Birthday Party Venues Indoors

Parent Q&A

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  • Indoor birthday location suggestions??

    (3 replies)

    Hello BPN,

    I am hosting my daughters 5th birthday on 01/22/23. I am hoping for a dry day since we are having it at a local park, however, if it is raining I’d like a back up plan.

    can any suggest a public indoor space to host a party for 35-50 people?

    thank you in advance!!

    We hosted our child’s fifth birthday party at Aquatech in Alameda and it was a ton of fun. I think we had about 30 people there, including parents. We had an hour of swimming and then an hour to eat and play in their play area. This was pre-Covid so I’m not sure if things have changed now, but it’s worth looking into. 

    Fox and Kit in San Rafael! We have hosted two parties there (one for our 5 year-old) and can’t recommend it enough. No hassle and everyone had a blast (including the parents!).

    Hi! If you're willing to travel, there's a great new spot:

  • Winter Indoor Birthday Party Ideas

    (4 replies)

    Hi. I am looking for recommendations for indoor birthday parties for an 8 and 5 year old. My kids bdays are in Jan and Feb and, while I would love to have it outside, I don't want to take the chance of the weather not being good. They want to invite their whole class so I need something indoors that can accommodate about 30 kids. Thanks so much for any suggestions you can share! -- This place has a maximum limit of 25 kids. This would work for your older child but not your younger one. -- Bowling is fun for both 8 and 5 year olds. 30 kids should not be a problem. -- Gymnastics up to 25 kids -- up to 50 kids -- Athletic playground 

    We went to an indoor community center party. There were race tracks made by cardboard boxes and kids got toy cars to play with and as a party favor. Cupcakes, snacks and simple decorations and painting the car as an activity. Another indoor community center / Rec room party I went to had a magician who performed and they had party games.

    You can rent the Arlington Park rec room fairly inexpensively. We did that once and had a double party for both kids with a space theme and activity stations, got a friend to bring his guitar and play some songs for the kids. The kids like running in and out of the room into the park and it's not crowded or noisy. 

    Athletic Playground in Emeryville!  They have kids' birthday parties for parkour, it was a hit with my kids' class!

    I just went to a 5-year old's birthday party at Pump It Up in Oakland, and I don't know the cost but it was really great. The kids get to use a bounce room privately, and then they set up your eating/cake party space with whatever you bring FOR YOU so you can enjoy watching the kids play as they get everything ready. The play rooms are huge too so it feels a little less like a stuffy/pandemic situation.

  • Indoor birthday party venues?

    (4 replies)

    My daughter is turning 5 next month and I’d like to find an indoor venue to host her birthday party. (I’m assuming we’ll be dealing with wildfire smoke and don’t want to risk it.) I searched BPN but it looks like most of the info is a few years old.


    My daycare providers have an indoor playground in Richmond called Adventure Kinderland. They purchased it right before the pandemic, so not many kids have been there except for my son's daycare group once a week. I think it would be a perfect place for a birthday party - there is a ball pit, slides, a huge jungle gym, lots of toys for all ages, a kitchen for preparing and serving snacks and food, and an outdoor area with a kid's race track (assuming it's ok to be outside). Check it out if this interests you:

    Not sure I'd be considering any indoor venue for a party with 5yr olds, who aren't able to be vaccinated. Please reconsider. 

    Does she like to jump on trampolines? We just had a super fun, well-organized 8 y/o birthday party out at Rockin' Jump (formerly Sky High Sports) in Concord. It recently reopened and it's clean and well-run. The kids have a window of time (length corresponds to which party package you purchase (and how much you spend)). to jump on all their various trampolines, play trampoline dodge ball, etc. and when that is over, you get a private room for pizza and drinks (provided by their snack bar) and you bring the cake or cupcakes. It was super clean and I felt pretty Covid-safe. I loved that it was easy, fun, and done in a matter of a couple hours :) 

    With rates climbing out of control and children being unvaccinated, I would seriously recommend against an indoor birthday party. Our kid also has a September birthday, and last year we set a date and told people we may have to move the date depending on smoke. We will do the same this year. We of course will be keeping the party small because of COVID so re-scheduling wouldn't be a huge ordeal. Our plan is that if we have to reschedule we'll make sure it's a time his best friend can make it, and then whoever else can make it, great.

  • When my daughter turns 5 later this year, I am hoping to invite both her classmates, and family friends, with kids aged 1-15. 

    What might be a good venue that both the kids and the parents would enjoy? We will likely celebrate in winter, so venues with some indoor space would be ideal. 

    Welcome to the Chuck E Cheese age!

    A friend once invited our son to a birthday party at one of those ceramic painting places. I didn't realize when I brought my little guy that parents could paint too. Even his teenage older siblings were painting too. It was really quite nice and fun. I painted a butter dish and sprinkled broken bits of colored ceramics on top. When I finally got it back all glazed and fired, it looked gorgeous. I still get compliments on it today - and mind you arts and crafts are not my strength by any means. It was a really fun and relaxing day. Afterwards we went to the bowling alley (we were in Alameda at that mall, so it was right near by). That's another venue that can incorporate multiple ages, but a bit louder. Other than that I would suggest a bbq or picnic in the park with games that all can participate in - easy games or a family soccer game. We've really enjoyed those too.

    Sky High Sports in Concord is a great indoor option, and kids (and adults) of all ages love to jump on trampolines. There's also Pump It Up in Oakland, but you'd have to check on any age restrictions since those are big jump houses as opposed to trampoline rooms. Bladium in Alameda has fun rock climbing parties that would be good for most ages, but maybe not 1-3 year olds. Bladium also does a variety of other sports related parties, all indoors. Oakland Ice Center also does ice skating birthday parties.

    What about bowling? I've seen kids as young as 3 have fun with it. I don't know of anything engaging for toddlers that also appeals to older ages. 

    Bladium is very fun. Kids run around and play. Adults can sit and drink wine and chat. You can buy wine and beer from Bladium's bar. (You cannot bring in your own.) But, you CAN bring in your own food, although the party package includes pizza. It's very easy and fun for everyone. We've done it twice for Dec. birthday celebration. 

    We had a party at Art Buzz Kids (a division of Wine & Design - a paint and sip studio in Jack London, Oakland).  Our 6-year old invited her classmates and cousins (ranging in ages from 10-16) and everyone had fun. Some adults even painted - artist/instructor gave detailed instructions on how to paint and the canvas was even outlined so everyone was able to paint what it was supposed to look like.  You can bring your own food and they even sell wine & beer so adults can drink if they want. 

  • 2-year old birthday venue

    (14 replies)

    hi parents,

    I’m starting to think about my son’s second birthday (early January).  Our house is not big enough to host, and I’m thinking it will need to be inside since January. I could do an Airbnb and make activities, but wondering if there are good options for really young toddlers where a decent amount of adults could attend and only a few kids. He really loves animals, but the zoo birthday seems a little pricey for only a few kids. 

    Any other ideas?


    Hi Mhward! We faced the same dilemma with my son's 2 year-old birthday last winter. I read a suggestion to rent a room at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists on BPN. We ended up renting the Connie Barbour room at BFUU and it was perfect! The room has big windows on each side, a kitchen, and is a large room for hanging out. We hosted around 30 people, about 20 adults and 10 kids, and just had pizza and donuts and music. It was also much more affordable than other room rental options-$45/an hour. They also have a playground outside (it was raining during our party). It wouldn't work for animals, though. Good luck with the party planning!

    We just went to Little Farm for a birthday for my son's classmate.

    Open park, farm animals, small play structure, and free!

    Grab a couple picnic tables and bring some food. Also, bring celery and lettuce to feed the animals.

    Jungle Gym is a fun place in Concord I think they are located in the new Veranda mall. Lots of cool things you can do although he won't remember. :)

    *Sulphur Creek Nature Center (Hayward Area Recreation & Parks) has lovely woodsy indoor/outdoor spaces, animal exhibits & meet-n-greets, and they offer birthday party packages. This is a native wildlife rehab facility and a learning center that has some very dedicated and knowledgeable naturalists.

    *Lawrence Hall of Science, 'Animal Discovery' parties in their downstairs lab area.

    *EBRPD Tilden Nature Area's Environmental Education Center's or the Little Farm. This one may be outdoors-only, chk for indoor options. Bundle the kids up and take them around to feed the cows, pigs, chickens, geese and goats, then a walk along the long wooden trail.

    EBRPD Crab Cove Visitor's Center, Alameda Island. Search for East Bay Parks Online 'nature party'. This is a lovely indoor area with interactive estuary / bay shore exhibits. Could also do a nature walk along the water.

    Finally, just have to give a shout out to the Oakland Aviation Museum near the Oakland Airport. Not very toddler-friendly for climbing/touching, but lots of vintage planes to look at, some interesting flight exhibits, and a large space for a party - both indoors and out.  Tables in the hangar might be a way for you to bring your own airplane-focused games, crafts, and party favors to keep the party-goers content and busy? They have a nice aerospace gift shop too.

    I'm in the same situation - looking for good ideas. Two possibilities I'm exploring: I think habitot hosts parties, and might have a good space for this age group. Also, I called the Lawrence Hall of Science - for the under 4 crowd, they will give you a table downstairs for cake etc., and let your group roam the museum that day. (They do more for the over 4s).  

    It may be a bit of a drive for you but a few options are Crab Cove in Alameda (free to visit, next to beach, fish tanks) and/or Sulphur Creek Nature Center in Hayward (free to visit, mostly birds of prey, reptiles and a few mammals).  Both are great options and the perfect size for 2-year-old attention spans.  Ardenwood Fram, in Fremont, is another great option (small fee, farm animals).  There is also Little Farm at Tilden (free to visit, farm animals, bring lots of lettuce/celery to feed them) but it can get very crowded.


    I agree the zoo is quite pricey.  Have you looked at the Lindsey Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek?  Another option for an indoors party (but no animals) is Habitot museum in Berkeley.  It's very child-focused but it's a nice venue where adults can watch their kids and chat at the same time.  It's small enough for 2 year olds but there's lots to do and the rooms are small enough to facilitate small groups of adults chatting while their kids play.  They also allowed you to bring food around the museum which surprised me.  

    The Rec Room in Berkeley is popular for toddler birthday parties, though a bit spendy. Parents appreciate it because it's a contained area and they can relax and chat with each other while the kids play. There's also Kids Gym. Rain or Shine used to be an option but they're closed. Albany Bowl is an economical idea -- you can rent a few lanes and have bumpers for the littles. Lawrence Hall of Science also does birthday parties in the cafe, which has a nice view.

    I can't help but think an AirBnB is not the best choice for a 2 year old party. 2 year olds tend to spill things, run into things, break things, draw on things, etc. AirBnB's are also not necessarily child safe, so there might be open outlets, things the kids can swallow, etc. You didn't say where you lived, but there are many choices for spaces to host parties. You could do it at a restaurant that has a private room in the back, you can rent a room at a community center, or you can call one of those children's play areas (like Twirl in Alameda, Habitot in Berkeley) and book the space for a few hours. 

    Sulphur Creek Nature Center in Hayward! It's a wildlife rescue program and basically a free mini-zoo in a wooded setting. There's a tiny museum, too, perfect for toddlers and preschool. Indoor environs are not classy--"unpretentious," let's say--but comfy and manageable for a group of little kids. The educational staff and programming is wonderful. The birthday parties include an age-appropriate presentation where they bring in live animals to see and touch and learn about (the birthday kid can choose which animals when you book the party). Then you get the kitchen/dining area for an arts and crafts activity, then cake/food (I think you have to bring your own). Cost is very reasonable compared with other options. We did 2 or 3 preschool-age parties there and loved them. 

    You could consider a train ride somewhere. We had a 2-year-old birthday on the Niles Canyon railway and a 3-year-old birthday riding Amtrak to Sacramento (to go the train museum).  Or meet up a museum that both adults and kids would enjoy, like Cal Academy of Sciences or the Oakland Museum of California.

    How about going out to a place where kids can play while adults mingle?  I hear Kensington Circus Pub is like that, though the food can be hit or miss.

    When our kiddo was 3, we did a picnic at the Koret Playground in Golden Gate Park.  There is a great playground and the kids love the carousel.  There's even a hot dog stand if you need some extra goodies.

    Instead of airbnb, you could also try They have rentals, including large spaces, in many unique places around the Bay Area. We used one for our son's birthday in SF a few year's back.

  • Looking for reviews of birthday parties at JoAnns craft store in El Cerrito Plaza.  I noticed that they have birthday parties in the back classroom.  I'm looking for good winter party ideas for my 7 year old.


    I think it's well suited if your daughter/son likes crafts. We went to one before and I thought it was well run, the only thing was that it was a bit not clean/messy. Crafts are messy anyways though, what can you expect?

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Kids' bday party venue that allows alcohol?

Jan 2012

I'm looking for an inexpensive venue (think clubhouse with toys and a kitchen) for my son's second birthday party. The Harding clubhouse in El Cerrito is perfect except that it doesn't allow alcohol. Any ideas? Thanks! Heather

We rented the Albany Teen Center at Memorial Park for our kids 7th birthday this year, and when we filled out the application, we had to indicate whether or not we were serving alcohol. We did not, but it appeared that it was possible. We loved the venue and it was not extremeley expensive. Hope that helps! Albany Mom

Space to rent for Child's First Birthday

Dec 2011

I'm looking for a space to rent for my son's first birthday party. I know it sounds excessive to over do a 1st b-day but this is important to our family and want to celebrate this milestone with lots of friends and family. Does any one have any suggestions for a inexpensive space we can rent for 10 kids and 25 adults. We would like to bring in our own food but not a deal breaker if we can't. Shooting for January 21st so would have to be an indoor space. Birthday Mom

We also had a similar size party for my daughter on her 1st (she is now 5) and felt it kind of indulgent, but what the heck! They're only 1 once, right? I don't know where you live, but we had ours at the Harding Clubhouse in El Cerrito (near Harding elem. school). There are several clubhouses for rent in EC and although it is a few yrs later, I'm sure they are still fairly inexpensive. This one holds after school classes there, so on one side there are lots of toys to play with and on the other was where we had folks hang out and served the food/cake. It is nothing fancy at all, but served our purposes. Good luck..... anon

Rental Space for 1 year old B-day Party in January

Nov 2011

Hello, I am looking for a reasonable space to rent for my son's first birthday party. I know its crazy to throw a big party for a first year birthday but its important to my family to celebrate this milestone. His birthday is in January and will need an indoor space. We will have about 30 people attend with lots of little ones ranging in age from 6 months to 7 years old. We live in San Pablo but would consider renting a space between Emeryville and Pinole. Thanks in advance for your suggestions! Happy First Bday

The best place I know of for space rental is Studio 12 at 2525 8th Street, cross Dwight in Berkeley CA. The parking is great and the studio manager is awesome. It's a wide open space, gorgeous. Not sure how much you need in terms of structure, but worth checking out. or email Andrej at studio12berkeley [at] Good luck and happy BD to your kiddo! Happy Birthday

The PRAM clubhouse in Pt. Richmond is the best-kept secret around. It is run by a mom's group and is incredibly affordable. There's an outdoor space, plus a sink, microwave and bathroom. Plus it has toys! Here's their website: Happy birthday! PRAM fan

Indoor spaces for kid's b'day party--200 or less?

April 2011

My daughter's turning 4 at the end of May. We have a small apartment w/a super-grouchy downstairs neighbor so having her party here is out of the question. We've had it outdoors in past years but for some reason, it always ends up cold & cloudy. Last year we had it at Glitter & Razz on College- which was great--no stress, little set-up/clean-up, and my daughter loved, loved, loved it. Now they don't seem to do the lower-cost, free-play party, and every other place seems to charge closer to $300 or more. I'm all for simple parties for kids--my daughter & her friends already make everything a party! So really, I just want a place where 10-12 kids can play, do an art project, dance, and eat pizza & cupcakes (and maybe I don't have to spend an entire weekend cleaning up before and after...)for around $200 or less. The only thing I've found was Kids 'n Dance--has anyone had their birthday party there? Thanks so much! Melissa

I once saw a very sweet party at Sequoia Lodge in Oakland. I googled it and then found the rate page for all of the City of Oakland Parks & Recs rental facilities and it looks like there are a few that may meet your needs based on the per hour rental fees. Here's that page: Good luck! Laurie

The Albany Y! They put on a great party and they're under $200. Alexandra

We had our twins' 5th birthday party at the Albany YMCA kindergym and it was a blast! The party lasts for two hours and the kids have the full run of the kindergym, with all of the equipment set up (mats, swings, things to climb and jump on, roll in, etc.). You also get to use a small room with tables and chairs for the pizza/cake/whatever and the person working your party will lead the kids in an activity for maybe 20 minutes - ours was with a big parachute and the kids loved it. You can arrive 30 minutes ahead of time to set up the food room (decorate and bring in food) and you have 30 minutes at the end to clean up. The assistant puts away all of the gym equipment, you just have to clean up the food room and take away the trash - not a big deal at all really. Costs $160 for Y members, $185 if you're not. We had pizza delivered and brought our own veggie platter, cupcakes, juice, cups, and plates. So a bit more than $200 for us with everything, but I thought it was a pretty good deal and was perfect for the 4-5 year old set. Check them out online for more info: They seem to book up pretty quickly though. Karen

Economical indoor party space is a challenge in the Bay Area. To see if I could I help you, I took out my Parents' Press newspaper from last June where they list birthday party venues in the East Bay. There are a lot of great places but I am just not sure if they meet all of your criteria. I'll list some below that I think might fit in case you haven't heard of some of them/looked into them. As for Kids'N Dance. I've never done a BD party there, but my 3.5 year old daughter takes classes there and LOVES it! The teachers are really great!

Here is a list of places from Parents' Press: Habitot, Berkeley ... Kids in Motion, Oakland ... Head over Heels, Emeryville ... MOCHA, Oakland

Good luck! And have fun!

Place for an indoor birthday party for a 3 y o

Dec 2010

Hi BPN. Our daughter will turn 3 at the end of January and is very excited already! so, it is time for the real thing - a birthday party with her friends and family. 20-25 kids + parents. Our place is not big enough, so we are looking for a place that will be nice and not too expensive. we will provide the food and decorations. we live in north Oakland, Rockridge, and our daughter preschool is in Berkeley, so anywhere around this areas can be good. any suggestions? Thanks, Shaga

Our son's birthday is also in January. The following locations have been great:

Play Cafe (
Pump it Up (
Habitot (

We found the costs comparable - Play Cafe packages it all in one, Pump it Up the costs are broken out so it seemed cheaper, but at the end of the day we spent the same. Christine

Our kids enjoyed Pump it Up until they were about 10. Parent of Teens

Hi! At the Downtown Berkeley YMCA we offer kindergym or pool parties. Either party has one hour in the program area followed by time in the party room. A party host works with you to help you enjoy your stay. We provide all the table goods. It's a convenient way to do it. For more information, check out the link: . If you are not a member, you can purchase an annual membership for your child for $35 which besides helping them have a party at the Y, enables them to sign up for swim lessons, dance classes, kids night out, etc. Happy partying! Eden O'Brien-Brenner eobrienbrenner [at]

The YMCA at Kains, in Albany, is relatively inexpensive, and it's pretty fun for that age group. The staff takes care of oranizing games and such, and they have a small room for snacks or cake. My kids enjoyed their party there a few years ago.

We had our son's birthday at Sadiedey Cafe and it was a blast. Their crew took care of everything we needed. There was a play area for toddlers, a room for bigger kids and a full cafe for us parents to relax in. You can look them up online. Maria

Seesaw in the Hayes Valley in SF is a great place for indoor birthday parties! A cozy spot with a play studio is perfect for kids to celebrate with parents. & help with event planning is offered! Rebekah

We love Habitot for birthday parties! So do lots of other people, they book-up quickly during the rainy season.

We have had parties at home (messy and chaotic) and at Pump It Up (too much stimulation; better for older kids).

I think that Habitot is great for the 5 and under set. It's dry and contained and the price is fair. Best of all, you can bring your own food and drinks! They can provide the food if you want too.

I find Habitot to be more educational and pleasant than some of the for-profit party places out there. Lucky Mom of Two

Indoor space for daughter's 6th birthday

Nov 2010

Our daughter will be turning 6 this winter - we need an indoor space that can accomodate 30 kids and an artist to lead an art project but don't have an arm and a leg to pay for it - most art party spaces accomodate less than 20 kids. We are looking for creative ways to accomplish this - maybe an artist w/a large space that likes working w/kids, maybe you know of an inexpensive space we can rent and find someone to lead an art project? I've checked the archives here - not much in the way of what we are looking for - or maybe you have other creative ideas for a large group of folks wanting to celebrate indoors?? Thanks so much for your thoughts! party mama

I'm sure others will suggest this as well, but look into MOCHA in downtown Oakland - their art parties say they go up to 20 kids, but elsewhere they say they can accommodate groups up to 100 people - maybe they could customize something for you. They might also have recommendations for alternatives if they can't fit you in. Artsy Mom

I am not sure where you are located or how many kids, But most community centers have rooms to rent. The Albany Community center rents rooms out downstairs they have a craftroom. where I teach art to children and adults) Sharyl

Party Venue For 4Yr Olds In December

Sept 2010

Hi, I am trying to find an interesting indoor venue for my daughter's birthday party in December. We've been to parties at Pump It Up, Head over Heels, Studio Grow but I want something new that would be fun. Any new ideas/suggestions would be very much appreciated!! Miki

Check out the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito. It is a great venue, perfect for that age group, and they have a party room. Lisa

We recently had a party at SadieDays Cafe in Oakland and I highly recommend this place. The parents all had a nice place to hang out together and the kids had a blast in the play area which has a jumpy too. They did all the setup and cleanup. We just brought the cake. The owner told me that they are adding news toys, and a big kids room too, which my older boy would have loved. This place has always been one of our favorites. Maria

Event Space for 5 year old 'Rock Star' Party

July 2010

I am looking for a space to rent for my daughter's fifth birthday bash. She wants to have a rock star theme. I want to be able to have a dance space and room for other activities. The space will need to accommodate about 50 people. Berkeley/Oakland area. I could also go to thru the tunnel to Orinda area. Thank You. jennifer

A friend rented the Just Dance Ballroom to host a birthday party/dance class. They may be available for a Rock Star party as well! It's in Oakland (near Alameda), very close to the freeway. (It's next door to the kids' jumpy place Pump It Up.) esther

The Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists has a main hall perfect for parties. One block off MLK at Cedar. VERY reasonably priced ($200 for 4 hours on a Saturday afternoon, as I recall). I used it for my 7-year-old's dance birthday party. For our party, we ended up with about 45 guests (grownups and kids) and there was plenty of room for a big dance area plus a sitting area w/chairs, face painting station, game area, and tables for cake/ice cream. Full kitchen, and everything else you need to put on a big do. And very nice people to deal with. We were really pleased at how it worked out. Party Mom

2007 - 2009 Reviews

Indoor Party Venues for 3 year old

May 2008

Hi, My son is turning 3 in July and I am looking for an indoor party place in Oakland/Alameda/Castro Valley/Hayward/San Leandro/Dublin areas for his party. Any suggestions? If you have had a party at Habitot recently I would appreciate your comments because the reviews in the database are so outdated. Thanks so much! Precilla

Studio Grow in Berkeley is an awesome place for children. My son is also going to be three in July, and we go there 2-3x a week. My 1 year old loves it, too. I know they host parties on the weekends. They close it down so that you and your guests have the whole place to yourselves. It has tons of different rooms...the ball/tumbling room, the blocks/puppet shows/books/stage room, the playdough/painting/coloring room, the dancing and music room, the trains/puzzles/kitchen/dollhouse/dress-up, etc room. and the crawl room especially for babies. It also has an outdoor space with three water tables and a big bubble machine. And finally they have a small eating room with big and small tables for kids as well as a couple of highchairs and a microwave. It's a very clean and cheery place. Friendly staff...can't say enough good things about it! You should definitely check it out!! Hope this helps:) Studio Grower

Birthday Party Venue for 1 and 3-year-olds

March 2008

I know there are lots of good recommendations for birthday venues, but I'd love some specific advice on which ones people would recommend for a group of mixed-aged kids. Our daughter will be turning one in a few months and our son is 3 1/2, so we'll have lots of kids his age and then their younger siblings, who are around our daughter's age. We've already done Studio Grow and Play Cafe, so we'd like to find someplace new. Any recs for some places that will be fun for the crawlers up to the preschoolers? Anon

The Downtown Berkeley YMCA offers kindergym parties that are great for crawlers and preschool age children. If you are not a member, you can purchase an annual membership for your child for $35 and use that membership to hold a party, sign up for a swim class, etc. If you would like more information, please contact me. I am the Director of Youth & Family Services. I can be reached at the email included or at 510-665-3238. Eden

2004 - 2006 Reviews

Indoor Birthday Party Venue for 3-year-old

Jan 2006

Hello My daughter's 3rd birthday is coming up in January and we are looking for a place to hold a party that is indoors (in case of rain) and provides some fun, unstructured play space/activities.

Ideally it would be not too expensive, but able to accomodate kids of mixed ages (min of 5 but possibly as many as 10), and all of their parents (up to 20 people!) plus a few other adults... Does anyone know if the Albany YMCA still does parties? thanks much for any advice. We are new to the area. Claire

Mosaic Forest Art Studio offers art birthday parties. The price is per child, so you can control the cost, and the fee provides your child and her/his friends 1 1/2 hours of an age-appropriate art activity with instruction. At no extra charge, you may use the art studio for an hour following the activity for snacks and/or cake that you bring. The studio is located in Oakland, near 35th Avenue at 3315 MacArthur Boulevard. For more information, check out the website: or call 510 - 759 - 6074 Jill

Indoor Space for 30 people for 3-year-old party

Nov 2005

My daughter turns 3 mid-January and we are looking for an indoor play space to have her birthday. We've checked the archives and know about the Y and Habitot but are wondering if anyone has anything new to add. I'd like a place that can accommodate 10 three-year olds and 10 - 20 adults. Also, since my kid loves art, a place that is conducive to being creative (read: getting messy) would be a bonus. If anyone has used the Arlington Park club house for a party, I'd like to hear how you liked it. Since her birthday is less than 2 months away and I'm getting worried about things filling up, it would be great if you could send me your suggestions directly. Then, I'll compile all the responses and post them for the community. Thanks! shari

I have not been there yet, but my kids were invited to a birthday party at Play Cafe in Oakland (it has been mentioned on this site several times). I think it is near the Oakland zoo. It sounds like a great place for a party with both adults and kids. Susan

hello, try a gymnastics party, perfect for this age (and time of year!). kids in motion on piedmont avenue does a great job. they provide a loose ''class'' as well as free play time. you bring cake and plates and the kids have a wonderful time. go check it out. it's nice because parents can sit nearby in the parent area, which is not separated from the gym area by a wall.

''Picture Perfect Party'' will open mid-December in Dublin. It is a children's party center just for toddlers and kindergarteners! Ages 0-6 can enjoy a huge playroom filled with preschooler toys. Party Coordinators will take digital party photos of the children so you can enjoy the time with your birthday child and his/her guests! These pictures will be flashed on a big screen in the party room for everyone to enjoy, and you can bring home a complimentary CD of the party photos! Wep page: Phone: (925)828-3311 Marlene

MOCHA in downtown Oakland is a great place for an art party. You can talk to the artist-teacher who will lead the activity and design it for your child. My daughter had a clay birthday, and we have been to a collage birthday, and a hats birthday. Then, after the project, you provide the food and enjoy the party. There is no rush (the way there can be at the Y), and the kids get to take home their project. Parking is ok, and the neighborhood is fine in the day (ok at night if you park to the east). Guests can also take BART or AC there. loves Mocha

The Albany Y on Solano has ART birthday parties. Pamela

Location for First Birthday Party

Sept 2005

The babies in my mom's group are going on 12 months, and we would like to do a group party with partners, which makes about 20 adults and 10 little monkeys. Where have other people had their group birthday parties? It will probably be early November, so we are thinking indoors. Whitney

PRAM has a wonderful spot to hold birthday parties. Located in Point Richmond, just off of the 580 freeway, is the Washington Elementary School. Located near this is the PRAM fieldhouse, which is a building designed for kids. It is full of kids' toys, books, riding vehicles, etc. It has a long, low table with children's chairs where the kids can eat cake, do art projects and many other things. If the weather is nice, the kids can go outside and play on the many play structures and swings, ride the cars, play ball games (equipment is there to use) and more. And the cost to rent the fieldhouse is very inexpensive. The charge is just $50 for 4 hours (9-1 or 1-5) or $75 for the whole day. contact at

2003 & Earlier

Locale for 1st Birthday Party

Nov. 2003

I would love any suggestions for a place (preferably in or around Berkeley) to hold my daughter's first birthday party in mid-October. my husband and I did not want to host it at our house for various reasons. I was thinking that a local park or restaurant would be nice, but my problem is trying to find a place suitable for both the comfort of the grandparents and entertaining enough for a few infants and toddlers. I was also concerned that most of the local park picnic sites seem to be on a first-come, first serve basis. We wanted a casual and relaxing place for about 15-20 people. Any ideas or recommendations for a location is greatly appreciated, since we're new to this birthday party thing! Sharon

Try Wee Play on Solano Ave. in Albany. Pretty sure they do birthday parties still. If so, it's ideal for a 1 or 2 year old party. Small, safe and no nooks or cranies to hind from the adults. Oh, best of all, very very clean and bright! wee play fan!

I've never had good luck with a one year old at a restaurant, but perhaps I've had particularly cantankerous one year olds. Have you thought about reserving one of the picnic sites in Tilden?

Want to rent a place, cheaper than the Y

Jan. 2003

My son is going to turn one soon and I'd like to have a big celebration. The problem is I have a very small house. I'd like to have the party in the park but I can't count on good weather in February. I'd like to rent a place that is big enough for about 30 adults and a dozen or so babies and toddlers. The YMCA baby gym would be perfect but they charge $150. Does anyone know of anything cheaper? We don't really need entertainment but it does have to be safe for babies. Danielle

Try Wee Play, on Solano, in Albany. They have a space which would be the perfect size, and I believe that their rental rates are reasonable. Melissa T

Indoor places for a one-year-old's birthday party

Nov 2001

I am looking for recommendations for indoor places to have a birthday party for a one-year-old in the winter. My son turns one in February. Whitney

I literally just got home from a birthday party for a one year old at WEE PLAY on Solano Avenue in Albany. It was great fun and very appropriate for one year olds. It's a clean, friendly environment with fun play equipment. They have a small table in the back of the room for food. I was impressed. I'd advise checking it out to see if it is big enough for your group. I believe there were 24 people at the party today and it didn't seem too crowded. I also have no idea how much it costs. Good luck! Shoshana

I have attended parties at the Clubhouse at Arlington Park in El Cerrito. It's a reasonable sized space, perfect for 30 people. The versatile feature is that it's comfortable enough to house your party if the weather is cold and wet. But if the weather turns out nice (it's so unpredictable in March), you can open up the doors and have access to Arlington Park, which has wide open grassy areas, playground structures and even a pond. I think you would need to call the city of El Cerrito for reservation information.

The Albany YMCA can accomodate parties, too. They have regular baby gym programs for 9 to 18 month olds and can set up a gym party appropriate for one year olds.

Habitot in downtown Berkeley might be another bet. It's the right speed for one year olds. You would need to check if they can accomodate 30 guests. Liz

Try Habitot in Berkeley, and inquire about the after hours party rental. We did that for my daughters first birthday and it was a huge success. We were able to get the whole place after 7 pm for about $150 (I had booked kinda of late so I had to take a Sunday night) and we could invite as many people as we wanted ( I beleive the limit is like 60-75 people). We ordered some pizza to be delivered and brought a cake in. It was great! Give them a call, you have plenty of time to book a great evening. William

One-year-old's bday party for 100+ people

May 2001

We are planning a big party for our son's 1st birthday, and are looking for a facility with a big room that can hold about 100+ people, preferably with a kitchen, that isn't too expensive to rent. I've already checked the UCB Parents Network Website, but the rooms on that list aren't large enough. Any recommendations? Jennifer

I'd like to pitch for a GREAT place for a party (why am I doing this? Now it will be booked when I want to rent it again...) Cafe Eclectica: 527-2344, 1309 Solano Ave. It used to be Cafe Crayon; now it is run by teens, for teens during business hours. There is a long entry hall with booths, perfect for older kids to play or adults to have an adult conversation. At the end of the hall is the main party space: a big open room with a kitchen, tables and chairs, games, TV, etc. There is also a very small outside patio. I had a party there last year and it was perfect. Hope this helps! Lori

Function Rooms in Albany: A friend of mine had her wedding reception at the Albany community center (I don't know if that's the correct name)--that pinkish building on Marin Ave in Albany. I don't think it was too costly. Linda

The Albany Community Center (same building as the Albany Library) is a great place for functions. 524-9283 (see facilities and classes) Laura

You can rent the entire Habitot Children's Museum in Berkeley any evening after closing, and every Sunday during the day until Labor Day. It can easily accomodate 100 people and is perfect be if you are planning on inviting lots of young children. Two hours is $195. Kathleen

Try El Cerrito! The Community Center on Moser or the Harding School clubhouse. Info is available at the Community Center office or maybe there is a web site. HalfDink

The Kensington Community Center is a great place for a party, and not too expensive compared to other places. It has a great kitchen, a large indoor room, a large outdoor grill, a meeting ring in back, and a beautiful lawn area with a view of the bay in front. We had our wedding reception there, and though the place feels very utilitarian when empty, with a little imaginative decorating it can be a great space. We got six large tarps that are paper on one side, and painted fun scenes on them, and hung them along the sides of the main room, along with some large paper lanterns. For a kid's party you can do a lot with balloons and streamers. Check it out. Rebecca

Suggestions for an indoor party

Feb 1999

Have you tried Habitot Children's Museum in downtown Berkeley? It is a hands-on museum -- water play, play store, art, etc. -- for children up to age 7 and does offer birthday parties. For details visit ttp:// Betty

We have been to three indoor 4 y/o bday parties recently at the following places:


  • Ruby's Tumbling in Alameda (Ruby is good with the kids though the cake part of the party was held in a cramped little break room)
  • Kids in Motion on Piedmont Ave. in Oakland (the teacher, Paul, was incredible with the kids- really kept their attention and sweet in addition to being VERY conscientious about safety issues. Remarkably, he remembered ALL their names! The lunch/cake area was on a platform in the very spacious gym. Highly recommended)
  • Museum of CHildren's Art- nr. Jack London Square (pretty cold, damp and dingy place with a really rough bathroom; the assigned staff member was next to nonexistent at the two parties we went to there. She does a bit of face painting and sets up an art project - the clay project was markedly better than the collage project. There is a table for cake and then the kids inevitably spill out into the museum or (quel horror) the store which requires major parental supervision. This makes for a better party in theory than practice, IMO) Gemma
    Sept 1998

    We have given parties and attended parties in a number of not at home locations over the past 12 years. (I did not attempt a party involving other children until they were three.) The Lawrence Hall of Science does an activity for the party, you have a choice of themes, and provides a party room. You can order their food or bring your own. The Berkeley Y was great and the Oakland Y may also do parties. Bowling alleys are popular with the older elementary crowd. We went to a party at one in Alameda at the bottom of Park St. that provided a party room and put inflatable barriers in the gutters so the kids' balls didn't end up in the gutter every time. Montclair Park has a baseball diamond within walking distance to several pizza places, so it works for older kids also. For the younger set, a Kindergym party is perfect; my references are very out of date, but they were at the Jewish Community Center. We used City Rock for my very athletic son, but some of the other parents were hesitant when they read the waiver they had to sign concerning injury. We consider the place very safe but that waiver is frightening, so feel out the other parents first. We always looked for a place that would provide something for the kids to do that would keep their interest for at least an hour since bored kids are difficult to work with. For a one-year old, I'd use a tot playground that is enclosed, keep the party very short and the food very simple snacks and cupcakes, and then just enjoy watching the kids with no attempt to plan anything. Eleanor

    In case you haven't heard from others already, the downtown Berkeley YMCA has birthday parties there (splash pool parties or you can rent one of the conference rooms and they include balloons and cake I think). It's about $100. Contact Eden Brenner-O'Brien at 848-9622 X38, Early Childhood Programs

    Habitot Children's Museum also has a birthday party room for rent. You can also rent the whole facility at night. Contact them at 647-1111.

    The Albany Community Center rents out rooms too. Not sure about the price. I don't have the number handy.

    Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito also has a birthday party room and I believe their rental includes admission to the museum for guests.

    Birthday party in San Francisco for 4-year-olds

    Sept 1998

    I'm not sure if this is something for 4 year olds, but Mission Cliffs in the Mission ( I think at Harrison and 19th) has a room for parties and teaches children how to rock climb. They also have a facility in Emeryville called City Rock. Gloria

    I have a file on parties (!) but even with all this info, I'm still looking for a place to have a 4 year old's party that's convenient to the southern part of San Francisco (we live in Glen Park) and indoors (November!). Here's what I know of:

    information as of Fall '97, via phone calls (haven't tried most of these myself):

    **SF Recreation Dept.: various community centers around the city. Phone Charles Holmes 415-831-2797. They can send you a list of centers. last year it was $45-$55 for 2 hours plus $30 for staff salary if the facility is not usually open that day (such as Sundays). Facilities vary. for small kids, Upper Noe is great because there are lots of toys and play structures they allow you to use. Book as far ahead as you can.

    **The Jungle (555 9th Street) $11.95 - $17.95 per child, 10 kids minimum. 415-552-4FUN.

    **SF Zoo (outdoors); $12/participant (INCLUDING adults; $5 if adult is a zoo member, kids under 1 free; includes cake, ice cream, juice, plates/utensils, favors, hats, zoo key, carousel ride, admission to main zoo (but not children's zoo?) 415-753-7114

    **Purple Crayon, 4th Avenue at California $150 up to 10 kids, $10 each additional kid; 2 hour use of studio, teacher and art supplies; or $225 for 10 kids including refreshments? (an art center so it's an art party) 831-0693

    **Fort Mason - just a space, tables & chairs; a 1500 square foot space big enough for 50 people $14/hour, plus $35 cleanup, plus security deposit, no kitchen facilities. an even bigger space for 90 people, $17/hour, $35 cleanup fee. call 441-5706

    **Gymboree (small kids only, ages 1-4) $150 for 1 1/2 hours rental up to 15 kids includes teacher. 776-2111

    the various free parenting newspapers have ads for other places but not so many in San Francisco.I'd love to hear about others to add to my file! Corliss


    Sept 1998