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Is Novato family-friendly?

Los Angeles, CA
Level Contributor
3 posts
3 reviews
2 helpful votes
Is Novato family-friendly?

Traveling to Novato for a wedding in April. Will go with my husband and daughter (18 months old) for a couple of days. Is it better to stay in Novato and travel to SF to sightsee and/or are there things to do with a little one in the area? Would it be better to stay in San Jose? Suggestions welcome. Thanks!

Level Contributor
66 posts
7 reviews
21 helpful votes
1. Re: Is Novato family-friendly?

How long are you going to be in the area? If it's just for a day or two around the wedding then you should stay near Novato, as traffic between SF and Novato is heavy.

San Jose is 70-75 miles from Novato. Why would you stay there?

Los Angeles, CA
Level Contributor
3 posts
3 reviews
2 helpful votes
2. Re: Is Novato family-friendly?

We will travel up the day before the wedding, attend the wedding on Saturday afternoon, then head back home on Sunday. That only leaves a little time on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning to sightsee.

Thanks for the heads up about the traffic between SF and Novato. Wasn't aware of it. Guess we'll stick close to Novato on Saturday. Can't be late to the wedding.

Any suggestions for morning sightseeing? My hubby is a shutterbug and my daughter loves nature. Would Point Reyes be too ambitious? We need to be back in Novato by 1pm to eat/change, etc.

Nix the San Jose idea. I'm clueless.

Kihei, Hawaii
Level Contributor
1 post
7 reviews
4 helpful votes
3. Re: Is Novato family-friendly?

Novato is a small city of 40,000 people on either side of highway 101 at the north end of Marin County. It is mainly suburban with rolling hills and a ridge of small mountains to the west.

There are several parks where you daughter could run: Pioneer, Miwok, and Stafford Lake.

The central business district (old town) is one block wide and 8-10 blocks long with small shops and eateries an is family friendly. There is a huge shopping mall on the east side of the freeway, Vintage Oaks.

You really have not left youselves much time for sightseeing. I would suggest that you stop in San Francisco on your way to Novato on Friday, maybe drive to Fisherman's Wharf, Coit Tower, drive down Lombard Street (one block crooked street), and through Chinatown. Then head across the Golden Gate Bridge stopping at Vista Point at the north end of the bridge for a view of San Francisco across San Francisco Bay.

The temperature in San Francisco, particularly the waterfront area, is greatly affected by the marine layer, fog. People dress in layers when visiting San Francisco.

A stop for dinner in Sausalito might be your liking. It has a small buiness district with shops and several resturants with waterfront views. The only resturant in Novato with any view is the Hilltop, obviously on the top of a hill. Good food; reasonably priced.

Sunset on Sunday April 2 with daylight savings time is 7:34 p. m.; Sunday April 30, 7:59 p. m.

A trip to Point Reyes the morning of the wedding is quite ambitious, but doable if you got moving early. The drive from Novato to Point Reyes National Seashore Park is about an hour through hills and farmland. It is hard to belive that you are just 25 miles from a major metropolitan area. There is even a one room school house in West Marin. However, it can be quite cool and windy at the coast if there is fog.

There is The Children's Museum in Sausalito for your daughter. Drive time from Novato to the museum would be 30-35 minutes non-rush hour on Saturday morning. It is located on old East Fort Baker near the north anchorage of the Golden Gate Bridge. It would be an opportunity for hubby to take pictures.

There is a Tube Town in Rohnert Park, 35 minutes north on the 101 highway. It is a store front resturant with all sorts of tubes/tunnels for children to climb on. I think that this would be low priority unless the weather is stormy,rain and cold.

There is town square in Sonoma, about 25 minutes away, picturesque with shops and resturants. There is the Sonoma Mission and the Sonoma Barracks. There are nearby wineries: Sebastiani and Buena Vista. Your daughter might enjoy feeding the ducks that are present on the town square. Stop in the cheese shop on the square for some bread, wine , cheese, and salami and enjoy the parklike square.

Just south of Sonoma is Train Town. You can ride on a miniature train that passes through little villages.

On Sunday on your return to the southland you can drive your car on part of the 49 mile scenic drive around/through San Francisco. It will take you through some sceneic areas: Golden Gate Park, Ocean Beach, the Cliff House.

Another option would be to visit Marine World in Vallejo on Sunday morning, 35 minutes east of Novato across highway 37. They have animal shows and an excellent butterfly exhibit. There you are at the junction of highway 37 and interstate 80 for your return trip to the southland. You have theme parks in the southland. This would not be much different from those.

We are very infrequent travellers from Novato to Los Angeles. We prefer driving highway 99 to the Grapevine as compared to interestate 5 as it is not as boring.

Traffic is a MAJOR problem in the San Francisco Bay area. I allow myself 90 minutes weekdays during commute hours from Novato to the city; 45 minutes non-commute hours and on weekends.

AM radio station KCBS 740 AM has traffic and weather "on the eights."

Enjoy your visit to the San Francisco Bay area.

Captain Jack

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