Families traveling to Marin will find plenty to do together—from relaxing on the beach to kid-friendly offerings both inside and out.
Audubon Canyon Ranch: ACR’s award-winning daylong and overnight school programs at the Martin Griffin Preserve provide students from around the Bay Area with an education-based, nature experience guided by trained docents. Conservation in Action also means that we are committed to catalyzing and inspiring in children the desire to understand, protect, and care for the land. ACR’s Juniper Program has been doing just that for more than twenty years.
Nature Bridge, Marin Headlands: NatureBridge provides hands-on environmental science programs for children and teens. Their multi-day programs take place outdoors in the magnificence of nature’s classroom, where students are immersed in the wonder and science of our national parks including Marin Headlands and Gold Gate National Parks. Students collect and identify macroinvertebrates in Rodeo Pond, observe seals from the bluffs, and study the adaptations of tide pool creatures in our state-of-the-art intertidal marine lab.
Slide Ranch: Slide Ranch teaches visitors the impact our choices have on food, health, and the environment, through hands-on activities and independent exploration of our farm and coastal wildlands. In their family programs, you and your family can milk a goat, collect eggs from chickens and explore organic gardens and coastal trails. Come learn about native plants and tidepool ecology, make nature crafts, cook from the garden, and camp under the stars.
The Bay Trail Hamilton, Novato: The Hamilton section of the Bay Trail skirts the old runway of this former air force base, which has been returned to its original wetland state. The trail is flat and accessible, and welcomes walkers and cyclists to travel along the wetlands that border San Pablo Bay. Easy for families to walk, bike and stroller along.
Cascade Falls, Mill Valley: Cascade Falls' short trail and mild elevation changes mean that this is a perfect waterfall hike for all ages. It's not suitable for an off-road stroller, though. If you're up for a longer hike, try taking the trail all the way to Cascade Falls from downtown Mill Valley or Old Mill Park. Not to be confused with Cascade Falls in Fairfax
Chimney Rock, Point Reyes: This spot near the lighthouse in Point Reyes National Seashore boasts a dazzling array of wildflowers, amazing views of Drakes Bay and the Pacific Ocean, an overlook that gives visitors a look at a beach full of Northern Elephant Seals in the winter and spring, and even an historic Coast Guard lifeboat station down by the water.
Fairway Waterfall, Novato: This hike is a popular one for Marin families, it is a short easy hike with a wide path, known as the Fairway Waterfall or Buck Gulch Falls, It can be really amazing, especially when it's been raining heavily. The hike there is along the stream with lots of trees and cover. The 30-foot waterfall cascades over a cliff into a rocky pool below. It's a peaceful spot to take a break to prepare for the return hike and listen to the soothing sounds of splashing water.
Muir Woods, Mill Valley: Walk among old-growth coast redwoods, cooling their roots in the fresh water of Redwood Creek and lifting their crowns to reach the sun and fog. Federally protected as a National Monument since 1908, this primeval forest is both refuge and laboratory, revealing our relationship with the living landscape.
Ring Mountain, Tiburon: The grassy slopes afford fantastic views of Mount Tamalpais, the bay, and San Francisco. Trails wind through rock formations, across tiny creeks, through wildflower-dotted hillsides, and under old coast live oaks and California bays. This small preserve gets a lot of use from neighborhood residents and dogwalkers, and has a ton of unofficial paths and shortcuts. The fire roads on the south slope of Ring Mountain can be accessed by a few small streets off of Tiburon Boulevard.
Tennessee Valley Trail, Mill Valley: Tennessee Valley is an amazing offshoot of the Marin Headlands, with hiking trails that suit the whole family. The Tennessee Valley Trail is mostly level; it begins at the parking area and travels 1.7 miles to Tennessee Beach.
Waterfall Trail, Indian Valley, Novato: The Waterfall Trail at Indian Valley Open Space Preserve in Novato offers a short and easy waterfall hike that almost anyone can manage. Sturdy offroad strollers on the trail would be fine. Take the Indian Valley Fire Road from either the Indian Valley Road trailhead or from the back of College of Marin's Indian Valley Campus to where it meets the aptly named Waterfall Trail, where you'll cross over a little wooden bridge into the woods, with a stream burbling trailside.
Community Center Pools: Looking for a place to stay cool on a warm day? or even places to do swim lessons for your kids, many community pools throughout the county are open to the public and offer drop-in recreational swim hours for families. A few are; Mill Valley Community Center, Hamilton Pool, and Terra Linda Community pool.
Farmers Market Sunday: The Marin Civic Center Certified Farmers Market has been chosen as one of the top ten markets in the country, and local residents flock to their favorite farmers market each week to take home fresh locally-grown produce. Sundays are for family with pony rides, bounce houses and lots of fun kids activities.
Five Brooks Horseback Riding: Five Brooks Ranch offers an array of services for anyone who wants to enjoy the park in the company of horses. They offer private and guided trail rides, riding lessons and horse boarding.
Kayaking 101 Sport or Blue Water: One of the best summer activities for the entire family is Kayaking and there are tons of places to do it in the Bay Area. It's a fantastic way to experience nature and peacefully explore local waterways. Tandem kayaks often have a third seat for a small child, and kids can easily pick up the skills needed to paddle their craft through the water. Kayak with 101 Sports in the San Rafael Bay or head out to Point Reyes and kayak in the Tomolas bay with Blue Water Kayak.
McNears Beach: Fifty-five acres located off South San Pedro Road along the shore of San Pablo Bay, the County's most popular park offers a seasonal swimming pool, tennis courts, family and group picnic areas-available by reservation, a sandy beach, lawn areas, seasonal snack bar, and a 500 foot long fishing pier.
Outdoor Music at the Osher Marin JCC: During the summer the Osher Marin JCC reprises its most popular event series, The Summer Night Concert Series. Bring your picnic, blanket, low-backed lawn chairs, and dancing shoes—there's fun for the whole family! Best of all, kids 17 and under are admitted free, and the Kid Zone will include fun art projects and activities presented by local organizations. Of course, the playground will be open for supervised play, too!
Point Bonita Light House: A secret jewel of the Bay Area, the Point Bonita Lighthouse, built in 1855, was the third lighthouse built on the West Coast and helped shepherd ships through the treacherous Golden Gate straights. Today, the lighthouse is still active and is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. Discover Point Bonita's wild landscape, geology, and fascinating history by hiking the partially steep half-mile trail to the Point Bonita Lighthouse!
San Rafael Pacifics Games: The sweet sounds of summer baseball are echoing throughout San Rafael's Albert Park. From the crack of the bat to the pop of the glove to the smell of the grass, the San Rafael Pacifics are in the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs — a professional independent league — the Pacifics host games at historic Albert Park from June through August.
Stafford Lake Bike Park: Stafford Lake Bike Park is the North Bay’s first public bike park. Stafford Lake Bike Park includes a kids learn-to-ride zone pump track, beginner zone pump track (all ages), skills perimeter trail, dual slalom gravity zone, and progression jump course.
Aquarium of the Bay: Explore below San Francisco Bay and get up close and personal with more than 20,000 local marine animals. Watch shark and river otter feedings, learn about all the animals up close. Their sleepover programs allow kids to sleep in crystal clear tunnels surrounded by sharks, bat rays, and thousands of San Francisco Bay’s most fascinating inhabitants.
The Bay Model: A working model of the entire San Francisco Bay and much of the Sacramento River Delta, complete with regular tides that change every 14 minutes. In addition to the model, there are exhibits on the history of Bay Area watercraft, the Marin Shipyard, World War II generally, and the modern working life of the bay.
Bike Museum Fairfax: Teach your kids that Mountain Biking was invented in Marin! The Marin Museum of Bicycling is a bicycle history museum and cultural center in Fairfax, California. Their Library, available for browsing, includes books, periodicals and ephemera. Our Archives include fascinating original items from the 19th century to the present day. After you check the museum head out on the trails for a ride with the family.
Jump Indoor Playday, Mill Valley Community Center: Mill Valley Community Center invites you to bring your children ages 5 and under to JUMP Indoor Play! The Community Center Cascade Room offers a safe and secure place for children to play indoors with a great play area, toys, tumbling mats, bounce castle, and little riders for children.
Space Museum: What child is not interested in space? Bring them down to check out this hidden gem, here is a need to have permanent space exhibits in the Bay Area to help educate children about the exciting history of space exploration. The emphasis will be on the history of space exploration, and how discoveries in science and technology allowed the U.S. to be a leader in space travel.
Ice Skating Rink at Northgate: Marin on Ice, Marin County's only holiday ice skating rink, returns to Northgate in San Rafael every winter for a season of open-air skating. The rink is open to all ages, offering daily recreational ice skating, skate rental is included; and also offers private parties, birthday parties and special events.
Italian Street Painting Festival: City streets become the canvas for our talented Madonnari (street painters) and visitors experience this captivating performance art with Mission San Rafael Arcangel as the backdrop. Kids and families can even create their own work of art as they allow you to bay a small square and let your creativity come to life.
Marin County Fair: The annual fair is always the week of the 4th of July with Firework shows every night around the lagoon. There are activities for all ages including; petting zoo, carnival rides, games and art exhibits. Come have fun, eat some cotton candy and even check out one of the concerts they have at night with amazing talents such as the Beach Boys and LeAnne Reymes.
Snow in Downtown San Rafael: Every child wants to play in the snow, well I guess every adult does too. Now you can in Downtown San Rafael. Enjoy the Parade of Lights, Winter Wonderland, holiday market, tree lighting ceremony, live entertainment, and more! Free snow sledding and kids' activities take place from noon to 4:30 pm and 6 to 8 pm, and the Holiday Marketplace runs from noon to 8 pm. This event takes place the weekend after Thanksgiving.
San Anselmo Festival of Fun: This fun-filled day delights 1,200+ Marin and Ross Valley families with over 25 attractions: carnival rides, prize games (cake wheel, pick-a-pop, salami toss, and more), jumpy houses and slides, music, a café, strolling entertainers, face painting, and more. Admission is free, and tickets are purchased for rides and games.
The Mountain Play: The Mountain Play isn't just a wonderful theater and outdoor experience on the top of Mount Tam; it can also be an incredible dining experience. Many attendees choose to pack along gourmet picnics, combining the stunning views and award-winning entertainment with a fantastic feast. You and the family can hike up to the top or take a shuttle, then sing along to classic musicals.
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