If you’ve got a Star Wars fanatic on your hands, check out the Jedi Training Academy party at kiddywampus in St. Louis Park. As with all kiddywampus birthday extravaganzas, a full staff is happy to lead little ones from the celebration's start to finish, meaning parents can enjoy a stress-free soiree. (Parents need only bring food, beverages and paperware if they'd like to have snacks and/or cake.) The brains behind this idea is owner Amy Saldanha. Party games and art projects are mainly for children ages 4 and older. $299 for 10 participants, with a $10 fee for each additional child. Times available include Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 a.m.–noon, 1–2:30 p.m., or 3:30–5 p.m. 4400 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park; 952.926.7871
TINO'A CAFE PIZZERIA
When it comes to birthday party menus, you can't go wrong with pizza. Bring the party to Tino's Cafe Pizzeria in Shorewood, and devour fresh-baked slices of heaven along with salads and sweets. While Tino's is available on a first-come, first-served basis, a simple phone call a few days before a big bash is appreciated and ensures the restaurant staff will be ready to feed an army all at once. With the dining area that seats about 28, the best times for larger group parties is weekends from 2–4 p.m. Keep in mind that specials and coupons apply to parties, too! 19215 Hwy. 7, Shorewood; 952.470.9663
COUNTRY CLUB LANES
Have the kiddos bowl like Fred Flintstone at Country Club Lanes in Tonka Bay. The bowling alley has a variety of birthday packages, including Shake, Rattle and Glow parties which come with a children's light and music show (available Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m.–noon). All packages include an hour-and-a-half of bowling, shoes and coupons to bowl a free game for all children at the party. A gold party package includes 45 minutes in the venue’s party room, and comes with all the paper products needed for pizza. Assistant manager Mark Duenow recommends booking a party date about a month or earlier in advance. He notes hosting a party at here is “very easy for the parents, and they don't have to clean up.” Packages start at $59.95 for up to eight children and $6.95 for each additional child. 5601 Manitou Rd., Tonka Bay; 952.474.5959
FOSS SWIM SCHOOL
Plan a pool party at Foss Swim School and you'll be in good hands. Booking a two-hour party here means you'll have a lifeguard nearby at all times, a decorated room for opening presents, party favors from the staff, and fully-trained supervision. And did we mention you'll get cupcakes? Parents don't have to worry if their child isn't a student at Foss Swim School, or fret over set-up or clean-up either. It's no wonder that the recommended booking time for a party is 2–3 months in advance. Birthday party coordinator Carlota Bernal says, “Our staff is really energetic and devoted to making sure kids are safe and having fun. It really sets us apart.” $249 for 12 children, $325 for 13–18 children, $399 for 19–24 children, $475 for 25–30 children (prices before tax). Available Sundays from 4–6 p.m. 8332 Hwy. 7, St. Louis Park; 952.935.8732
JASPER GUIDE SERVICES FISH CAMP!
Learn how to fish with a Jasper Guide Services Fish Camp! birthday party. Professional angler Dan Jasper will share his fishing know-how on ice or water. One of his basic birthday options, the Largemouth Bass Party, is great for young ones because they will play fish games for prizes, learn knot tying with large lures, and get interactive instruction on fishing basics. Parents planning the party just need to line up a place with adequate space, tables and chairs. You can add on plans to fish from a Lake Minnetonka shore or a pontoon boat. (Jasper is a fan of Bay Park in Mound.) A two-hour Largemouth Bass Party starts at $225 for up to eight children. Add $15 for each additional child. 952.220.4954
PUMP IT UP
For an energetic bunch, let the kids jump around at Pump It Up. Along with bounce houses and inflatable obstacle courses, the Plymouth location boasts a 20-foot slide, a 24-foot Coliseum and the "Star Wall of Fame," which has the pictures of those who have reached the top of The Slippery Slope. Pump It Up has a variety of options when it comes to arranging for beverages, goodie bags and pizza, so you can pick a party that's just right for the birthday kid. Birthday packages include use of a private party room. $175–$215 for weekday parties; $245–$315 for Friday, Saturday and Sunday parties. 3500 Holly Ln. N. Suite 65, Plymouth; 763.553.0340
MINNETONKA CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Let each child's creative side shine with an art-themed celebration at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts. Leah Hughes, its children and youth program director, says, "We hire incredibly talented local artists to design the birthday projects and teach the party classes." There are more than a dozen options for those ages 5–12, like "Cool Cats & Crazy Critters" that combines painting and collaging. Parents are free to bring their own decorations, cake and beverages. Hughes recommends booking a birthday party at least four weeks in advance. $150 for one artist, up to 10 participants, $300 for two artists, 11–20 participants; discounts are available for Arts Center members. Saturdays and Sundays: 1–3 p.m. or 4–6 p.m. at the Ridgedale Center location; 2–4 p.m. at Wayzata location. Ridgedale Center location, 12401 Wayzata Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.473.7361, ext. 26
For children who want a pirate-themed party, invite Jack Sparrow of the Twin Cities for a visit. This Johnny Depp look-a-like is the real deal when it comes to acting as the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star. For more than four years, Captain Jack has done improvisational comedy for guests and at birthday parties, he likes to lead kids on treasure hunts with the help of a parent's pre-made map. His focus is on "getting people to laugh and smile," so contact Captain Jack a couple of weeks in advance of a party or earlier in the summer months when his busy event season is in full swing. $85 for the first hour and $50 for each subsequent hour.
Planning an autumn birthday? Head to Minnetonka Orchards in Minnetrista. From early September to the first weekend in November, party guests can scurry through a corn maze, take pictures with animals in the petting barn, and take a free ride on the Apple Express. All guests will enjoy one of two menu options as well, which comes with fresh apple cider and the beloved apple donuts. Manager and owner Michele Schaper says, "Some parents don't even bring cake and just have the donuts instead!" A bonus for birthdays here is that after you spend the two-and-a-half hours at the reserved picnic area, guests are free to stay and play some more. Schaper recommends booking about a month in advance. Packages start at $175 for up to 20 guests, $5 for each additional guest. 6530 Cty. Rd. 26, Minnetrista; 763.479.6530