Welcome to the Marin Birthday Party Guide! Children's birthday parties are big events and big business. Browse our directory to find Marin and Bay Area birthday party venues, bounce houses, supplies, services, and entertainers, as well as articles from our web site about birthday party-related topics.

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Mini Golf in Marin at McInnis Park

June 17, 2014

mini golf at McInnis Park in San RafaelI'd driven by McInnis Park off Smith Ranch Road in San Rafael many times before I realized that—hidden amongst the driving range, nine-hole golf course, clubhouse, and batting cages—there was a miniature golf course there too (it was the a little windmill and castle on the hill that tipped me off). Since then, it's been a favorite place for us to go with the kids for a fun day out.

McInnis Park's miniature golf course is a colorful, 18-hole, artist-designed course with fanciful features including an elephant with moving feet, a snail, a castle, a lighthouse, a waterfall, and a much more. The tiered, lushly landscaped course winds its way up a hill as you play and the views from the top are spectacular.

The course also offers two bonus holes at the end. Keep your ball after the 18th hole, then go down below to the bonus course that includes a dinosaur, which is always a favorite with my kids.

Riding the Rails at Sonoma TrainTown

May 24, 2014

Sonoma TrainTown RailroadWhen we're in the Wine Country, we always make sure we visit TrainTown, the fun and fantastic miniature railroad located in the town of Sonoma. It's a place that I used to visit back when I was a kid, and it's the kind of destination that takes you and your family back to a simpler, less hectic time.

Sonoma TrainTown offers train-related activities that are fun for everyone, from toddlers to grade school kids (and adults, too), as well as a selection of carnival-style rides. It's also a short drive from pretty much anywhere in Marin, which makes TrainTown a must-visit attraction for North Bay families.

A Sonoma Valley landmark since the early 1950s, TrainTown has that old-fashioned roadside-attraction kind of charm associated with a bygone era. It's right on Broadway as you head into town, so it's impossible to miss. Park your car, buy your tickets at the admission booth, and hop on when the train arrives at the station. Train rides last approximately 20 minutes, and are drawn by a variety of engines, both diesel and steam.

Tips for a Sensational Spa Birthday Party

February 24, 2014

Spa PartyMy daughter recently turned eight, and she decided on a spa theme for her birthday party. I wasn't sure where to begin, but we made a list together of things she wanted for her party, and with a little research and planning, it all came together. When the day of the party arrived we were both thrilled with the results, and her friends were, too! I forgot how much work it was to plan a party like this, but I wouldn't have done it any other way.

I thought I'd share a few or our tips and must-haves for a successful kids' spa-themed birthday party. Much of what we did was inexpensive and easy to put together, and everyone really had a good time.

Marin on Ice Returns to Northgate this Holiday Season!

November 1, 2013

Marin on Ice Marin on Ice, Marin County's only holiday ice skating rink, returns to Northgate in San Rafael for a second season of open-air skating, opening Saturday, November 9, 2013 and running through January 12, 2014. The rink will be open daily from 11 am to 9 pm, including holidays. This year the rink is even bigger, with 5,600 square feet of real ice.

The Marin on Ice rink will be located in the same spot as last year, in Northgate's Oaktree Plaza near Kohl's.

Special sessions at Marin on Ice include "Family Night" on Tuesdays and "Rock the Rink" on Friday evenings. Skating costs $15 per person, which includes skate rental, and "Skate Buddies" (the blue plastic chair-like supports) are available to rent for beginnners. Skates are available in sizes from a child's 9 to an adult 13.

Marin's Miss Marilyn Makes Birthday Party Magic

October 15, 2013

Miss MarilynMarin children's entertainer Marilyn LoRusso has entertained and captivated thousands of children over the last 15 years with her own upbeat brand of fun! In the persona of Miss Marilyn (formerly Princess Polka Dot) she performs magic, does face painting, balloon art, songs, games, bubbles, and parachute play at children’s birthday parties, preschools, store openings, weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, company picnics, or any event where some fun is required. Miss Marilyn's brand of fun is geared towards kids ages 2–8, but older children and even adults enjoy her performances, too.

Miss Marilyn's parties are generally one hour or longer. Her high energy, love of fun, experience and rapport with children creates an ideal party situation. She enjoys making the birthday child and all their friends feel extra special.

Each party begins with a "Hip Hip Hooray" for the birthday child, followed by a high spirited round of If You're Happy and You Know It and "Miss Marilyn Says" and other games before the magic show begins. Parties for children 3 years and younger feature parachute play, with songs, games and rides, instead of a magic show.

The highlight of the party is an amazing and fun 10- to 15-minute magic show performed by Miss Marilyn. The birthday child assists in the grand finale magic trick and receives an adorable surprise birthday gift.

Your Child's the Star with Marin Magician Julian Sterling

May 31, 2013

Magician Julian SterlingLooking for a fantastic and fun magician for your child's next birthday party? Local magician and children's performer Julian Sterling offers parties for kids of all ages where birthday boy or girl ends up being the star of the show!

Julian is the youngest professional magician in Marin County, and has tailored his amazing magic show specifically for kids' birthday parties. The birthday child is always the star of the show, receiving several magical gifts during the performance, and even peforming a trick of their own in front of everyone! Julian has performed over 1,000 magic shows for clients in Marin and the Bay Area. His tricks are designed to make kids laugh, and are fun, friendly, safe, and age-appropriate.

Julian's a pro who arrives on time, brings all his own equipment, and cleans up afterwards. All you have to do is buy pizza and cake and invite your party guests! Birthday magic programs start $195, and shows last up to one hour. The birthday child even gets a complimentary magic set!

Make Your Child's Birthday Special with a Vintage Tea Party from Little Lady Tea Parties

April 23, 2013

Little Ladies Tea PartiesIf you're looking for an elegant birthday party for your special girl, check out the offerings from Little Ladies Tea Parties. Their vintage tea parties for girls ages 4 to 7 are held in your home, backyard or local park, and include decor, costumes, food, goodies, and even custom invitations and thank-you cards.

Little Ladies Tea Parties was started by North Bay mom Mary Viau who found the local options for girls' parties lacking. These vintage tea parties offer kids a taste of elegance and formality, with linens and china, hand-made costumes, and other treats. The best thing about them is that all you have to do is create the guest list and mail the invitations—they take care of the rest.

Parties start at $350 for seven guests and the birthday girl. Additional guests (up to 12) are $35 each. Parties include invitations, hostess, furniture and decor, costumes, tea and treats, cupcakes, music and dancing, craft time, framed photos of the birthday girl and her guests, a goody bar, set up and clean up, a brief lesson in tea etiquette, and thank you cards.

Grand Slam Birthday Parties with the San Rafael Pacifics

April 3, 2013

San Rafael PacificsMany in Marin were excited last summer when the new San Rafael Pacifics minor league baseball team started its first season in Albert Park. They're back for 2013, and this year young sports fans can hold their birthday parties with the Pacifics at Kirby Cove in Albert Park!

Kirby Cove is perfect spot for children's birthdays, and can accommodate anywhere from 10 to 50 participants. Party guests will enjoy activities like Wiffle Ball games, ping pong, a basketball hoop, and more! Pacifics players and team mascot Sir Francis the Drake will also drop in and visit parties to say hello and sign autographs, too!

Game tickets, menu packages, and a variety of party add-on options are available. Albert Park is located near downtown San Rafael at Andersen Drive, Lindaro Street, and Albert Park Lane.

The San Rafael Pacifics minor league baseball team's opening game is on June 11. Check their game schedule here.

For more information on Pacifics birthday parties, or to reserve your spot, email kbiss@pacificsbaseball.com or call (415) 485-1563. Visit the Pacifics online at  www.pacificsbaseball.com.

Photo courtesy San Rafael Pacifics

Indoor Fun at PlayLand in Sausalito - New Hours

March 4, 2013

PlayLandIf you haven't been to the PlayLand indoor bounce house experience in the MLK Gym in Sausalito, it's definitely worth a visit, especially if it's rainy or cold and you can't play outside. PlayLand is a full-sized gymnasium full of inflatable bounce houses, including a 40-by-20-foot sports arena, a 15-foot slide, a bounce house with basketball hoop, and a toddler bounce zone.

My kids always have a blast playing here—sliding, jumping, bouncing, and playing games in a warm, safe, indoor environment. PlayLand was started by Marin dad Jeremy Williams, who also runs Mt. Tam Adventure Camps. He's often on site with several coaches who make sure that everyone has fun. During our last visit, a coach was making balloon animals for the kids, and there was even a remote controlled flying giant clownfish roaming the room. It's a fun and cool place to play in Marin.

Roll into Fun at Cal Skate in Rohnert Park

February 20, 2013

Cal SkateRemember those days at the roller skating rink back when you were a kid? The disco ball, the DJ, and doing that arm thing when they played YMCA by the Village People? (Am I dating myself here?) If you're nostalgic for the days of skating gone by, head up to Cal Skate in Rohnert Park, which hasn't changed all that much since I used to skate here when I was a kid.

We visited Cal Skate a few months ago, and had a blast—my daughter keeps asking me when we can go back. The kids loved the music, the lighting, and the disco ball, as well as skating, of course. They definitely picked roller skating up faster than ice skating, which they also love to do.

Lace up your skates—you can rent them or bring your own, if you have them—and hit the rink. Cal Skate offers special Kids' Skate sessions for families during the week, on Mondays and Thursdays from 9:30 to 11:30 am. These sessions for children ages 2 to 10 cost $6 and include instruction and quad skate rental, and parents can walk out onto the rink to lend a hand. They also offer a family night on Saturday evenigs from 6-8:30 pm and public skating during the week (times vary). Check out their weekly schdule here.

Top Birthday Party Spots

What are Marin's top birthday party spots? Here are six most popular places to hold a birthday party in our Marin Birthday Party Guide.