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Free Fall Activities For Families In The Bay Area

Two girls pose for a picture amongst Fall leaves (credit: VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images)

Now that the school year is in full-swing, families can be hard pressed to carve out time together. With many children involved in afterschool activities, finding affordable family-friendly entertainment can prove a double challenge. Luckily, the Bay Area offers families a variety of fun and free things to do. Here are 5 top picks for free fall family activities.

Marine Science Sunday
The Marine Mammal Center
2000 Bunker Road
Sausalito, CA 94965
(415) 289-7325 

Located in the Marin Headlands, the Marine Mammal Center is a combination of a educational center and research hospital dedicated to the rehabilitation of injured marine mammals. The center primarily treats sea lions and harbor and elephant seals and offers several weekly tours. On the second and fourth Sundays of each month, the center holds free interactive programs where visitors can learn about a variety of ocean related topics. In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, the November program will focus on the feeding habits of marine mammals. Sessions are held from noon to 2 pm, and docent-led tours are also available for a nominal fee.

Charles M. Shulz Museum
2301 Hardies Lane
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
(707) 579-4452

As its name implies, the Charles M. Schulz museum is home to a collection showcasing the works of the Peanuts comic strip creator. Upon entering the museum, visitors can view everything from original comic strips to Schulz's own personal effects. During the fall, the museum is regularly open six days a week and charges a $10 entrance fee. This fall, on November 11, the museum will be offering free admission to all visitors in honor of Veterans Day.

Mocha Family Weekend Workshop
Alameda Free Library
1550 Oak St.
Alameda, CA 94501
(510) 747-7777
Date: Sat. Nov. 15

Oakland's Museum of Children's Art is an interactive art space designed to help children and families both explore creativity and connect with each other. Mocha holds a wide variety of art camps, parties and open studio opportunities. Families have the opportunity to experiment with everything from edible paint to sewing. Several times per year, the museum holds a free family workshop at the Alameda Free Library. The next workshop will be on Saturday, November 15th from 2 to 3 pm.

SF Botanical Garden
Free Admission Day
1199 9th Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 661-1316

Nestled inside Golden Gate Park, the San Francisco Botanical Garden is home to 55 acres of thousands of different varieties of plants from all corners of the world. The garden is divided into several different areas including a native redwood grove, an Australian garden and a magnolia collection. It is open seven days a week and offers free admission to San Francisco residents. Visitors living outside of the city can also enjoy access free of charge on the second Tuesday of each month, as well as Thanksgiving day and from 7:30 am to 9 am daily.

San Francisco Chamber Orchestra Family Concerts
Various Locations
P.O. Box 191564
San Francisco, CA 94119
(415) 692-3367

Founded over 60 years ago, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra is devoted to ensuring Bay Areans free access to classical music, regardless of age. Numerous free concerts are conducted annually throughout the Bay Area. This fall, the orchestra will be staging a number of family concerts at various locations. Each free concert is roughly 45 minutes long and is designed to not only introduce, but also foster a love of classical music in young people. Fall concert options include several performances of the Nutcracker Sweet.

Joanna Metheny is a freelance writer covering all things South Bay. Her work can be found on


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