Downtown Larkspur may only be 13 miles from San Francisco, but feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle of city life — and getting there is half the fun. Hop on the ferry at San Francisco’s Ferry Building for a stress-free 30-minute ride across the bay that your small sailors are sure to enjoy. Pack your bikes for a leisurely 2-mile ride to downtown Larkspur from the Ferry Building along scenic bike paths. Or spend the whole day on foot at Marin Country Mart. We designed the perfect day for you with eats, adventure and plenty of action!
Photo courtesy of Marin Country Mart
Marin Country Mart
Just across from the Larkspur Ferry terminal is Marin Country Mart, a cool outdoor shopping and dining space with unique boutique shops, local services and restaurants as well as lots of outdoor space to picnic and allow kids to run and play.
Plan your excursion on a Saturday so you won’t miss the Marin Country Mart Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings (note, the first ferry from SF arrives at 1:30 pm and the Farmer’s Market ends at 2 pm, so you might need to drive over to enjoy all the Farmer’s Market has to offer). A few of our favorite Farmer’s Market activities:
- SCRAP. SCRAP should be your first stop, as they offer an Arts & Crafts class by instructors help your budding artists to create new art from old re-usable materials.
- Kid’s Love to Cook! offers Hands On Cooking Demonstration led by DirectionFive, a culinary and nutrition program for kids. Your budding chefs will get to participate and taste their creations.
- Saint Benoit Creamery yogurt and Frog Hollow Farms peaches, while enjoying free children’s entertainment by the award-winning songster Christopher Smith or the Grammy-nominated Scott the Storyteller. Next stop, Clementine The Amazing for a face painting session that will transform your little ones into their favorite animal or superhero. Your last stop of the day should be Victoria’s Fashion Stables for pony rides and a petting zoo.
If you don’t plan your day around the Farmer’s Market, enjoy the lovely salvaged tree play structures, and any of our favorite places to eat at the Mart:
Rustic Bakery Cafe
Whether you’re just off the ferry or in the middle of a bike ride, a stop at Rustic Bakery Cafe at Marin Country Mart for picnic supplies is a must. With a mouth-watering array of salads, sandwiches, quiche and soups, all served with their homemade bread and sourdough flatbread crackers. Be sure and try the Caesar Salad Updated—a mix of romaine and lacinato kale, topped with toasted pine nuts, capers and parmesan tossed in a lemon-anchovy dressing. A special kids’ menu includes PB&J, grilled cheese or Zoe’s ham or turkey and offers pint-sized pastries for pooped peddlers for dessert.
2017 Larkspur Landing Circle
Hint: Larkspur locals go to the original much-smaller and much-less-crowded Rustic Bakery at 1139 Magnolia near Downtown Larkspur, which has limited seating but is great for getting a pastry, sandwich or loaf of bread to go.
Marin Brewing Company
Cap off a busy day of exploring by hitting up Marin Brewing Company. With their spacious interior and patio, this is a great spot to meet up with friends. Plus, the kids can run around the fountains, trees and sculpture of the Marin Country Mart while you keep an eye on them from your patio perch. They have plenty of high chairs, booster seats and crayons. Oh, and of course, it’s a brewery! If you find yourself feeling a bit peckish, they offer a great menu full of kid and adult favorites.
1809 Larkspur Landing Circle
El Huarache Loco Mexican Restaurant
Already a favorite at the Alemany Farmer’s Market and Marin Farmer’s Market, this restaurant serves authentic street food from Mexico City (where chef and owner Veronica Salzar hails from). Grab huaraches, mixiotes, tlacoyitos and moles and sit outside at one of the large picnic tables.
1803 Larkspur Landing Circle
Three Twins Ice Cream
Everyone is screaming for Three Twins these days. You can’t go wrong no matter what you order here—it’s all absolutely delish, from their Madagascar vanilla to mint chip, made with dark chocolate flecks real mint and no artificial anything (so don’t expect a neon green scoop). Enjoy a scoop as you window shop at nearby Calypso, or order a pint of ice cream or sorbet to go.
2257 Larkspur Landing Circle
Nothing kicks off a bike ride like a Pineapple-Apple-Lemon-Mint cold-pressed juice from Pressed Juicery.
2205 Larkspur Landing Circle
Photo courtesy of Marin County Bicycle Coalition
Hike & Bike
Larkspur-Corte Madera Creek bike path
You can ride a flat-two mile path from the Larkspur Ferry to downtown Larkspur. There is a lovely section along the estuary of Corte Madera Creek up to Ross or try the Bay Trail out to San Quentin for a closer look at the famed prison. Marin is a mecca for cycling, so make sure your little bikers know the rules of the road.
Not ready to put the pedal to the metal? Lace up your little explorers and head up Baltimore Canyon, located on a 193 acre preserve at the headwaters of Larkspur Creek. You’ll climb through the redwoods, madrones and Douglas firs, past the remains of a stone dam and the quarry that yielded the stones for the dam. Take a break creekside and let the kids search for salamanders in the deep pools of the creek. If you’re heading up during the wetter months (winter through early spring), you’ll be rewarded at the top of the canyon with Dawn Falls and its 30-foot cascade.
For directions and trail maps: marincountyparks.org
Larkspur has three playgrounds of its own within walking distance to Downtown, plus Town Park in Corte Madera and Hal Brown Park (also known as Creekside) in Greenbrae are both a short bike ride away.
Also known as Dark Park, Dolliver borders on a creek and is nestled in the redwoods, so it is cool and shady all year long and the perfect retreat on hot days. There is a large sand box, toddler full-bucket swings, big kid swings, and a variety of slides big and small. A small picnic area sits inside one end of the playground.
Magnolia & Madrone, Larkspur
With a large grassy area, dozens of picnic tables and barbecues, 2 softball fields, 2 volleyball courts, 4 tennis courts, 2 horseshoe pits, and one soccer field, there is always something going on at Piper Park. The playground section is near the volleyball courts and has equipment and climbing structures for kids big and small.
250 Doherty Drive
Tucked away deep in the downtown neighborhood of Heatherwood, this park is a hidden gem, accessible through a narrow path or steep stairs which appear as a driveway between the homes. Once inside you will discover a large grassy area and a large sandbox where may donated sand toys and trucks reside. There are a big kid swings, a tire swing and small plastic climbing structure for young kids.
Heather Way & Diane Lane
Downtown Larkspur Dining
Hankering for something other than the catch of the day? Then head down the street to Pizzeria Picco for amazing wood-fired thin crust pizza, made using the freshest of seasonal ingredients. Start with a bowl of cucumber- and english-pea gazpacho with poached rock shrimp and jalapeno relish before your pies arrive. Little foodies love to start with the baby lettuces with strawberries, toasted almond and goat milk feta before the margherita madness ensues. Be sure to save room for the Straus Dairy organic soft serve topped with Tcho hot fudge or Fiordolio extra virgin olive oil and Maldon sea salt. Local intel: You can order anything off the main menu at sister restaurant, Picco, located next door.
316 Magnolia Ave
While many Marinite’s flock to Yankee Pier in Larkspur for kid-friendly dining (sandbox for the kids), the kids’ menu is definitely lacking ($6.95 for pasta with butter ?!). Head a little further down the road and grab a spot on the patio at Left Bank. The kid’s menu includes salmon and vegetables for $5.50. Paper table cloths and crayons keep little ones busy while you enjoy your Croque de Tomates à l’Ancienne.
507 Magnolia Ave
Mag’s Frozen Yogurt
Local Marin Family, the Magnusons, hit a homerun when they set up their frozen yogurt shop across from Rulli’s in downtown Larkspur. With new flavors every day like Nutella Gelato, Irish Mint, Peach Tart, Watermelon Sorbet with dozens of toppings, Mag’s sees a steady stream of families every day.
467 Magnolia Ave
Decidedly old-school, you won’t find any of those fancy Salted Chocolate Caramel or Gluten-Free donuts here. Instead, you’ll get old-fashioned cake or buttermilk donuts with chocolate or maple frosting, donut holes and Crullers.
471 Magnolia Ave
Kids will go saucer-eyed checking out the enormous display case at Emporio Rulli, brimming with dozens of types of pastries, cookies, cakes and confections. Mom and dad will enjoy the italian roast coffee selections.
464 Magnolia Ave
M & G Burgers
Just a little beyond downtown, the kids will thank you for the extra effort. This beach-themed burger joint projects Tom & Jerry cartoons on the wall and has a collection of kids books on the shelf. Burgers, fries and onion rings are mainstay, but you’ll also find organic hot dogs, organic beef burgers and salads, as well as malts and milkshakes.
989 Magnolia Ave
Did we leave out your favorite Larkspur haunt? Tell us in the comments!