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Party On, Kids: Ideas for Birthday Celebrations Around DC

A very happy birthday boy at his Escape Lounge celebration

A very happy birthday boy at his Escape Lounge celebration



I may have slacked on the annual birthday party post for a few years, but this one, hopefully, will make up for it. It’s full of ideas for hosting children’s celebrations around the area, with recommendations for varying ages, interests, and budgets. And though I’ve changed my tune a bit about having parties at home (more on that below) since I first started these posts, I do still love finding great places to throw a good kids bash, and this round-up of party places reflects that. Happy planning!

A Great Escape
Owen turned the big 1-0 this year, and we wanted to celebrate the milestone with something unique, befitting a newly-minted adventurous tween and his crew of like-minded friends. A Clue Party Package at The Escape Lounge was the key to an excellent birthday bash. The H Street NE venue offers interactive escape experiences, where guests solve a series of clues to make their way out of a locked room. Owen and his friends had a blast mastering the Escape the Classroom option, plus enjoyed loads of other fun activities — a craft project, karaoke, goofy dress-up, and dancing — in a cool party room that was set up nicely and stocked with everything we needed upon our arrival. They even took care of ordering the pizza and supplying drinks, all we had to do was bring a cake. It was as easy to execute as it was enjoyable. Read more about it and see photos here. The deets: The Clue Party Package for kids is $475 and includes pizza, treats, drinks, and all party supplies for 12 kids and three adults. A wide age range could enjoy it — they say ages 6 and up.

Play & Party
Finding good party places for the littlest people can be challenging when it comes to celebrations in the District, since there just don’t seem to be a lot of venues that cater to small kids with age-appropriate activities and child-friendly environs. This makes Gymboree DC a rare gem here. The space full of soft mats and play structures is perfect for tiny revelers (and older children can enjoy them, too). Plus, parties have cute themes and are led by a teacher. You get an hour of exclusive use of play facilities, then party time in a separate room. Set up, clean up, and goody bags are all taken care of, to boot. The deets: Cost of a 1.5-hour party is $375, a two-hour party is $400. And right now there is a special spring offer for 20% off parties through June!

Parties with Natitude
If your kid is a Nats fan, then this party is sure to be a hit. An all-inclusive birthday party package at Nationals Park is full of pregame and game time fun. Parties begin an hour before the first pitch and include an indoor party space, games for guests, pizza & cupcakes, a mascot visit & photo ops, party favors, and a gift for the honoree. From there, the party moves to the Mezzanine Level, where you have a good view of the game as well as a personalized birthday scoreboard message and a video clip of the party featuring the birthday kid. (I seriously think I may start start celebrating my kids’ half-birthdays to get in on this one!) The deets: Cost is $30/party-goer, and chaperone tickets are available in the same seating section for $20. A minimum of 20 guests is required (excluding chaperones), and parties should be booked at least two weeks in advance. This could make for a good shared party to meet minimum guest requirement and curb costs.

Bouncy Birthdays
Sport Bounce of Loudoun has been voted “Best Place to Have a Birthday Party” by Loudoun and Fairfax parents. With giant inflatables to play upon, the exclusive “Big Red Chair Photo,” massive jumping pillow, and more, ages 2-10 can celebrate here, though I’d say it’s best for the younger end of that. The venue is not open to the public during parties, so your time on the equipment is just for your group. You also have access to your very own party room the entire time as well as a dedicated party assistant throughout the celebration. And Sport Bounce makes it easy from the start — they provide invitations and will even mail them for you. On top of all that, the birthday child gets a free Open Bounce pass plus a buddy bounce pass to return for even more fun. The deets: Parties for up to 16 children cost $325 on Saturday & Sunday, $275 Monday – Friday, and two pizzas are included in the weekday rate. Additional guests are $10 each. Parties are 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Tea Time
Pinky’s out! If you want to keep the party small but special, this is one to consider. Starting May 1, the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City will offer a “Petite Socialite” Afternoon High Tea experience certain to add extra sparkle to any birthday. Created to delight young social-etts, the package includes a private Afternoon Tea reservation for four in the hotels’ fyve Restaurant, edible glitter dipped fruit, delicate French macaroons, assorted miniature cupcakes, sparkling cider served in a champagne flute, a $20 Simon Gift Card and tiara for each guest, and complimentary parking. A pre- fixe lunch menu and overnight stay accommodations are also available for an additional rate. The deets: The package starts at $65 per guest under 12 and $75 per guest over age 12. And “Petite Socialite” can be accommodated to celebrate any occasion and is offered to guests of all ages.

A Super Fly Time
Give your child and guests their Superman moments at iFLY Loudoun. The brand new facility in Ashburn, VA, offers simulated skydiving experiences for ages 3 to 103. Flights take place in a vertical wind tunnel indoors and are as safe as they are thrilling. This is not a cheap venture, so parties here are probably best for a small group or for those who are happy to splurge. Packages include a party coordinator for your event, a flight training class, all the necessary gear, hands-on instruction with each flyer, and a video of the flight session. Extras include a party room, catering, and a few more services. You could also consider just taking a crew for flight sessions (sans party package) and having the celebration part elsewhere. For more about iFLY and photos of the experience, see this KFDC post. The deets: Party packages for up to 12 people start at $659.95. This includes two flights each, plus twelve video clips of the session.

Aviation Celebration
If you’re into the flight theme, but not necessarily actually flying, consider a party at the College Park Aviation Museum. Kids ages 3 -12 can celebrate at the cool space full of old airplanes and other exhibits showcasing the history of flight located next to the oldest continuously operating airport in the world. A few party packages are available, all of them including museum exploration, an aviation-themed craft, a private party room, decor and party favor bags. A couple of them offer a flight simulator, too, so kids can get somewhat of a feel for flying without their feet leaving the ground. The deets: The Junior Aviator Party is $350/non-member, $300/members; the Signal Corp Party is $375/non-members, $325/members for 10/children, 12/adults ($15 per additional child) and both include the flight simulator, cost difference is the craft. Wilbur’s Workshop Party for ages 10-12 only is $400/members, $350/members and features rib making as the activity.

Birthdays that Go Boing
Kids of all ages can jump, play, even flip for joy at Flight Trampoline Park. The huge space in Springfield, VA, resembles a skate park, with an industrial look of exposed pipes and cinder block walls sprayed with graffiti. But where you’d find ramps, rails, and concrete to facilitate skills and tricks, there are trampolines instead. They offer several birthday party packages at varying rates, depending on what it includes and when you host it (weekday or weekend). The Flight Birthday, includes an hour of jump time for 10 jumpers, socks and $1 in tokens for all guests, 45 minutes in a party room, two pizzas, and 10 bottles of water, and a t-shirt and jump pass for the birthday kid. The bigger packages offer more jump time and pizza at higher prices. For more about Flight Trampoline Park, see this KFDC post. The deets: The Flight Birthday is $280 Monday – Thursday, $330 Friday – Sunday for 10 jumpers, $16 for each additional jumper. Add on another $60-65 for the Fight Pro package and $160 for the Ultimate package. There is also a Mini Flight available Monday – Thursday only for up to 6 jumpers for $210.

Revel & Rappel
Host a great active party for an energetic crew at ClimbZone. The enormous facility is filled literally floor to ceiling with colorful themed climbing walls and moon bounces. Climbers can ascend Mt. Rushmore, reach the Jolly Roger on a pirate ship, conquer a game of Tetris, shimmy up a giant guitar, scale Jack’s bean stalk, negotiate a rope wall, and experience peak fun on a variety of other climbing areas. Party guests have access to all of it, plus a dedicated area for your group — and while you get the party space for two hours, climbing time is for three. You bring supplies and can BYO food or have it delivered from an area eatery. This might seem like it’s for older kids, but children ages 2 and up can climb! Read more about ClimbZone and see photos in this KFDC post. The deets: There is a 10-person minimum to reserve a party area, and that also gets you the 10% group discount (cost per person is regular price $25/ages 6 and up, $12/2-5 years). Cost for the room is $30.

Party in the Treetops
Literally a lofty way to celebrate, parties at The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring take place in the trees. That’s right, ropes courses and zip lines make up the largest aerial forest in North America, and navigating it is an amazingly fun pursuit for adventurous kids. The park is closed during winter, so this one is for spring, summer, and fall parties (again, I’m thinking half-birthday celebration). Kids ages 5 and up can climb in the park, and a couple of party packages are available, one for ages 5-9, the other for ages 8 and up. Find more about what’s included in both here. And read more about The Adventure Park and see photos in this KFDC post and this one. The deets: Cost per climber is $25 with a minimum of 8 and maximum of 24 for parties. There is a 30-minute orientation session, then climb time for 90 minutes or two hours, depending on the package. Picnic tables will also be reserved for your group.

Home Sweet Home
For the past couple of years, Sasha has requested parties at home. And despite my ramblings in past years about why my kids’ birthday celebrations had to be out of the house, I readily obliged. Hey, things change… as the kids get older, I find it’s much easier to host groups of friends without massive chaos; not only are they more mature and independent, I’m no longer a baby about handling it. So, both this year and last, Sasha invited about 10 friends over to help ring in her new years — and both were very sweet and fun celebrations. I set out beads and string, stickers, and snacks for the kids to enjoy as things got stared, then they moved on to a bigger craft later. Last year, they made these fairy jars (and the kids made doily crafts for the lids), this year they decorated tea cups for a tea party theme. (Pinterest is a bible for that kind of stuff!) They noshed on tea sandwiches and other finger foods, ate cake, and finished up with a dance party as they often seem to do. Sure, set up and clean up took a little time, but we also saved a ton of money — I probably spent $100 total when all was said and done, much less than if we’d had a party elsewhere.

Home grown party fun

Home grown party fun



I Second That!
There are a few places that I’ve talked about before and want to bring attention to again, both because we loved the parties there and they deserve an extra shout out:

Watkins Nature Center – One of my very favorite birthday party spots for kids in this area. Parties are fun, engaging, great for all ages and all seasons with indoor and outdoor elements, plus it’s relatively inexpensive for the DC-Metro. Read the original review here.

Labyrinth Games & Puzzles – We celebrated Owen’s birthday here last year, and a fantastic time was had by all. The party was led by a staff member who introduced the kids to all kinds of cool board games. There was lots of enthusiasm and laughter, too. Read more about Labyrinth here.

H Street Country Club Sasha had a great birthday here a few years ago, with indoor mini golf keeping the guests entertained and yummy food keeping bellies full (plus, a bar for parents who might enjoy a Bloody Mary…after all, it was a brunchtime party). Read the first mention of their parties here.

Canal Park Ice Rink – We celebrated here a few years ago, and it was a perfect pick for a large group. Also a great option for a winter birthday, it actually felt like the season worked to our advantage for a change. If your winter-born child likes to ice skate, definitely consider this. Read an earlier write-up about parties at Canal Park Ice Rink here.

For even more birthday party ideas, be sure to check out posts from years past — you can find links to all of them on the Special & Seasonal page!


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Filed under All ages, Annual, Birthday Parties, DC, Maryland, Virginia

Jump (and Play and Flip!) for Joy at Flight Trampoline Park

flight_sash

It took a gray, rainy day for us to finally get to Flight Trampoline Park in Springfield, but we definitely won’t wait for another one to go back. In a nutshell, it’s a blast.

flight_owie

The huge space resembles a skate park, with an industrial look of exposed pipes and cinder block walls sprayed with graffiti. But where you’d find ramps, rails, and concrete to facilitate skills and tricks, there are… yep, you guessed it, trampolines. Everywhere. There are small squares, longer rectangles, trampolines on inclines in dodge ball and basketball areas. You can jump onto them from platforms, and also from square to square. You can jump just to see how high you can go, do flips, land on your bum and bounce back to your feet, or jump-dance to the blaring pop music.

flight_dodgeball

It was crowded when we were there — it was gray day, after all, — but there was still plenty of room to bounce safely. Flight Trampoline caps the number of tickets they sell for each session, so it doesn’t get too congested.

flight_bball

Kids need to be at least 46″ tall to jump in the main area, but there is a whole section for smaller children with bouncy ramps and a foam block pit. Sasha is tall enough to play in both spaces, but spent most of her time in the kiddie area with a friend, which was plenty fun for them.

flight_kiddies

Adults are welcome to join in the fun, and I highly recommend it. Not only is it exhilarating, you get some exercise, too! But if you want to relax while the kids are playing, there are benches around, even some couches in the kiddie section.

flight_boys

Flight rates vary by time: $11 for 30 minutes, $15 for an hour, $25 for two hours. Kid Flights (jumpers 46″ and under, ages 0-6) are $10 for an hour, $17 for two hours. There is also an upstairs arcade if you want to do some gaming, and they offer party packages. You can purchase tickets and fill out waivers in advance online, which I recommend doing to avoid a wait in line and ensure you get the time slot you want.

Flight Trampoline Park is located at 7200 Fullerton Road in Springfield, VA. Hours are: Monday – Thursday, 10am – 9pm (Kid Flight 10-2, Open Jump 2-9); Friday, 10am – 11pm (Kid Flight 10-2, Open Jump 2-9, Club Flight 9-11); Saturday, 10am – 11pm (Open Jump 10-9, Club Flight 9-11); Sunday, 10am – 7pm (Open Jump).

Don’t wait for a rainy day to go.


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Filed under All ages, Indoor Play, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend