At last! A break in the clouds and even a glimmer of winter sunshine. Did you know the temperature warms approximately 1 degree for every mile you travel north of the Golden Gate Bridge?  Time to head outdoors to Novato’s green and spacious Palmisano Park (about 10 miles north of GGB), where the kids can run and play to their hearts’ content.

They’ll love the miniature airplane and helicopter, as well as monkey bars, tunnel slides, and swings.  There’s also a huge sandbox with a tap for water play, so bring buckets and spades for your little artists and builders.  Tyke-sized picnic tables, water fountains, and clean portable restrooms are other reasons the playground is such a favorite with neighborhood families.

When lunchtime rolls around, head to the Hamilton Cafe.  This cozy, friendly restaurant serves Southern European food, including home-made soups, pastas, hot sandwiches, and salads. Try their crostini with four delicious toppings, or a bowl of piping-hot spaghetti and ‘polpette’ (meatballs).  If it’s warm enough, sit on the patio and pretend you’re dining in the Mediterranean.

Need directions to the park?  Drive through the Main Gate, up South Palm Drive to Hangar Drive.  Take a right and go to the end – you’ll see the baseball field and the adjacent playground.

—Annie Sheldon