Hooray! Your little one has made it through their first year and now it’s time to celebrate. While a party at home is an option, sometimes a venue where kids can have fun, cleanup is taken care of and a venue big enough to accommodate a large party is needed. We’ve rounded up our favorite Bay Area spots for baby’s first birthday party, which one will you choose?

San Francisco

Play Haven
Little ones can explore to their hearts content while parents and caregivers can feel comfortable in a space that meets their needs as well. The space has an open play area with art and sensory activities, an outdoor area with a cute cedar wood playhouse and snack and kitchen area. For birthday parties, choose to have an open play party during normal business hours, or opt to go for an exclusive play party open after hours. Each comes with play passes, dining tables and a staff assistant to help. Additional options include food and place settings.

254 Laguna Honda Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 
Online: playhavensf.com

Randall Museum
While a museum might not be the first thought that comes to mind for a birthday party, the Randall Museum is ready to celebrate kids of all ages. With a focus on science, nature and art, the museum engages kids with activities and plenty of exploration, plus the new toddler tree house is pretty awesome. Parties are available only on Sundays with the option of an art or animal theme so kids can partake in an age appropriate project or take a tour of the animal exhibit. Parking, table and chairs, welcome sign and a staff person is included in the price.

199 Museum Way
San Francisco, CA 
Online: randallmuseum.org

Recess Collective
Not only is this space an awesome community to meet other moms and families, it’s also a great party venue. Making it as stress-free as possible, the party can be completely DIY where entertainment, food and any other necessities are brought in, or Recess Collective can take care of all the details. Amenities include exclusive use of the entire play space; separate play area for pre-walkers, changing tables, kitchen and a variety of serving platters. With the goal of being flexible, comfortable and affordable, this is a sweet spot worth checking out.

2225 Taraval
San Francisco, CA 
Online: recesscollective.org

Little Oceanauts
A fun indoor playground for all ages, we like Little Oceanauts for its separate space for the little ones. Babies and toddlers can enjoy fun activities, soft foam play areas and even a mini ball pit, while older kids can enjoy the rest of the playground, making it a good spot for guests of varying ages. There are three party packages to choose from with two to three hours of playtime (depending on package chosen and group size) and are held after 5 p.m. There is also a ton of add-ons available like entertainment, decorations and dessert.

1917 Ocean Ave.
San Francisco, CA 
Online: littleoceanauts.com

photo: Lindsay Wildlife Experience

East Bay

Lindsay Wildlife Experience
If there is a mixture of ages wanting to celebrate the little one, check out Lindsay Wildlife Experience in Walnut Creek. Kids can learn about the wildlife animals while exploring the rest of the exhibits and programs. Parties are two hours including set up, available mostly on weekends at either 11 a.m. or 2:30 p.m., capped at 30 kids and include a visit from a wildlife ambassador (think guinea pigs or rabbits) that they can pet. Food, drinks and decorations can be brought in, however, no confetti or balloons are allowed inside for the safety of the animals.

1931 First Ave
Walnut Creek, CA 
Online: lindsaywildlife.org

Habitot Children’s Museum
This museum isn’t just kid-friendly, it’s all about creating a space for kids to explore, play and get messy. With an art studio, rotating exhibits, classes and special events, kids are encouraged to explore at their own speed. For birthdays, choose to host in the main museum if a room is available during open hours, a designated party room, or opt to rent out the entire space. Party includes admission to the museum, parking validation for the host family and four passes for a future visit. Food can be brought in, but note that the museum is a nut-free space.

2065 Kittredge St.
Berkeley, CA 
Online: habitot.org

Swings and Wings
With a mission to provide a safe environment to explore and play, this Alameda spot is especially designed for ages six months to eight years old. The space is divided up into five rooms including a creative room with LEGO bricks, climbing and swinging room, art room with paint, jumping room with a bouncy house and a sensory room with fidget toys and lighted cubes. There are three party packages to choose from depending on the size of the group and includes two hours of playtime and a daily entry pass for a future visit. Food can be brought in or purchased as a pizza or snack package.

2307 Blanding Ave.
Alameda, CA 94501
Online: swingsandwings.com

The Rec Room
A family-friendly location where parents and kids can all come together and have fun, the Rec Room in Berkeley is a play space for all ages with music, free yoga, guided play hours, art and dance. The party package includes table and chairs, tableware and drinks, two hours of play in the entire space, use of additional classroom if wanting to do a craft or activity, play coordinator and coffee, tea and water for all guests.

3222 Adeline St.
Berkeley, CA
Online: recroomkids.com

photo: The COOP SF


The COOP is known for its parties, so it’s no surprise we added it to our list. With a dedication to make a fun, clean space where parents and kids would want to hang out (hello, cappuccino bar), it’s a cool spot where everyone can play and explore. Parties are held in two-hour increments throughout the weekend and weekdays are open for semi-private parties. Themes include princesses, race car and jungle among others, and include a take home for both boys and girls. Basic option includes playtime with additional options available like food, decorations and entertainment.

303 Linden Ave.
South San Francisco, CA
Online: thecoopsf.com

The indoor play space is designed for babies and toddlers four & under, with toys and play structures geared specifically to the younger set. Crawling, fine motor skills, tummy time and exploration are all part of the fun, with nursing rooms and a snack and drink café. Parties are a completely private event, where guests can enjoy the entire space for two hours (with extensions available) and includes a future play pass, custom invitations and all paper goods, utensils, tablecloth and guest attendant. Food and drinks can be brought in at no extra cost.

544 San Mateo Ave.
San Bruno, CA 
Online: diddalidoo.com

A Peninsula favorite, this toddler friendly museum is small enough to explore on a rainy morning, and big enough to newly engage at every visit. With hands on exhibits (curving creeks and rainfall) and animal presentations (owls and bobcats), this nonprofit museum is a pretty cool gem. Birthday parties have different options depending on the size of the group and include admission to the museum for the entire day, validated parking and tables and chairs. Food, drinks and even special activities can be brought in. 

1651 Coyote Point Dr.
San Mateo, CA 
Online: curiodyssey.org

Mints and Honey
This neighborhood café is an awesome place to get a latte or strawberry waffle, and parents love the playroom with toys and chalkboard wall. But walk towards the back to find the beautiful space with an open layout to plan the perfect birthday party. A variety of options are available from DIY to completely themed and coordinated event. Themed parties can be princesses or superheroes, and even a mini afternoon teatime with crafts for older kids. For two hours, party guests can enjoy the private space for up to 25 guests (over incurs an extra charge) with all utensils, plates, napkins and an attendant to help. The space books fast, so if interested, reserve ahead of time!

1524 El Camino Real
San Carlos, CA 
Online: mintsandhoney.com

photo: Whirlygig

South Bay

This organic and locally-sourced restaurant offers delicious breakfast and lunch items (and an impressive kids menu) in a modern bumblebee designed space. The playroom and outdoor sandbox lets kids play supervised while parents enjoy alone time, a huge draw for South Bay parents. Birthday parties are fun, with several different rooms to choose from depending on size and budget. Opt for the playroom for kids seven and under and 25 guests, or go up from there in the family room, front yard or even the entire restaurant. Menu packages are available by calling as well as rates and reservation availability.

145 First St.
Los Altos, CA 
Online: bumblelosaltos.com

Children’s Discovery Museum
The purple museum in San Jose is all about serving the needs of children, families and schools through learning and discovery. Hands-on exhibits, daily programs like art and story time and a recently renovated outdoor space makes it a great spot for kids. Birthday parties are held in the teal or purple party room and include all day admission, staff help and a birthday gift. Themed options are available if wanting a superhero or dinosaur party and extras like art or science activities and gift bags are available as well.

180 Woz Way
San Jose, CA 
Online: cdm.org

Lemon Tree
While weekday play dates are hosted for families of little ones, party planning is Lemon Tree’s specialty. The Santa Clara modern space developed by a party planner and photographer is sure to make the milestone birthday unforgettable. Basic party package includes two hours of play, staff to help, chairs, tables and complimentary water and lemonade. Add-ons include photography and decoration services. There is even a special Korean Dol package to make the day even more special.

3427 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA
Online: lemontreeevent.com

For a spot that specializes in parties for little ones, check out Whirlygig in San Jose. Kids can play in the farm room and slide down a toddler-sized tractor, or have fun in the sun at the beach room complete with dune grass and sand box. Pick a theme for the party like unicorns, superheroes or outer space and enjoy the space for two hours with an activity for guests, decorations, water and lemonade and a staff person to help. Guests are capped at 15 and add-ons include food, activities and décor.

919 The Alameda
San Jose, CA 
Online: whirlygigparties.com

photo: Bay Area Discovery Museum


Bay Area Discovery Museum
This awesome children’s museum is a favorite of Bay Area parents for its creative exhibits, hands-on learning, daily drop-in programs and special events that are totally worth the drive even if you don’t live in Marin. Birthday parties are very popular and include all day museum admission for guests, staff help, play and activity corner and free parking at the front. Packages are divided into 40, 60 or 100-guest size in different areas of the museum and have the option to upgrade to a Blast Package that includes decorations, arts and crafts activity and face painting.

Fort Baker
557 McReynolds Rd.
Sausalito, CA
Online: bayareadiscoverymuseum.org

Fox & Kit
The modern coffee bar is a great way to spend the afternoon, but their indoor playground complete with reading nook and fox’s den makes it an ideal place to visit with little ones. Birthday parties are held on the weekend with pricing determined with how early the space is reserved (three months being the magic number). Basic package comes with two hours of playtime and all the party essentials, while the Foxtravagant package includes a theme like pirates and princesses (among others), themed decorations, gift treat, cupcakes and drinks.

1031 C. St.
San Rafael, CA 
Online: foxandkit.com

Owned and operated by Mt. Tam Adventures and part of Sausalito Parks and Rec, PlayLand is an indoor bounce house playground for kids ages seven and under. With plenty of toys, games and a train table room for kids needing a quiet place to play, this Sausalito gymnasium-turned bouncy house is a good and affordable option for a no-frills party. Birthday parties can be private or semi-private depending on group size and preference and include all decorations and balloons. Food and drinks can be brought in, and there is free Peet’s coffee offered to guests while kids play.

MLK Campus, Building 6
Coloma St.
Sausalito, CA 
Online: sausalito.gov

—Sandra Lee


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