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 25 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 Sauvignon 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 artisanal 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: 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 you can too: 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, 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 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.
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.
Some of the country’s best nature is right at your fingertips in the San Francisco Bay Area. Treat yourself to some birthday luxury with a quick getaway but make it fashion with some glamping. Sure, you could stay in a hotel, but if you haven’t tried glamping before, you should! It’s all the pleasures of being outdoors with the comforts of a hotel. Grab your friends, book a couple tents, and celebrate in style. Find some glamping recommendations here.
A classic, elegant evening fit for turning 30! The San Francisco Theater offers musicals, plays, stand-up, and concerts for a fun night out. Check out the schedule and choose whatever you fancy. Make sure to dress up, invite some friends, and grab some drinks before…and after the show. Or plan the perfect dinner at one of the Bay Area’s many fine restaurants. This is your chance to really make yourself feel special, so don’t hold back! A night at the theater is a classic for a reason.
Speaking of classics, who doesn’t love a good escape room? We’d be remiss if we didn’t include an escape room experience as one of our 30th birthday party ideas in San Francisco. It’s fun, works great for groups, and challenges everyone. Instead of dinner and drinks, a game night adds some excitement. Escape the room and your reward is sweet victory, plus cake. There should definitely be cake.
For a special birthday meal, get treated like a VIP on a public or private birthday food tour. You’ll get to taste some of the most unique, quirky, authentic flavors of San Francisco, all while enjoying history throughout the neighborhood. It’s a different kind of birthday party, but going to dinner and drinks has been done many (many, many) times before right? You can even add hands-on experiences like cocktail making to make the tour even more special. This your 30th birthday— see the city in new ways, eat great food, and blow out some candles during dessert to celebrate a new year!
Celebrate your 30th year with a tea party. It’s cute, quaint, and unique— if you’ve never done tea at the Japanese Tea Garden, it’s worth the experience. Spend the afternoon drinking Japanese tea accompanied by some Japanese sweets in a beautiful garden. It’s one of the more relaxing 30th birthday party ideas in San Francisco, but it’s certainly one of the most lush, as well. If you want a high tea experience, try the Fairmont’s Laurel Court. It’s a bit expensive, but it’s your birthday! Drink some soothing hot tea and enjoy some petit fours, tea sandwiches, scones, and more. Plus, toast to a new year with a glass of bubbly. Check out this list for other afternoon tea spots that will make you feel classier than the Queen.
San Francisco is full of creativity, and there’s no reason you can’t join in on the fun. Whether you’re a seasoned artist, casual crafter, or simply want to try something new, you’ll find a class to satisfy many of your creative needs. 30th birthday party ideas in San Francisco don’t need to get more complicated than enjoying something you love doing or learning something new. Try glassblowing, sharpen your culinary skills, even do a bit of wood working! You can invite your friends or go alone to make some new ones. Ring in 30 with a new hobby that you can keep practicing for years to come!
A brewery hang is simple, fun, and easy to plan, so you know we had to recommend. A crisp craft beer on a nice day is like a warm birthday hug, in our humble opinion. Pick one of the many breweries in the Bay Area, invite your friends and family, and chill. Or, plan a brewery crawl! You’ll find a beer to satisfy everyone with one of these great stops.
If you’re not keen on crowds or want to celebrate with friends and family outside of the Bay, a virtual happy hour checks all the boxes as one of those 30th birthday party ideas in San Francisco. Get all your cocktail ingredients delivered to your door to learn the basics of cocktail making with an award winning mixologist. And when we say basics, we mean skills, not flavors. Since all of this is done virtually, no one needs to be left out! Make it a hybrid happy hour and invite a few close friends over to your place to learn the cocktails together, while letting your family join virtually from wherever.
19. Roller Skate and Disco Dance
I know you’re turning 30 so you weren’t born in the 70’s, but you can’t deny that roller skating would be one heck of a good time! Grab your group and head over to Church of 8 Wheels for an old-fashioned roller-skating disco night, set in a stunning, 124-year-old church. I feel the need to warn you that they do not sell alcohol or allow outside drinks in…which is probably for the best. But have no fear, there a ton of bars within walking distance for your celebratory drinks!
20. Belt out your favorite tunes
Maybe you’re not one to sing in public…or sing at all but karaoke is a different ballgame. It’s your 30th birthday after all so take center stage and belt out your favorite Celine Dion tune (neeeear, faaar, where-eeeever you are. No? Just me?). And by the way, there’s no need to feel nervous in front of strangers because you and your pals can book a private room at Pandora Karaoke & Bar. Have I convinced you yet?
21. Jump, jump, jump around!
Welcome to this edition of 30 going on 10 (just kidding, this is the only edition). When is the last time you freely jumped on a trampoline? Remember that adrenaline of jumping higher each time? Well, you and your friends can jump on the trampoline, play a game of trampoline dodgeball or even have a friendly competition of trampoline basketball dunk at House of Air. Trust us, your inner child will thank us!
22. Party on a trolley
Yes, you read that right! You and your friends can rent a trolley, bring your own drinks, and frolic around San Francisco. Whether you want a disco trolley to live out your Saturday Night Fever dreams, a karaoke trolley to live out your Christina Aguilera dreams, or just a classic trolley to live out your birthday dreams, the personal trolley experience is the way to go! You wanted your birthday in San Francisco. You can’t get more San Francisco than a trolley.
23. Fuel your need for speed with go karts
Vroom, vroom baby! Helmet on and buckle up for a night of go karting with your friends at K1 Speed. And it’s not just a night of go-karting. You can play video games in their arcade room, go bowling or play cyber sports. You can even play some of the classics like Pool, Jenga, Foosball or Cornhole (one of my personal favorites). It’s like a million parties in one!
24. Dress up for a drag show
You’re turning 30 so you need your birthday to be a spectacle! In comes, Aunt Charlie’s Lounge Drag Show. As far as 30th birthday party ideas in San Francisco go, this one’s a goodie! This underground cabaret show is guaranteed to be a good time, filled with incredible entertainment (you need to see a dramatic dip at least once in your life) and cheap drinks. And don’t forget those one-dollar bills!
25. Celebrate at your all-in-one entertainment destination
You like games but you don’t want to choose just one or two? We got you covered…or at least Emporium Arcade Bar does! This arcade bar has the largest collection of games in San Francisco. So, whether you’re looking for classic arcade games, pool, or skeeball, you want it, they got it. They also have live DJs in case you want to boogie the night away in between games.