I'm one of those people who do not like to plan things last minute. After having kids though, I do realize that I can plan things so far ahead only to find out things hardly went as I planned. Ha! But, it still doesn't stop me from planning. I have already started looking for a place to celebrate my boy's 1st birthday party when he was 6 months old (I know..I know..). At first I planned to throw the party at home, but dearest husband suggested that the after-party cleaning up wouldn't be that exciting and he reminded me that "This is kids birthday party. Young kids!!" Yes..I get it. It's going to be messy. They are kids after all.
So I was scouring the internet looking for that "perfect" place. My two most important criteria while looking for the place at that time was firstly, we didn't want to spend a fortune just renting a place. Our budget was no more than $150. Secondly, I wanted to be allowed to bring our own food and beverages. Some places
do not allow outside food and beverage. So, you either buy food from them or usually they throw in pizza in the package. We are food people and I have nothing against pizza (in fact, I love pizza), but I wanted a little bit of variety besides pizza for our birthday party. So, I stumbled upon Choo Choo Bob's Train Store in St. Paul. I've never been to that place, but I've heard people mentioned about it and how kids loved being in that store. I was more excited to know that they host a birthday party. Their birthday party package really fit into my criteria and it's $150 (bingo!!)
The package includes:
2-hour party time
Personalized birthday cake from La Patisserie of St. Paul (spoiler alert: It's delicious!!!!)
Party bags up to 8 children ($5 for additional child) - there are candies, animal crackers, and wooden train
They provide: silverware, plates, cup, water and apple juice for all the guests, candles, knife to cut the cake
No clean up needed ;) (one of the best part!!)
They allow you to bring your own decoration (balloon, pinatas, etc) if you want. The staff is REALLY friendly and helpful. I e-mailed and called several times to ask questions and clarify things and they were amazing. So, with that encounter, I felt confident that this was "the place" for us (and it was!)
I was impressed with how organized they were. We booked the 4:30 - 6:30 pm slot on Saturday and we arrived at around 4:35 pm (yes...so much for "planning ahead"). Parking was pretty limited at the front of the store (and not to mention I'm not crazy about parallel parking!), but they have parking lots at the back of the store. A little hidden, but you'll find it and there is sign to tell you that the parking lots are for which tenants. Thank Goodness they have their back door open and so we don't have to walk all the way to the front just to get into the store. We had trays of food to carry and so, I was glad they have that back door open.
The room was ready when we walked into the store. All that we needed was there and thank God I was able to have the food set up and got a cranky birthday boy situated. The party room can comfortably sit about 12-15 kids. The room is colorful and nicely decorated. And this is a little thing...but I'm impressed that they have a high chair. We brought our own portable high chair because I thought it would be easier to "park" my one year old there when we needed to do things (and thank God we did). If we hadn't, there would have been a high chair there too...so, that was really nice that they had that.
There was a separate table to put your food and beverages
My almost 4-year old girl was happily playing trains outside the party room. She loves trains. Oh...I forgot to mention that we celebrated both 1st birthday for our son and 4th birthday for our girl.
There are benches outside the party room. The parents can hang out there and chit chat while the kids are playing.
I usually order birthday cake on my own, but since the package comes with a cake, I didn't. Everyone who tasted the birthday cake, asked me where I got it from (because it was so yummy!!). I told them it was included in the package and it was from La Patisserie of St.Paul (apparently it's a famous bakery in town). So, there you go...I'm impressed and happy.
And here's another proof that it's a plate-licking good cake ! Not too bad for a first-timer eh ?
The party went pretty smoothly within the 2 hour-limit. The 1 year old was tired and started to get cranky towards the end because of his short afternoon nap because we were trying to make it to the party ON TIME. (My plan to put him down to nap early, etc... didn't go as planned AGAIN). My girl almost had a melt down because she was having too much fun playing with the trains, but we managed to coax her to leave. They were pretty flexible actually. They didn't rush us to leave, but we were rushing anyway because the overtired boy was screaming and crying. We packed our stuff and walked out just like that without cleaning up. Though I felt bad with the mess my boy left on the floor when he ate his first piece of chocolate cake!! I could only imagine if this was at home...I was going to pull my hair out! seriously!! But, it's nice I still had my hair at the end of the day and we could leave without having to clean up.
Anyway...we did it. It was a fun party and I would definitely recommend this place as a birthday party venue. Lovely and fun place to be...for both kids and adults. Not to mention the birthday party package is very reasonably priced and the staff is awesome. If only we lived nearby, I'd bring my kiddos to their story times. Yes...they have story time.
I wish I have more photos to share of the place and other details. I hope you find this somehow helpful to you. I'm aware that it's not a thorough review. I just want to share our birthday party experience with Choo Choo Bob's Train Store and hopefully, if you are looking for a fun place, you can put this as one of the places to consider. If you threw a party at Choo Choo Bob's Train Store before, feel free to share your experience at the comment section :)
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Labels: Choo Choo Bob's Train Store, Party Venues