We’re in the thick of the holiday season and with that comes shorter days, no school, and a whole host of things on that list you’re probably too busy to check twice. We’ve rounded up some spots to relax with your tots while you take in the beauty of the season. You can visit electric rhinos at the SF Zoo, stock up on books in San Jose, go on a solstice hike in the Sibley Volcanic Preserve, and don your elf ears in Atherton. From the Golden Gate Bridge to the East Bay hills, there’s plenty of reasons to be jolly.

san francisco zoo lights_may woonPhoto by May Woon courtesy the SF Zoo 

San Francisco

Zoo Lights at the SF Zoo
Head to the zoo at night and experience the magical holiday lights, romp in the playground, and drink hot cocoa while you visit with Santa and his reindeer Belle, Holly, Peppermint, and Velvet. There will be a holiday marketplace, live entertainment, games, costumed characters, and carousel rides. For an extra $5 you can even groove to the sounds of a silent disco! And don’t forget your winter coat because there will be snow! This weekend features The Raytones, a kids rock band on Saturday and a magic show with Professor Paradox on Sunday. Fri., Sat., Sun., 5-8 p.m. San Francisco. $7/adult; $5/child 4-14; free for children 3 and under. All ages. Event details.

Cinderella at the Buriel Clay Theater
Cinderella is brought to the stage by SF’s African-American Shakespeare Company, in the classic tale of a maid-turned-princess. With original music and lyrics by Angel Burgess Eaglin, Robert Michael, and Taylor Peckham, this upbeat and funny performance, including afternoon performances and many kids in the cast of supporting characters. Interested young audience members will have the chance to see if the renowned shoe just might fit them! Fri. & Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 3 p.m. San Francisco. $15-$34. All ages. Event details.

Frozen Sing-Along
Head to the Children’s Creativity Museum Theater for a Frozen sing-along that will keep your winter spirits high and your vocal chords warm. Sat., 11 a.m. & 2 p.m. San Francisco. $5. All ages. Event details.

Ozokidz Concert at the Fillmore
Ozokidz, the project by Grammy-award winning band, Ozomatli, is coming to the Fillmore for a family friendly concert! Dance and laugh to songs from “Ozomatli Presents Ozokidz” album on topics like balloons, animals, and germs! Plus local favorite the Alphabet Rockers are opening! Doors open at 2:30. Sat., 3-4 p.m. San Francisco. $10. All ages. Event details.

East Bay

Trunk Show at OMCA
Head to Oakland Museum of California’s trunk show for some holiday shopping, and then check out the fun at OMCA’s Friday Nights (where kids under 18 are free!) Fri., 5-9 p.m. Oakland. Free. All ages. Event details.

December Toddler Ramble at Hayward Shoreline
Bring your little ones to the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center for a Toddler Ramble that shows kids ways to develop their fine-motor skills by picking, plucking, and pinching (not each other!) Fri., 10:30 a.m. Hayward. $5. 1-3. Event details.

Winter Solstice Family Hike
Celebrate the shortest day of the year with a family hike at Sibley Volcanic Preserve. Hike to the main labyrinth, beat drums, make lanterns to navigate back at dusk, and enjoy tea and persimmons. Please bring your own mugs/cups, a flashlight, and an easy snack to share with others. Blankets optional, but wear layers because it will be dark upon return. Meet at entrance to the preserve between 3:15-3:30 p.m. Sat., 3:30-5:30 p.m. Oakland. $5/family suggested donation. All ages. Event details. 

Jose Luis Orozco Concert
Bring the kiddos to the Freight and Salvage for a bilingual concert just for them, by world renowned educator, artist, children’s author, and musician Jose Luis Orozco. Guaranteed to get you dancing! Sun., 11 a.m. Berkeley. $11/door ($9/advance). All ages. Event details.


Family Movie Night: Elf
‘Tis the season to be jolly and a free movie night will make everyone happy. Put on your best elf-gear and come in holiday costume to this merry film. Note that the event is all ages but the film is rated PG. Please RSVP for your ticket. Fri., 7-9 p.m. Free. All ages. Event details.

Dickens Christmas Fair: Last Weekend!
If you haven’t made it to the Dickens Fair yet, head over this weekend. Your little pips will find a ton of activites just for them all with a Victorian twist. Plays, photos with Father Christmas, a carousel, painting garden, and Professor Flockmocker’s Laboratory of mechanical wonders. Sat., & Sun., 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Daly City. $20-$30/adult; $10/child. All ages. Event details. 

Guided Hike Through the Pescadero Marsh
Explore this 243-acre reserve with a guided walk led by State Park docents. The marsh is home to more than 200 species of birds, as well as plants and other animals like foxes, raccoons, and deer. The walk is two-hours, so wear good walking shoes, pack snacks and water, and don’t forget your binoculars! Meet at the Pescadero State Beach Parking Lot. Sun., 1 p.m. Pescadero. All ages. Free. Event details. 

A Miracle on 34th Street at the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay
This luxe holiday happening will please the whole family: the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay is hosting Holiday Movie Night at the Gazebo Lawn, and this weekend it’s Miracle on 34th Street. Bring a blanket, because this evening is alfresco. Appetizers and drinks will be available for purchase throughout the show from the Ocean Terrace. Sun., 30 minutes after sunset. Half Moon Bay. $10. All ages. Event details

South Bay

Navidad in Mexico Celebration
Celebrate the Christmas season with this colorful depiction of one of Mexico’s most beautiful celebrations: Navidad. Enjoy a day of dancing from both youth and adults, including folklore, modern dance, and piñata breaking. Arrive early to explore the Christmas Village where you can procure one-of-a-kind holiday gifts and dine on delicious food.  Presented by the Ballet Folklorico Mexicano de Carlos Morena and YouARt San Jose. Sat., 2 & 8 p.m. San Jose. $20-$30. All ages. Event details. 

Friends of the Dr. King Library Book Sale
This is the ultimate readers event, with thousands of books at serious bargain prices: On Sat., it’s $1 hardcovers and $.50 paperbacks, and on Sun. fill a bag of books for just $5. And they provide the bags! Plus all proceeds go directly back to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library community programs. On Saturday the kids can go check out a silly magic show at the library, too. Sat, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sun., 1-5 p.m. San Jose. Free. All ages. Event details.

San Jose Ballet’s Nutcracker
There’s enough holiday spirit in Ballet San Jose’s performance of The Nutcracker to get even the most bah humbug of audience members into the Christmas mood, starting with carolers in the lobby before the show and continuing on with magical sets and storytelling in this family-friendly performance. Fri., 7 p.m., Sat., 1:30 & 7 p.m., Sun., 1:30 p.m. San Jose. $25-$110. All ages. Event details.

Marin County

Holiday Party on Angel Island
Experience a Christmas Adventure on Angel Island. Take a ferry to the island while taking it the sights of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. On the island, visit with Santa and his elf, sing along to Christmas carols while riding a tram, decorate gingerbread cookies, and enjoy hot beverages (cocoa for the kids and mulled wine from the grown-ups!) You can get the ferry from Tiburon or from SF. SF departures, check here. Kids 2 and under are free from SF only, Tiburon departures require toddlers to have a ticket. Sat. & Sun., departure times are 10:45 and 11:45 a.m., and 1:45 p.m. Tiburon (Angel Island). All ages. Event details.

Gingerbread House Building with The Culinary Dudes
Trick out your gingerbread houses from top to bottom with all the candy and treats to make them as cool as they are yummy. Fruit and veggie snacks and drinks for all the builders! Sun., 10 a.m. – noon. San Rafael. $70. All ages. Event details.

Sophie and the Enchanted Toy Shop
Your family’s in for a treat in this two-act children’s ballet, where a mysterious toy maker sweeps young Sophie away on a magical adventure full of colorful characters, inspired sets, and toys that come to life.  A Teddy Bear Tea Party follows the 1 p.m. performance with a cast member/photo-op meet and greet. Sat., 1 p.m. & 5:30 p.m. San Rafael. $38/adult; $28/seniors and students; $5 for Teddy Bear Tea. All ages. Event details.

The Dream Circle Holiday Concert at BADM
Music from a range of winter holidays, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Chinese New Year, performed by some of Marin’s most loved kid’s entertainers, including  Miss Kitty, CC Dawson and Richard Mithun. There are two performances, and the cost does not include admission to the museum. Sat., 10 & 11:15 a.m. Sausalito. $7/general; $5/members. All ages. Event details.

Visit us on Instagram and let us know how you #rockedtheweekend! 

~Amber Guetebier