Our favourite weekend activity is kicking around the wild and beautiful beaches of the Marin Headlands with the kids in tow.
When we had just one, easily packaged, baby boy we would hike around with him in the baby backpack. At nearly three he is of course determined to be ‘out!’ of any travel contraption, plus we now have another small human to cart around with us. So we’ve had to think of new ways to enjoy the coast that surrounds us and I’m always on the look out for short, flat, safe hikes that allow us to explore as a family.
Hanging cliff side just north of Muir Beach, Slide Ranch www.slideranch.org is my new go-to. During this last winter I spent a rainy morning with Archer up here in a bid to create some mummy-only time with my boy, after months of the all consuming new baby. El-Nino was giving us its worst torrential downpours and to be honest we spent most of our morning sliding around in thick mud and goats poo (him) and having tantrums in the middle of very deep puddles (me). But despite the challenges 🙂 the staff were amazing, engaging the toddlers in creative and crazy games around the fire inside a huge steaming yurt ~ and helping us discover their beautiful gardens whilst explaining the connection between a healthy food system and a healthy environment in toddler friendly terms – think worms, egg shells and lots of dirt.
There was a magical beauty to the place in winter with SF Bay fog hanging from the tips of the redwoods and the amazing scents of ocean and forest mingling in the rain. So this summer I was determined to re-visit the ranch in the sunshine and see some of the views. It was golden!
It wasn’t an official open day, so there were no staff available to show us around the goat and chicken huts (the goat milking had been a huge hit first time round!), but the beauty of this place is that you can just wander around any day of the week and explore the various seaside tracks that lead from the animal sheds to the gardens and then down to the tide pools below. The whole set up reminds me of scenes from the novel ‘My Family and Other Animals’ and it’s perfect terrain for toddlers to explore. Beyond the yurt and fire pit there are picnic benches and then lots of lovely sandy paths with perfect Pacific views and lots of plant life and sea life to explore all around. Archer is still at the speedy and erratic stage, so there were just a couple of points on the climb down to the tide pools where a firm hand was needed, but other than that he loved roaming free and exploring every inch of the place.
Not many people seem to know about Slide Ranch outside of official open days which means you often have the place to yourself. Just remember to take snacks, sunscreen and some sturdy shoes. If you’re not totally worn out its worth stopping by our local, Muir Beach, on the drive back to the main road ~ a great flat, sandy run around for kids and dogs alike. Next on the blog ‘to do’ list, the best Muir Beach hikes with babes!