Birthday Party Ideas for Teens and Tweens

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As our kids get older, birthday party needs change. With a handful of our staffers already having planned birthday parties beyond age 10, we’ve got some ideas to share for East Bay parents. Whether your child wants one splurgy activity with a friend or two or a gaggle of friends for a marathon bonding session, we think you’ll find inspiration here: Instagrammable museums | Special Events & Outings | Art & Maker Parties | Jumping and climbing | Arcades | Hecka Creative At-home Parties | Hotel Pool Party | Tons more birthday ideas!

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pop up tent
Pop-up shade tent with cheap garland has been the setting for many of my backyard parties. At the last one, I handed out a “mystery bag” of craft supplies to girls divided into three teams and they had to come up with a piece of home decor.

East Bay Birthday Party Ideas for Teens and Tweens

Instagram-focused “museums”

The Selfie Market (San Francisco) With a rotating exhibit model, the Selfie Market offers 30+ different scenes (music-themed, especially hip-hop, as of this writing.) Check the website to see if the current experience would be of interest to your child. Bonus: Located in SF’s Westfield Shopping Center, add lunch or dessert in the food court or a ride on the cable cars across the street.

The 90s Experience (Oakland) References include The Fresh Prince, the clunky technology of the 90s, the Simpsons, sugar cereals, and more. Located near Jack London Square, tickets are on sale for weekends through the end of January.

Warning: My teens have already deemed a space curated for Instagram as decidedly uncool, but they are in high school now. It’s quite possible the 11-year old set will love this idea. Website.

Art and Maker parties for teens and tweens

Paint-your-own-pottery: Brushstrokes (Berkeley) This pretty studio space enables kids to select an item to paint– or choose a mosaic project. Plenty of indoor and outdoor space for food and cake, and an optional soft-serve truck add-on. Learn more > or Color Me Mine (Alameda) Located in an outdoor shopping center, these paint-your-own-pottery parties are convenient and fun. Learn more >

Jewelry-making: Blue Door Beads (Piedmont Avenue) and Beadazzled on Solano Avenue (Berkeley) offer parties for kids 8-14.

Play-Well Teknologies has designed a project for kids over 7: creating a battle track for competitive jousting — out of LEGOs. If this is your child’s passion, learn more >

Special event outings for a small group

Sporting events

Depending on the time of year, tickets are not hard to come by for these local teams:

  • Oakland A’s or SF Giants game
  • Harlem Globetrotters (for January birthdays only, these guys put on a great show in Oakland one weekend per year)
  • San Jose Sharks
  • Oakland Roots

Amusement Park Outings

  • Six Flags
  • Great America

Water Parks and Swimming Pools

Whether your child is into bonfires, boba, or thrifting, here are 44 great teen-approved places they might like to bring a few friends. Find a discount for current shows and events >

Arcade and Entertainment Centers for tween parties

Plank (Oakland)
Restaurant, hip bowling alley, and modern arcade all in one. No special party room is needed. Learn more >

Victory Point Cafe (Berkeley)
All the board games your crew can play along with pizza and drinks. Learn more >

Round1 Entertainment (Concord and Hayward)
Large arcade center with an on-site bowling alley, karaoke rooms, and concessions. Learn more >

round one arcade
Looking out over the gaming floor at Round One | Photo: Whitney Moss

Jumping and climbing parties for older kids

Sqvadron (Concord)
This serious parkour gym has impressive obstacles and technical equipment for kids turning at least 8. Fans of American Ninja Warrior will love it. Learn more >

Bridges Rock Gym (El Cerrito)
Kids parties include an hour of rock climbing and slackline instruction followed by access to a table and chairs for snacks and cake. Learn more >

Rockin Jump (Fremont, Concord, Dublin, and Brentwood)
Trampoline park with party packages. Learn more >

Athletic Playground (Emeryville)
Parkour activities in a safe environment with great instructors. No dedicated party space is included in these packages. Learn more >

Quarry Park (Rocklin, CA)
Better as a “bring one or two best friends” kind of day, we loved this ropes course for teens with big energy.

Athletic playground obstacle course ages 7 to 12
Athletic Playground parties include a challenging but safe obstacle course | Photo: Justin Bench

At-home party concepts & services

Vivarium birthday party
Vivarium will bring a giant snake to your birthday party | Photo: Sally Mason

Cupcake Wars – DIY this party by baking, but not frosting, two cupcakes per guest in advance. Provide lots of cupcake decoration choices. Offer various rounds of judging and funny awards. At my daughter’s party, my son awarded one of the cupcakes “Looks Most Like a Litter Box”.

cupcake wars party
Cupcake Wars: We offered the guests this cake stand to take photos of their creations after judging, before eating. This less expensive version comes in multiple colors >

East Bay Vivarium has a great reptile show that enables kids to touch and hold lizards, snakes, and tarantulas! Great for little kids too, but it never gets old.

Backyard camping – Pitch a tent and let them bring comfort items from the house into it. Provide mini-flashlights as a party favor (here’s a multi-pack) and friendship bracelet supplies as an activity.

Make-and-take party with Pew Pew kits – Order in advance a set of names and extra icons – hearts, donuts, instagram icons, that the kids will paint and assemble. Contact Lizz, the Etsy shop owner, for a discount on a party-size order. Learn more > (Get free shipping with code 510FAMZ)

pew pew kit
Custom laser-cut items paired with acrylic paint and brushes you provide will keep kids busy and produce unique party favors. (Get free shipping with code 510FAMZ). Found here >

Order a crazy photo drop background to make any party memorable >