Birthday Party Locations & Activities

Tips for Great Kids' Birthday Parties from A Little Savvy Event

May 7, 2012

Birthday party at Modern Cookie CompanyIf you're a parent (and you probably are if you're reading this), you know what a big job planning a child's birthday party is. Whether you plan a party yourself or hire a planner to do it, there's a lot of work to be done, but also a lot of fun to be had.

We asked Kelly McLeskey-Dolata , the party pro at  Sonoma's A Little Savvy Event for some of her tips for planning the perfect birthday party. A Little Savvy Event creates children's parties and showers and other once-in-a-lifetime events in Marin and the Wine Country that are stylish, whimsical, and fun, and consistently wow both kids and grownups. The photos accompanying this article are from the "Puppies and Polka-Dots" birthday party they recently organized at Larkspur's wonderful Modern Cookie Company for the daughter of local jewelry designer Ashley Morgan. Check out their website at alittlesavvyevent.com to learn more about them and their parties.

What's your singlemost important tip for parents planning their child's birthday party?

The party is for your child and about them, so really try to express who they are at that time in their life into the theme and the party!

High-Flying Fun at San Francisco's House of Air

April 10, 2012

House of Air MatrixEveryone's been telling us how much fun they've had at the House of Air, San Francisco's indoor trampoline park, so we decided that it was high time we paid it a visit. House of Air is located in an historic airplane hangar at Crissy Field in the Presidio of San Francisco, and features 8,000 square feet of trampolines that allow you to jump, fly, flip, and have a blast.

We booked our session online (always a good idea at this busy place, it turns out), and headed south across the Golden Gate Bridge. Unlike some places in San Francisco, there's plenty of free parking in the area, especially in the large lot adjacent to the beach.

When you go in, sign the waiver if you haven't already, then check in and get your bracelet. You either jump barefoot, or you can buy a pair of special House of Air trampoline socks to wear for $2. You'll jump in the Matrix, a large area of 42 interconnected trampolines, which includes the 2X Bowl, a special freestyle trampoline area modeled after a skate park. The House of Air's staff of Air Traffic Controllers give you a short briefing before your session, and then you're good to go. You also have access to the smaller Collosseum, a space with 22 conjoined trampolines that's used for organized sports like trampoline dodgeball.

Creative Hands-on Birthday Parties at Studio 4 Art

March 20, 2012

Art birthday party at Studio 4 Art in NovatoMy kids have been getting creative at Novato's Studio 4 Art since it opened on Grant Avenue a few years ago. We've all enjoyed their hands-on art workshops and classes. Studio owner Kebby McInroy recently opened the Studio 4 Art Annex around the corner from the main storefront, and we decided to hold my daughter's recent birthday party there. Needless to say, it was a big hit with all who attended!

The Annex is a cute little cottage that Studio 4 Art uses to hold parties, special events, and summer camps. It holds up to 20 children, who can work on a variety of different art projects around the two large tables in the space. The Annex space has bamboo floors, track lighting, kids' art on the walls, lots of natural light, and a warm, welcoming ambience.

For our party, we chose mosaic nameplates, which the girls crafted out of colorful ceramic letters and pieces of glazed ceramic tile. Each project was totally unique, and everyone was really proud of their creations. When everything's dry, you can hang them on the wall—they make great decorations for children's rooms.

Sugar Mama Cookies Offers Unique Creations for Birthdays and More

January 31, 2012

Sugar Mama CookiesInstead of a cake for your next birthday party, why not try offering custom sugar cookies? Sugar Mama Cookies, based in San Francisco, was started by mom Roxanne Pangilinan, whose unique, hand-decorated cookies are the highlight of many parties throughout the Bay Area.

All her cookies are made from scratch and baked to order and she offers gluten- and dairy-free cookies on requested. Pricing starts at $30 per dozen with an average price of $3–6 per cookie.

Popular designs include characters like Lightning McQueen from Pixar's Cars, Thomas the Tank Engine, Dora the Explorer, the Cookie Monster, and Elmo. Other shapes and themes are available of course—from a tutu/ballerina theme to a pirate theme party. Roxanne can even match an image from an invitation—customers will email her with their invitation or theme, and she'll get back to them with a few design options in a range of prices.

Bowling Birthday Parties at San Rafael's Country Club Bowl

January 11, 2012

Fun at Country Club Bowl in San RafaelIf you're planning a birthday party, why not consider bowling? You probably went to birthday parties at the bowling alley when you were a kid, and you probably had a blast, too. Bowling is fun, exciting (remember when you knocked down that first pin?) and makes for a great birthday party experience. Throw in the fact that there's usually food and drink available on-site, and that you don't have to clean up, and it has the makings for the perfect party.

The crash of the pins, getting your bowling shoes, picking out that perfect bowling bowl, and learning to keep score are all part of the experience. It's a fun activity that all partygoers—kids and parents alike—can enjoy, too.

Country Club Bowl in San Rafael has been a local institution since 1959, and is Marin County's only bowling alley. They offer a birthday party package that includes:

  • Two hours of bowling for both kids and parents
  • Food to eat while bowling
  • Rental shoes

Adventurous Birthdays at Expedition Island (CLOSED)

November 16, 2011

Expedition IslandExpedition Island is closed.

My kids and I have been wanting to visit Expedition Island, the exciting indoor adventure play space up in Petaluma. We recently had the chance to check it out when my five-year-old daughter was invited to a birthday party there. I wasn't sure if my daughter was too young for the daring activities offered there—like zip lines, rope swings, a climbing wall, and a wobble bridge, but she and all of her friends couldn't get enough!

When partygoers arrive, they're fitted for safety harnesses and informed of the house rules, and are then ushered into the large, warehouse-like space of the Island, which is decorated in a tropical motif. Here they're free to play and have fun.

Kids climb the stairs to the upper level, where helpful attendants guide them through the activities they want to participate in, and make sure that everyone has a good safe time. If a zip line stops mid-trip, helpers down below make sure everyone gets to the other side. After our play session on the Island, we headed to a private party room for pizza and cake.

Studio C Ballet Now Open in Fairfax for Classes, Parties, and More

November 8, 2011

Studio C BalletStudio C Ballet is now open in Fairfax. Offering professional ballet training for all ages and abilities, Studio C Ballet was founded by Marin mom and professional ballet dancer Claudia Alfieri-Wallace, a veteran of esteemed dance companies including San Francisco Ballet, Smuin Ballet, and Baryshnikov's American Ballet. Classes are available for all ages, from pre-ballet (ages 3–5) to adult instruction. Private ballet coaching is available as well.

Studio C Ballet also offers Ballerina Birthday Parties in the delightful setting of its pink-curtained ballet studio. Contact Claudia directly for prices and availability at (415) 297-6897 or claudia@studiocballet.com.

You'll find Studio C Ballet in Fairfax at 12 School Street Plaza Suite 12D (near Central Field). For more information, including class schedule and tuition information, call (415) 297-6897 or visit www.studiocballet.com.

Hands-on LEGO Birthday Parties from Play-Well TEKnologies

June 1, 2011

Play-Well TEKnologies LEGO birthday partyAs a typical second-grader, my son is obsessed with all things LEGO. The little plastic bricks hold an undeniable appeal to kids of all ages, and a lot of grownups, too. For his recent birthday party we turned to Marin's Play-Well TEKnologies, who operate an awesome LEGO shop and drop-in LEGO activity center in San Anselmo. In our case, Play-Well came to our house for a very successful, fun, and memorable birthday bash.

Drew the LEGO guy, a friendly college student, showed up at our house before the party with a hand truck and several crates of LEGOs. We figured that he must have brought a couple thousand dollars worth of the plastic bricks and pieces, all of which were sorted by category or color. One bin held only the little LEGO people, one held basic building bricks, one held little weapons and decorations, and so on.

Celebrate Your Child's Birthday at the California Academy of Sciences

April 4, 2011

Birthday cupcakes at the California Academy of SciencesDoes your child dream of having his or her birthday party in the midst of fascinating nature exhibits and 38,000 live animals? You're in luck, because the California Academy of Sciences, Northern California's premier natural history museum, now offers children’s birthday parties on Saturdays and Sundays! Your party of up to 40 guests can enjoy a private group tour of the Academy, interactive activities, birthday cupcakes, and more in a private party space that's yours to enjoy for two hours. It's guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience for your birthday child.

Each birthday party begins with snacks (and coffee for the grownups) from the Academy's acclaimed Moss Room restaurant in a private lounge decorated with festive environmentally-friendly party decorations. Next, an expert tour guide takes your group on a half-hour tour

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