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Home | Winter Wildlife Adventures for Families in Marin and North Bay

Winter Wildlife Adventures for Families in Marin and North Bay

Elephant Seal Point Reyes National Seashore

Winter in the Bay Area is a great time to get the whole family out to observe wildlife in its natural habitat, especially when the weather is cool and clear like it's been lately. Here's our rundown on family wildlife adventures in Marin and the North Bay during the winter months. All these are free unless otherwise noted.

Gray Whale Point Reyes

Whale Watching in Point Reyes

Head to Point Reyes National Seashore to watch California Gray Whales as they migrate south to the Sea of Cortez off the coast of Mexico. Don't forget to bring your binoculars! The best whale watching time is from late December through mid-January and again in March and April when they make their return trip back up to Alaska.

Elephant seals at Chimney Rock

Elephant Seals at Point Reyes

Point Reyes is also home to a sizeable colony of Northern Elephant Seals. You can find these mammoth marine mammals camped out on beaches throughout Point Reyes, especially at Drakes Beach. There's a great viewing overlook at Chimney Rock on the way to the Point Reyes Lighthouse and you can usually see some seals down at the beach by the historic lifeboat station. 

Salmon crossing Lagunitas Creek

Coho Salmon in Lagunitas Creek

While whale watching usually gets most of the attention in winter, it's also possible to get a glimpse of another fascinating aquatic creature in Marin County: the coho salmon. Late November through February is spawning season for the endangered coho salmon, and West Marin's Lagunitas Creek is home to one of the largest populations of wild coho in California. Great places to see them are Samuel P. Taylor State Park and the Leo T. Cronin Fish Viewing Area just before it on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. You can also participate in a guided Creekwalk Tour with SPAWN-trained naturalists ($15 per person suggeted donation).

Marin County Parks Nature for Kids

Family Programs with Marin County Parks

Marin County Parks offers hikes and other family programs every month at a local open space preserve. On some hikes, you can even join Marin Parks naturalists to view and learn about wildlife and plants. Check the Marin Parks online calendar for an up-to-date schedule.

Marine Mammal Center seals

The Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands

The Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands is always a fun and interesting place for families to visit. See recuperating seals and sea lions and learn about the work the Center does to rescue and rehabilitate them. You can explore on your own or take part in a guided tour. Marine Science Sunday educational programs take place on the second and fourth Sundays of each month.

2023 Marin Summer Camp Guide