Birthday parties provide welcome relief from the summer heat and give honorees and their guests a heavy dose of fun. If you have a special little one or teenager in your life you’d like to honor with a unique birthday party, start with his or her hobbies and interests. From there, find the right location that will serve those hobbies and interests, and ask their friends to come along for the ride.
Having trouble getting started? Here are 15 Unique Summer Birthday Party Locations that should guarantee success.
1. Zoos and Animal Parks
Small children are fascinated by animals they don’t get to see every day, and by reserving a zoo or animal park-particularly petting zoos-you can give them an experience that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Packages and options vary from one location to another. These are found in most every location throughout the world, so it shouldn’t be difficult. Some parks, such as the Los Angeles Zoo, offer catering discounts for members as well as multiple site options, where your group can meet, eat, and prepare for a full day with the animals. Contact a zoo or animal park in your area for more details.
2. Bowling Alleys
A trip to the lanes can easily be turned in to a favorite birthday memory if you bring your guest of honor and his or her friends along for the ride. Many locations, such as Tavern Bowl in Escondido, Calif., offer customized packages to make the most of the special day. Tavern furnishes pepperoni and cheese pizza, unlimited soft drinks, birthday messages on the lanes, bowling shoes, and even lighter weight bowling balls and bumpers for the occasion. Add-ons include a bowling pin cake and cupcakes for your child’s sweet tooth. Call the lanes in your area to see if they offer any special deals for your birthday boy or girl.
3. Ranch Getaways
The Gunstock Ranch in Hawaii is one example of a ranch open to helping with your birthday celebration. The horseback rides alone will make your party a huge success. Before booking plans to a ranch in your area, however, check the safety options available. Horses are kind and majestic creatures, but they can also be dangerous if your child doesn’t have appropriate supervision. Gunstock offers various horses for different riding skill levels. Make sure the ranch you choose does the same.
4. Water and Amusement Parks
The great thing about these locations: they appeal to children of all different tastes and backgrounds. Rollercoasters, water slides, wave pools, and lazy rivers, are among the popular attractions. Six Flags and Disney have long been dependable players in this industry. They are safe and large enough that your birthday party can spread out and make fun memories on their own. These locations usually offer pavilions or patios, where your group can meet. Catering may also be available. If you have a season pass, inquire about discounted rates.
5. War Games
War games like paintball and laser tag are enormously popular. Paintball festivities are usually held outdoors. Courses feature numerous barricades and fixtures that recreate the experience of going into battle. Laser tag, in contrast, takes matters indoors and is usually held in an arena-like atmosphere with multiple levels, smoke, lighting and an overall futuristic feel. Paintball pellets can stain clothing and be somewhat painful on impact. Laser tag is a similarly-themed but generally painless alternative. The chain Laser Quest is a great choice and features 58 locations in North America with more than 125 globally.
6. Skate or Bike Parks
Skate or bike parks vary widely from location to location, but usually involve a number of obstacles. Series of steep hills and and a half-pipe are among the most commonly designed for these gravity defying activities. They can be found in any location, from large metropolitan areas to small communities of less than 10,000 people. A Google search is your best bet to find the location nearest you. Make sure all participants are wearing safety gear-shinguards, elbow pads, and helmets-before they take part in the fun.
7. Martial Arts Themes
Jiu-jitsu, Karate, Tae Kwon Do, and mixed martial arts, are incredibly popular, especially with pre-teen and teenage boys. What better way to give them a “grown up” feeling party than to book a day with a professional instructor, who can help throw a theme birthday party that would make Chuck Norris proud? The Las Vegas Kung Fu Academy includes a number of options to excite honoree and guests. There, partygoers can run through a martial arts obstacle course, compete in padded weapons competition, and chow down on pizza. They leave with goodie bags that include gift certificates, party favors, and a rubber ninja throwing star. Call a number of the local instructors in your area to check on prices and options.
8. Gymnastics Studios
Most studios that teach gymnastics will also offer birthday party packages. From the age of 2, children take to the activity without influence. Placing them in a padded room full of trampolines and other apparatuses will allow them to roam wild and free in a safe environment. It will also give you much needed relief later in the day when your young one is all worn out. Metro Stars Gymnastics in La Vista, Neb., offers pricing structures from $175 for 18 children (with a $5 fee for each additional child). Check your local facility to see what is available in your area.
9. Skating Themes
Whether you are taking your child to an ice skating rink, a roller skating location, or a roller blading park, the fast pace and the exhilarating feel of moving at a higher rate of speed than one is accustomed to will be a treat for everyone at the party. The Rollero Family Skating Center in Phoenix, Az., charges a small $30 facility fee. This fee comes with a birthday table and a bouquet of helium balloons. An additional table costs $10 more. All members must pay for their own admission. Scheduling your party on a Wednesday or Sunday night will include free nachos, hot dogs, and sodas. Contact the local facility in your region to see how their offers compare.
10. Mini-Golf Parties
Because each hole in each location differs in look and skill level, mini golf parties are great for birthday boys and girls of all ages. Putting Edge is a chain of dark mini golf and arcades that give visitors unsurpassed options for fun. Party packages include pizza, soft drinks, prizes, and even a party host. Putting Edge also handles setup and cleanup for you-a true “no hands” birthday party experience. While not every mini golf location across the world will offer the same features, check with the local ones in your area, and you’ll discover a package to your liking.
11. Dinosaur Themes
While most kids have read a book or seen a movie about dinosaurs that fascinated them, few have seen the reconstructed skeletons of these creatures in person. If your young one has an interest in dinosaurs, why not visit a location where he or she can actually see the bones firsthand? The Peabody Museum of National History in New Haven, Conn., is one place stateside where your troupe can revisit the land before time-for real. Other dinosaur friendly locations include the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pa., the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Ill., and the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Look for group discounts on admission and dining with kid-friendly options.
12. Party Zones
At the end of a birthday party at an inflatable party zone, you’re guaranteed a troupe of worn out kiddos. It doesn’t matter how much cake and ice cream they consume. Pump It Up Inflatable Party Zone is a Maryland-based franchise that gives children a number of benefits to go along with the bouncy fun. The Ultimate 90 Party Package includes 90 minutes of play time along with pizza, drinks, balloons and goodie bags. While there may not be a Pump It Up near you, there is likely something comparable in your local phone listings. Check for available party packages.
13. Art Museums
Art museums are regional birthday favorites for kids, who love to draw. Why not give them an opportunity to be inspired? The Philadelphia Museum of Art attracts millions each year to see some of the most beautiful paintings ever created. It also offers children’s programs that teach kids, in a fun and accessible way, how to draw. Group dining options make it possible to receive discounts for your birthday troupe as you celebrate. While not every location has a Philadelphia Museum of Art, most cities feature some form of regional art museum that values visits from its younger artists. Call yours ahead of time to see about booking reservations, party packages, and available programs.
14. Shopping Malls and Food Courts
For junior high and high school-aged kids, a trip to the shopping mall food court may be one of your best bets for birthday fun. Not only does it give each child food options, it also places you in direct contact with sweets producers like the Great American Cookie Company, which specializes in oversized birthday cookies capable of serving all your guests. Afterward, split up and go shopping. Set a rendezvous time to meet back up and compare purchases. Most shopping malls also have movie theaters nearby or onsite. You can choose a first run blockbuster as the perfect end to your celebration.
15. Video Game Themes
From state of the art youth centers and church facilities to hotel lobbies, see about renting a large space and setting up multiple game consoles in one location. Even better, check and see if there is a mobile gaming option in your area that will bring consoles and games directly to you! You may even want to customize the birthday cake in the shape of a game controller to commemorate the event. Make it really interesting by holding tournaments on each console for the featured game, and your partygoers won’t know what hit them.
In summary, this list of 15 Unique Summer Birthday Party Locations will at a minimum, give you plenty of family-friendly options to consider going forward. Are there any suggested locales we should have included on this list? Do you have any birthday party location disaster stories that you would care to share? Sound off below. We want to hear your comments!