Living in the Tampa Bay area has its perks – lots of them. The weather is great, we’re close to theme parks, and we have our choice of city or country life within a few miles of each other. Between nearby Busch Gardens and the Lowry Park Zoo, we can see animals from around the world without leaving the neighborhood! We’re also home to one of the best aquariums in the country – The Florida Aquarium.
Having so many family-friendly attractions in such close proximity also means we have more options when it comes to our kids’ birthday parties. While some venues can be pricey, others are more reasonable than you might think. Plus, I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of the no muss, no fuss party planning technique myself.
One of our Tampa Bay Moms Blog writers has even considered not throwing a first birthday party for her daughter, and it’s easy to see why! There is so much planning and preparation that goes into a party.
This blog has highlighted great outdoor places for birthdays, that work especially well for older kids. We have also featured some other fun places to have birthday parties like the Brandon Ice Forum and Sweet and Sassy. Sometimes it can be a challenge to find a place that works for 1-year-olds.
When my daughter turned 1, we rented a space for a pool party and paid for all of the food (including plates, cups, napkins, etc.), as well as the decorations and goody bags for our guests. It was fun, but ended up costing a decent chunk of cash. Not only that, but as the parents of the birthday girl, we were busy with hosting and entertaining our guests, as well as our tiny toddler. Planning everything – from invitations to cake – was time-consuming and stressful. This time around, we did things a little differently.
Recently, for my son’s first birthday, we decided to take advantage of our annual membership to The Florida Aquarium. This was one of the best decisions we could have made! As members, we received a discount and they handled everything for us. They provided a digital invitation, the birthday cake, drinks, cups, plates, napkins, decorations – even a smash cake. While we did have to pay for additional food (we opted for pizzas), we didn’t have to bring anything but the birthday boy. After the party, they even carted up his presents and delivered them to the car!
Located in the Carol J. and Barney Barnett Learning Center, we had our choice of the Coastal Florida Room, the Green Room or the Open Ocean Room (see pictures and learn more about the available rooms here.). We opted to stay indoors with the little ones, but they also offer outdoor parties in the Explore A Shore area.
Parker had a blast and I had a totally stress-free experience. He got to meet Tango and he even had a chance to see a Florida box turtle up close (close enough to touch – and even poke in the eye – oops! Sorry, Puffy!).
Our designated host took the entire party for a tour through part of the Aquarium and the birthday boy got a very special treat at the Coral Reef exhibit. Parker loved seeing the SCUBA divers!
One of my favorite parts about the package was that it included free admission to the Aquarium for the day for all of our party guests. Who needs goody bags when you can see lemurs?
The Explore A Shore area is included with admission, so the kids still got to play outside which was great (that’s right, burn off that birthday cake energy!).
There’s no wrong way to celebrate your kid’s birthday. Whether it’s a simple dinner at home with the family or a huge party, do what makes sense for you. We won’t go all out for every birthday, but for this one, it was an experience to remember.
What are some of your favorite places to host a birthday party?