Half-day Trip to San Rafael and WildCare - 510 Families
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Half-day Trip to San Rafael and WildCare

Big thanks to guest contributor, Leura Mathur, parent of a toddler daughter and a bonus ten-year-old son, for sharing her tips for playing and learning at WildCare along with a few favorite walkable San Rafael activities with little ones. Leura is also a TinkerGarten instructor.

Just across the Richmond Bridge is San Rafael, a city full of fun things to do with your family. It’s surprisingly close with views of the water and Mt Tamalpais along the way. Park once and explore the rest of the area by foot. The following suggestions are all within a few blocks of each other.

child and desert tortoise
Children meeting Mojave the Desert Tortoise in the courtyard | Photo by Tory Russell via WildCare.com

Visit WildCare with little ones

My favorite reason to cross the bridge is for a visit to WildCare, a rehabilitation facility for local animals.  WildCare is FREE and open daily from 9-5. There’s a sweet courtyard where injured and recovering animals are swimming and hanging out. If we go during feeding times, we might see a hawk devour a mouse — definitely not for the squeamish!

Inside, we can get up close and personal with taxidermied wildlife. My daughter loves petting the cougar and fox, but was a little wary of the giant bear. There’s plenty of informative child centered activities, and the volunteers are happy to answer questions.

Plan your visit to WildCare by visiting their website.

Albert Park play structure in San Rafael
Feeding time at WildCare with one of the volunteers | Photo: Leura Mathur

Daily schedule at WildCare San Rafael

  • 10 am Pool Bird Feeding
  • 11 am Live animal presentation
  • 2 pm Live animal presentation
  • 3 pm Pool Bird Feeding

Where we eat and play in San Rafael

Playing in San Rafael

Albert Park Playground was reopened in April, 2019 after a four year renovation project, and it is clean, new, and overall amazing. We like the cute wooden imaginative play structures and two swings for the younger crowd, and a separate climbing area for the bigger kids. Both are fenced in (Yes!).

Wildcare volunteer and toddler
Set sail on a beautiful wooden boat at Albert Park | Photo: Leura Mathur

If today is a Tuesday and Thursday, drop into an hour long interactive Jumping Jacks class at the Community Center 9:30-10:30 for crawlers up to 26 months, or 10:45 to 11:45 for 2-4 year olds. $10 per family and a discount for siblings.

Eating with kids in San Rafael

Our favorite stop is Muffin Mania for coffee and delicious house baked goods, even gluten free and vegan ones. Don’t let the name fool you, we also like to grab tacos or a sandwich. My baby and I will eat there or head over to the park.

For more breakfast and lunch fare, we like the Depot Garden Cafe between 8 am and 3 pm. The garden patio is perfect for little children to explore while we enjoy a meal big enough to share. Vegetarians take note, the “Garden Burger” is named after the cafe and is in fact a meat patty!

When my children have the patience for a more grown up meal, we eat at the Panama Hotel Restaurant for tasty seasonal organic food and live music Tuesday through Thursday evenings. If your kids are 10 or older, you can play a game of bocce ball on Tuesdays, Fridays and weekends, or save both for date night!

I tell all my East Bay friends that San Rafael is closer than you think. Whether you’re looking for a change of pace or need to get out of the fog, a trip across the bridge may be just what you need.

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