In Marin, family life can be whatever you want it to be—lazy days with the dog at the park, rainy days at a museum on the water, fun days of watching the kids do gymnastics. Behind all things family and pets, there are caring professionals making sure that those closest to you are well taken care of. Here, we celebrate them.
For upscale, one of-a-kind outfits for toddlers through elementary school kids, Secret Garden, Marin’s Best Baby Gift Store, can’t be beat. Its convenient location in the Bon Air Shopping Center makes it a perfect spot for last-minute gifts. The adorable clothing lines have a European sensibility, and range in sizing from newborn up to about 12 years. Along with a great selection of clothes, there are also toys of all kinds—and plenty of room for the little ones to play while the adults shop. If you can’t find a size, the very helpful and knowledgeable owner can likely order it for you.—Tanya Henry
180 Bon Air Center, Greenbrae; 415.464.9294.
Twice as Nice
Anna Psaila, owner of this year’s Best Children’s Consignment Store, SeeSaw Children’s Consignment Shop, is a retail pro. She previously owned Stella’s with a family member, but is now on her own at this downtown San Anselmo spot that has housed numerous children’s stores over the years. Psaila has a keen eye for quality, and all of the consignment items are carefully selected and curated. Prices are reasonable, and typically there is a good range of items for newborns up to early teens. Everything from strollers, shoes, clothes, cribs and maternity wear can be found in the large space. It’s fun to browse, and you never know what you might find—even movies, costumes and books are on the shelves at this favorite spot.—T.H.
722 San Anselmo Ave., San Anselmo; 415.295.7979.
A Parent’s Dream
Not only is the Bay Area Discovery Museum a fun, hands-on place, but Marin’s Best Children’s Museum is also in one of the most beautiful locations for a museum—ever. How many museums have the iconic Golden Gate Bridge as a backdrop? With more than seven acres of interactive indoor and outdoor space, the museum offers plenty of diverse options for discovering, socializing and playing. Whether exploring the ever-popular shipwreck, playing in a water feature or doing indoor crafts, children are immersed in mind-opening experiences. Having this incredible resource in Sausalito has saved many a parent from going stir-crazy on rainy, cloudy days. Parents can sip lattes or chai from the latest incarnation of the snack bar, Bean Sprouts Café, which offers food that appeals to kids—but to big kids, too.—T.H.
557 McReynolds Rd., Sausalito; 415.339.3900.
Music-centric Terrapin Crossroads, owned by the Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh, is surprisingly kid-friendly. So kid-friendly that it earns top prize for Best Child-Friendly Restaurant in Marin. With multiple dining areas and an expansive outdoor Beach Park area, kids can happily eat pizza and run around to their hearts’ content. The outdoor area is especially popular for party rentals, and the restaurant will take care of every detail. For the musically inclined, a Kids Campfire with S’mores and Songs is also a party theme option. Terrapin musicians lead songs around a campfire—and a dinner of grilled cheese, sliders and popcorn can be enjoyed right on the water. Lesh can often be found reading stories to kids and singing to the whole family. How cool is that?—T.H.
100 Yacht Club Dr., San Rafael; 415.524.2773.
It’s not uncommon to see the owner of Dogville walking dogs (lots of them) of many different shapes, colors and sizes. She clearly loves everything dog, and her sweet, small business on San Anselmo Avenue—voted Best Pet Boutique—is quite literally a shrine to all things canine. Just observe a dog with its owner en route to the store: The dog perks up and picks up its pace, knowing that it is soon to receive a biscuit-y treat or two. Collars, blankets, dishes, food and plenty of toys and treats are all on full display at this Disneyland for Dogs. And now, FaceTiming the owner to personally shop for your dog is possible. Yep—it’s a thing at this ‘happiest place on Earth for dogs.’—T.H.
554 San Anselmo Ave., San Anselmo; 415.454.2090.
Marin-based Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a well-known and respected psychologist, neuroscientist, Buddhist practitioner, teacher and New York Times best-selling author. His latest book, Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakeable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness, was co-written with his son, Forrest Hanson. I caught them at a book reading and signing at Copperfield’s Books in Petaluma, and they were adorable. It was like watching the “Rick and Forrest Show,” with plenty of helpful information, ad-libbing and good humor—a shining example of the Best Father and Son Collaboration. Although this is Rick’s fifth book, it’s the first one that Forrest has worked on, and watching them interact was a joy to behold. It was clear to the audience that writing and speaking about the book had turned into a precious bonding experience for both men.—L.O.
Full List of Best of Marin 2018 Family Winners
Best Animal Adoption Center
Best Animal Hospital
San Marin Animal Hospital
Best Baby Gift Store
Best Children’s Camp
Osher Marin JCC
Best Child Care Center
Miss Sandie’s School
Best Children’s Clothing Store
Play It Again Kids
Best Children’s Consignment Store
SeeSaw Children’s Consignment Shop
Best Children’s Educational Center
Bay Area Discovery Museum
Best Children’s Indoor Sports Center
Novato Gymnastics Center
Best Children’s Museum
Bay Area Discovery Museum
Best Child-Friendly Restaurant
College of Marin
Best Obedience School
Best Dog Park
Mill Valley Dog Park
Best Hobby Shop
Best Pet Boutique
Best Pet Day Care
Camp K-9 of Marin
Best Pet/Feed Store
Woodlands Pet Food & Treats
Best Pet Groomer
Best Place for a Children’s Party
Miss Sandie’s School
Best Private School (K-12)
Mark Day School
Best Public School (K-12)
Hidden Valley Elementary School
Best Toy Store
Five Little Monkeys
Best Veterinary Services
The Country Vet