The cool thing about an indoor ice rink (see what I did there?) is that you can enjoy it year-round. An invitation to a birthday party at Oakland Ice Center reminded me that ice skating is a fun family activity, especially if you go frequently enough to stop being terrible at it.
Historically, my children have been afraid that the child that invited them to the ice rink might be really good at ice skating, and that they would be embarrassed by their own teetering ankles, but that has not turned out to be the case. It is an interesting dilemma, however: If your child works hard at skating, becomes good at it, does she invite her friends to come awkwardly fall down on the ice for a few hours, while she skates circles around them?
Parties at the Oakland Ice Center are for a minimum of 10 children and as of this writing cost $27 per kid, but that is almost your total cost. It includes two hours of skating, skate rental for everyone, a 30-minute lesson, paper goods, pizza and soda in a party room that is not freezing cold.
Bring your own cake and utensils for the cake. Each child is given a paper Zamboni to construct, which is pretty cool and serves as a favor. Plus the other parents can recycle it a few days later.
Here's what to expect if you host or attend a party at the Oakland Ice Center in downtown Oakland:
- Parents who wish to skate will need to pay for their admission and rental.
- An instructor gives a lesson to the party guests at the start of the party, so no one is left on their own to learn how to skate.
- Dress warmly: snow pants are great for kids to wear to keep butts dry. Hats and gloves for sure.
- Access to the party room does not take place until after the two hours of skating is over. My experience is that this is too long to skate. 60-90 minutes would be fine. Perhaps this can be negotiated.
- Soda is the only drink included in the package. Hosts may need to pay extra to get juice in its place.
- The quality of the pizza is quite poor. The kids at the party I witnessed didn't seem to mind, but I could not bring myself to try it.
- No outside food is allowed. Guests will eat pizza and cake. Snack bar is open, so parents can get hot pretzels, coffee or hot chocolate during the skating portion of the party.
- Buckets are available for really little kids to push as support devices.
Yerba Buena Ice Skating in San Francisco also offers birthday party packages.
See our 510Families.com Birthday Party Guide for tons more venues for kids' parties in Oakland.