Give this Marin County town a try and we bet it will win you over! From pretty parks to plenty of places to nosh—not to mention, one of the Bay Area’s best toy stores—Novato is the perfect quick escape if you and the family are looking to try something new.

miwok_museum

Courtesy of the Museum of the American Indian

Play

Miwok Park
There unlimited activities offered here, depending on your kids’ age and interest. There’s a great playground, the (free) Museum of the American Indian, a large creek great to splash in on warm days, horses, bocce ball courts, BBQs and more.

2200 Novato Blvd.
Novato, Ca
Online: ci.novato.ca.us

Hamilton Airport Park
Little aviation enthusiasts will love the airplane and helicopter themed play structures here. A large sandbox is made extra cool with a pipe installation. Local parents give this park the distinction of “cleanest in Novato.”

End of Hangar Ave
Novato, Ca

Five Little Monkeys

Explore

Ella Bunbee
This new kids consignment store just opened in this past summer. It’s the only one in town, so it is stocked with plenty of gently used, high-quality kids gear, shoes and clothes. There’s even a small selection of new items handmade by local Novato moms, such as headlands, snack bags and hairclips.

1530 Center Rd. #11
Novato, Ca
415-892-3552
Online: ellabunbee.com

Five Little Monkeys
A sweet little toy store that makes opting for independent over big box easy as pie. They carry all the big brands, as well as some great smaller and local ones, and they were the first toy store in the Bay Area to be a Green Certified Bay Area business. Sign your little toy afficiendo up for their new birthday club, and they will receive a special surprise on their big day.

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852 Grant Ave.
Novato, CA
Online: 5littlemonkeys.com

Hamilton Community Swimming Pool
A cool outdoor pool perfect for a dip on a warm day, Hamilton Community Pool features a large lawn for lounging, a great view, and even a hot dog stand. There are no lockers, so pack light and bring what you need out with you. The kiddie pool is just right for little swimmers with a climbing structure and curvy slide.

206 El Bonito Way
Novato, Ca
415-485-3344
Online: cityofsanrafael.org

Stafford Lake Bike Park
Scheduled to be completed in early 2015, this 17-acre bike park will provide opportunities and experiences for riders of all ages and skill levels, from beginner through beginner through expert. With trails, tracks and obstacles, as well as a kids learn-to-ride area, this place is sure to be a bikers paradise.

3549 Novato Blvd.
Novato, Ca
415-897-0618
Online: staffordlakebikepark.com

rustic_bakery_novato

Photo by Anthony N. via Four Square

Eat

Rustic Bakery
A local favorite for a host of reasons: early risers can get their coffee and fresh pastries when the doors open at 7 am; the kitchen uses lots of local and organic ingredients; parking is free and easy; the kids menu features organic juice and milk (along with alternatives such as soy and almond); there’s shaded outdoor seating; Tuesdays through Saturdays until about 1 p.m., customers and curious kiddos can watch the bakers in action through the window on Grant Avenue. Did we mention the food? It’s delicious (as are their beer and wine selections).

1407 Grant Ave.
Novato, Ca
415-878-4952
Online: rusticbakery.com

Tagliaferri’s Delicatessen & Cafe
This family owned and operated café is open 7 days a week serves up everything from paninis and salads to freshly made cannolis, Italian cookies and tiramisu. You’ll want to stock your kitchen with all the imported Italian pastas, spices, oils and vinegars on offer as well. Ask them about catering your little ones next big birthday bash.

1701 Grant Ave.
Novato, Ca
415-897-9677
Online: tagsdeli.com

Boca Tavern
Parents love the heated, fenced in outdoor seating almost as much as their half-off wine bottles on Tuesday evenings. Let the kids choose from a kids menu loaded with favorites, including burgers, chicken tenders, grilled cheese, mac n’ cheese (waiters bring crayons for the little ones as well). Then let ‘em expore the patio while you enjoy that half-price bottle and their specialty: a perfectly cooked steak.

340 Ignacio Blvd.,
Novato, Ca
415-883-0901
Online: bocasteak.com

What are your favorite Novato haunts? Tell us in the comments below!

—Erin Feher