Tucked between Mount Tamalpais and San Francisco Bay, the town of Corte Madera is a mash-up of small-town nostalgia and big-time amenities—perfect for a family day out. It’s home to Marin’s two main shopping malls and is filled with charming midcentury neighborhoods, all centered around a  20-acre public park.

 

Corte Madera Town Park

photo: Sarah Lynch

Play

Town Park
Corte Madera’s 20-acre Town Park includes playing fields, a skate park, tennis courts and the Community Center, along with one of the largest playgrounds in Marin. There’s an area for toddlers and little kids along with a sand box and a swing set. A separate area for older kids features a rock wall.

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San Clemente Park
This park borders the Mariner Cove neighborhood and Cove School so it’s primarily used for its playing fields and as part of the schoolyard. But there are two fenced-in play areas for kids of all ages—perfect for neighborhood kids or families watching team sports.

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Village Playground

photo: Momma H. via Yelp 

Playground at The Village at Corte Madera
There’s a fun kiddie play area with climb-on creatures at this outdoor shopping mall. Located directly across from Peet’s Coffee on the southern end of the mall, it’s a good place to unload the stroller and let the kids run around. Be forewarned: even though it’s covered for shade, the structures can get hot on a warm sunny day.

1618 Redwood Hwy.
Corte Madera, Ca
 415-924-8557

 

 

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Explore

Hiking Ring Mountain
If you have a little rock-climber or a budding archaeologist, consider a hike along the three-mile trail looping Ring Mountain Open Space Preserve. On a clear day the views of the East Bay, San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge are breathtaking and better yet:  you’ll encounter something for everyone—petroglyphs, boulders and rare wildflowers.

5300 Paradise Dr.
Corte Madera, Ca
online: marincounty.org

Bike Along the Marshes
There’s a flat paved bike path that connects Larkspur and Corte Madera that is great for beginning riders. You’ll ride along the Corte Madera Creek Marshland and pass several shopping centers along the way if you need to stop for bathroom breaks. The path along San Clemente Drive ends at the Paradise Foods grocery store so you can grab a bite before heading back the way you came.

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A Child’s Delight
This toy store, one of three branches in the Bay, is filled with high-quality brands like wooden Haba toys, Corolle dolls and Alex art supplies. Located in the Town Center near the elephant fountain, there’s lots of space just outside the store, where kids can work out some of their toy-store enthusiasm.

105 Corte Madera Town Center
Corte Madera, Ca
415-945-9221
Online: achildsdelight.com

 

CorteMaderaResto

photo: Sarah Lynch

Eat

Veggie Grill
The latest addition to the restaurant offerings at Corte Madera’s Town Center mall, this vegetarian eatery will definitely get your kids to try something different. Crispy cauliflower, vegan mac ‘n cheese and kale salad with meat-free thai “chicken” are just a few of the small-scale options.

147 Corte Madera Town Center
Corte Madera, Ca
415-945-8954
Online: veggiegrill.com

Pacific Catch
If you’re not one for vegan fare but you’re still looking for a kid’s menu with something other than the usual suspects, consider Pacific Catch. The locally based chain offers small-scale versions of their fish & chips, coconut shrimp and teriyaki bowls for kids and this location has an outdoor seating area with a firepit for chilly afternoons.

133 Corte Madera Town Center
Corte Madera, Ca
415-927-FISH (3474)
Online: pacificcatch.com

Brick & Bottle
A Michelin-ranked restaurant that the whole family can enjoy sounds like a faraway dream, but Brick & Bottle is a dream come true. The farm-to-table menu includes kid’s options like petrale sole or skirt steak with seasonal veggies.

55 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, Ca
415-924-3366
Online: brickandbottle.com

Lighthouse Café
You may be familiar with the original Lighthouse Cafe in Sausalito but just across from the Old Square’s Gazebo is another location. This diner-style restaurant serves breakfast standards—including the Mickey Mouse pancake—as well as a selection of Danish specialties (the owners are from Denmark).

12 Tamalpais Dr.
Corte Madera, Ca
415-945-8902
Online: lighthouse-restaurants.com

 

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photo: Marni N. via Yelp

Sip and Snack

Cafe Verde
Grab a coffee and a snack at this charming new café. With built-in outdoor seating perfect for squirmy kids or strollers, Café Verde is a great spot to hang with your tiny tots. You’ll especially love that it’s a stone’s throw from Corte Madera Park and right next to the community center.

502 Tamalpais Dr.
Corte Madera, CA
415-927-1060
Online: cafeverdemarin.com

Café at Book Passage
The café and wine bar at Marin’s legendary independent bookstore accommodates kids with a menu of sandwiches including PB&J’s (and they even have gluten-free bread). Grab a book for you and another one for your sidekick then hit the café for coffee or a well-deserved glass of wine while you crack the spine on your new novel.

51 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA
415-927-0906
Online: bookpassage.com 

 

—Sarah Lynch