Longing to give your kids a history lesson about the people who first inhabited the Bay Area? Take a trip to the Marin Museum of the American Indian in Novato. Not everyone knows about this small, special museum, built on the actual site of a Miwok village.

Location: Set in Miwok Park in Novato’s San Marin neighborhood, its galleries display the beautiful craftsmanship of both the Coast Miwok Indians, who once made Marin their home, and that of other tribes from all over North America. (Novato is a 40ish minute drive north of San Francisco on the US-101.)

What to see: The colorful masks are always a hit with kids, and don’t miss the beadwork, carvings and basketry that make up the permanent collection. The museum hosts traveling temporary exhibits as well. Take a peek into the tiny gift shop before you leave.

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When to go: A crisp fall weekend morning.

Cost of trip: Admission is free, but watch out when filling up the gas tank!

Where to grab a bite: Head there with a homemade lunch, or pick one up at the nearby Creekside Bakery on Grant and 7th.  Don’t forget dessert — their freshly-baked pastries are the ones locals rave about!

How to dress: You and your little ones want to show respect for the museum and its exhibits, but be prepared for a romp in the park afterwards!

Bonus: Nearby Miwok Park is a favorite haunt of neighborhood families, and it’s easy to see why. The playground has swings and slides, (and clean restrooms), plus there are towering redwoods to play under, easy trails, stroller-friendly paved paths, picnic tables, a huge lawn, and a creek by which to see birds, squirrels — perhaps even a doe and her fawn.

Online: http://www.marinindian.com/

—Annie Sheldon