Written by Katie Sweeney for Avital Tours
Being a big fan of birthdays, I officially started planning my 30th birthday party on September 17th, one day after my 29th birthday on September 16. While some people are anxious and depressed when they think about turning 30, it’s much more fun to embrace the new decade by throwing a fabulous party, so that is what I did! And that is what I am recommending you do as well. Since 30 is a milestone birthday, it’s perfectly acceptable to plan a big soiree. Not sure what to do yet? Here are 10 Awesome 30th Birthday Party Ideas in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The private room at Park Tavern.
1. Host a blow out bash at a craft cocktail bar or your favorite restaurant. This is the most obvious of birthday party ideas, but also completely customizable. It’s what I did for my 30th! Start planning well in advance to secure the venue of your choice. You can go high brow and invite an intimate group to enjoy a memorable meal in the back room at Tosca Cafe or downstairs at Beretta or upstairs at Park Tavern. However, if low brow is more your style, host a get together for everyone you know at bar. Reserve the back couch area at Comstock Saloon or grab a couple of tables beside the smoking cage at Rye or a snag the upstairs balcony at Rickhouse.
Photo Credit: Alcatraz Tickets
2. Take your crew to Alcatraz for a night tour. The Alcatraz night tours are wildly popular, so you may want to buy tickets a couple of months before your 30th to ensure you get enough for your friend group. The round trip ferry ride serves alcohol, sip an uncomplicated drink or two on the boat ride. You’ll need the liquid courage as Alcatraz at night can be spooky! The cells are cold and dark and with the twinkling lights of San Francisco visible from the island, you’ll realize why a stay at The Rock could drive prisoners crazy. When you arrive back on the mainland, play tourists and head to Fisherman’s Wharf and grab classic SF eats at Capurro’s. End the night with a sundae at Ghirardelli Square or Irish coffee at the Buena Vista Cafe.
Hamel Family Winery
3. Go wine tasting. Rent a limo or bus to take you to beautiful sunny Sonoma County. It’s a little less commercial than Napa and more off the beaten track. Start with a group tasting at Hamel Family Wines, a stunning ranch with a modern architectural building and friendly welcoming staff. As you listen to the large soothing stone fountain and sip superb Savuignon Blanc, you won’t care that you’re a year older. From there move onto Scribe, everyone’s favorite hipster winery with a rustic hacienda for a tasting room and a stunning hillside view of the German grape varietal vineyards. Hopefully you thought ahead and packed a basket of artisinal local cheese and charcuterie, fresh fruit, and baguettes because the next stop, Gundlach Bundschu, is the perfect place for a birthday picnic. Call ahead to reserve a wooden table that overlooks the lake, then pop into the tasting room for a bottle or two of their easy to drink Rose and luscious Tempranillo. Last stop on your 30th birthday Sonoma wine tour? Patz and Hall. The house-like tasting room has couches for chilling, a large bar, and a food and wine pairing that you won’t want to miss. Be sure to pick up some of their sparkling wine for the ride back to the city.
Photo Credit: Mission Bowling Club
4. Host a bowling tournament. If you’re into games, consider reserving a couple of lanes at Mission Bowling Club to celebrate your 30th birthday. Start with dinner upstairs, the burger and fried chicken on a stick are must orders, then move downstairs to play some serious rounds of bowling while you sip pitchers of beer or excellently crafted cocktails. Let the staff know you’re bringing a birthday cake and they’ll help you serve it up. After the tournament, keep the party moving with late night revelry at nearby Dr. Teeth & the Electric Mayhem.
5. Take the ferry to Sausalito and enjoy Cavallo Point. On weekdays, there are eight boats (starting at 10:40 am and ending at 6:45 pm) that leave the San Francisco Ferry Building. The half hour ride has a fully operating bar and spectacular views of the city, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz. Grab some pals and head over early in the day to enjoy all that Sausalito has to offer. Walk around the intimate shops, sip a glass of wine or icy brew, and sample caviar at the California Caviar Company. Then head to Cavallo Point which is home to a chic lodge, restaurant, and spa. Book treatments in advance and spend the afternoon being pampered with a massage, facial, or scrub. Once you’re feeling relaxed head to the patio for a cocktail and appetizers. Just be back at the Sausalito Ferry Building to catch the final boat that departs for the city at 7:30 pm.
Photo Credit: Flickr User David Ohmer
6. Cable car ride followed by picnic in the park. One of the most memorable 30th birthday parties I attended was completely unexpected: a group of 10 of us met at the Powell and Market Street cable car line, rode the car, then had a fabulous picnic in the park. Here’s how to recreate the experience: Ask everyone to bring a bottle of wine and different snacks. Wait in line at Powell Street (yes, with the tourists!) and hop aboard the Powell-Mason cable car. Pose for selfies and sip wine from water bottles, then hop off at Mason Street and Union Street. Walk three blocks and you’ll come to Washington Square Park. While most SF natives prefer to picnic in Dolores or Golden Gate Park, Washington Square Park is a wonderful spot for a picnic. The majestic Saints Peter and Paul Church towers over the flat grassy park. After you’ve finished your picnic head to a nearby bar like Rogue Ales Public House, 15 Romolo, or Tony Nik’s Cafe.
Photo Credit: Hog Island Oyster Company
7. Head out to Tomales Bay for a picnic at Hog Island Oyster Farm. You’ll need a couple of designated drivers for this celebration as the drive is about an hour and 15 minutes (depending on where you leave the city) to Marshall, where the Hog Island oyster farm is located. The ride is worth the drive as you’ll spend the day grilling oysters, admiring the view, and chatting with friends. You’ll need to bring grilling tools and food items to pair with the oysters (why not order bread from Tartine?!), but the farm provides the oysters, gloves, and shucking tools.
Photo Credit: Flickr User Stròlic Furlàn – Davide Gabino
8. Giants game. If you birthday takes place between April and October, celebrate with the three time world series champions, the San Francisco Giants. Games take place often and there are different tiers of seating options. Book a box for you and your friends to hang out in or get a bunch of bleacher seats and have your buddies meet you out behind center left field. Before the game, sip on beers and nosh on bar snacks at Public House or 21st Amendment. After the game, go to Momo’s or District to keep the party going.
9. Mission food tour. Grab your bests and spend the day exploring what the Mission has to offer in terms of food. Our Mission District Food Tour is three hours long and features four delectable stops that may include a cheese flight at Mission Cheese, Asian pork belly bao at Chino, or a scoop of salted caramel ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery. After the Avital Tour, go on a Mission pub crawl. Hit up Elixir Saloon, the 500 Club, and end with dancing and giant martinis at Blondie’s.
Photo Credit: Flickr User Bobbi Vie
10. Beach bonfire. San Francisco doesn’t have the sunniest of beaches, which makes them the ideal place for beach bonfires. You’ll need plenty of wood and lighter fluid plus blankets and provisions. Set up shop just before the sun sets, then watch the day turn to night in all it’s orange glory. Fill thermoses with calm chowder and make a big batch of Manhattans. Grab some bread, cheese, and a Princess cake from Victoria Bakery and you’ve got yourself one awesome party.