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Friday, October 24, 2008

Bay Area Birthday Party Locations & Ideas

***Check out Frisco Kids' new Birthday Party page with more complete listings of Bay Area Birthday Parties - separated by region***

Junior’s birthday is coming up and you’re trying to think of something fun to do. It's getting colder out. What if it rains? A party at your home? Definitely possible. But in case you want to do something else, here’s what you need to know for planning:

-Book as far in advance as possible, especially for weekend parties

-Most party places include set-up and clean-up, and you often get an attendant to help out during the party. But find out in case they don’t.

-Ask what food you can bring in and what you have to purchase from them

-Prices may be cheaper (or you get free add-ons like tokens, more time or goody bags) if you book at less popular times.

Here’s a list of ideas. It is NOT complete by any means. Feel free to add to the list through your comments. Most of the ideas cater to the peninsula.

Pump it Up – Since exploding on the scene a few years ago, Pump it Up has Bay Area locations in Sunnyvale, Belmont, Pleasanton, Union City, Oakland, Morgan Hill and San Francisco (coming soon). They book up months in advance, with weekend parties starting every 45 minutes. Parties range from around $180-$280, for a 1.5 to 2 hours, including a private party room. You pay extra for food, balloons and party favors.

CuriOdyssey – At this San Mateo environmental museum, you’ll get a private party room, museum entrance for all guests and free parking (normally a $5 fee per car to enter the park), Complete a form which you can get online, and mail or fax it in. Parties start at $275.

Build-a-Bear – The kids love picking out their own animal and helping it come to life.
If the party has more than six kids, you’ll get a party leader to keep the kids entertained, an autograph bear for the birthday kid and party favors. The downside is that there’s usually no place in the store to serve cake, so you’ll have to head elsewhere to continue the celebration. Packages range from $10 to $25 a kid (plus optional animal outfits).

Bowling: Bowling is a fun way for kids to spend an hour. Kids can get the bumpers raised so their balls won’t end up in the alley. At Bel Mateo Bowl in San Mateo, parties including bowling time for an hour, shoe rental and lanes. The next hour is in the party room, where kids get pizza, cake and drinks, goody bags and more, before moving into the arcade. Prices start at $12 per guest without food, $17 with pizza and cake.

Junior Gym – Justin and his crew are available for parties too! Parties last 90 minutes, on Friday afternoons and weekends, in the 4,600 square foot facility in downtown San Mateo. The package includes 15 kids up to age 10. Prices start at $200 for Junior Gym members (nonmembers pay $25 more).

Chuck E. Cheese - Most parents hate this place, but the kids eat it up. Weekends can be a nightmare – if you’re flexible and can do a weekday or weekend morning, it will be tolerable. Your party includes 90 minutes with a reserved table, pizza and drinks for the kids, a small cake (you’ll probably need to supplement this with your own), tokens, a show with a Chuck E. Cheese and his employee friends. Goody bags are extra. Expect to pay $12 a kid minimum (plus extra for tokens and pizza for the adults).

Fairyland – This miniature Oakland playland is adorable for pint-sized kids. You get an hour in the seated party area, park admission for one kid and an accompanying adult, ice cream cake and punch and paper goods and a few other perks. Fees start at $16 a kid for a catered party, minimum of 10 kids.

Lego Store – Since kids love playing here during the day, consider going there for a fun party before the mall opens. $10 a kid (maximum 10 kids) buys you an hour in the store, 45 minutes of it building mosaics or racing Lego cars. Then the kids pick out a party favor, valued at up to $10, which is included in the party price. Have your cake elsewhere. Kids need to all be six or older.

Peninsula Gymnastics. Get the kids running around on the weekend with an hour of instructor-led gymnastics and activities including parachute, foam filled pit and trapeze, and 30 minutes in a party room. Prices are $130-$250, for kids ages 3-12, and you bring your own food. And they don’t help you set up or clean up. San Mateo location.

The Little Gym – Another way to get the kiddies active, at this 90 minute party on Saturdays and Sundays. Fee includes invitations mailed for you, paper goods and drinks. Cost is $245 for members, $275 for nonmembers for 15 kids (including birthday kid).

Safari Run – This San Mateo facility is fun, but not cheap. Kids ages 4-12 enjoy an hour of playtime, followed by 40 minutes in party room. Cost includes paper goods and tokens for 50 minutes in arcade. Invite up to 20 kids, over age one. No outside heated food or any drinks are allowed – they cater the food, which isn’t included in the price. You can bring cake and two side dishes. Prices start at $350.

Bounce U in San Carlos (opened in 2009) and Pleasanton offer birthday party packages starting
at $235 (flat rate weekdays) to $399 (all inclusive). Like Pump it Up, the 2 hour party features time in two different bouncy rooms, and your own party space for 45 minutes. You can have 25 kids max, and the best minimum age is 3 (younger kids are allowed).

Aqua Adventure- This new outdoor water park in Fremont would be a great place to celebrate Junior’s birthday. The packages include all-day admission for all guests, a birthday hut for lunch, food, goody bags and more. Packages run $175-$528.

Silliman Aquatic Center – In addition to the lure of the indoor waterslides and play structure, the community center's party rooms have Wii and Xbox game systems. Minimum party costs start at $10/person ($8 for residents) for swim fee and room use. They go up to $19/person for longer room rental, goody bags, future swim passes and more. Pizza packages are extra.

Randall Museum – Choose an art project and/or animal talk for your party at this popular San Francisco children's museum. They’ll provide the room, an assistant and a project, you provide everything else (decorations, food, paper products). Parties start at $275 (but are partly tax-deductible!) and can only be scheduled on Sundays.

Playland-not-at-the-beach - Enjoy a three hour party with 30 free pinball machines, free juke box, attractions and exhibits, plus a basic magic show (or upgrade for a nicer one). Bring your own food and drinks. Parties run $150-350 for 10-20 people, and the location is El Cerrito.

A few more thoughts:
-Bay Area kid museums (like the Children's Discovery Museum in San Jose, MOCHA (Museum of Children's Art) in OaklandZeum, Bay Area Discovery Museum also host parties, as do the zoos.
-Check out a local pool or swim school for party plans.
-Karate studios also host parties. And indoor climbing structure places like The Jungle in San Jose.


  1. FYI -- price for Pump it Up is now up to $320 for their classic party (25 guests -- no food included). I heard that there is a new jumpy place opening on the Peninsula. Do you know anything about it??

  2. Yes, there is a place called 'Bounce U' opened up in San Carlos. I wanted them for my son's birthday party in January, but they hadn't opened yet. They called me about 2 weeks ago saying they're now offically open.

  3. Thanks for your comments Susan and Roxanne. I just posted about Bounce U, which opened March 1. A new bouncy option for the peninsula! Check it out at:

  4. let me chime in about the North Bay. We have gymnastics places (Rohnert Park and Santa Rosa) that do birthdays, as well as ice skaing, roller skating, scandia, the usual assortment of bounce places (pump it up, kids party central) sparkle the 'glam spot' for girls, also vertex climbing center for those a little older...we also have the place we will be taking my turning 8 year old this weekend. Princess rose tea parties in sebastopol, great option for girly dress up

  5. Kids Party Central is not just a bouncehouse place, its wonderful and my kids have so much fun there!
    Kids Party Central has inflatable slide, monster truck jumpie, obstacle course, hugh rock wall, huge fixed structure with tubes, netting, slides, ball pit etc and the staff are great. Prices are great too!

    1. I am planning a party there for my son. How was the pizza there? I'm not sure if I'm going to bring my own food or not. Melissa

    2. Hopefully the person who posted will respond back. I haven't been there, so I can't weigh in!

  6. seesaw café + studio in Hayes Valley, San Francisco is now offering one-of-a-kind custom parties, birthdays, baby showers and tea parties for children and adults. . Our space feels like a cozy Copenhagen apartment accommodating 45 adult guests. We offer standard and custom packages. Our fun custom tea party themes include: Tivoli Kisses (scandinavian, sweet). Piccadilly Posse (english, pretty, hello alice in wonderland), Kyoto Circus (japanese, cutesie, harajuku), Chinju or Bust (korean, kitschy, a picture perfect Dol), Lego en Fuego (legos + games + primary color pow wow!). For more information please email: info [at]

  7. I was wondering if anyone knows of a place that can hold minimum of 60 children?

    I have twins and wanted to invited two classrooms of students. Each class has about 30 student so it would need to be a place that can host 60 plus siblings and parents. The place would need to be in the South Bay Area, Sunnyvale.

  8. Just wanted to add to the list the suggestion of party entertainers and characters. The south bay has a lot of fairies and princesses, but this site particularly caters to boys who need their superhero too!

    Batman can come to your party and there is also the option of balloon twisting, face painting, and having Catwoman and/or Harley Quinn arrive as well!

  9. A fun place to hold a birthday party in the North Bay is Scientopia Discovery Center in Napa. They have several different packages and a GREAT indoor play space. You can add activities to your party - like making flubber, rockets, or crafts- and they make the party experience really easy on you!

  10. Is "sparkle the 'glam spot' for girls" still around? I could not find it via a google search. If not, any other ideas on a place for a girls spa party within 45 minute drive from Oakland?

  11. There's a great new site for booking kids’ birthday party On one site you can find and book lots of party places in the Bay Area. You can get ideas for party activities like art & crafts, cooking, fashion design, make-over, tea party, skating, jumpers, gym, martial arts, basketball, soccer, and other sports, It’ll save you so much time from searching and calling around.

  12. Just wanted to add to the list the suggestion of party entertainers. JubilyBee offers custom, themed birthday parties for busy moms. We provide decorations, activities, crafts and favors to make your home party a success. We have some fun themes, including birthday teas and for American Girl Doll fans, a Dolly and Me party!

  13. Hi, I wanted to add KidSportzUSA/MED-X Sports & Fitness to the list of Birthday Party venues. We are an indoor sports center and can customize your party to any theme/activies you'd like. Parties are 2 hours long and include Pizza My Heart pizza for all kids (additional pizzas for adults can be purchased and you can also bring in any outside/food drink that you'd like) Please visit for more info or call us at 408-429-8954. We are located in Campbell.

  14. Another place to have a great kid’s birthday party is groupfies in Cupertino. groupfies is a photography inspired party venue. We offer a place where kids and families can take fun pictures with 3 different rooms, with loads of different props, amazing themed back drops, and arts and crafts to keep the party going. We'll offer you a hassle free party service, and after the party is done, you'll have photos of the cherished memories from your special day! Please visit us at to check out our party packages.

  15. We Bring The Museum To You! DINOSAURS ROCK offers way-cool Dinosaur, Fossil, Mineral and sea-life school shows and parties. Each includes an expansive Museum exhibit of cool fossil/mineral specimens, highly interactive/fun educaitonal show and hands-on activities with REAL take-home fossils, like digs, Excavations, Geode opening and more....Please do visit us at and or call us at 800-411-3466.

  16. If you are looking for a birthday party place or party entertainer, website is perfect birthday party guide. BirthdayMasters features listings for San Francisco Bay Area party places where you can host your event, or have entertainers come to your event location. We have put together a directory, to help parents discover interesting activities for their kid’s birthday party celebrations. For busy parents on the go, Birthday Masters provide an optimal user experience across a wide range of devices from desktop to mobile phones. Visit us at