastic journey to Earth and the resonant life lessons he shares will delight and warm the hearts of families of all ages this holiday season.
Performances of The Little Prince take place on December 12, 13, 19, and 20 at 10:30 am and 11 am, 1 pm, and 3:30 pm on Saturdays, and 11 am and 1 pm on Sundays. Tickets cost $18 for children under 14 and $22 for adults. Get $5 off tickets to any performance with code LPFRIENDS! Order online at tickets.marintheatre.org, by phone at (415) 388-5208, or in person at the MTC box office, 397 Miller Avenue in Mill Valley. Some shows are already sold out, so order your tickets now!
Fans of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and all the other characters from the Peanuts comic strip know that Santa Rosa was home to the late cartoonist Charles M. Schulz. You've probably spent some time skating at Snoopy's Home Ice at the Redwood Empire Ice Arena, which was founded by Schulz in 1969, but the Charles M. Schulz Museum, located right across the street on Hardies Lane, is a must-visit destination for families, too!
I suspect most parents have more fond memories of Peanuts than their children; we all grew up with the ubiquitous Peanuts comic strips, TV specials, books, toys, and more. For myself, a highlight of just about every holiday was watching the appropriate Peanuts special—whether A Charlie Brown Christmas, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, or even It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown on TV. Of course the recently released Peanuts Movie may change all that, so it's a great time to take the kids to check things out! It's not an especially large place, but there's plenty for both kids and parents to see and do, so plan on spending a few hours there.