- Holidays and Celebrations
Great Kids Birthday Party Places in Los Angeles
Kids Birthday Parties...Gotta Love 'Em
If you've got kids, it's inevitable that at some point you're going to need to plan a kids birthday party, one which will be special for your child and also fun for their friends. Luckily, here in Los Angeles there are lots of options to choose from that will match your child's interests and personality. With two kids, I've planned (and attended) many, many parties over the years. Here are some of the great kids party places we've discovered.
All I can say is: Best. Party. Ever. Swordplay LA is a real fencing studio that provides Olympic-Style fencing training as well as stage combat training for TV and movies. They also offer parties with different themes such as Indiana Jones, Princesses and Swashbucklers, to name a few. Some are appropriate for ages 4 and up, and others for ages 8 and up, and Swordplay will tweak the elements to make it more personal for your child. At the time, I was the mother of a young Star Wars fiend so choosing that theme was a no-brainer. The kids were "trained" to be Jedi Knights by no less than Obi Wan Kenobi, with special appearances by Darth Vader and Bobba Fett (the most excellent bounty hunter in the galaxy). They were also treated to a fantastic light saber battle. It was a blast for the kids while still being highly entertaining for the adults present.
In addition to kid's birthday parties, Swordplay will also arrange entertainment for grown-ups, corporate events and even weddings!
Movies by Kids
OK, a very close second best party ever. As suggested by its name, Movies By Kids has classes and camps teaching young people the art of movie-making and animation. They also host birthday parties where you have your choice of making a music video or movies using clay animation or stop-motion. For my daughter's 11th, we chose the Rock Star birthday. She selected a song she loved, some costume items (luckily, we have many lying around the house) and her friends spent two fun-filled hours having pizza, eating cake and being filmed singing along against the green screen. What's even better? Each child gets a DVD of the finished music video.
Movies by Kids has locations in Calabasas, Orange County and Santa Clarita or, they can come to your home.
Sherman Oaks Castle Park
Technically part of the LA Parks Department, Sherman Oaks Castle Park has been around for decades. It had a major overhaul awhile back and some say that it's due for another. Oddly, I find that to be part of its charm...it's simple and old school. There are a number of party packages and reserved areas to choose from such as the Boathouse and the Pavilion. I've noticed that mini golf parties seem to attract a lot of the dads so, ladies, if you plan it right, you can send the men out on the course with the kids while you relax in the gazebo. My son had his 7th birthday party here and all the kids had a blast.
In addition to the mini golf, there is an arcade and batting cages.
Under the Sea
Under the Sea is a fantastic indoor playground that also offers fantastic birthday parties for young children. In fact, LA Family Magazine voted them #1 for Best Theme Parties. There are several party packages to choose from but they all include your exclusive use of the facility for two hours, with free play as well as activities directed by the party host. For an additional fee, you can have a special guest character also.
Under the Sea has locations in Culver City, Burbank, Woodland Hills, Manhattan Beach and Altadena.
Birthday Cake Poll
What's Your Favorite Kind of Birthday Cake?
Once your kids hit a certain age, they pretty much just want to hang out with their friends and have minimal input from parents. Laser tag is a great party option for either boys or girls (or for boys AND girls), allowing them to run around together while still being in a contained environment. (It's also fun for adults, if they'll let you play with them.)
There are several laser tag facilities to choose from (including a mobile option from Games 2 U) but we have mostly gone to Ultrazone in Sherman Oaks. You get a two hour party with a private party room and host, plus two games of laser tag. They also have an arcade but tokens are not included in the package price. There is another Ultrazone in Alhambra but I'm not sure if it is affiliated.
My son was recently invited to a party at Jungle Zone in Glendale and came back raving about the place. It's a two-story laser tag arena in 6500 square feet with ramps connecting the two floors. Very cool.
My Gym is a children's fitness center with classes for ages 6 weeks to age 13. Founded in 1983, their birthday parties encapsulate all the best elements of the classes into two hours of activity, all led by the regular My Gym staff. (This is an added bonus if your child attends My Gym regularly - the party might be led by their favorite teacher.) If you or your child has a favorite song or game you can request in advance that it be included. (Space Flight is always a popular option.)
My Gym has locations throughout the city, and over 200 facilities around the world.
My Gym Party Presentation
Here's a promotional video telling you more about the birthday party experience at My Gym.
Speaking of Cake...
A list of some popular L.A. bakeries to top your party off right. Because what would a party be without cake?
- Big Sugar Bakeshop
I've been crazy about this place since they opened a few years ago. Not only are their cakes delicious, you can literally pick the color you want from a box of crayons...great for a kid's party.
- Sweet Lady Jane
Delicious custom cakes for over 20 years.
- Porto's Bakery
I have friends who will drive miles out out of their way for a Porto's baked good.
- Crumbs Bake Shop
Cupcakes have become a popular alternative to a sheet cake, especially for kid's parties. They are self contained and theoretically less messy. Whatever. Crumbs are amazing for any occasion.
Armory Center for the Arts
This is a beautiful non-profit arts community center in Pasadena, with several galleries and a large, open art studio. It is in this workspace where they hold birthday parties, where kids ages 3 - 12 are led through an art-making project they will get to take home. (They can also do parties for teens.) I haven't been to a party here but I did chaperone a 1st grade field trip and the projects they made with the kids in a short time were both exciting and inspiring. Most projects are clay based, on a choice of themes such as dragons, dinosaurs and secret gardens. They also do some cardboard project themes including princess crowns and treasure boxes. If you have a child who likes art, Armory Center for the Arts is well worth checking into.
A new entrant into the LA birthday party scene, I came across this company while researching parties for my 11 year old. We didn't end up using them for logistical reasons, but I was very impressed with the owner, Kristy Messer, and how willing she was to work with me to make the party special for my son.
Entertaining Adventure creates clue-based scavenger hunts for all ages, on different themes. These can take place at your home or a venue, like a park or rented space. There are a variety of birthday party packages to choose from, appropriate for ages 4 - 7, or 8 - 17 with themes such as Hollywood Hunt, Eco Adventure and Animal Adventures. (They also do events for adults.) The parties for younger kids tend to be more imaginative and play-based; older kids do more of a race and work in teams. All in all, sounds like a great way to celebrate a kids birthday.
Bowling checks a lot of boxes for a great kids birthday party: focused activity, contained space, food included. It's appropriate for just a few kids or the entire class, whatever your nerves and budget will allow. There are a lot of options here in the Los Angeles area, ranging from old-school to high tech, including Pinz in Studio City, Pickwick in Burbank, Lucky Strike Lanes in Hollywood and Jillian's at Universal CityWalk. See below for links to these lanes and more.
Studio City's bowling center has 32 lanes and a pretty cool arcade. It's attached to Jerry's Deli, which provides catering for the parties.
Pickwick has been around for decades but underwent a major renovation a few years ago. It's one of the more low-key places
- All Star Lanes
Located in Eagle Rock, All Star Lanes has 22 lanes of bowling and several private party rooms.
- Lucky Strike
Lucky Strike opened in Hollywood in 2004 and is state-of-the-art. In addition to regular birthday parties, it's also a great location for special events like Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. Take note, though, it's usually 21 and over after 10PM.
Jillian's has so much to offer: bowling, arcade, billiards. The party planning people are terrific at making events special for your child or teen. Like Lucky Strike, it's perfect for those big occasions.
- Corbin Bowl
Corbin Bowl has been the go-to place for bowling in the West Valley for years. It's very old school and feels kinda homey.