Bay Area Backyard Birthday Alternatives

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Backyard parties have become synonymous with inflatable jumpy houses, but there are other ways to utilize your private outdoor space. If you’re going to rent something for the big day, here are some ideas the kids will love just as much as—and maybe more than—the ubiquitous bouncer.

Hop on Your Own Train Got a train theme going on or feel like touring the neighborhood with the kids in a whole new way? A Kids Entertainment Co. (based in Concord) rents a kids’ train that seats 12 to 18 kids or adults for a slow and safe ride accompanied by Choo Choo tunes. Prices start at $200 for the first hour, each additional half hour costing $50 more. Read more.

Calling All Rock Climbers Climbing walls take the mountain to your backyard, giving those energetic, cake-fueled friends an engaging challenge to keep them occupied. Two climbing wall types are available from Richmond’s Mobile Climbing Entertainment (a 3-person climber or a 5-person climber), and rates vary. Read more.

Drive-in Movie, without the Driving Remember when drive-in movies were still around? If you’re feeling nostalgic and thinking of hosting a movie party, here’s a twist—show the movie at night, outside! You provide the movie and the guests, and Funflicks will provide a giant, inflatable screen, complete with set up and removal. Packages start at $299. Read more.

Race Car Drivers for a Day Know how your boy (or girl) loves playing with the remote control trucks and cars? How much would he and his friends love racing on their own private raceway? Rent a Raceway is based in Santa Cruz, but serves the entire Bay Area. They can provide a range of different track options, hourly rentals, and 6-8 cars/trucks and remotes with batteries fully charged. Racetrack rentals start at $169, and monster truck pit rentals are $209. Zoom away! Read more.

Rent a Pony Tickle Me Pony Parties and traveling petting zoo is a family-owned business that has been delivering shiny clean and gorgeous ponies with ribbons braided in their hair to houses and parks for over 20 years.  Would you like a pony and cart? They can do that too. If you’d like a small petting zoo–chickens ducks and bunnies–they can bring that along, or you can build your own zoo.  Tickle Me serves the greater Bay Area. Rates start at $180 per hour depending on where you live. Read more.

—Renee M. Rutledge

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