Marin County offers an abundance of family-friendly activities to make this holiday season special. Mill Valley hosts an annual Winterfest celebration that’s one of the county's biggest seasonal events—but winter is also the perfect time to simply make some hot chocolate and enjoy holiday decorations by the Pacific.
Below are a few of the best Marin County holiday activities to choose from.
The Marin County Farmer’s Markets
are a great way to find fresh produce and gifts for the holiday season. There are multiple certified farmers' markets throughout Marin County, so wherever you live, there is bound to be at least one nearby. Per the official Marin County website, there are regular markets in Mill Valley, Fairfax, Corte Madera, San Rafael, Novato, and Larkspur.
Some are only open during the spring and summer seasons, but others are open all year—like the Mill Valley and Corte Madera locations. Marin County’s markets are the perfect way to feel connected to your community during the holidays. If you want to purchase unique gifts that won't be found anywhere else, the farmers' markets are always full of vendors selling handmade crafts, trinkets, and treats.
Mill Valley Winterfest
Mill Valley's epic Winterfest celebration is Marin County’s quintessential holiday event. It’s held annually and features an extravagant set-up complete with snow for the kids to play in, delicious food catered from local restaurants, live entertainment, children's activities, and a Tree Lighting Ceremony.
Started in 1995 by the Petrone brothers, Mill Valley’s Winterfest tradition is an iconic event featuring live music, food, snow sledding, and more. Santa always makes an appearance aboard an antique fire truck, and there are all kinds of arts and crafts to enjoy as a family.
While the 2020 Winterfest was altered due to the pandemic, this year, the event is back in-person and better than ever. Winterfest 2021 includes the “Holiday Hunt”, a three-week, scavenger-hunt-style contest featuring more than 30 Mill Valley businesses. Kicking off at the end of November and continuing through the season, the Winterfest holiday extravaganza is an epic celebration of all the things we love most about winter.
Browse local shops
The Lark Creek Shops
is a beloved local hotspot that is perfect for all ages. In the fall, they throw a Fall Festival, complete with a bounce house for kids and face-painting, but it’s a fabulous spot to window shop any time of year. You’ll want to dip inside Equator Coffee
for a cup of something warm as you browse retailers, eateries, and experiences like Urban Remedy
, and La Belle Fifi, and finish with a bite of sushi at Keiko Fish
Holiday baking at home
Not sure you’re up to leaving the house? Have fun at home with some winter baking. Have your kids select the recipe online or from one of your favorite cookbooks, and then break out the ingredients. The possibilities are endless, and you’ll be able to adjust the difficulty based on your children’s age and experience levels. A few surefire ways to get your kids involved in the kitchen are by stirring, rolling out dough, and cutting sugar cookies into fun shapes — and don’t forget the frosting!
Food & Farm Tour
Food & Farm Tours
in NorCal are a delicious way to spend a day in Marin and Sonoma counties and are a unique excursion through some of California’s best restaurants and farms. This opportunity presents a chance for families to learn together about how farm-to-table dining works.
Whether you want to pet baby animals or see how creameries bring dairy to demanding communities, Food & Farm Tours
will create a memorable experience for you and your family during the holiday season. Adult options are also available, like pairing classes at Marin County’s local distilleries, wineries, and breweries. Offerings include:
Coastal oyster tours
Exclusive access to farms and creameries
Cooking classes including farm-fresh ingredients
Customized tours for all groups and sizes
Local history and food production
Whether taking a hike, going on a bike ride, or picnicking in the park, there are plenty of outdoor spaces in Marin County where you can bird-watch or enjoy the local wildlife year-round.
If you don't mind a drive, the Monterey Bay Aquarium
, located on the historic Cannery Row, is an exquisite window into the marine life of the Pacific Coast, San Francisco Bay Area, and beyond. This nonprofit public aquarium first opened in 1984 and is a fantastic place to see rare local creatures. Sausalito's Marine Mammal Center
is a private organization that advances global ocean conservation through education, research, rescue, and rehabilitation, and San Rafael’s WildCare Bay Area
nurses rescued wildlife back to top condition.
Both of these locations are an inspiration for kids and are great places to spend a few hours indoors during the winter months.
If you’ve always wanted an excuse to visit some of Marin County's many museums, the cooler winter months present an ideal opportunity for a fun day trip.
- Bay Area Discovery Museum: Enjoy hands-on art, science, and STEM exhibits at this interactive children's museum.
- Bolinas Museum: The goal of the Bolinas Museum is to collect, preserve, and exhibit the art and history of coastal Marin in an engaging atmosphere that visitors can enjoy.
- MarinMOCA: Artists and creatives will appreciate taking regular visits to the MarinMOCA to see extraordinary pieces from national and local artists on display.
- Marin History Museum: Learn more about contemporary Marin County by exploring the traditions, hardship, and innovation of the area’s past.
- Falkirk Cultural Center: A home for art, culture, and events housed inside a historic Victorian.
Marin County's coastal landscape is breathtaking, and a hike along one of the many trails weaving through the area is a great way to spend a foggy morning as a family. In the Marin Headlands
, you'll find sweeping views of the coast and Sausalito’s Marine Mammal Center.
North of the Point Reyes Station is the start of the Tomales Bay Trailhead, a gentle, sweeping trail (perfect for kids and beginners) that cuts across rolling hills and provides unmatched access to the local wildlife. Marin County is also home to several beautiful waterfalls and surrounding hikes, from Mill Valley's Cascade Falls to Mt. Tamalpais, there are several options for a gorgeous waterfall hike.
Adventure to Lake Tahoe
Experience world-class skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports at California’s Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe is several hours by car from Marin County and is a luxurious hotspot for families who want a genuine winter experience in the snow. Lake Tahoe is home to the highest concentration of ski resorts in the country within a 100-mile radius.
is the only real ice skating rink in Marin County and sets up annually at the North Gate Mall in San Rafael. This seasonal community ice rink is always filled with families wanting to test out their skills on the ice. Outside of Marin County, there’s the Holiday Ice Rink
in San Francisco's Union Square and Snoopy's Home Ice
at the Redwood Empire Ice Arena in Santa Rosa.
See the Nutcracker at San Francisco Ballet
Everyone should get the chance to see a live performance of The Nutcracker
, and many families make it a yearly tradition. The acclaimed San Francisco Ballet
hosts a showstopping performance of the legendary ballet, giving children the magical opportunity to step into Clara's world and become entranced by Tchaikovsky’s wonderland of Sugarplum fairies and toy soldiers. Accompanied by a live orchestra performing its famous score, The Nutcracker
is a fantastic way to celebrate the holiday season. While you’re there, swing by The Fairmont
to see the Gingerbread House, a holiday spectacular.
Looking at homes for sale in Marin County?
For more information on winter events and happenings in Marin County, you can always refer to Marin Magazine
, which keeps a calendar of upcoming events. If you’re interested in learning more about Marin County and San Francisco real estate and want to explore homes for sale throughout the area, contact Bill Bullock, Lydia Sarkissian, and Magda Sarkissian with the Sarkissian Bullock Team
at Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty today.