Birthdays—especially in this town of beautiful vistas and welcoming community—are a great moment to reflect on all the good in a child’s life and all the hope of another year despite the worries that swirl around us. A birthday also provides the perfect opportunity to celebrate the special things that make each kid tick and share their unique spirit with friends and family. (As an October baby myself, my many pumpkin-filled costume parties through the nineties—Casper and corn mazes galore!—cemented a lifelong love of spooky season.) There’s something distinctly uplifting about launching another trip around the sun and having a festive day that’s all about YOU, these days more than ever. We’ve corralled some of the kindest, most energetic party people in Santa Cruz County to help you curate the bash of a lifetime. Whether you need a bubble (or several) to escape into, a mermaid to sing to you, or a heap of baby blue cotton candy, Santa Cruz has got you covered.
Community Mountain Gym
San Lorenzo Valley
Looking for that little extra to make your party pop, but don’t want to be restrained by location? Don’t stress, we got you! Community Mountain Gym is a mobile fitness gym bringing the fun to wherever you may be. So whether you want to party in your backyard at home, a local park or a business facility somewhere in town, we’ll be there. Let us worry about keeping the kids busy while you enjoy the party! Reach out to see how Community Mountain Gym can help customize your event to make your kid’s next party the talk of the town!
The Foam Crew
Your driveway or lawn (public parks not an option)
Rates: $650-750 for the average-scale party, one hour
You really do have to see this one to believe it. Within thirty-five minutes of the Foam Crew’s arrival, your space will be filled with about four feet of environmentally friendly foam. It’s the perfect, wild activity for a sunny afternoon party outdoors. Everything needed for this immersive play experience is provided from the foam cannons to a professional sound system. The Foam Crew will be on hand to make sure everyone knows exactly how much fun dancing and prancing around through walls of foam can be. Best of all, the foam is completely biodegradable and evaporates by the end of the day. It’s also safe for pets, so bring an eager pup to jump into the frothy fun!
Happily Every Laughter
These performers can meet you all around Santa Cruz and beyond
Ages: All, curated in age brackets from first birthdays through 9+
Rates: Packages start at $375 for a 1.5 hour celebration with a character
831.346.0002 / [email protected]
Imagine surprising your birthday kid with a visit from a one-of-a-kind fairytale character. That present is possible with Happily Ever Laughter! Since 2006, this family favorite has enchanted a whopping 500,000 children and counting. They offer an array of customized Magical Experiences—obstacle courses, outdoor games, puppet shows, balloon twisting, cake cutting, and even more—all of which are led by performers of your choice. (Sunny, a member of the squad, informs us that the most popular character lately is the Sparkling Celebration Leader.) There is no “typical” party in the Happily Ever Laughter world, but the lively structure usually includes thirty-minute blocks of different activities.
Jim Booth Swim School
Duncan Holbert Pool, 140 Herman Ave, Watsonville
Rates: $248 for two hours, $125 for each additional hour
An indoor pool kept at a balmy 94 degrees? Its waters all to yourself? That just about beats the Pacific! Sign your birthday kid up for the pool party of a lifetime with Jim Booth Swim School. The longest running swim school in Santa Cruz County, these folks are known for their gentle and encouraging technique teaching children as young as 4-months old how to brave the immersive experience of water. Whether your birthday person needs a calm and quiet paddle around the shallow end or an epic match of sharks and minnows, Jim Booth has you covered. Parents may get splashed or dunked, depending on the vibe.
3910 Portola Drive, Suite 2 & 3, Santa Cruz
Ages: Maximum 8 years old or 80 lbs. for safety reasons
Availability: Saturdays & Sundays
Rates: Start at $255
There’s nothing like some calisthenics to combat aging! Kids don’t have to think that way yet, but they still won’t be able to resist the fun June Bug’s Gym offers. Against the beautiful backdrop of Pleasure Point, this gym and fitness center for kids creates a safe environment for all kinds of buoyant movement. A coach (or two, depending on the size of your party) leads the group through an hour of music, dance, obstacle courses, parachute play, and even ziplining. After, the intrepid gymnasts can reward themselves with cake and hydration in the gym’s party room. This is the party for future Olympians! JuneBug’s Gym is a perfect place to have a birthday party for your active child. The gym offers 5 birthday parties each weekend for children ages 1-8 years. Parties include one hour of supervised gym play and 45 minutes of party room time (inside or outside). The birthday child receives a special birthday t-shirt. Please call 831.464.2847 for more information or check out the website www.junebugsgym.com All parties are booked through the portal found on the website.
Kianti’s Pizza & Pasta Bar
1100 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz
Party with Kianti’s! Kids Pizza Parties include all you can eat pizza, kitchen tour, learn to spin dough and watch a pizza spinning performance. Let us cater at your event or order at kiantis.com for curbside and delivery of our entire menu and drinks including Kianti’s Signature Cocktails, Kianti’s Handcrafted Liquor and Kianti’s Wine. Dine-in offers a lively yet comfortable atmosphere. Our unique menu has the option of family style dining either indoors or cozied up on one of our heated patios. On Friday and Saturday evenings see the pizza spinning team, accompanied by dancing servers and a flame-raising kitchen.
Los Gatos Farms
21000 Los Gatos Farms Road, Los Gatos
Availability: Weekends only
Ages: 3-9 (but keep an eye out for new teen and adult party activities coming this fall, including BB guns, art classes, and hatchet throwing!)
Rates: Start at $495 for up to 12 children, $10 for a bunch of lavender
Barn Manager Katie Reyes at 408.382.9148 / [email protected]
Do you have a future farmer, gardener, or barn animal lover in your family? Birthday kids get to live out their farm-life fantasies at Los Gatos Farms, a picturesque mountain ranch where all kinds of furry and feathered friends roam. This party often involves horse or pony rides as well as lots of time to interact with the goats, ducks, and chickens. Barn Manager Katie Reyes says, “Kids love to ride the ponies but their favorite farm animal is always Pickles the pig.” There are also swings, slides, and tractors to climb—and for the parents, picnic tables on which to lounge. Be sure to ask about the farm’s special “U-cut” lavender weeks (July-early August) as a sweet-smelling add-on to your party.
Mermaid Memories Santa Cruz
Indoor or outdoor spot of your choice (land or sea!)
Rates: $190 for a photoshoot for one, $50 for each additional person
Julie Lefmann at 408.529.8031 / [email protected]
Imaginative birthday kids will delight in meeting a mythical creature who calls Santa Cruz’s shores her home. Mermaid Jules travels to your party with her camera and custom mermaid/merman accessories in tow. After exploring her colorful collection of 75 swimmable mermaid tails, crowns, tritons, face jewels, and more, children transform into merfolk for a photoshoot—with underwater photography possible! For groups that may be a bit hesitant to get into full costume, Mermaid Jules is happy just to mingle and perform to add a whimsical splash to any party. She loves to sing her siren songs, plays ukulele, and can tell countless stories from the depths of the Pacific. For the beach kids of this beach town, she is a sparkling catch.
Delivers all around Santa Cruz County
Availability: Any day with 24/7 online ordering
Rates: Varies, but a basic bounce house starts at $155
831.262.6939 / [email protected]
Have a particularly energetic bunch of kids? Set them up with an enormous, blow-up obstacle course! MM Jumperz has an astounding array of inflatable bounce houses, water slides, and more. They can also hook the party up with carnival games, cotton candy makers, and many other fun concession machines. Skip the decision making and check out their party packages for preselected combos matching various themes: Mega Palms for the tropical party, the School Bus Combo for the kids who really miss terrorizing the bus driver, the multicolored Mega Castle for those interested in slaying some dragons, and countless others.
MusicalMe, Inc. offering Music Together™
Locations throughout Santa Cruz and Santa Clara County
If your child loves to sing, dance, and play, they will LOVE how special they feel with a MusicalMe party! 45 minutes of music making fun to celebrate your special child that invites EVERYONE to participate, from ages Birth to 100 – really! A trained MusicalMe teacher will tailor the party to include your child’s favorite songs & instruments, plus bring a special musical gift. Contact us today and bring the joy of music into your family’s celebration!
Redwood Ops Outdoor Laser Tag @ Koinonia
1605 Eureka Canyon Rd, Corralitos
Availability: Most days possible, weather permitting
Ages: Minimum age to play is 10
Rates: Minimum $400 for 10 players for 2 hours ($40 per additional person)
Daryl at 831.722.1472 / [email protected]
Redwood Ops is not your grandma’s laser tag. Take a trail through the redwoods to a two-acre forest setting where a team-based laser tag mission like no other will begin. The cutting-edge technology kids will get use allows for a first-person, tactical laser tag game that’s like playing Call of Duty live. Each tagger produces 18,000 different sound effects, and medic boxes and mystery boxes are incorporated into the mission. This activity takes strategy, skill, and an adventurous spirit. As the managers explain, “Tactical laser tag is live gaming at its best.” Folks come from all over the state to experience this unique game.
Santa Cruz Children’s Museum of Discovery
1855 41st Ave C-10, Capitola
Availability: Saturdays & Sundays
Rates: Starting at $324 for 18 kids
Paige at [email protected]
The only thing more fun than a day at the museum is a party at the museum! Santa Cruz Children’s Museum of Discovery throws the best parties around, and you’ll get to learn a lot while you’re at it. Volcano demos to dino bones are in store for these birthday people. The starting rate gets up to eighteen kids into the museum for a visit on Saturday, with the bonus of a party room for cake and gifts. For additional fees, the possibilities are endless. On Sundays, for example, groups can enter the museum when it’s closed to the public for a private party. And while you are welcome to “bring your own theme,” why not take advantage of all the ideas the mad scientists of MoD have devised? There’s a new Slime Factory party for those who want to concoct some custom slime, the Prehistoric Party for time travelers, and so much more.
Seven Directions Art Parties are a creative option for celebrations of all kinds! Each participant paints their own canvas with the help of our trained staff and our many inspiring 3D models. After painting is Animal Time where we meet and hold one of the exotic animals who live at our studio!
Seymour Marine Discovery Center
100 McAllister Way, Santa Cruz
Host your next event at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center, a perfect place for weddings and birthdays. Enjoy a private experience with breathtaking views and one-of-a-kind marine exhibits with your loved ones. A hidden gem on the Santa Cruz coastline, it is the perfect venue for any event.
The Surfing Magician
Doug can set up all around the Bay, from public parks to living rooms!
Availability: All days of the week
Ages: Usually 4-10, but also note Doug caters to older groups as well
Rates: $280 for an hour-long show
What do you get when you cross a surfer with a magician? Don’t overthink it, Duuude! You get a surfing magician! Santa Cruz native Doug Hofkins started both of his favorite activities, doing magic and riding waves, at age ten. Since then, he’s been perfecting a magic show like no other. He says, “There’s lots of audience participation, lots of comedy, and I magically cause my rabbit to appear from thin air—and it’s alive…I hope!” He’s totally mobile, with a surfboard-table on wheels and a go-with-the-flow attitude to match. He also makes a point of giving the birthday person a special role in the show, empowering kids with some tricks of his mystical trade. (He might throw in some surf tips as well!) For some great gift ideas before the big day, stop by Doug’s magic shop on the boardwalk inside Neptune’s Kingdom at 400 Beach Street.