Fun in Fairfax: Where to Shop, Eat, and Play

As the gateway to west Marin, Fairfax is a hip town with a lot of fun things to see and do.

There is a movie theater, natural food store, library, happening music scene, and plenty of parks and nearby hikes for outdoor lovers. Your family will enjoy nothing better than spending the day in this groovy-granola community.

When to go: On a full moon, when the sun rises, or even after a nap, you’ll have a ball!

How to get here: From San Francisco, head north on Highway 1 and take the San Anselmo exit. Follow Sir Francis Drake until you’ve arrived in Fairfax. Free parking is available in the city center parking lot just to your left as you enter the town.

What to bring: You’ll need a stroller, snacks, bottled water, and good walking shoes for strutting down Broadway.

What to wear: Layers for early morning fog and to wrap up in the shade under a redwood.

What to do: Peri Park is a sweet playground, picnic spot, and community hang-out all rolled up into one. The mamas and papas at this playground are good friends and will watch your little one on the swing while you tend to your other babe. Bonus: the redwoods provide a nice shady play area on scorching hot days. During the summer months, splashing around in the creek is always a good time for little ones.

FOCAS (Fairfax Open Circle Arts & Sports), spearheaded by Camille Esposito at Fairfax Pavilion, provides oodles of classes for the kids that promise to be a fun time with playmates. Let the rumpus commence! Stop by Studio C Ballet Studio, newly opened by former prima ballerina Claudia Alfieri-Wallace, and sign up for lessons or even a ballerina birthday party.

Two nearby hikes well-worth a jaunt are Cascade Canyon and Deer Park Trail, just a short drive from town.

Shopping: Dear shoppers, be warned: boutiques in Fairfax don’t open until after 11:00 am or even 11:30 am, so plan accordingly. A picnic in Peri Park and then shopping in the afternoon would probably be your best bet.

Fairfax Variety is a great all-around shop for party supplies, candles, kitchen utensils, candy, kid’s toys, books, cards, and various kooky paraphernalia. Don’t be surprised if you find something you didn’t even realize you needed!

Revolution 9 embodies the heart and soul of this small community with its student art gallery, birthday parties, camps and workshops. You can have T-shirts custom-made for you while you browse their accessories, cards, jewelry, and children’s toys. Rev 9 is a gathering space for classes and also a drop-in kids’ night.

Butterflies & Polliwogs is a recycled clothing store featuring great finds for all your spring clothing needs.

Boutique shopping: Trouve (Art and Artifacts) features a lovely assortment of unusual objets, paintings, and artwork by local artisans. Housed in a small hobbit cottage, you’re sure to discover a beautiful treasure here. The Potting Shed is stocked with a wondrous array of pots and ceramic beauties you’ll want to bring home to your garden windowsill. Strolling through The Herban Garden, you might pick a seed kit to grow your own, but you’ll likely be more tempted by their beautiful selection of bath and body, organic clothing, and even natural baby and children’s items. Beach House Style is a vintage Shangri-la with sweet, hand-picked items and accessories to decorate your home or yourself. The owners are two local mommies with a great eye for offbeat style.

Where to eat: At Fat Angel, you’ll just have to listen to the wicked devil on your left shoulder and indulge in wholesome sandwiches, scones (the strawberry rhubarb is to die for!) and the unholiest of treats, the cinnamon buns. Your little cherubs will thank you as they wipe away crumbs from their rosebud lips.

Here’s the scoop on Fairfax Scoop, it’s a local tradition and the honey-vanilla-lavender is the most popular flavor. In summer months, a line forms out the door, but it’s well-worth the wait.

Pick up a cheeseburger and fries at M&G Burgers, then park your fanny at the outside dining patio or take your lunch to the park. Good Earth is another great option. They just re-opened a much bigger new store at 720 Center Boulevard, which offers some scrumptious take-away items for picnicking.

For something a little fancier with kids in tow, The Barefoot Café offers up local, organic and natural American cuisine in a warm and inviting atmosphere.

Dining in the evening: Sorella Cafe is a family-owned restaurant serving traditional Italian fare in a festive, warm, and very family-friendly atmosphere. As you are seated, they offer a huge chunk of Parmesan cheese for hungry mice to munch on. Crayons will keep the little ones happy while you wait for entrees like butternut squash ravioli or cioppino. Also, complimentary gummy bears and cookies for dessert!

For a date night, you might try 123 Bolinas for a glass of wine and shared nibbles, then head over to Peri’s or 19 Broadway to really get down with your honey.


–Nicki Richesin