Hiking Steep Ravine and Dipsea via Pantoll Station to Stinson Beach - Mt. Tamalpais

Saturday, December 21, 2019

This fun and exceptionally scenic trail is wonderful for hiking families. 
The almost-4-mile trail includes many wooden bridges, small waterfalls, rushing creek, wooden ladder, brick steps, spectacular lush redwood forest, and coastal bluffs with spectacular ocean vistas. 
Yes, it has it all.

Start at the Pantoll Ranger Station on Mt. Tam. Follow the signs to Steep Ravine, and follow that trail downward as you begin to walk among the redwoods and ferns.

A little after passing the wooden ladder, you will reach a fork in the trail. Turn right to Dipsea trail, towards Stinson Beach. The views changes immediately - the trail opens up to wide open brush lands of grass, wild berries and wildflowers, with a view of the glittering Pacific Ocean right in front of you.

Continue until you get to the road, and follow the signs across the road to continue a little more to get to Stinson Beach. 

Parkside Snack Bar right at the entrance to Stinson Beach is a great option for lunch. You can get it to go and have it on the picnic tables or on the beach. They offer family friendly meals, at good prices.

When you’re ready to head back, take the shuttle/bus #61 back to Pantoll Station. The bus stop is right across the street from the playground next to the cafe, and costs $2/adult and $1/child. Bus schedule: https://marintransit.org/routes/61 
Along the trail and on the drive back up the mountain, keep your eyes on the side of the road! We saw several coyotes up close!

Hiking and Exploring Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve

Saturday, June 29, 2019

We recently visited Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve twice, and it became a new weekend favorite for us. 

Ipiwa Trail to Alpine Pond 

This hike can be challenging for children, but with breaks and a visit to the nature center, it's pretty great.

When entering the park, turn right to the main parking lot. The hike is about 1.3 miles from one parking lot to another, or 2.6 miles loop, and offer gentle slopes, good combination of shade and open trails, great views and spectacular nature.
Start from the Skyline parking lot and follow the Ipiwa trail. After about half-mile slope, the hike become easier for little feet. 

After 1.2 miles you'll get to the Alpine Pond. Take time to explore! We saw newts, turtle and crayfish in the water.

After exploring the pond, check out the David C. Daniels Nature Center
It seems like a small room, but lots to explore! Kids will enjoy the "Please Touch" approach of the center: wildlife skulls and skins, feathers, bones and more. 
The "Build a Pond" wall was a huge success with Daniel! He learned about the pond animals, the food chain and more. 
If you want to get to the pond and nature center, but don't think your children will enjoy the hike - you can park in the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve parking lot located on the corner of the Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35) and Page Mill/Alpine Road intersection (across Skyline Boulevard on the right) and walk through the pedestrian tunnel to the Nature Center.

Horseshoe Lake
If you'll turn left to the other parking lot, you'll reach a 1.3 mile trail around the Horseshoe lake.

This is one of the nicest easy hikes in the area. It is great for any ability, and it's stroller friendly. 
The walk is very easy and the trail is flat and well maintained. 

This is a loop trail, which will circle the lake and eventually return you to where you started.

Happy trails!

4th of July Celebrations Around The Bay Area 2019

Monday, June 17, 2019

Looking for a big fireworks celebration, a parade or kids activities this Fourth of July?
I put together this list of Independence Day activities around the Bay Area. No matter how you'd like to celebrate America's birthday, you can find something below.

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Alameda - Parade and coast guard festival.

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Berkeley - Live entertainment and family friendly activities, followed by fireworks after sundown.

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Cupertino - Pancake breakfast, children's carnival and parade, concert, free swim at Blackberry farm, and fireworks show.

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Danville - Parade.

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Foster City - All-day event at Leo Ryan Park - games, food, entertainment, family and dog parade, and a grand fireworks display.

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Fremont - Parade: https://fremont4th.org/

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Half Moon Bay - Old-fashioned parade

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Livermore - Fireworks celebration

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Menlo Park - Parade and celebration

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Milpitas - Pool party, concert, and fireworks.

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Mountain View - SF symphony concert and fireworks.

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Oakland - Fireworks.

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Redwood City - Downtown parade, festival & fireworks at the port!

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ SF - Celebration at the pier and fireworks.

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ San Jose - Red, white & Blue parade, and fireworks.

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Santa Clara - All-city picnic & fireworks extravaganza.

Beach, Please! Best Bay Area Swimming Beaches for families

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

There is nothing like a day at the beach for summer memories!

Lake Anza
Tilden Regional Park offers lots of family-friendly activities (read about our visit here), but Lake Anza really stands out.
Lake Anza is scenic, affordable, and feels like you are miles away from the city even though it's just up over the hill.
2019 Swim season: Weekends & Holidays Apr 27-Sep 15, and Monday - Friday May 27-Sep 6
Hours: 11am-6pm
Cost: $3.5/Adult, $2.5/child, free parking.
Address: Lake Anza Road, Berkeley

Cull Canyon
It is ideal for families with young children, who will enjoy splashing in the shallow waters and building snow castles on the white, sandy beach. Older kids who pass a quick swim test will love the diving platform!
2019 Swim season: Weekends & Holidays Apr 27-Sep 2, and Monday - Friday May 27-Aug 16
Hours: 11am-6pm
Cost: $3.5/Adult, $2.5/child, free parking
Address: 18627 Cull Canyon Road, Castro Valley 

Del Valle Regional Park
Del Valle offers two swimming beaches, picnic facilities, boat rental and visitor center.
2019 Swim season: Weekends & Holidays Apr 27-Sep 15, and Monday - Friday June 10-Aug 16
Hours: 11am-6pm
Cost: Free, parking fee $6
Address: 7000 Del Valle Road, Livermore

Parkside Aquatic Beach
This San Mateo sandy saltwater swimming beach comes with a bonus - a playground!
2019 Swim season: Year-round 
Cost: Free
Address: 1595 Seal Street, San Mateo

Santa Cruz Beaches
While other beaches on the coast are likely to be chilly and foggy, the Santa Cruz beaches are more likely to be sunny. The most popular beach comes with a huge bonus - the boardwalk. Other beaches we enjoyed are Natural Bridges beach, Harbor beach, and Seabright State Beach (we like starting at the small museum outside, and head to the beach after. Read about it here). But really, most beaches will be just as great.
2019 Swim season: Year-round
Cost: Free
Address: Santa Cruz 

County Fairs 2019

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Get into the spirit of summer and visit one (or all!) of the county fairs in the bay area!
Corn dogs and carnival rides, fireworks and farm animals - there is something fun for everyone!
San Mateo County Fair (June 8-16, 2019
Stroll the sprawling grounds, snack on various classic fair cuisines including BBQ, pizza, corn dogs, and funnel cakes, visit a petting zoo, go on the carnival rides, get dazzled by the acrobats, and more.

Santa Clara County Fair (August 1-4, 2019)
Carnival rides, classical fair food, a petting zoo, Captain Jack Spareribs and the pirate show, sea lion encounters, hands-on learning, live music and more. Read about our visit here.
Santa Clara County Fair 2016
Alameda County Fair (June 14 - July 7, 2019)
Carnival rides, family friendly entertainment, and hands-on learning.Live music, sports arena where you can catch a rodeo, a monster-truck rally, a demolition derby, and horse races. On July 4th, watch spectacular fireworks.

Marin County Fair (July 3-7, 2019)
Be entertained by the spectacular grounds entertainment, carnival rides, carnival food and more.The fireworks take place every day of the Fair, at 9:30pm, shot from three barges over the lagoon in a low-level, safely choreographed extravaganza of music, rockets, Roman candles, comets, meteoric showers and spectacular bursting cascades – all beautifully reflected in the water below.

Monterey County Fair (August 29-September 2, 2019)
In addition to rousing family entertainment, carnival rides, games, and fun Fair-food, the fair provides an opportunity to celebrate Monterey County's unique history and heritage, from the aquaculture of Monterey's coast to the abundant produce and wines from its agriculture, and the wonderful home art exhibits to the excitement of the livestock competitions.

Santa Cruz County Fair (September 11-15, 2019)
Carnival rides, classical fair food, a petting zoo, Captain Jack Spareribs and the pirate show, monster trucks, live music and more!

Sonoma Marin Fair (June 19-23, 2019)
Featuring the hugely popular “Ugliest Dog” contest, pig races, a safari adventure, a culinary pavilion and wine tasting.

Napa County Fair (July 4, 2019)
Carnival rides, attractions, live music and entertainment, chef showcases, displays and demonstrations, and firework.

Sonoma County Fair (August 1-11, 2019)
Visit Sonoma County Fair and feel the excitement with a giant carnival, floral show, incredible display of livestock and agricultural education, live entertainment, carnival food, fun contests and more during its 80th celebration.

Solano County Fair (June 27-June 30, 2019)
Livestock auctions, talent show, blue ribbon competitions and a family-friendly, traditional county fair-vibe. Don't miss the concerts and fireworks every night!

Napa Town and County Fair (August 7-11, 2019)
Located inside the Napa Valley Expo, the Napa Town and County Fair will have a great fair-vibe and summer-spirit! Delicious food, competitive exhibits, dance & party all summer night to live music.

Berkeley Weekend Getaway

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

When I booked the hotel in Berkeley Marina, I had no idea this will be such an adventurous destination! We had a great time, and I hope you will be inspired to plan a mini vacay close to home.

We stayed at the DoubleTree by Hilton. Rooms and facilities were very nice and very clean, and the staff were really friendly. Cookies in the check-in are always a nice add.
The on-site restaurant, Bay VIew Grill, was good, nothing amazing, but with great views. Indoor pool was a fun end to our day.


As I already said, this weekend turned to be pretty adventurous.

The Adventure Playground (FREE, open weekends 11am-5pm)
Located in the Marina, just a few minutes from the hotel. Named one of the top 10 playground in National Geographic, and so extraordinary, we had to pay a visit!
It is basically a scrap junkyard, where kids can borrow paint and tools (saws, hammers, workbenches, and nails), and build the playground.
Staff are on hand to help, and make sure everyone is safe and enjoying their visit.
Kids are encouraged to explore and create, as well as play in the climbing play structure, and ride the zipline.
Daniel was dirty, messy, and had so much fun! 

Indian Rock Park (FREE)
Another unusual, and somewhat adventurous, playground.
It’s one of Berkeley’s rock parks, providing great challenges for early-level rock climbing, and children :)
Carved steps help inexperienced climbers to get to the top and enjoy the amazing views of San Francisco Bay.

Tilden Park  Little Farm (FREE, open daily 8:30am-4pm)
The little farm features a variety of farm animals including cows, sheep, goats, rabbits and chickens. 
Guests are encouraged to feed the animal, but please bring only celery and lettuce!
Check out the online calendar for variety of family-friendly activities (they had giant bubbles out for the kids when we visited).

Tilden Park Merry-Go-Round ($3.5/ride, open Friday-Sunday, 11am-5pm)
A fun carousel for everyone! Purchase the 7-pack, so you can go on the ride more than once.
Photo: Nancy Rubin
Tilden Park - Lake Anza Loop Trail (FREE)
We can’t get over how fun this hike was, but it’s not an easy one for little feet. 
Narrow passes, rocks to climb, muddy areas, and rocky trail might be harder for children, but lots of fun. 
It’s about 1.3 miles and took us about an hour, including a snack break with a view. 
The loop trail start and ends at the parking lot.

TIlden Park - Steam Train ($3/ride or $12/5-pack, open weekends 11am-6pm and weekdays on summer months and holidays)
Redwood Valley Railway offers steam train rides along a scenic ridge on a scaled-down steam train. 
The ride is pretty long (about 12 minutes) and so much fun. While line seems long, it usually isn’t, so don’t skip because of the lines!

Spring Fruit Picking - Bay Area & Beyond

Monday, April 15, 2019

Pick your own natural and organic fruit, have fun with family and friends, and enjoy the amazing taste of fresh fruit.

The farms listed below are local farms, owned by local families that believe in providing healthier options to the community. Information about seasonal fruit picking gathered from their websites, so please check the calendar prior to your visit.

Don't forget your hats and sunscreen for protection from the sun, bring bottled water to stay hydrated and wear comfortable cloths and shoes!

If you visited one of the farms or orchards, and you would like to share your photos, please email us at ReloMomSV@gmail.com. If you know about an orchard which is not listed below, please send us the details and we will update the list.

Come back for more updates throughout the season, as many orchards will start fruit picking later in May and early June

 πŸ’Borello Family Farms - A unique experience for cherry lovers. Bring your family and friends and spend the day in the orchard picking your own delicious Coral Champagne cherries. 
Tel: 831-673-0733
U-Pick Orchard in Morgan Hill, 5/25/2019

πŸ’ Andy's Orchard - This is not a traditional U-Pick. Picking is limited to specific dates, and include a tour. A guide will lead you on your Harvest Walk through the orchard.  You’re welcome to savor firsthand the various fruits that are ripe at the time.  You’ll receive a bucket to pick your favorites.  The bucket is then carried back to our farm stand for weighing and purchase (fruit is priced per pound).
(All tours begin at 10:00 am) 2019 SEASON IS NOW CLOSED, UPDATED 6/19/2019
1615 Half Rd. Morgan Hill, CA
Tel: 408-782-7600

πŸ“ Jacobs Farm at Martial Cottle Park - Jam makers, pie enthusiasts and berry lovers...black berry harvest is here!
5283 Snell Ave, San Jose, CA
Tel: 408-622-8834

πŸ“ Live Earth Farm - A U-Pick featuring organic blackberries, raspberries and strawberries! Blackerries - $6/lb, Raspberries - $8/lb, Strawberries - $2/lb. Bring containers to pick in, hats, sunscreen + your kids!  Refreshments will be for sale at the farm stand where you can also buy fresh organic produce. Open weekends 10am-3pm.
1275 Green Valley Road, Watsonville, CA
Tel: 831-763-2448


πŸ“ Gizdich Ranch - Organic Strawberry U-pick is currently open. Bring your own containers or purchase boxes for a small fee. Experience the most fun part of growing fruits at the Ranch! Combined with fresh air, sunshine and a little sweat, it's a whole lot of fun for the kids and the entire family.Strawberries are $1.90/lb. Open 9am-5pm 7 days a week.
55 Peckham Rd, Watsonville, CA
Tel: 831-722-1056
Meiri family visiting Gizdich Farm 5/7/2016

πŸ“ Swanton Berry Farm - U-Pick is now open on weekends. Check in the farm stand to get started, grab some boxes and pick some delicious organic fruit! The organic strawberries are $4.50/lb for 1-10lbs. if you pick 10 or more pounds they are $3.50/lb. The weather on the coast is quite variable so wear layers, sturdy shoes, and farm appropriate clothing. Cash and check only. 
2019 SEASON WILL OPEN 6/22/2019, UPDATED 6/8/2019
25 Swanton Rd., Davenport, CA

πŸ’ Mike U-Pick - Low trees for convenient cherry picking, no children’s strollers or animals of any kind are allowed in the orchards. Cash only.
2019 SEASON IS NOW OPEN THROUGH 6/23/2019, UPDATED 6/8/2019
611 Payne Ave, Brentwood, CA
Tel: 925-698-7459

πŸ“ Coastways Ranch U-Pick - Organic Strawberry U-pick is currently open on weekends. The organic strawberries are $4.50/lb for 1-10lbs. if you pick 10 or more pounds they are $3.50/lb. The weather on the coast is quite variable so wear layers, sturdy shoes, and farm appropriate clothing. Cash and check only. 
2019 SEASON: June 19-21, 10am-5pm, UPDATED 6/18/2019
640 Highway 1, Pescadero, CA 

πŸ’ Pease Ranch - Low trees for convenient cherry picking. Open Wednesday thru Friday 8am-5pm and Saturday and Sunday 8am-4:30pm. Cash only.
 25175 Marsh Creek Road, Brentwood, CA
Tel: 925-634-4646

πŸ“ Berry Best Farm - Strawberries, Artichokes, Asparagus, Sugar snap peas, and fava beans. 
7450 Balfour Rd. Brentwood, CA

πŸ“ Webb Ranch - Webb Ranch is located just a little north off the 280 at Alpine Road, there is signage and plenty of free parking. 
Open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for organic blackberries and raspberries picking from 8am-1pm. 
Entry fee is $4, free for kids four and under. Baskets provided and berries are $5/lb. 
There is not a lot of shade, so try to get there earlier in the morning, and be prepared for some time in the sun. 
We had fun picking our berried, eating them and learning where the berries come from (No, not from Trader Joe's :) ). A ripe berry will come off the vine easily, so make sure you only get the good ones. Be careful, the bushes are thorny. It is not a bad idea to have tweezers in your bag, I saw one mama today who could really use it :( 
At the end of the lot there is a small bridge, and right after the bridge there is a fun big bounce house and shade for parents to chill. 
We ended up getting to the exit with no berries in our baskets, because we ate it all, so we bought some boysenberries from the stand at the entrance. 
Fun and healthy activity for all ages! 
Raspberries at Webb Ranch 2016
Boysenberries at Webb Ranch 2016

πŸ’ Chavez U-Pick Cherries - 35 Acres of low trees for convenient cherry picking, Free entry, free parking, free buckets with no minimum purchase. Cash only. No food or animals allowed in the orchard.  
2019 SEASON: June 19-23, 8am-4:30pm, UPDATED 6/18/2019
23800 Marsh Creek Road  Brentwood, CA
Tel: 925-625-3994

πŸ“ Crystal Bay Farms - Organic Strawberry U-pick is currently open, Wednesdays & Sundays from 10-4pm. $2 Entrance fee, $4/lb. 
40 Zils Rd, Watsonville, CA
Tel: 831-724-4137  

πŸ‘ Bacchini's Fruit Tree - Currently offering apricots and sweet red cherries picking. White peaches, blackberries, plums, nectarines and more coming soon. Free parking. Pay for what you pick. Low trees, ladders not needed. No pets/animals allowed in orchard.
2010 Walnut Blvd. Brentwood, CA

πŸ‘ Peter Wolfe Ranch - Currently offering apricots, cherries and white peaches picking.
700 Creek Road, Brentwood, CA
Tel: 925-634-1308

πŸ‘ Canciamilla Ranch - Currently offering apricots, white peaches, yellow and white nectarines picking.
Tel: 925-263-6080