Everyone loves a birthday party -- which makes choosing a party theme and venue even harder, especially when you're new to the area.
Tip: If you're looking for a venue you can decorate however you'd like and have full control over the menu, contact local clubs and organizations like the Moose or Elks.
For everyone else, here is a roundup of our wonderful local venues along with our ideas (and some from our Socialites!) for a fun, unique birthday bash:
[Go directly to theme of choice: A Day at the Zoo ~ Back to Nature ~ Batter Up! ~ Bowler's Choice ~ Camp Out Under the Stars ~ Flip, Tumble & Run ~ Game On ~ Garden Tea Party ~ Indoor Pool Party ~ Let's Bounce ~ Old West Roundup ~ Paint Your Party ~ Party Like an MVP ~ Primp & Pamper ~ Rock Around the Clock 50s Party ~ Roll Out the Red Carpet ~ Skate Into Fun]
A Day at the Zoo
- Venue: Aloha Safari Zoo, located off Hwy 87, Cameron NC, 919-770-7109 (Facebook)
Party package: The zoo provides cake, ice cream, and drinks in a private, air conditioned room that they decorate for you. Party goers can spend time in the petting zoo and will participate in the safari ride through the zoo’s many pastures.
Cost: $(TBD) for up to 15 people. Each additional person is $5. Buckets of popcorn and old bread to feed the animals are $3. (Or bring your own. The animals love fresh fruit!)
Perks: You’ll have access to a private bathroom and kitchenette. They’ll do all the prep and clean up.
- Venue: San Lee Park, 527 Pumping Station Road, Sanford NC, 919-776-6221
Party package: $100 for 2 hours and 15 children, $10/child for each additional child. The party will consist of one hour of Nature Center Staff led program and one hour for the party.
Perks: A Nature Center staff will lead the program for the party.
Availability: Parties are on weekends during the park's operating hours (November-March: 8am-5pm, April: 8am-7pm, May-August: 8am-8pm, September: 8am-7pm, October: 8am-6pm).
- Venue: Sanford Line Drive Baseball & Softball Academy, 1122 Hawkins Avenue, Sanford NC, 919-775-4487
Party package: You can reserve a private party room and use the batting cages. There’s also an arcade. The venue is open Monday-Friday (3-8pm) and Saturdays (10am-6pm).
Cost: Call for rates. To use just the batting cages (such as for a small group) the cost is $40 per hour, $20 each additional half hour.
- Venue: Kendale Bowling Alley, Rand Street, Sanford NC, 919-776-0729
Party package: The bowling alley lets you reserve as many lanes as you’ll need (which have bumpers) and you can use their tables for cake and presents. Bring in your own food and drinks or order from the hot bar.
Cost: $25 per lane. Price includes shoes for the entire party.
Perks: Unlimited number of guests.
- Venue: San Lee Park, 572 Pumping Station Road, Sanford NC, 919-776-6221
Party ideas: No set package is available, but you can rent the shelter for a day of nature and exploring, including paddle boat rides during the summer months and geocaching. Better yet, reserve a campsite and spend the evening roasting weenies, making s’mores, and telling ghost stories!
Cost: Campsites are $15/night for RVs or $10/night for a tent. Paddle boat rentals are $3 per half hour. Renting shelter costs $50 for 4 hours and the multi-purpose room is $75 per day.
- Venue 1: Sanford Academy Gymnastics/Cheer, 2731 Lee Avenue, Sanford NC, 919-776-1496 (Facebook)
Party package: Party goers will have access to 16,000 sq ft of space that’s filled with trampolines, a foam pit, obstacle courses, and more. You can bring in your own food, cake, and drinks or purchase from the snack bar.
Cost: $125 for up to 12 children, $175 for up to 21 children plus a $75 deposit.
Perks: They supply a host/coach and do the prep and clean up.
- Venue 2: Lee County Gymnastics, 221 Commercial Ct, Sanford NC, 919-774-6445
Party package: You will get one hour of tumbling and games and one hour for opening gifts and eating cake.
Cost: $100 for 2 hours for up to 15 children, $10 per additional child
Note: Sundays are the only days this venue is available for parties. Times are 2-4pm or 4-6pm.
- Venue: Mobile gaming company Rolling Video Games will bring their game theatre equipped with four widescreen TVs and custom stadium seats right to your house. (Facebook)
Party package: $225 for a two-hour weekday party or $299 for a two-hour weekend party for up to 24 people (though you can rotate larger groups). You'll get up to 30 glossy postcard invitations, coupons for pizza, and a flashing medallion for the birthday girl/boy,
Perks: A game coach to help supervise the party is built into the fee.
- Venue: Mrs. Lacy's Magnolia House, 405 Carthage Street, Sanford NC, 919-777-6787
Party package: Special packages are available.
- Venue: Sanford Nautilus, 1907 K.M. Wicker Drive, Sanford NC, 919-774-4532 (Facebook)
Party package: You can rent the pool on Saturday or Sunday evenings from 6-8pm. There are plenty of tables and chairs for cake and presents. Bring your own food and drink, but no glass is allowed. Guests must sign in at the front desk.
Cost: $80 for up to 20 guests or $130 for up to $30 guests.
Note: There is no “kiddie” section, therefore the gym doesn’t recommend this party for young children or those who can’t swim. The pool starts at 4 feet.
Perks: The gym provides a lifeguard. The pool is temperature controlled and available year round.
- Venue: F&W Inflatables, 2915 Tramway Road, Sanford NC, 919-775-3928 (Facebook)
Party package: You get a private party room for 2 hours, invitations, plates, napkins, and forks. The birthday child gets $6 in quarters for the arcade. You can bring in your own food and drink or add $10 per pizza and $1 per juice box. Choose a mid-week party for the same amenities at a discount.
Cost: $189 plus tax with a $50 deposit for 12 children. $5 per additional child. Mid-week parties cost $125 plus tax.
Perk: Offers a host for your party.
- Venue: Circle M City, 74 Cowboy Lane, Sanford NC, 919-499-8493
Party Package: Stroll down the boardwalk while exploring the jail, bank, saloon, and general store. Sit a spell and watch a real cowboy trick-rope and spin his guns. Horseback, hay, and buggy rides available.
Cost: Contact Tim via phone or email for rates
Perks: Each child can brand a piece of wood as a party keepsake. The venue also offers a free downloadable invitation you can customize.
- Venue: The Painted Petal Design Studio, 1112-C Hawkins Avenue, Sanford NC, 919-718-9284 (Facebook)
Party package: Let your child and their friends celebrate in a fun and creative way. Party will include a themed painting project, supplies, surface, and guided instruction.
Cost: Call for rates.
Perks: Birthday child can help choose the theme.
Party Like an MVP
- Venue: Parks & Recreation sites like the Old Armory, Horton Shelter, or Ingram Center.
Party ideas: Choose a basketball, tennis, or football themed party complete with a pick-up game, mini-trophies or awards, and game-day food.
Cost: Facility rentals vary by the site.
- Venue: Marcello Salon, 1648 South Horner Blvd, Sanford NC, 919-776-1922 (Facebook)
Party ideas: The salon offers a mani/pedi option for children under 10. There is also a mini manicure or mini pedicure option for those who don’t want both. The salon offers packages for older children. The salon also does airbrush tattoos.
Cost: $35 per child for the mani/pedi. $25 for just the mini manicure or $15 for just the mini pedicure. The tattoos start at $10.
- Venue options: Yarborough’s Ice Cream, 132 McIver St, Sanford NC, 919-776-6266; Fairview Dairy Bar, 109B Carbonton Road, Sanford NC, 919-775-5721 (Facebook)
Party ideas: Throw a retro 50s party complete with poodle shirts, saddle shoes, bow ties, cat eye glasses, and pony tails. Order hamburgers and milkshakes before pulling out the hula hoop or Twister for some 50s-style fun.
- Venue: Spring Lane Stadium 10, 1351 Douglas Drive, Sanford NC, 919-774-7199
Party Package: You get movie admission, a kids’ pack, and the ability to reserve seating for the movie of your choice. There are private rooms for serving cake and opening gifts. Birthday child gets his or her name on the theatre marquee.
Cost: $10.50 per person for a minimum of 10 people. Additional fees for customizing the package or viewing 3D movie.
Note: You must request your birthday party reservation at least 7 days in advance.
Perk: The theatre offers a free downloadable invitation for you to use if you don’t want to use your own.
- Venue: Family Fun Zone, 111 Rand Street, Sanford NC
Party package: There are packages for up to 12 children that include a private room, cotton candy, snow cones, pizza or hot dogs, soft drinks, a hostess, paper products, decorations, a birthday recognition, and more
Cost: Packages start at $85 and go up to $205. Call 919-774-4596, or 919-721-8712 for exact details.
*Our thanks go out to Heather Little for contributing this guide. Learn more about being a contributor. Where’s your favorite local venue or theme for a birthday party? Let us know and we’ll add it!