Spend a week in Ross Valley, CA

by Whitney Moss on January 16, 2009

in A Week in...,Bay Area


My friend of a friend, Heather Hogan, moved to the Ross Valley area last year, just in time to spend her second rookie year in the beautiful, family-friendly cluster of towns located 40 minutes north of San Francisco. Her first daughter is in Kindergarten and her second is 11 months old.

Heather rounded up activities for parents who live in Ross, Fairfax, San Anselmo, and Kentfield. It sounds like a great place to spend a week for a new mom.

Heather reflects:

If you’re lucky – well, let’s face it, we’re all lucky with our cutest-of-all-the-cuties little bundle of joy – you wake in the morning feeling only a little foggy-eyed and a bit peppy with joy for your new life with baby. And you can’t wait to explore and discover right alongside Junior. But you’ve been so busy counting poopy diapers, maybe still changing your own diapers, and thanking your own God that your dog doesn’t require diapers that you don’t have a plan about where to head out in beautiful Ross Valley. Of course, there’s the added complexity of being out in Ross Valley amongst the fit families, Lucky Brand jeans, HOBO bags, and strollers that look equipped for outer space. Just go back, my friends, to that happy place of the love you have for baby and the appreciation you – and your neighbors – have for your pants making it on that morning. Now, head out the door like the mama champion you truly are.

Monday: Memorial/Millennium Park on San Francisco Blvd in San Anselmo. You want to ease into the week and it’s going to be a comfortably warm day. No huge plans, but this is a great place to meet with friends, pull out a picnic blanket on the grass and go between grass and the play area (baby swings, sand pit, wooden train for climbing, metal rocking animals, etc.) with your little explorer.

Tuesday: Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito. Looks like rain and BADM is a great location for getting out of the rain with your little one. It seems like such an obvious choice even though it’s not exactly in the ‘hood. Plan on a few hours as there is a lot for your little one to explore: water play (they provide aprons, but change of clothes is always a smart idea), crawling areas with soft gel mats, texture toys, waterbeds with goldfish swimming above on the ceiling, and lots of other curious kids to watch cruising. They also have a café with health conscious and organic food and drinks.

Wednesday: Fairfax playgroup at the Fairfax Pavilion organized through the San Anselmo Recreation Department (Don’t see the info you’re looking for on-line? Definitely call as occasionally their printed material isn’t as up-to-date as their office staff. 415.258.4640) It’s still raining which brings you and your little peanut back to the indoors. This playgroup is one of the last affordable things in the Ross Valley at $5 per child, per visit. The group runs on Wednesdays through Fridays from 9:30am – 12:30pm. The ages are from 0-5 years, but my understanding is it generally attracts the younger set. They offer a lot of indoor equipment and toys and a safe place to cruise around inside, while still offering a way to get out of the house.

Thursday: Farmers Market at the Civic Center, take San Pedro Road exit off of 101- Thursdays only. It’s sunny again! Whew, because in California we aren’t too sure what to do with ourselves on the Nth day of rain. Taking your child to the Farmers Market to see and smell all the fresh foods, give them early exposure to supporting our local farmers and just getting out and about are all great reasons to head out every day and in particular to the market on Thursdays. The grounds are beautiful and your fresh purchases might be enjoyed with baby after a nice walk around the lagoon. Imagine that: shopping, exercise and a picnic with baby all in one stop. Fun and convenient.

Friday: Lansdale Station Park, San Anselmo at Center Blvd and San Anselmo Ave. Not only is it sunny again, but now it’s pretty toasty out. Lansdale Station is the perfect place on sunny warm days as the park is mostly shaded. The park is small and incredibly convenient – it’s built baby-size. Because of the size, you can see everything standing in one spot. It’s a great place to meet with friends, bring food and drink to the picnic table and follow the babes around as they explore in the sand box, the play house, cruise one of the many donated push toys or slide down the baby-size slide. There are also baby swings over black rubber mats. Remember to make a bathroom stop before you arrive as there are no public bathrooms at this park.

What ever you decide to do with your babe, remember to breathe deep, hang on to the things you enjoy in life, savor the sweetness of your child, and no matter what – get out of the house and introduce the baby to the world around you!

A few bonus activities for those living in or visiting Ross Valley:

Music Together in downtown San Anselmo
Music Kids through San Anselmo Recreation Department (they have so many great affordable classes)
Mommy and Me swim classes at the JCC in San Rafael
Gymboree in Strawberry
Jumping Jacks at the San Rafael Community Center (about $9 drop in)
Play Well Lego Play on the Miracle Mile in San Anselmo (for 5 yr olds)
Busy Little Hands in Larkspur Landing (Art Classes)
Sunday Story time at Book Passage in Corte Madera with Kris Smith (30 mins of dancing and singing)
Fantastic Fridays at Crissy Field Visitor Center – educational and fun
Doodlebug in San Anselmo

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RookieMoms.com co-founder Whitney lives with her husband, son, and daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area where she writes about parenting, crafts, and activities that moms can do with babies in tow. She and Heather also publish 510Families.com, a site for East Bay parents and are the authors of The Rookie Mom's Handbook and Stuff Every Mom Should Know.

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