With San Rafael to the north, Larkspur to its south and Kentfield/Ross to the east, it’s easy to overlook the small town of Greenbrae. But this enclave, home to Bon Air Shopping Center and Hal Brown Park, is the most underrated one stop shop in Marin for shopping, food and play. Read on for our guide to Greenbrae where we divulge what makes this spot one of our favorite family destinations.
PLAY & BIKE
Directly behind Bon Air and situated right on Larkspur Creek is Niven Park, a small playground that offers a play structure (no swings) and a flat path ideal for your kids to ride around on their bikes or tricycles. On a warm day, pick up a cone from Ben & Jerry’s and spend a couple hours at this play spot getting out the wiggles. Map it.
Hal Brown Park
Even if you don’t live in Greenbrae this park is definitely worth the drive. It was redone in 2011 and features a large play structure with swings (older kid & toddler options), a slide and teeter totter. With public bathrooms, a water play area and a tricycle track replete with traffic signs, this park is a winner. Map it.
Good to know: Parking at Marin General Hospital across the street is not allowed.
photo: Mandy Hale
Bike from Hal Brown Park to Ross
If you have a beginner cyclist at home, bring her to the bike path that runs from Hal Brown Park to Ross (approximate distance is one mile each way). The path is flat and uncrowded and includes only one intersection with a crossing light. As you work up an appetite, half way along the route stop at Woodlands Market for ice cream. And, if you’re looking for a pit stop, visit Bachich Elementary School where your kids can race along the small track, play ball on the baseball field and hang at the playground.
photo: slobikelane via Flickr Creative Commons
For family-friendly eats (sit-down and to-go) your best bet is a visit to Bon Air Center. Read on for the many options at your fingertips this Greenbrae hub.
For a classic diner meal head to Fifi’s diner for all the hearty foods like hamburgers and fries, BLT and paninis. Warning: you are almost guaranteed to leave with a food coma.
284 Bon Air Center
photo: Marti L. via Yelp
Road Runner Burrito
For grab-and-go Mexican food that’s no fuss head to Road Runner Burrito. They use hormone-free beef and nitrate-free chicken.
158 Bon Air Center
photo: Uncle Fishbits Aeneas X. via Yelp
Peet’s Coffee & Tea and Noah’s Bagels
For your early morning pick-me-up grab bagels at Noah’s and then get your caffeine fix at Peet’s. If you or your kids are early risers, Peet’s opens at 5:30 a.m. Monday-Friday.
170 Bon Air Center
Peet’s Coffee & Tea
276 Bon Air Center
photo: Chris C. and John B. via Yelp
Satisfy your sweet tooth at SusieCakes. From cupcakes to sheet cakes this bakery carries sweet goods for your next birthday party, school bash or an after school treat.
310 Bon Air Center
Greenbrae, CA 94904
photo: Rachel Hathaway via Flickr Creative Commons
Ben & Jerry’s
If ice cream is more your jam, hop on over to Ben & Jerry’s for a cool treat. Grab a cone and then head to Niven Park situated directly behind the shopping center.
290 Bon Air Center
photo: Qfamily via flickr
To find that special outfit for a christening, first communion or other notable occasion head to Secret Garden for frilly dresses, twirly skirts and fancy dress shirts and blazers.
180 Bon Air Center
Fingers & Toes
Get pampered with your kids in-tow at Fingers & Toes. This salon, which you may recognize because they have locations in San Rafael and Mill Valley, is a fun spot for mom/daughter mani pedis. The environment is welcoming and spending a morning or afternoon here is a great mother/daughter bonding experience.
324 Bon Air Center
photo: Pascal Marin via Flickr Creative Commons
One gem beyond the Bon Air Center is Toy World. They relocated to this location a few years back and their space boasts everything from LEGOs to crafts. Toy World is all about old-fashioned imaginative play so if you’re looking to make learning fun without all the electronics and gizmos head here.
2094 Redwood Hwy
HOLIDAYS & SPECIAL CELEBRATIONS
The Bon Air Center is host to a handful of fun events year round from a Halloween bash replete with trick or treating and a pumpkin patch in October to a mini Maker Faire in September to a Santa photo op day in December. Click here for the full schedule and to mark your calendars.
What’s your favorite family activity in Greenbrae?
— Erin Lem