This quaint hamlet located at the base of Mount Tamalpais, a mere four miles north of San Francisco, was once a weekend retreat for city-dwellers. In the sixties and seventies, it became a mellow hippies’ enclave and even had its own theme song written by third grade teacher Mrs. Abrams. Check out this video (directed by Francis Ford Coppola) for a nostalgic look at the town we’ve loved for decades.

What to bring: Kids love to ride bikes, scooters and other ride-on toys around the plaza on town square. Chalk for sidewalk drawings is also popular.

Joes Taco Lounge Mill Valley

PARKS & PLAYGROUNDS

Sycamore Park
Location: Sycamore & Nelson Ave

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A local favorite, Sycamore Park can difficult to find, as the entrance is hidden between two houses on Sycamore. Once down the path, the play area opens to a large area, with a grassy lot to the right and two large play areas, one with a play structure for big kids and a smaller Tot Lot.

Old Mill Park
Location: Throckmorton & Old Mill St

Under the redwoods just outside the library, a small playground with a deep woods feel and even a hollowed out Redwood tree that makes a great fort. Try keeping your kids out of the creek in the summer.   An original Gravity Train car for make-believe rides on the old railroad also makes this a fun place to hang.

Old Mill Park Mill Valley CA

Molino Park
Location: Edgewood & Molino

Hidden from the road, with steep sides all around, Molina Park feels private and with limited parking, is one of the quieter playgrounds. Large grassy area is great for birthday parties.

Freeman Park
Quiet neighborhood park near Sycamore Park. Large climbing structure for 4+, a small basketball court and a few swings and picnic tables. The downward sloping hill is attractive for scooter riders.

Hauke Park
Location: Kipling & Lomita

One of the sunny playgrounds in Mill Valley, with east access to soccer fields, bike paths and dog park. Fenced in area makes it popular for under five set.

Boyle Park
Location: E Blithedale & East Drive

Walking distance from downtown Mill Valley, Boyle Park has a big kids and little kids play area, as well as an open grass field, a creek and tennis courts.

Kay Park
Location: Linda Way & Ross Drive

Tam Junction playground with decent shade and a few play structures and separate areas for large and smaller kids. Hidden entrances on Linda Way and Ross Drive.

Eastwood Park
Location: Glenwood Ave & Eastwood Way

This park is a hidden gem for Mill Valley parents.  There are two separate kids’ play areas, one for toddlers and one for big kids and a large grassy area.

Scott Highlands Park
Located near the MillValley golf course, this hidden gem has been remodeled and has lots of new bells and whistles, including a Christmas tree merry-go-round and a yellow saucer that spins. It’s fully fenced and divided into an upper and lower area.

INDOOR PLAY

Mill Valley Public Library
Location: 375 Throckmorton Avenue

With its vaulted wooden beamed ceilings and fireplace where you can curl up with a good book, boasts one of the most welcoming children’s rooms around. Multiple storytimes feature talented readers like Phil Sheridan.

Proof Lab
Location:
254 Shoreline Highway, 415-380-8900

Surf, skate, art—even music lessons and beach clean ups—Proof Lab has it all.  They’re compound-like with separate areas for different needs (rentals, clothing, even skate lessons) so there’s a ton to see and choose from.  They host events year round, everything from crab feeds to ping pong tourneys and skate contests. Their indoor skate park is a popular spot for parties.

Proof Lab Mill Valley Skateboarding

Mill Valley Community Center

Location: 180 Camino Alto, 415-383-1370
Comprised of two buildings and ample outside space with dozens of ongoing activities, classes and programs . Thehe second building is dedicated to swimming and fitness and includes an indoor swimming pool with retractable roof,  a 120-foot spiral waterslide, Jacuzzi spa, and outdoor patio.

Sprout
Location: 12 Miller Avenue, 415-389-1312

One part retail store, one part play space, and one part community space, Sprout is known for reinventing the shopping experience for the modern mom. You’ll find variety of classes and activities like a Diapering for Dads workshop, Little Folkies music class, baby sign language, story time with JAMaRoo, and dance and creative movement (you can check out their full calendar of events here).

Toy House
Location: 515 Miller Avenue, 415-381-4869

This independently owned toy store is a savior for finding cool Saturday morning birthday party gifts, as well a fun spot to spend a few hours exploring. Owned by House family, local Marin parents of four who have their fingers on the pulse of local kid product trends.

HIKING & BIKING

 

Tennessee Valley
A favorite hiking trail is the mostly flat and paved Tennessee Valley trail (with one hearty hill to burn off those extra holiday calories), just off Hwy 101 in Mill Valley. You can even do it with a stroller, and it’s an easy 3.1 miles roundtrip for little walkers or bikers. Beach views, interesting plants, and animals galore make the time fly by for the little ones.

Cascade Falls, Downtown Mill Valley
This extremely short and easy jaunt through peaceful Redwoods and along Cascade Creek makes for a good hiking primer for toddlers and a relaxing stroll for everyone else. Amble along the wide trail, cross the wooden bridge and then marvel accordingly. The falls are a splendid sight year-round and particularly impressive in the winter and early spring.

Cascade Falls Mill Valley CA

Mill Valley Bike Path
Training wheels or no, it’s time to fill up the bike rack and start enjoying those two-wheelers for all they’re worth! The Bay Area is full of bike trails, and Mill Valley beckons with a flat, easy access through neighborhoods and shopping areas to the salt marshes (with a view of Richardson Bay), and finally, alongside the houseboats of Sausalito. Biking along this wide, multi-purpose path is leisurely enough for the whole family.

EAT

 

Boo Koo
25 Miller Avenue
For spicy Asian street food, including tempting dishes (wok-fired entrees, soups and salads) and from the kiddie corner: Jake’s bowl (Teriyaki chicken over brown rice or noodles with mango). Guzzle a homemade drink like the Fuzzy G (an infusion of ginger, lemon grass and a kick of spice) or Mint-O-Mania and you’re ready to hit the road again.

Piazza D’Angelo
22 Miller Avenue
A family-friendly ristorante to retreat to when you want to be served and feel taken care of for a little while. Doting waiters serve authentic Italian fare in a spacious dining room or on the patio for al fresco dining on warm days.
 
Joe’s Taco Lounge
382 Miller Avenue
Technically not downtown, but only a few minutes down Miller Avenue, you’ll find . It’s your classic joint, you know, Mexican séance parlor/hot sauce stand serving up tasty fish tacos, black bean soup or tofu tostada for a fun and festive vibe.
 

Depot Bookstore and Café
87 Throckmorton Ave.
Grab a coffee, bagel or salad and Find a table on the patio, which faces the town square, a happening spot for local kids who ride their bikes, scooters and make chalk drawings on the square.

The Depot Bookstore & cafe Mill Valley, CA

Pearl’s Phat Burger
8 East Blithedale Ave
Juicy burgers and fries off the town square.

Super Duper
430 Miller Ave
Serves up not only some of the best local kid friendly burgers, but super tasty organic milk shakes around.

Noci Gelato
17 East Blithedale Avenue, 415.388.2423
Near the square, this is a local fave with in house made gelato that can also be found being served up via their roving bicycle in the summer time.

Café Del Soul
247 Shoreline Highway, 415-388-1852
Smoothies, Organic Juices, Quinoa Salads and Gluten Free Nachos.

Dipsea Café
200 Shoreline Highway, 415-381-0298
A breakfast favorite for local Marin families. The wait for a table starts around 10 am as hikers and bikers line up for blueberry-strawberry cheese blintzes, smoothies and pancakes. always hit the spot. We guarantee a good night’s sleep for everyone!

Yolo 
505 Miller, 415-381-9656
Frozen yogurt with a slew of toppings available.

Swirl
417 Miller Ave, 415-388-2636
Another sweet spot in Mill Valley for frozen yogurt.

Extra Side Trip: If you still haven’t gotten your fair share of Mill Valley, consider taking a trip up to family-friendly East Peak. The Mt. Tam Interpretive Association also offers docent-led Saturday hikes, year round, that are appropriate for families with kids of all ages. Check them out here.

Online: cityofmillvalley.org

–Nicki Richesin & Jacqui Boland