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Parents want their children to have fun and memorable birthdays, but sometimes coming up with a theme and finding an appropriate venue prove more difficult than expected. Rather than dealing with the hassle of setting up and cleaning your home on your child’s special day, it might seem easier to pay to have that special birthday party somewhere else — but where?

This month we profile five local venues you might not have thought of, but which offer everything parents need to throw parties that children will not only enjoy but remember long after the last piece of cake is gone.

Runway Café at the Greenville Downtown Airport

It’s pretty much a given that kids love airplanes, and the Runway Café at Greenville Downtown Airport offers parents a chance to use its facilities for birthday parties and other special occasions.

“We have a hangar that we offer, and we put a bouncy house out there for parties,” said Lem Winsett, co-owner of the café. “It opens up to the tarmac of the airport, so it’s a nice, unique spot that you won’t find anywhere else in Greenville.”

The Runway Café also offers the benefit of being beside the Runway Park at GMU, a free community park that boasts an aviation-themed playground, swing set, airplane wings bench with shade, and a Cessna 310 statue on display for photo opportunities.

“If it’s a smaller birthday party, we also have a conference room that we offer that’s less expensive,” he said. “We rent the hangar outside for $300, which includes the rental, 15 kids meals and a bouncy house.”

The conference room can be rented for $50 for up to three hours and $100 for up to five hours, which includes setup and clean-up fees, use of tables and chairs, parking and linens. It can accommodate up to 35 people, but there is an additional cost for food. Parties that don’t include dining at the café must pay an additional $150.

Winsett said families on a budget can also reserve the picnic hangar through the Greenville Downtown Airport. For $75 to $225 depending on the day and length of use, families can rent the picnic pavilion, but they must personally handle all preparations, such as food and decorations. However, no balloons or other inflatable play equipment are allowed in that area, according to www.greenvilledowntownairport.com.

“It’s kind of like having a little piece of beach property,” Winsett said of the café. “It’s very unique and there’s no other birthday party in Greenville like this. There’s plenty of parking and you don’t have to worry about crowds. Kids always seem to enjoy themselves.”

Want to know more? Parents interested in reserving a birthday party at Runway Café at Greenville Downtown Airport should call 864-991-8488 and ask for Mike or Lem. You can also submit a reservation online at www.runwaycafegmu.com. To reserve the picnic hangar at Runway Park at GMU, call 864-242-4777 or visit www.greenvilledowntownairport.com.

Greenville Gemstone Mine

Nestled among the shops on Main Street in downtown Greenville is Greenville Gemstone Mine, a one-of-a-kind store full of natural wonders such as minerals, gems, fossils, and petrified wood.

What parents might not realize is that the store also offers three birthday party packages for kids of all ages, according to Iain MacMillan, the store’s co-manager.

“The first one is up to six children and it’s $150,” he said. “The next one is the Amazing Miner Package, and it’s for up to 10 children and costs $200. The Ultimate Miner Package is for up to 15 children and is $275.”

The store features a working gem mining sluice that party goers get to use during the duration of their stay. Depending on the type of birthday package selected, the kids are able to fill their buckets with various treasures.

“Instead of doing sand, which a lot of people are used to, we use granite because it’s indoors and we can use it year round,” MacMillan said. “For example, we’re open 364 days this year since it’s a leap year.”

Mixed in the granite are gems and minerals, and the store supplies guests with charts and educational information about the natural pieces they might find.

“The birthday boy or girl will get a nicely loaded-up bucket, and they get a miner’s helmet. We provide all of the goodie bags, which are usually little gemstones. We also have a loft that is usually fully decorated or parents can decorate it to their own theme.”

MacMillan said parties are flexible, and parents can decide whether to open gifts first or go gem mining before having cake. Parties are approximately two hours long, and store staff are available to help throughout the party.

The gem mining sluice is always blocked off and reserved for parties, so parents worried about not having a private area can rest easy, he added.

MacMillan said the parties are ideal for ages 4 and older, and parties can happen rain or shine since the sluice is located indoors. Special-needs children are welcome, he said.

“We offer something pretty unique for the area and people of all ages love to go gem mining,” he said. “If parents are looking for a fun place to have a party, we’d love to talk to them about all that we have to offer.”

Want to know more? Parents looking to reserve a party at Greenville Gemstone Mine should call the store at 864-283-6300, visit the store at 205 N. Main St., or visit www.greenvillegemstonemine.com.

Tumblebus Greenville

If you’re looking for an age-appropriate party bus to host your child’s birthday celebration, Tumblebus Greenville is a mobile children’s fitness fun program that often visits daycares, preschools and community events to give kids a chance to play on interchangeable and adaptable equipment on a full-sized bus.

“The bus is our own custom-built facility,” said Danielle Langley, director of operations for Tumblebus Greenville. “We’ve cleared out all of the seats, and padded walls and floors have been installed. It’s also climate-controlled because we go all year round.”

Tumblebus Greenville is also available to travel to homes, schools or parks for children’s birthday parties. Parents can choose a theme, and the bus will arrive fully decorated for an hour-long party. Certified instructors who are screened and trained lead children on high energy games and activities, which can include parachute games, a zip line, tumbling mats, monkey bars and trampoline, Langley said.

“The main thing is that we come to you,” she said. “We do it for a full hour with up to 12 children, and we take the children completely off of the parents’ hands. If you want to go inside and have your own party for the Super Bowl, for example, or just to have a break for an hour, you don’t have to worry about the kids.”

Tumblebus Greenville handles decorations, and can cater to the theme of the parents’ choice, including “Frozen,” “Paw Patrol,” superheroes, dinosaurs and princesses.

“We’re able to deck out the bus, and depending on the age range of the kids, we’ll sometimes put up a zip line and can change out the activities,” Langley said. “A big thing is that we can accommodate children as young as 18 months. Pretty much if they can walk, they can come on the Tumblebus and our instructors will carefully watch after them.”

Langley said safety is a top priority, and instructors make sure every child has fun.

“We have music playing, and it’s just a fun and exciting environment,” she said.

Parties cost $240, and the birthday child receives a shirt, coloring bus, stickers and Olympic Medal Ceremony. Langley said parties are ideal for children 18 months old to 6 years old.

“If you want the convenience of having a party at home without having to deal with decorating or clean up, we’re a great choice,” she said. “We completely take over, and every kids is carefully supervised and has lots of fun.”

Want to know more? Anyone interested in renting Tumblebus Greenville for a birthday party should call 864-263-7723 or visit tumblebusgreenville.com.

Climb Upstate

Known as Spartanburg’s largest indoor rock climbing gym, Climb Upstate gives kids a chance to be active and have fun while celebrating their birthdays.

The rock-climbing gym offers two party packages ranging in price from $139 – $209 and features 6,200 square feet of climbing space, according to Ashley Crane, marketing director for the facility.

The All Decked Out party package includes decorations. The Simply Fun package is for parents who prefer to supply their own decorations. Both packages include an hour and a half of party space time, which includes use of a private party room and staff dedicated to assist with any party needs you might have, Crane said.

“One cool thing is that after that hour and a half is over, they can still climb until we close,” she said. “Obviously, they’ll get an hour and a half of climbing time, but once that room is cleaned up and the staff is gone, all party guests can stay as long as they want until we close.”

Parties are available for all ages, but Crane said the kids who tend to get the most out of parties at Climb Upstate are between 7 and 12 years old.

“Parents should choose Climb Upstate for a party because it’s adventurous,” she said. “It’s exciting. It’ll wear the kids out, and it’s a workout. Kids will have a really great time while they expend energy, and it will certainly keep kids occupied during their party. It’s also something new that most people don’t think to do, so they’ll definitely have a unique party.”

If safety is a concern. Climb Upstate is certified by the American Climbing Wall Association and adheres to strict safety guidelines established by that organization, Crane said. The facility is also equipped with crash pads, harnesses and ropes, and all of its gear is up to code, she added.

“We are also air-conditioned, so that’s a huge plus for parents looking for something to do indoors,” Crane said.

Want to know more? To reserve a birthday party at Climb Upstate, call 864-699-9967 or book online at www.ClimbUpstate.com.

Farms

Spending time on a farm is a novelty most of today’s youth don’t get to experience often, but fortunately, the Upstate is home to a handful of working farms that also cater to families looking for such a place to host a unique birthday party.

Whispering Pines Stables in Mauldin, Eden Farms in Marietta, and Grove Station Farms in Piedmont are only a few of the working farms that offer birthday party packages in the Upstate.

Grove Station Farms is a 65-acre plantation-style farm near Piedmont that offers horseback riding lessons year round for children and adults, but also provides space for children’s birthday parties any time of the year, according to owner Carole Flaspoehler.

“We’re perfect for kids who’ve never been around horses,” she said. “This gives them a chance to ride a horse and get used to riding with someone leading them around.”

Ideal for ages 2 – 11, parties include horses led by the farm’s staff who give kids and adults a chance to ride around either an indoor or outdoor arena. Parties at Grove Station Farms cost $175 for two hours and up to 25 children. Parents handle their own decorations and food, but guests have access to a petting zoo, horse rides and an indoor arena, she said.

“Our parties are a rain or shine event because we have an indoor arena,” Flaspoehler said.

Whispering Pines Stables in Mauldin is a family-owned working farm with a licensed goat and sheep milk dairy and cheese-making facility that offers birthday parties on Saturdays for $225 for up to 20 children for two hours. Owner Debbie Webster said the farm has more than 200 animals, including rabbits, baby goats, lambs, cows, horses and ponies.

“The coolest part is seeing all of the farm animals,” she said. “We also have a fun farm store with some cool gift items for the birthday child or guests, from our horse art to the extraordinary farmstead cheeses.”

With an indoor arena, parties include pony rides for children and private, air-conditioned party rooms.

“Children can learn all about life on the farm and experience it,” Webster said.

Eden Farms in Marietta also offers parties for all ages, with options starting at $200 for up to 15 children for two hours. Each guest is given the opportunity to ride two horses in an arena, led by staff. The farm also features a handicapped-accessible playground area beside the birthday arena and a picnic area.

The birthday child receives a painted horseshoe with their name on it and a cowboy hat, according to Becky Sweeney, barn manager.

As home to Happy Hooves Therapeutic Equestrian Center, Eden Farms also welcomes special-needs children. Parties are available year round.

Want to know more? To reserve a birthday party at Grove Station Farms, call 864-845-3239 or visit www.grovestationfarms.com. To reserve a birthday party at Whispering Pines Stables, call 864-288-7458 or visit www.wpstables.com. To reserve a birthday party at Eden Farms, call 864-898-0043 or visit www.edenfarms.net.

Find our annual birthday party guide below

Find more at www.upstateparent.com

Upstate moms and dads: Looking for things to do with kids in Greenville or Spartanburg? You’ll find lots of ideas at www.upstateparent.com.

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