William has always been a curious kid. We started to really notice when he was two, but that’s a whole different blog post. We decided for his fourth birthday party to embrace that curious kid of ours and take him and his best buddies to a local museum. Since then, we’ve found some really fun museums for kids in San Diego, and it’s a pretty inexpensive option as far as birthday parties go if you do it right.
If you look at most museums’ websites, especially kids’ museums, they usually have a birthday party package. They include a variety of options, usually admission, some sort of private space, food, drinks, goodie bags, etc. The problem is, we are CHEAP, especially when it comes to our kids birthday parties.
Don’t get me wrong. Someday I may throw a serious, semi-expensive birthday party for one or more of my kids, but today is not that day. The last few years, we’ve kept birthdays pretty low key. Our kids are young. They won’t remember much anyway, and none of them have huge groups of friends.
We kind of went all out for Will’s first birthday, but since then, we’ve dialed it down a notch.
We’ve kept it special, but also, small, easy and inexpensive. My secret? Children’s museums.
I know. Not all families are super into museums. Not all kids think of a museum as their preferred location for a special day. And isn’t it kind of pricey? I get it! This isn’t usually the first place that comes to mind when thinking of a cheap, easy birthday party option, but let me tell you why it should be.
The CHEAPEST, EASIEST Birthday Party of ALL TIME!
1.Absolutely ZERO set up and clean up
First, it is not at your house, or your parents’ house, or at a park. No tables or chairs or balloons or food. You just show up. The location IS the party. There is nothing for you to create or put together or set out. EVEN BETTER, there is nothing for you to clean up and put away after the whole thing is over. This is probably the only reason any mom needs to plan their next party at a museum.
2. Super inexpensive
We let Will invite 4-5 of his best friends. That’s around $50 total in admission. That is so cheap, you guys. For all the fun and entertainment included? Such a steal. What about food, you say? Part of the fun of the museum is eating near there. Pack lunches or walk to a pizza place. If you order pizza for 2 adults, 5 kids, and throw in some cupcakes, you are still spending well under $100 for the ENTIRE PARTY: food, admission, everything. And did I mention no set up or clean up?
3. Way more memorable
I didn’t really anticipate this, but it’s been a really cool surprise. William remembers so much about each birthday party, and I think it’s in large part to the uniqueness of the experience. It’s different than most birthday parties he’s been to, and each of his parties is different than the last. New location, new exhibits, new memories. That’s the kind of added bonus you just can’t buy.
So, which museums do I recommend? Well, we are San Diego natives, so I’m most familiar with things to do in San Diego County. With that said, if you live in or near San Diego, there are some awesome options for cheap, easy kids birthday parties at San Diego museums.
The New Children’s Museum
We went here for Will’s 4th birthday, and it was a huge hit. They switch out the exhibits every so often so things stay fresh, and it’s just such an interesting, creative space. I highly recommend this museum for creative, active kids because of the tendency toward art and climbing experiences in this museum. The admission is only $13 for adults and kids over age 1. Parking can be kind of a pain, so take that into consideration. There is a little cafe attached to the museum, which we ate at, but you could pack food and take a short walk to a park down the street, or stop somewhere on your drive home.
Penny Pickle’s Workshop
This museum is in Old Town Temecula, which makes it even easier and cheaper in my opinion. Penny Pickle’s is separated into smaller rooms focusing on specific fields of science. There is also a black light room with a maze which was probably the most fun thing a group of 5-year-old boys could ever have experienced in their short lives. They also do science presentations and answer questions during their experiments. The location of the museum allowed us to walk down the street to a Nitza’s Pizza for lunch, and then right next door to Incr-Edible Cupcakes for dessert. Did I mention that admission is only $5 per person? I know. So much fun for so little money.
San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum
This is one of my most favorite museums for kids in San Diego. The main space is one large room which makes it easy to manage multiple children. There is always a ton for them to explore, and like the New Children’s Museum, they switch out their exhibits fairly often. There is a wonderful outdoor area where kids can play with bubbles, build with giant blocks, water the garden, play in the sand and so much more. Admission is only $8 per person, or $5 for Active Military, Veterans, and their families. Grape Day Park is right across the street, which is perfect for more climbing, sunshine, and eating lunch, or you can go to Grand Avenue for pizza at Filippi’s Pizza Grotto and ice cream at EscoGelato.
These are our top three choices. Have you had a birthday party at a museum? Which one?