Having a birthday party at home is certainly convenient in some ways – you don’t have to go anywhere, the guests come to you, and you have your whole refrigerator to store all the food, drinks, and cake. But having a party at a second location takes a lot of the planning and preparation off your shoulders (and, bonus: you don’t have to worry about vacuuming before guests arrive.)
More importantly, it can be a great opportunity for your child and their friends to have fun together in a setting that is new and interesting for all of them. There’s plenty of popular stand-bys that are perennial favourites – nothing beats an indoor play facility for preschoolers full of energy. But there are also some new and unique options that will put a creative twist on a birthday party – and maybe even lead to a new hobby or pastime.
Here are a few of our favourite cool, new, under-the-radar possibilities in Greater Vancouver right now:
Capital City Classic Arcade
Located in the Sapperton area of historic New Westminster, the Capital City Arcade is one of the best-kept secrets in the region. Stocked with original retro arcade games, it’s fast become a hit with adults keen to re-play their favourites from years past. But it’s also garnering a reputation as a destination for kids, thanks to its unlimited play: guests pay for entrance by the hour, rather than with a pocketful of quarters. They’ve started offering birthday party packages. Running two hours, there’s an option for semi-private or to fully book out the arcade completely (adults take note: the party possibilities are not limited to kids.) There are currently about 60 games on site, from the 1970s through the 1990s, which account for about one-third of the owner’s personal collection.
The family-owned and operated Boorman Archery has been in operation since 1963, offering archery equipment and accessories as well as an archery school, private lessons and summer and Christmas camps. There’s a shooting range available to the public and, in recent years, they’ve begun hosting birthday parties, too. These are available to kids ages 8 and up, with a group size between four and 10 people. The cost per person includes 90 minutes of time, plus equipment and instruction.
Going to the Dogs (and Cats) at the SPCA
For the animal lover, how about a birthday party with the BC SPCA? Offered at certain locations throughout the province, the birthday parties are available in Metro Vancouver in Maple Ridge, Richmond, Surrey and the Tri-Cities/Coquitlam. The parties include animal-themed activities, crafts and games, a guided tour of the shelter to meet some of the adoptable animals, a chance to visit with a specially selected shelter animal, and a BC SPCA goody bag. Parties are available for kids ages 7 to 12, and group size varies by location.
6Pack Indoor Beach
Winter birthday but love the beach? No problem. Check out 6Pack Indoor Beach, with a total of 18,00 square feet of space, 700 metric tons of sand and five beach “courts” for volleyball. This facility is the region’s only indoor volleyball destination, and offers competitive leagues, along with a variety of activities, including an exciting new archery tag drop-in. The business offers birthday party packages for ages 1 to 18, with volleyball, soccer, dodgeball, treasure hunts or sandcastle building, to name a few of the options.
Burnaby Village Museum
Talk a walk – and then a full twirl – into the history of the Lower Mainland with a birthday party at the famed 1912 Parker Carousel at Burnaby Village Museum. The party package includes lunch at the Ice Cream Parlour and two rides on the carousel. Children and parents can then enjoy the activities throughout the museum on their own self-guided tour. Bring your own cake and the day is complete. The museum is an open-air “village” on a 10-acre site, with staff in period costume serving as the townsfolk, giving demonstrations at the blacksmith, a print shop, the farmhouse, general store, and more.
For At-Home Parties: Gloss Beauty Truck
Here’s one if you’d like to host the party at home with a little help. This company has become known for its mobile beauty services that bring the salon to the customer for wedding parties, special events, and graduations. But Gloss Beauty Truck also offers fun pamper parties for kids aged 3 to 14, with options for pedicures, manicures, fancy hair or several treatments combined. You can add on a goody bag for each guest, too, which includes nail polish, nail file, candy, and other treats. The parties take place inside the Gloss Beauty Truck. The company has done stagettes, graduation parties, retirement parties and more, throughout the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley.
Clip ‘n Climb
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Located in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, Clip ‘n Climb offers what it dubs a “reinvented” climbing experience. With a variety of unique climbing walls and challenges for all levels of climbers, it’s an ideal place for kids to try their hand at a popular sport in a safe and accessible environment. Better yet, their birthday party options can be customized based on needs and budget – add a party room, cake, food and more depending on what you want for your event. “Don’t let your kids and their friends bounce off the walls of your living room. Come to Clip ‘n Climb Vancouver where they can climb our walls instead!” says the company’s website – a cheeky but true observation when it comes to parties for high energy kids.