I remember my childhood days, when my friends and family would gather in the backyard to celebrate my birthday. There was only cake, ice cream and pinning the tail on the donkey, but it sure was a lot of fun! So, when I was planning my daughter’s 4th birthday, I was overwhelmed by the many options we have today. From restaurants to gyms, there are birthdays on ice; pony rides and arts and crafts – essentially an option for any taste and budget. Having been to many children’s parties, I have come up with my favorite places. Below are some of my picks for the best party venues in the San Francisco South Bay Area.
PUMP IT UP
What makes this an excellent party venue is that you rent PUMP IT UP for your personal party. So you will have the space exclusively for your child and friends. PUMP IT UP offers a variety of party packages, with different prices, depending on the number of guests and the things you want, such as pizza, beverage, goody bags and balloons. You are responsible for bringing the cake, but PUMP IT UP can supply everything else. With all their party packages, kids play for one and a half hours on the inflatables and then have 30 minutes in a private party room. The best thing about PUMP IT UP is that their staff will set up the party room just the way you want it and clean up afterwards.
Besides the venue in San Francisco, there is one regular and another “Junior” PUMP IT UP in Sunnyvale. They are actually one next to the other at 1165 and 1163 N. Fair Oaks Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA. PUMP IT UP Jr. is designed specifically for little ones and is perfect for kids up to 4 years old. Here is the link for the venue locations in the San Francisco South Bay Area.
THE LITTLE GYM
The Little Gym offers 90 minutes of exclusive use of its facility. The kids take part in games, music, and fun activities and then go to a private party room. Like PUMP IT UP, you won’t have to worry about preparations or clean-up. The Little Gym provides all paper goods (plates, forks, cups, napkins) and every party guest gets a “The Little Gym” Water Bottle to take home. The Birthday Child also gets a “The Little Gym” T-shirt.
Having your child’s birthday party at the Little Gym will cost you $300 if you are a member, and $325 for non-members. Party price includes up to 20 children, with additional fee for extra children. The Little Gym has several locations in the South Bay Area, including Milpitas (309 S. Abbott Avenue, Milpitas, CA 95035); Mountain View (1910-F West El Camino Real, Mt View, CA 94040);Sunnyvale (781 E. El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087) and two locations in San Jose (1375 Blossom Hill Rd, Suite 45, San Jose, CA 95118 and 5357 Prospect Rd, San Jose, CA 95129). Here is the link for The Little Gym’s locations in the South Bay Area.
CHILDREN’S DISCOVERY MUSEUM
My kids and I just love this hands-on museum with over 150 interactive exhibits to explore, understand and enjoy. The best thing about having your kid’s birthday party at the Children’ Discovery Museum is that it encourages active learning in a family-friendly environment. And the museum staff takes care of all the party’s detail so you can experience the event and have fun with your guests. All packages include museum admission and a hostess to help you with your party. Children Discovery Museum can customize your party with food and art or science activities. There are three party packages ranging from $250 to $475 depending on the number of guest and options chosen. The Museum is located at 180 Woz Way, San Jose, CA.
CHUCK E. CHEESE
Chuck E. Cheese has two locations in San Jose. One at 2445 Fontaine Road, San Jose, CA and the other at 1371 Kooser Rd., San Jose, CA. There is also one venue in Cupertino at 19805 Stevens Creek Blvd.
Having your kid’s birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese will be stress-free for you and a lot of fun for the children, as they love playing the cool video games and winning the tokens. You will have a dedicated hostess and 90 minutes at a reserved party table. The hostess will serve the kids their food, unlimited drinks, and the cake. Chuck E. Cheese offers basically two party packages: the Birthday Star Package at $12.99 per child and the Super Star Upgrade at $17.99 per child. Birthday parties reserved Monday – Thursday are a great option to avoid some of the crowd, plus the venue provides unlimited time at your table and extra tokens. Here is a link to their party packages.
Outdoor Venues – Have the Party at a Park
During spring and summer times, a park can be a great venue, as children will enjoy running on open fields and playing at the playground. To make the birthday party more exciting, you can hire some entertainment. Some good options are hiring a magician or a clown; having a petting zoo; a jumper; a puppet show or a performer playing your child’s favorite character.
Nick Barone Puppets offers original and traditional puppet shows that enthrall both kids and adults. The best thing about Nick Barone Puppets is that it enhances children’s imagination by working with both their visual and hearing senses. Nick Barone brings to your event location a full puppet stage, lights and sound system, complete with a professionally recorded soundtrack featuring music and sound effects. After the performance, Nick removes the curtains from the stage to reveal all the workings backstage and explains how each puppet was operated. He then hands out coloring sheets with drawings of the puppets from the show to every child at the party. The presentation is about 30 to 40 minutes, including the behind-the-scenes explanation. Nick Barone can perform for large groups, as long as you have enough room. The puppet show needs at least a 6 by 6 foot space, with the audience sitting 3 to 4 feet away to view the show. If you plan to have your kid’s birthday party at a park, you must check with the park department if they allow “amplified sound”, before booking the show. Amplified Sound is the park department’s definition of any sound not naturally occurring in the park. Nick Barone Puppets’ pricing varies, depending on how much travel time is involved and how many shows you want.
For my daughter’s 4th birthday, we threw the party at a park and hired Children’s Delight, a San Jose based company that offers top quality children’s performers. For $285 we had a 60 minutes show by Cinderella and Prince Charming followed by balloon sculpting and face painting. The children were thrilled when Prince Charming tried the glass slipper on each one of them and when the shoe finally fit Cinderella, she and Prince Charming shared a waltz. As a reward, the kids all won a prize in a fun, musical game. Not only the girls were very excited with Cinderella but the boys also enjoyed the show.
When planning a birthday party at a park, make sure to check the park’s regulations. Most parks in the San Francisco South Bay Area require reservations for large groups and some prohibit bouncers, jumpers or even loud music. The City of Sunnyvale, for instance, only allows jumpers in certain areas of its parks and requires a $25.00 jumper permit, which can be purchased from the Reservations Office. As each park has its own regulation, I strongly recommend checking your City’s Department of Parks and Recreation’s website when planning your kid’s birthday party in a park.
Having your kid’s birthday party in a park can mean more work on yourself, as you are in charge of organizing all the preparations and activities. And you are also responsible for cleaning up. On the other hand, you can choose exactly what you want and can decorate exactly how you like. When planning your kid’s next birthday party, sit back for a moment and think what fits for you and your child. Keep in mind that kids have fun with simple and ordinary things. Planning your child’s birthday party should be fun and stress-free. Because, the most important thing is to celebrate another year of happiness in your child’s life. And that’s what it is all about.
Source: Personal Experience