Is your child too old for clowns, jumpees or crafts? Here are 14 birthday party ideas that even your t(w)een will enjoy. Please contact the companies directly for pricing and availability:
1. Indoor Skydiving
Take your birthday kid to iFly SF Bay for an experience they’ll never forget. Imagine the thrill of skydiving without the danger. Skydivers freefall through the air at 120 mph and up. iFly is a vertical wind tunnel. You’ll float on a cushion of air within feet of your instructor. The safe setting is suitable for children ages 7 & up. Adults will love the experience as well.
2. Trampoline Park
Does your birthday kid have a lot of energy? Take the party to the House of Air in San Francisco. Located in the Presidio (next to Planet Granite Rock Climbing), the 10,000 sq.ft warehouse accommodates 67 conjoined trampolines to make up three distinct areas: the Matrix, the Colosseum, and the Training Ground. At the north end of the Matrix is where you’ll find the double bowl, an elevated structure resembling a bowl at a skateboard or ski park. The Colosseum is where jumpers can plan dodge ball, and the Training Ground is where you’ll find wakeboarders, skiers, skateboarders, and other athletes perfecting their moves mid-air. For this area, a safety harness is used, and reservations are required.
For little jumpers (ages 5 & under) there’s a jump house. While safety at the House of Air is encouraged, it is not guaranteed. You can see why they have you sign a liability waiver before allowing your child to jump.
3. Beach Party in Marin
Being so close to the bay, there are numerous choices for beach parties. Here are just some of the many locations:
- Stinson Beach, Dress in layers as even on the warmest day inland, it can be a bit chilly towards the coast. Get there early if you want to reserve a picnic table with barbeque grill. For dessert, treat the kids to soft-serve ice cream from the small snack shack. If your kids are really energetic, park at Pantoll and take the steep ravine trail to Stinson. This takes preparation because you'll want to leave cars there ahead of time so the party won't have to hike back.
- Point Reyes Beaches. One of my favorite's is Heart's Desire beach because it is sheltered and usually warmer. Also, the waters are calmer.
- Muir Beach
- McNear’s Beach – San Rafael
4. Pool Party
No matter how cold it is, kids always seem to like pool parties. Here are some facilities that rent out their pools.
- Strawberry Recreation District, Mill Valley, You have the option to have up to 15 people during regular pool hours, or you can have the entire pool with lifeguards after hours.
- Mill Valley Community Center, Mill Valley
- Rolling Hills Meridian, Novato
- Hamilton Pool, Novato
- Marinwood Community Center, San Rafael
5. Paintball/Laser Tag
Boys especially love paintball as it mixes warfare with messy paint and cool equipment. What more could you ask for?
Some things to think about: Some parents may have an issue with the whole concept of shooting. The cost of parties gets a bit expensive. Keep in mind that you not only need to rent the equipment, but the cost of the ammo (paintballs) can run up a pretty hefty tab. Do your research before booking. Make sure you tell the participants to “dress for mess” and bring an extra pair of shoes. I've been told by an experienced mom that some paint pellets can be oily...you really don't want that all over your car!
Here are some locations in the bay area for paintball and laser tag:
6. Video Game Party
Holding a video gaming party has never been so easy. Just book your party and the gaming truck will come to you!
Accommodating up to 24 participants Games 2 U offers party goers a choice from a variety of game systems including PS3, Xbox and Wii. There are even screens set up on the exterior of the truck for Wii games.
What to think about: While the game-playing will be the main attraction, you’ll still need to have a place to serve the food. Some kids might have a strong preference for what system they play on (i.e., PS3), so the other systems may not be very popular. Discuss the game options with the company as some parents may not allow their children to play games with a “Teen” or “Mature” rating.
7. Amusement Park
Six Flags Marine World – Vallejo
Get out early and spend the entire day at Six Flags where the kids play games, ride roller coasters, watch whales and run wild. Ticket prices vary depending upon the season (the highest price is during the summer months, of course). If you search online you can often find a discount offer.
What to think about: You cannot bring your own food so when planning for a group you’ll need to factor in the food price and parking. It can also get extremely hot during the summer so remember to bring lots of sunscreen.
8. Angel Island
Spend the day at Angel Island. You can hike, bike or take a tour. You can even rent segways and take them around the island. Check out the historical baseball field or hang out on the small beach. There's a small barbeque area as well. The kids will even have fun getting there on the ferry!
9. Go Kart Racing
Gentlemen and women start your engines. Even big kids love go karts! Some companies require children to take a Jr. driving class before they can use the race tracks. Also, they all have minimum height requirements and require a signed liability waiver so make sure you get the details!
10. Party at the Park
Weather permitting, you can have a party at the park. Make sure you check with the Parks and Rec department of the city to see if you are required to pay a fee, or get a permit.
Giant Hamster Balls for Humans!
Games to play: Capture the flag, nerf gun wars (make sure you pick up all the "ammo" at the end of the game), flag football, kickball.
For the adventurous type rent a Humungous Hamster ball. Imagine getting inside of a giant inflatable ball and bouncing and rolling all the way down a hill! That’s what you’ll be able to do by renting a giant hamster ball.
11. Sports Party
Sporting Event. Take the kids to a sporting event. It doesn't have to be a professional team. It's just as fun to watch college level games. Here are some links:
- Golden State Warriors (Basketball)
- San Jose Sharks (Hockey)
- San Francisco Giants (Baseball-starts in spring. In the off season, you can tour AT&T Park (Home of the SF Giants!)
Take them to the Scandia in Rohnert Park for batting cages, miniature golf and pizza.
12. Make Your Own Party – Spaces to Rent
- Mill Valley Community Center
- Strawberry Recreation Center
- San Rafael
- Corte Madera
- Tam Valley
13. Rent A Limousine
Stock up the candy bar and let the birthday t(w)een have a night out riding around with his/her buddies in a limousine with Sausalito Limousines you need to reserve two weeks prior to date. 800.715.4837.
14. Andrews Camps
Both indoor and outdoor spaces are available for a variety of themed activities from tag games to team sports to disco. There’s also a make-your-own-party option. 415-446-8946, andrewscamps.com
* Content gathered by Marjorie Sato Bukowski & Ronnie Sharpe.