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Birthday parties can be simple or grand, themed or free for wide open fun. It’s a time to make kids feel special and make memories that will last long after they’ve traded trick candles and bubbles for dates and coffee shop gift cards. Plan this year’s event together. Let your little one chase dreams and catch them – just for the day.

Birthday party options abound throughout the Upstate. Check out our birthday party guide for some of the best places around. Here are a few to get you started.

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Bring art to life

Vino and Van Gogh isn’t just for adults. This paint-your-own-art site helps kids create a masterpiece to take home. Parties include the help of an instructor and the use of art supplies. Maybe most importantly, parents don’t have to clean up once the painting is done. www.vinoandvangogh.net

Color Clay Café offers a variety of party choices. Let your guests paint a tile, a figurine, a mug, a canvas painting or more. This site even offers some “paint and take” options so guests can take their creation home immediately after the party. www.colorclaycafe.com

Get wild

The Greenville Zoo is a great place to make some birthday memories. Parties are held in a classroom just inside the zoo entrance and include admission to the zoo. Choose from several options that include cupcakes from Couture Cakes of Greenville, party supplies and more. www.greenvillezoo.com

The Critter Keeper brings the party – and some extra special guests – to you. Visit with around 20 critters during an hour-long presentation that includes information, scares, laughs, a little magic and more. critterkeeperupstate.com

Wildlife Geeks comes to your site bringing animals, wildlife conservation and adventure. This nonprofit lets kids spend an hour with a variety of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. They might even get to feed and hold some new friends. www.wildlifegeeks.com

Experience life on the farm

Whispering Pines is a working farm – the only dairy sheep farm in South Carolina – with more than 200 animals on site. Birthday guests can meet all sorts of animal friends, including goats, ducks and more, while learning about life on the farm. wpstables.com

At Eden Farms, two-hour birthday parties keep kids busy with horse fun. For the first hour, children take turns riding two horses that are decorated in ribbons and glitter and playing in an accessible playground area. The second hour of the party includes a barn tour, cake and presents. www.edenfarms.net

Horse lovers can celebrate for two hours at Grove Station Farms and enjoy an hour of horseback riding with the horse led by farm staff, as well as one-hour use of the farm’s indoor or outdoor picnic facilities. grovestationfarms.com

Make believe and dress the part

Children who love the spotlight can shine at South Carolina Children’s Theatre. Parties include acting games, a story, costumes and a final show complete with set, lights and sound. Themes are available for ages 3 and older. scchildrenstheatre.org/birthdays

At Millie Lewis, parties for kids and teens include makeup, hair, nails and even some experience on the runway. To keep the party going, guests get a gift certificate to Kids’ Club or Teen Personal Development/Modeling classes. millielewisgreenville.com

If your child dreams of being a princess, Once Upon A Dream Parties & Boutique can help bring that dream to life. Bring a princess to the birthday party or have the party at the store. Princess parties can include dress-up, games, face painting and more. www.onceuponadreamparties.com

Something different

The Big Red Party Truck lets kids live out their dreams to be firefighters. Owned by a Navy veteran and full-time firefighter/EMT, this party comes to you. Enjoy fire truck rides, spray water from real fire hose and eat snow cones, popcorn and more. www.bigredpartytruck.com

Root for the home team with a party at a Greenville Drive game at Fluor Field at the West End. Enjoy a special pre-game party area for the guest of honor, group seating during the game, food and beverages, a special visit from Reedy Rip’It and a personalized birthday greeting over the stadium PA system and display on the DriveVision board. greenvilledrive.com

Keep everyone entertained at the movies. This party doesn’t need good weather to succeed. Many theaters have private party rooms and specials to make it all complete. Ask your local theater’s manager or visit www.regmovies.com/theaters/ birthday-parties.

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