Finding a fun and affordable birthday party venue in Toronto is like the Holy Grail of parenting. Since both my kids were born in months where the weather is unpredictable at best – and I shudder at the thought of keeping a gaggle of caked-up kids cooped up in the confines of our “compact” house (actually quite big by Toronto standards, but I digress) – I’ve become somewhat of an expert in finding decent birthday party locales.
North Beach tops my list for a number of reasons, the proof being that between my daughter and my son we’ve had three parties there, and attended many more.
The North Beach space is big and sandy and a little bit stinky. Since becoming a hockey mom I’m more accustomed to the fragrance of athleticism, but if you’re expecting a pristine, sanitized environment for your child’s birthday party you’ll be disappointed. There are a couple of spaces they use for children’s birthday parties, and they all have direct access to their volleyball “court.”
Seeing as most of the kids celebrating can’t actually play volleyball yet, the North Beach activity director assigned to your party will keep your group busy with fun games and age-appropriate versions of sports that are made way more fun in the sand. All of the courts are separated by netting, so any errant serves or strikes from adjacent courts won’t bean the birthday girl.
My daughter celebrated her sixth birthday at North Beach, and her then-two-year-old brother had such a blast that we booked his fourth birthday party there. This year he turned eight, and a spring birthday, combined with the chaos of playoff hockey schedules, meant it was difficult to plan a party with much advance notice. Luckily, North Beach had space and it turns it that seven- and eight-year-old boys can get so sandy you’ll be cleaning it out of their nails for weeks. It was awesome.
North Beach has a couple of birthday party options; most are two hours. I always go for the Pizza Party Package that includes pizza and pop or juice (and water) for the kids, so all you have to bring are some snacks and the cake. I also spring for the extra sand time, since the kids always wolf their food down and can’t wait to get back into the sand. They also have a rock wall and a huge bouncy castle area that you can book. There are showers available if the sweat and sand situation is particularly dire, but I wait and shower them off immediately once we get home. Make sure to tell your guests to bring a change of clothes or wear stuff than can get dirty.
Their fully-licensed bar and “patio” areas are available for parents who’d like to stick around, and you can order additional pizzas as well. I bought a pitcher of craft cider for our group of grown-ups, and it felt like a mini-vacation to just sit and watch someone else entertain the kids!
I’d love to be able to share Pinterest-worthy shots of my kids’ beach volleyball-themed birthday parties, complete with beachy umbrella drinks and festive accessories. Instead I’ve got a photo stream featuring kids with flushed and sweaty faces and big smiles, clutching less-than-aesthetically pleasing white foam cups filled with apple juice. This year our Dairy Queen ice cream cake melted just enough to make the kids extra-sticky for more sand adhesion.
They were too busy laughing and yelling to notice or care.