For me this is the time of the year where I get to stop thinking about holidays and start thinking about our next big family adventure: my son’s birthday.
We are past the little kid birthday stage with the cake, clowns, and Chuckie Cheese. We are now in the “it’s got to be cool” phase. For him, that translates into physical, fun, interactive, and inclusive of a bunch of friends. He typically knows what he wants to do, but I am always searching to see if there is something different out there; to give him and his friends a new experience.
What do you do when you need more ideas? I conduct incredibly unscientific surveys of all my friends near and far of what is considered the coolest thing going for the pre-teen/tween age group, especially boys. These ideas were based on boy popularity, but can be great ideas for girl children too! Below are some of the favorites of my wonderful friends.
Fenton – in the Gravois Bluffs shopping complex
Laser tag, rock climbing, inflatable obstacle course, dodgeball and basketball. Purchase passes on a per hour basis or for each activity. Coordinate a party or just go hang out for an evening or afternoon of fun.
Jump for as little as 30 minutes or two hours if you like. Take a couple of friends or go all out and coordinate a birthday party. I suggest that you make reservations for your group on-line in advance, even if you are taking only a couple of kids. When large groups come in, you might have a 2-3 hour wait if you don’t have a reservation.
Most paintball fields offer different packages for groups, individuals, pre-arranged, or just hanging out for the afternoon. Age limits do apply, so call ahead for each field’s rules. Most require that you purchase your paint balls on sight or include the cost of them in the fee for the day. Call ahead for reservations for a group and for any waiver information that might be required. A great idea for your gamer to actually get off the screen and into the field of battle!
Wacky Warriors – Locations in Wentzville and Millstadt
Meramec Challenge Paintball – 7098 Meramec Bottom Rd, St. Louis, MO 63128 314-849-7771
Bing Field – Edwardsville, IL 618-692-8271
Xtreme Paintball Park – 3545 Douglas Rd Millstadt, Il 62260
Gateway Paintball – 14510 Missouri Bottom Road, Bridgeton, MO 314-298-3772
Creve Coeur Park – 13219 Streetcar Drive, Maryland Heights, MO 63043
This is a seasonal activity, so check the website for dates of operation. Again, they will take the family out or the entire baseball team!
Take your pick! There are a bunch of great ones in the St. Louis area.
Water parks can be expensive if you are taking a big group, so check on group rates. If you want to play out of season or on a smaller budget, check your local municipality, surrounding suburbs, or YMCA for guest or day passes if you don’t want to go “full water park crazy.” Most of the large facilities also have a party room to do cake and presents and have package deals they can discuss with you. Richmond Heights has this down to a science.
Locations in Maryland Heights and downtown next to Union Station. You don’t have to have any experience to climb! All climbers are given instruction and start in the area they are most comfortable and can work their way up!
Batting cages, bumper boats, arcade, mini golf, go carts, and more. Two locations help make it easier to get the crew there – one in Fenton and one in St. Charles.
Check your local bowling alley for times and costs. Usually a great budget saving idea and fun for all ages! I bet grandpa is a great bowler! There are also fun ideas on Pinterest for making up wacky games to go along with bowling rounds.
Tickets to a sporting event
In a city like St. Louis, knock yourself out! You have so many options to choose from to create that amazing memory. Thinking the Cardinals or Blues? Check the schedule and coordinate your visit for a “give-a-way day.” How cool is it to come home from your friend’s birthday party with a bobble head or a commemorative jersey? Just take a big backpack with you that day because you are going to have to hold onto all of those giveaways during the game!
Live outside of STL?
If you live outside of St. Louis, check your area for i-Fly indoor skydiving. The closest one to St. Louis is in the Chicago suburbs. I so want to try this!
Hopefully, this list helps you be the cool parent for planning the awesome birthday bash. Help to make this an even more unscientific sample by adding your own ideas in the comments section!
Happy 12th birthday, Ryan!