Once upon a time, celebrating a child’s birthday meant opening your home to a dozen or so children who belted out “Happy Birthday” before eating cake and pinning tails on donkeys. These days, many families celebrate birthdays in more elaborate ways, and a variety of entertainment options exist for parents hosting a child’s party.

For Carson Andrews, age 7, a perfect birthday party involves inviting his classmates to join him in a backyard setting to get up close and personal on a Silly Safari. This adventure with animals is intended to be part education and part all-out fun.

Carson first fell in love with Silly Safaris’ live animal conservation education performances at the Monroe County Fair in 2014.  At his last three birthday parties, Silly Safaris’ actors have engaged Carson’s friends with a cast of characters that includes rabbits, tortoises, frogs, owls, snakes, and opossums. Somewhere between the “ooh”s and “eww”s, both children and adults discover unforgettable facts and a new appreciation for some of nature’s most mysterious, loved, and feared creatures.

Favorite birthday activities for venues outside the home range from swinging and sliding at a favorite park; swimming at the YMCA; hypothesizing at WonderLab Museum of Science, Health and Technology; tumbling at Bloomington United Gymnastics & Soccer (BUGS); or bouncing around at Urban Air Trampoline Park.

Designed to appeal to kids of all ages, WonderLab party packages range from full museum rental to do-it-yourself parties that include museum admission and private room rental.

BUGS hosts parties designed for children ages 4–13, with instructors on hand to facilitate activities.

Urban Air is a relatively new alternative in children’s birthday party venues, with packages designed to entertain all ages.