Paul Austin, founder of PlayMarin, shares tips on top spots to play and explore in Marin County.
Best Places to Explore
By day, it’s a great place to enjoy with family and friends and as the sun goes down, it’s one of the only beaches that allows for legal bonfires. So be sure to bring enough s’mores makings to share.
Access and parking can be tricky, especially in COVID times, but this sweet little sandy beach with shallow water (can get muddy) is ideal for young swimmers looking to splash in almost warm water. It’s also a great place to launch a kayak.
How lucky are we to have access to miles of protected open space, free for all to hike and bike. Restrooms and picnic tables can be found at the parking lot of Rodeo beach — and while it’s not really my favorite hobby, certain spots are mecca for birdwatchers!
China Camp State Park
Mountain biking here is awesome. Regardless of ability, you can go for miles and take multiple trails to explore. We’ve had some great youth group camping fun out there too.
One of my favorites because either way you go, you’ll end up at a beautiful secluded beach. Take the hard way, up hills, rewarded by amazing views, or just walk the level paved path — it’s the best of both worlds.
I love walking along the entire beach. I see people enjoying the cold water (not my thing, but they look happy) and if you’re lucky you’ll see a paraglider land on the beach.
Best Youth Sports Groups
St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) Program
Full disclosure, I started the program for 4th through 8th graders about eight years ago, and now we are up to fifteen teams. We offer basketball, track and field, girls volleyball and are starting a lacrosse program.
Southern Marin Lacrosse
What I like about this program is they do a great job of making the game fun for all skill levels. They offer spring and summer teams for boys and girls ages 7-15 years.
Dave Fromer Soccer
Dave has been around for a very long time, and so many Marin kids have honed their soccer skills through is program. He takes kids from kindergarten through high school.
Next Level Flag Football
The program is run out of three different high schools in Marin, and offers an exciting and safe way to play football. They run spring and summer teams for first through eighth grade.
County Bears Basketball AAU
It’s a competitive yet fun environment. Mostly what I love about this group is how the families get involved watching their kids play; the family involvement fosters community.
This San Rafael-based program is dedicated to offering the next level of Volleyball skills to Marin youth.
Rocky Graham Park
Marin City’s Rocky Graham Park is a family-friendly community gathering place. There is a children’s play structure, skate park, a beautiful mural and picnic tables. Did I mention the gazebo and amphitheater? It’s just a great spot.
Corte Madera Park
This is one of the most popular parks in Marin. In non-covid times, kids from all areas come here to play on the massive structures or play soccer and other games on the expansive fields.
Located in San Rafael, this is a one-stop-fun-shop; there is a beach, pool, tennis courts, volleyball courts and grassy areas to play or have a picnic.
The 2020 Fitness Category was sponsored by Valley Memorial Park
How to help:
Consider supporting one of these local nonprofits that urgently need support during the pandemic.
More from Marin:
- Pedal Away From the Crowds to Enjoy Tahoe Safely
- A Better Buzz: Hard Kombucha
- Rebel With A Cause: Marin Conservationist Martin Griffin Turns 100
Play Marin founder and CEO Paul Austin is a longtime Marin City resident who has been a youth advocate for the majority of his professional life. He founded Play Marin to intentionally give kids of diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds from the broader Marin community the opportunity to play, learn, and grow together. Additionally, he is the Community Liaison for Luminate Capital Partners, a LuluLemon ambassador, and board member of ExtraFood.org.