The Annual Mill Valley Winterfest is Here!
"'Tis the season to be jolly~..." Can you believe it's December again? The festive lights are everywhere, and some of our neighbors have pulled out an entire inventory of lights and outdoor inflatables! We went to our first tree-lighting event this season, and as people of all origins gathered together in the little town square, we watched the lights go on successively on the Christmas tree, the menorah, a crescent/minaret fixture, and a Diwali-themed fixture, and everyone listened to the carols in English and Spanish while waving little candles to celebrate the start of the holiday season. It's a perfect Bay Area moment.
Since we moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, we've been exploring the constellation of little towns and cities around the region. One of the quaintest little town that we've visited on several occasions is Mill Valley in Marin County. Mill Valley sits at the base of Mount Tamalpais, it has that small town America vibe with some charming accents here and there that remind one of villages in Germany or Switzerland.
During this time of year, Mill Valley prepares for the annual Winterfest (first Sunday of December) where people gather for a fun day out about town with live music, holiday food and art vendors, and the Tree Lighting ceremony. There's even a "surprise" visit from an elderly gentleman who wears a funny outfit in red and white and says "ho, ho, ho" a lot. Watch out, he will arrive in an unusual vehicle!
The stores downtown put out their festive best, with shiny lights and dreamy window displays. Since we'd been on several aerial gondola rides recently, our kids loved this particular window with a moving aerial tram.
If you want to grab a drink and a quick bite, one of our favorite places is Mill Valley Beerworks. It's a local favorite, on weekends during brunch hours, it can be a bit hard to get a spot! They have some flavorful house-brewed beer and gourmet pub bites with locally-sourced ingredients. A must if you're ever in Mill Valley!
Downtown Plaza takes center stage during Winterfest. Drop by Depot Bookstore & Cafe, it used to be a train station of the North Pacific Coast Railroad! You can flip through some books (don't you love the smell of paper?) and get a hot cocoa there, they have a lovely selection of children's books to delight your little ones.
Highlight of the event? The snow slide! As it doesn't snow in the Bay Area, it's a pure delight to see a snow slide with hay stacks in the center of town! Make sure you get the unlimited pass, your kids will want to go over and over again.
Sometimes, the fun gets highly contagious... and since toddlers don't have enough body weight to smoothly ride down the slide, they need reinforcements from some adults that are highly eager to help!
Who's enjoying it more?
I rest my case.
Guess where you can find us tomorrow?