Best Unique Holiday Experiences For Kids In The North Bay

November 8, 2013 4:00 AM

(credit: Adam R. Foote/

When the holiday season rolls around, many families look for new ways to celebrate. With everything from snow sledding to a Victorian-era party, the North Bay offers everyone something to get into the holiday spirit. These holiday events will fit every budget and interest. For those looking for unique festivities, check out this list of five great North Bay options.

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San Rafael Parade Of Lights And Winter Wonderland
4th St., B St. to Lootens
San Rafael, CA 94915
(800) 310-6563

Date: Nov. 29-30, 2013

For 34 years running, downtown San Rafael has been home to the Parade of Lights and Winter Wonderland. Held each year on Black Friday, the festival includes a Friday night parade that includes the participation not only of many local groups, but also Santa and Mrs. Claus. Parents will enjoy the arts and crafts booth, live entertainment and food vendors, while each year the big draw for the kids is the free snow sledding. Once funded through city dollars, the event is now sponsored by private donations. Take time to stroll the area and support local shops as most area businesses offer three hours validated parking during the event.

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Sausalito Gingerbread House Tour
Sausalito, CA
(415) 331-7262 x10

Date: Dec. 1-31, 2013

This year marks the 7th annual Sausalito Gingerbread House Tour. Chamber of Commerce member shops, restaurants and businesses throughout the city participate in the competition by entering elaborate gingerbread creations which are then displayed through the month of December. Tour goers may grab a tour map at any participating merchant, or find one on the City of Sausalito website. Allow several hours to view all of the houses, and make sure the kids vote for their favorite houses in categories like Most Creative and People’s Choice.

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Dickens Family Victorian Holiday Party
Falkirk Cultural Center
1408 Mission Ave.
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 485-3328

Date: Dec. 6, 2013

For those looking for a more traditional twist on enjoying the holidays, head on over to the Falkirk Cultural Center in San Rafael for the Dickens Family Victorian Holiday Party. Held at the Falkirk Mansion, party goers will have the opportunity to meet Charles Dickens as he reads from some of his famous works of literature. There will be many costumed character actors from Scrooge to Father Christmas. Bring the kids and join them in the fun of creating traditional Victorian crafts, participating in parlor games and enjoying some refreshments.

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Festival Of Lights Hanukkah Celebration
The Osher Marin JCC
200 N. San Pedro Road
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 444-8000

Date: Nov. 24, 2013

Come to the Marin Jewish Community Center to celebrate Hanukkah with the whole family. With festivities for kids ages zero through adult, there will be something for everyone at this celebration. Enjoy live performances, holiday songs and stories and hands-on arts and crafts. Make sure to also check out the Artisan Marketplace to shop for some holiday gifts hand-crafted by local artisans.

Mill Valley Winterfest
Depot Plaza
87 Throckmorton Ave.
Mill Valley, CA 94941
(415) 388-9700

Date: Dec. 1, 2013

Each year, locals flock to Depot Plaza to celebrate the holidays at Mill Valley’s Winterfest. The kids will be entertained all day, bouncing between live holiday music performances, sledding on the snow slide and the skating rink. They’ll also have a chance to meet Santa, make crafts, sip free hot chocolate and enjoy a special tree lighting ceremony when the sun goes down. Food is available for purchase and keep an eye out for local Boy Scouts selling Christmas wreaths.

Joanna Metheny is a freelance writer covering all things South Bay. Her work can be found on