Tag Archives: Children’s parties in DC

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

You Say It’s Your (Kid’s) Birthday…

Butterfly birthday girl celebrates her 4th

The butterfly birthday girl celebrates her 4th

The topic of birthday parties never gets old. I know this to be true not only because it’s something parents seem to discuss often, but also because I can see what searches lead readers to my site. And birthday party venues ranks pretty high on that list. So, I make it a point to post a round-up every year of places to celebrate our kids’ big days.

These posts actually originated from my own need to find party venues outside of the house (which I talk about here, here, and here). And as the kids get older and enjoy more celebrations — both their own and their friends’ — I learn about new places to host birthday bashes all the time. Here’s a selection of some of the best we experienced or heard about this year. Party on, kids!


Celebrating with butterfly crafts

Celebrating with butterfly crafts

Little Loft
(2016 Update: This location has closed.) After a few years of sharing the birthday spotlight with her big bro, Sasha finally got her own party this time around. Little Loft, a creative space for kids on Capitol Hill, was the perfect place to finally make it all about her. When I started looking into party options and saw they offered one with a butterfly craft theme (y’all surely know by now how much my girl loooves her some butterflies), I knew where we’d be ringing in Sasha’s 4th. The party started off with a short story time session with Lia, one of the owners (of course, the book was about butterflies), and Owen very sweetly surprised us all by reading to Sasha and her guests, too. With inspiration from the stories, they started on two art projects: watercolor butterflies and big, wearable butterfly wings that they decorated with colorful pieces of tissue and foil paper. When they were done with their projects, the kids donned the wings and played at a couple of play dough stations until it was time for cake then some more play time afterward. All in all, it was super fun for the kids, even easier for me to plan, and Sasha’s artwork now decorates her bedroom wall.


Birthday, improv style

Birthday, improv style

ComedySportz 4 Kids
If this sounds familiar, it’s because I mentioned it last year, just not from experience at the time. We’d looked into it as a possible party venue, and found the kids were too young then. However, Owen didn’t forget that he’d be old enough this year – The Comedy Spot at Ballston Mall offers parties for kids in first grade and up. So, we checked out a show over winter break, and my boy couldn’t stop cackling at the off-the-cuff performance. The rest, as they say, is history. Owen had a bunch of friends join him for a birthday improv show about a month later in late January. The kids seemed to love the show, laughing and interacting with the cast, plus they got to go up on stage and be part of it, which was a thrill for them. There was another party going on that day, too, so it was a packed and lively venue.

Cake time

Cake time

Afterward, we celebrated with snacks and cake in a separate room. The logistics: ComedySports 4 Kids shows take place on Saturdays at 3pm, and parties can be booked on those days from 3-5pm, with the show running 75 minutes and party time another 45. Cost is $10/person, plus $100 to stay after and party. A tip: If you’re interested in booking there, be sure to ask about the party space. The description says you get to party on stage after the performance. When I booked it, I was told there’d be another party, but there was space for both of us. What they didn’t tell me was that we’d be crammed in a small room off stage with not much table space for the food and cake. (That said, Owen and his friends still had a blast, but I recommend confirming exactly what you’re getting.) For more info, visit the website.


Ice Skating al Fresco
I always thought outdoor parties weren’t an option for my January-born babes, but a couple of new outdoor ice rinks have changed my mind. Canal Park, the recently developed recreational space in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, features a fantastic ice rink during late fall and winter along with party packages to celebrate special occasions there. Birthday parties start at $125 and include admission and skate rental for up to 10 guests (beyond that it’s $10/child), a designated area near the rink for the group, coupons for guests’ next visits, and a few more perks. It was a popular party spot this past winter – one of my favorites, in fact (many of us parents hit the ice along with kids). And for skating parties across town in NW, the new ice rink at Washington Harbour also offers birthday parties with many of the same amenities, but starting at a slightly higher cost (it’s Georgetown, after all). So, don’t default to the indoors just because it’s cold. Ice skating parties are a fun, active way to celebrate, enjoy of one of season’s best activities, and take the winter birthday party outside.


Fire Station Birthdays
A couple of months ago, a KFDC reader asked if I had the scoop on birthday parties at fire stations. I didn’t, but I put the word out on Facebook, and learned that plenty of you guys did. There were raves for parties hosted at the Glen Echo, Kensington, and Falls Church Fire Departments and understandably so. For kids with firetruck obsessions, it sounds like a dream come true. Parties include tours of the station, a chance to explore the firetrucks, demonstrations by fire fighters, goodies like plastic fire hats, and party rooms for the celebration. Costs vary by station, but seem to be fairly reasonable. If those locations aren’t convenient for you, and your local fire house doesn’t host parties on premises, you might think about asking to visit the station and taking a tour, then having the celebration in a nearby park.


Labyrinth Games & Puzzles
Kids ages 6 and up can get their game on at their next birthday party! I first posted about Labyrinth right after it opened over two years ago and recommend it with even more fervor now. Not only does the shop have an incredible selection of games and puzzles, they also have a section in the back dedicated to gaming events, including birthday parties for kids. Staff will provide the games and fun and help lead the group in play, while you bring the food and drinks. The rate is $15/guest for the first two hours with a minimum fee of $120. Maximum number of guests is 15, and extras like gift bags and decorations can be included for additional fees. (And PS – I highly recommend Labyrinth for birthday gifts, too; it’s become my go-to place for presents whenever my kids have a party to attend. The staff are very friendly and knowledgeable – just let them know the age and interests you need to suit, and they’ll help you find the perfect game to give.)


Pirate Party at National Geographic
The National Geographic Museum’s current “Real Pirates” exhibit offers more than just a showcase about the slave-turned-pirate ship, The Whydah, and a glimpse into the fascinating world of 18th century pirates. Kids ages 5-12 can celebrate their birthday at the museum, in both a special party room and among the displays and installations that make the exhibit so exciting. The two hours of festivities include pirate dress-up, party games, and a Jolly Roger art project. But the big treat is a private tour and treasure hunt in the exhibit led by Nat Geo staff. Goody bags, a group photo, and certificate for the birthday honoree are also part of the package. Cost of the party is $375 for the first 10 guests (plus two chaperone parents), and $20 for each additional child. Extra adult admission tickets are $9. More information about both pirate parties and the exhibit is available on the National Geographic Museum website. (Note: This offering ended when the exhibit closed.)


UltraZone Laser Tag
Owen has been to a few birthday parties at UltraZone Laser Tag and raved about them. I, on the otherhand, am admittedly clueless about the whole Laser Tag experience, so this description comes straight from the website: “Step into a high-tech, laser tag adventure where identity is limited only by imagination. Dodge lasers, and strategize with teammates as you compete for high scores and glory in this futuristic version of Capture the Flag.” I can see why my 7-year-old digs them so much, and their party packages sound equally appealing for parents, as they tend to cover just about everything. Along with laser tag play (opt for 1, 2, or 3 games) and a private party room, they include food and drinks, your own party host, place setting and supplies, free parking, and invitations. Rates are $12.99/guest for 1 game, $17.99/guest for 2 games, and $22.99/guest for 3 games. Parties last from 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the number of games. For more information, visit the Ultrazone website.


Ninjas take over The Tabula Rasa

Ninjas take over The Tabula Rasa

The Tabula Rasa
(Update: This location has closed.) If you have a great party idea, but lack the room to pull it off, The Tabula Rasa may be the perfect solution. The event space on Barracks Row in southeast DC truly is a blank slate that can be transformed into whatever setting you want for your kid’s b-day bash. It’s 1,000 square feet of white, airy interiors, plus another 500 of pretty courtyard area, have hosted everything from parties for children and adults to pop-up shops to baby showers to meetings and workshops. We’ve attended quite a few of them, including ninja and cowboy-themed birthday celebrations, and they’ve all been superbly executed. Amanda Clarke, Tabula Rasa’s lovely owner (as well as one-half of the amazing Boogie Babes team) has a keen eye for detail and is happy to lend her creativity and event planning expertise to help make your party a success. Some of her theme suggestions are Ninja, Princess, Scavenger Hunt, Movie Night, Dance Party, Tea Party, and Spa Treatment Party. And she, of course, welcomes clients to bring in their own ideas. As for logistics, cost is $600 for a four-hour rental, which includes two hours of party time, an hour each of set up and clean up, and house décor. Party packages with extra decorations and goody bags are also available. If the price sounds steep, this is one to consider sharing with a friend, especially since the space accommodates more people than many venues. And sometimes, having everything exactly the way you want it, is worth it. To learn more, contact Amanda at 202.640.2616 or info@thetabularasa.com.

Do you have party venue recommendations? I always love to hear about them, so feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments!


Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, Birthday Parties, DC, Exhibit, Maryland, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Virginia