Search Pinterest for children’s birthday party ideas, and you will almost inevitably become instantly overwhelmed. From the looks of things — giant apothecary jars filled with candy, rainbow-striped layer cakes, elaborate decorations featuring glitter, crepe paper, and balloons galore — it seems like the Moms and Dads who throw these shindigs are aiming to please the adults in attendance, or maybe those who will see it on social media later, as much if not more than the birthday boy or girl themselves.
Don’t fret — there’s no need to create an entire Noah’s ark out of Rice Krispie treats or blow your budget on goodie bags for every guest. Instead, ensure that the kids have a blast, the grownups get to relax, and someone else cleans up the aftermath by hosting a party at a kid-friendly venue. Keep reading for inspiration on where to throw a birthday party your child will never forget!
The OG: Chuck E. Cheese
Did you know that Chuck E. Cheese’s given name is Charles Entertainment Cheese? It’s true! This rodent host with the most is also an orphan who never had a birthday party when he was growing up, according to his official backstory, which explains why he got into the party biz as an adult mouse.
Regardless of how this chain of pizza-and-arcade restaurants began, there’s no question that it’s a classic birthday-party destination for the under-10 set. They provide the pizza, drinks, and entertainment; all you have to do is survive a couple of hours in a chaotic, high-decibel environment — but if you’re a parent, you’re probably used to that already.
Geek Out At a Science Center
Do you have a budding Marie Curie who’s celebrating a birthday soon? If so, check out parties at your local science center or museum. Often these facilities offer a variety of themes, so you can choose a paleontology, or astronomy-themed party. You could choose a fete that features bubbling, oozing, and erupting chemistry projects or even a birthday bash centered around robotics.
Some science centers require that you bring your own refreshments, while others provide them. Nearly all will offer one or more guided activities related to the theme as well as loads of fun and mind-blowing facts about science.
Bounce It Out
Trampoline parks are all the rage these days, and it’s easy to see why: they’re a heckuva lot of fun! Taking the party to one of these parks is perfect for high-energy youngsters — or guests who are flying high on birthday cake, candy, and sugary sodas.
“Trampoline parks aren’t just about jumping,” explain the proprietors of Sky High Sports, a trampoline park in Sacramento. “We offer trampoline dodgeball and basketball, indoor rock climbing, and many more fun activities.”
Similarly, indoor play centers are a great place to have your child’s birthday (or just to visit on a rainy day when everyone is complaining of boredom!). These facilities offer bounce houses, jumping pillows, giant slides, climbing structures, and arcade games, so there’s something fun for everyone.
Both indoor bounce centers and trampoline parks generally provide birthday party packages that include cake, beverages, pizza, a t-shirt for the guest of honor, tokens for video or arcade games, and a certain amount of free bouncing or playing time.
Go Retro with an Arcade Party
In the past few years, “barcades” have offered adults an entertaining alternative to the traditional pub and club scenes. You might not think of a bar as being an ideal location for your child’s birthday party, but many of these venues are open during the daytime and very family-friendly. Of course, it’s always smart to call in advance to check. They may also offer private parties, as well, taking all the worry about intoxicated grownups off your shoulders.
There’s lots of fun to be had at arcades for guests of any ages. Try your hand at a classic pinball machine, introduce your kids to old-school favorites like skee ball, air hockey, and tabletop shuffleboard, and try not to sound like an old person when you reminisce over Ms. Pac-Man, Asteroids, Centipede, and Donkey Kong.
Help Your Child Celebrate a Birthday They Will Never Forget
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to great places to host a child’s birthday party. Escape rooms, bowling alleys, the zoo or the animal shelter, miniature golf courses, make-your-own pottery places, and many more alternatives are available for a modest fee. Most parents agree that it’s worth almost any cost to have someone else take care of planning, invitations, cake baking, pizza making, and of course the cleanup!