Having a birthday party is a rite of passage for kids. And it's also a rite of passage for their parents - maybe even more so. See, in today's competitive parental environment, keeping up with the Joneses is a big deal to some families.
But throwing your kid's birthday party doesn't have to be a budget-buster, nor does it have to be limited to Chuck E. Cheese. So, here are a few suggestions that might make for a memorable party.
What better place to have your child's birthday party than outside in the sunshine in a beautiful park setting? Balboa Park has numerous picnic areas, but for kids, the Pepper Grove picnic area, off Park Blvd. just south of the Fleet Science Center is perfect: playground and picnic area featuring swings, tables, playground equipment, nearby restrooms and a tiny tots play area. I used to go there as a kid for parties and I have fond memories of running and playing at Pepper Grove. It might be a bit different now, but it's still great for parties.
Hands-on crafts are always a great way to occupy kids, and Ceramic Cafe in La Mesa offers birthday packages for kids, called Cupcake Parties. Cupcakes, punch, balloons, invitations and items chosen, 1 1/2 hours of fun, clean-up and a staff person to assist. Prices start at $15 per person, and different packages are available. $35 Party Fee required in advance to reserve the space. Minimum of 6 required. Grossmont Center Mall, 5500 Grossmont Center Drive, La Mesa, CA 91942, (619)466-4800. Location also in Del Mar Highlands.
rinks are always cool place to have a birthday party (yes, pun intended), and the San Diego Ice Arena in Mira Mesa has an appealing birthday package: ice time, an introductory skating lesson, pizza and punch, cake and ice cream, goodie bags, ice games and more. $240 for the first 10 kids (parents free). 11048 Ice Skate Place, San Diego 92126, (858) 530-1826.
Sea life is always a good party theme, and if you can include some fun education in it, even better. The Birch Aquarium in La Jolla offers a reasonable package in a great setting. Birch offers age-appropriate, themed birthday parties complete with goodie bags, decorations and naturalist-led activities. Parties cost $350 and include aquarium admission for up to 20 guests, live animal encounters, aquarium tour, crafts for children, age-appropriate party bags, 30-minute Party Patio time for treats, and 3 hours of free parking. Birch Aquarium at Scripps, 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, CA. 92037, (858) 534-FISH.
What kid doesn't love bouncing on one of those big inflatable play structures? At Pump It Up in Chula Vista, features giant, custom designed, fun-filled, interactive inflatable play structures in privagte party rooms. Packages start at $150 (extras not included). 751 Design Court, Suite A, Chula Vista , CA 91911, (619) 216-9812.
Boomers, with several San Diego locations, is a standby amusement place for birthday parties, and rightly so: with miniature golf, go karts, batting cages, gameroom, bumper boats, it has something for everyone. Best of all, Boomers takes care of everything, from setup, to food preparation, to serving, to clean up. When the partys over, you just walk away and leave the mess to Boomers. How can you not like that? 6999 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. San Diego, CA 92111, (858) 560-4212. El Cajon and Vista locations also.
Belmont Park is perfect for birthday parties: you got the Giant Dipper roller coaster, the Plunge indoor pool, the Wavehouse wave riding machine. There are a variety of party packages, from the Belmont Park package with unlimited rides, to the Wave Party package, where you can get your surf on. 3146 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109 (858) 228-9300
Give your child a soaring birthday party and hold it at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. Surrounded by amazing flying machines, the Air & Space Museum is a nifty and educational place to celebrate. The museum's party package includes hands-on activities: birthday boys and girls can choose to build (and fly) sled kites, Birthday Party Alka-Seltzer rockets, Aqua Rockets, or Foam Flyers. Parties are available most Saturdays and Sundays, at 10 and 1. 2001 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA 92101, (619) 234-8291.
Unless you live in El Cajon, people tend to forget about the Boardwalk Indoor Amusement Park. But you shouldn't because not only does Boardwalk have it's own amusement arcade with games and indoor rides, it has a pizza parlor (perfect for kids, of course), and it's adjacent to Parkway Bowl, one of the few remaining bowling alleys. So, depending on the package, your child's birthday can include a unlimited games as well as bowling and laser tag, too. 1286 Fletcher Parkway, El Cajon, CA 92020, (619) 449-7805.
A birthday party at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park includes:
- One hour table time for party cake inside the Science Center in one of our private, decorated rooms. (Cake and drinks included)
- Decorative Birthday paper supplies
- A dedicated Party Host to assist you
- A commemorative birthday certificate signed by the Fleet's Executive Director
- Gift from the Fleet for the Celebrant
- Birthday Party Invitations/Thank you cards
- All-day access to 100+ hands-on exhibits
Admission for the birthday celebrant's parent and one additional adult are included in the basic package. Additional adults are not included.