Mazes, Races & More
Blend free play and organized activities at the 92nd Street Y‘s GymMaze Craze party, which features a spiral tunnel slide, two ball pools, a rope swing and more. Preschoolers driven by speed will love Chelsea Piers’ Ultimate Tykes Challenge, which includes relay races with tricycles, potato sacks and scooters.
Planes, Trains & Automobiles
Housed in a 1930’s subway station, The New York Transit Museum‘s train-themed party provides little transit lovers with guided tours of its memorabilia, including vintage collections of subway cars. The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum offers party packages with themes like Treasure Hunt, Pilot, Astronaut and more. Looking for a more musical experience? Head to Three Little Birds, where kids learn songs about transportation and imitate the sounds vehicles make using musical instruments.
A Prehistoric Party
Throw a Dinosaur Discovery Party at the American Museum of Natural History! The birthday child and guests learn how paleontologists use evidence to unveil the secrets of these extinct creatures, then explore the Dinosaur Hall and see dinosaurs “pop” to life in the 3D art collection.
Experience the Farm Animal Party at Art Farm in the City. In addition to the animals normally there, children will get to meet ducks, a sheep, chickens, turkeys and a goat from the farm in the Hamptons. You can also get the full farm experience at the Queens County Farm Museum, where children can partake in an animal feeding, a farmyard tour and tractor drawn hayride!
Amusement Park Fun
At Victorian Gardens at Wollman Rink in Central Park, party participants enjoy unlimited rides all day! Celebrations can be customized with the addition of entertainment like clowns, magicians, face painters, balloon sculptors, musicians and more.
Move And Groove
It’s like two parties in one with Gymtime Rhythm & Glues‘ Gym Party! Spend one hour having a ball with coach-led activities and free play in the gym, then change tunes and groove to DJ music while playing games like freeze and limbo. A special visit from Gymtime’s Mr. Bananas is included!
At Ballet Academy East, the birthday child and friends can enjoy a personalized ballet class with an instructor, pianist and party host. After the lesson, guests will dance a ballet story told by the teacher and enjoy some refreshments. At Twinkle Party, kids can learn some new steps from a professional ballerina, participate in ballet-themed crafts and activities and put on a performance for the parent guests.
Throw your child an American Idol party at Citibabes! Guests can participate in dance contests, sing their favorite songs and enjoy their own personal Ryan Seacrest, Simon Cowell or Randy Jackson. A face painter or balloon artist will also join in on the fun!
Up, Up, And Away!
Has your child ever tried a zipline? They can as part of the Gymnastics Party at My Gym, which also features games, activities, and songs. Kids also have the chance to soar through the air with the Gymtastic! Party at 74th St. MAGIC, which includes rides on the venue’s exclusive filing swing, on top of plenty of fun in their fully equipped gym or baby gym and the use of the party room or rooftop playground.
Roll N’ Bowl
Kids can compete to stay out of the gutter while they battle each other in a birthday bowling game. From choosing the perfect bowling shoes, to enjoying snacks and drinks, to hopefully rolling a strike, it’s a full afternoon of fun! Great places to host parties include Bowlmor Lanes, 300 New York, Harlem Lanes and Lucky Strike.
An Artsy Affair
Kids can try their hand at weaving at Loop Of The Loom, choosing from a wall filled with over 500 colors of spool. Or, tap into their inner diva with the Rock Star party at The Craft Studio, where they can decorate superstar sunglasses, a pop star microphone, and celebrity-inspired hair piece. For more hands-on fun, head to the newly unveiled Make Meaning, where kids can create and take home their masterpiece in candles, soap, paint, ceramics, glass or jewelry. Kids At Art offers a variety of “Arty Parties” where kids can make picture frames, flower pots, puppets, cigar box purses and more. Little Shop of Crafts offers four party fun themes: PlasterCraft Painting, Pottery Painting, Mosaics and Create-A-Cuddly. Finally, check out Poloppo’s party options—kids will flip over the chance to design their very own t-shirts!
Toys & Dolls
If your child loves American Girl Place, a special day at the New York store is the ultimate present! Parties include a sit-down meal, doll tiara for each guest, a table game, a take-home craft and much more. If it’s robots, not dolls, your child loves, head to Robot Galaxy, where guests can hop aboard a “spaceship,” design their own robot, then activate it! Or, how about stuffing, stitching and dressing your own stuffed animal from scratch with a Build-A-Bear party?
Date On Skates
Put on a pair of skates and show off your skills on the rink—or learn a few new moves from an on-site instructor. For a winter-wonderland skate party, Wollman Skating Rink or The Rink at Rockefeller Center both provide picturesque backdrops to a skating soiree. If your child wants to skate in the summer, City Ice Pavilion hosts parties year-round.
Treat your birthday girl and friends to a full makeover at Cozy’s Cuts For Kids with the Glamorama Birthday Party, which includes hair-dos, makeup and manicures—plus music and an art project! Or, stick to the fingers and toes at Dashing Diva, where guests get pampered with a manicure and pedicure. The Yoga Spa Party at Karma Kids Yoga includes yoga moves accompanied by aromatherapy, hand and foot massages, henna tattoos, island-style hair braiding, nail polishing and more! Finally, wherever you hold your party, (Face Art By Melissa) can create fabulous designs (glitter tattoos, too!) to match your theme!
Don royal court-dresses, shoes, jewelry, tiaras, wands, glitter nail polish, fairy dust, eye shadow, jewels, and more with the Happy Birthday Princess Party at Let’s Dress Up! The day even includes a birthday tea served under crystal chandeliers. Or, add a little music to the mix with a Princess party by Moey’s Music Party. Guests love Moey’s sparkly pink dress and even get their own boas, tiaras and slap bracelets to wear while enjoying Moey’s one-of-a-kind songs!
Looking for an iconic party venue? At FAO Schwarz, families can rent the entire store if they like—though taking over a portion of the store or using the party room is also an option. Customize your own party theme with the help of the staff.
Learn And Explore
The Children’s Museum of Manhattan’s renowned Playworks exhibit, a unique, hands-on learning environment for kids, is also the site of their PlayWorks-themed birthday party, where kids can become a firefighter, “cook” a meal in the Little Apple Deli, create a birthday masterpiece on the gigantic art wall and more. Kids At Work specializes in creating engaging party experiences—like musical performances and art and science activities—for children turning ages 1-4.
Rock N’ Roll
How about a personal birthday concert? 92YTribeca offers a party space for use either before or after the venue’s popular B.Y.O.K. (Bring Your Own Kid) concerts. The songs for seeds celebration at apple seeds features a live band (guitar, keys and drums) that kids can rock out to. Or, have a dance party with Applause NYC and put together your own playlist for live musicians to perform. Puppets and bubbles are included! Kids can also rock out to Little Maestros, who sing and play guitar, piano and drums. Songs range from traditional kids songs to classic party tunes (or request your own). They even break out puppets, bubbles, parachutes, and more fun activities.
Kids can tap into their inner filmmaker with the Animation Celebration at Children’s Museum of the Arts. Participants learn the basics of claymation and then collaborate on a short animation movie that brings their creativity to life.
Kids can mix, measure, and stir up their own whole wheat pizzas—learning about the cooking process along the way—with the Pizza Party Extravaganza at Taste Buds. Later, they’ll eat their creations followed by delicious cupcakes they decorate themselves (and take home a personalized apron to boot.) With Mini Chef NYC‘s Pizza Party at Dos Caminos, birthday guests mold pizza dough into fun shapes, then enjoy a magic show while it bakes in the oven.
Calling Clifford Fans
The Scholastic Store offers up Clifford’s BIG Birthday Bash, featuring a special storytime and craft project. The finale is truly BIG—when Clifford stops by for photos, music and dancing, cupcakes and cuddling!
At SPORTIME at Randall’s Island, tennis pros lead kids in fun and games on the courts (outdoor courts and picnic tables are available in summer), followed by a pizza party in a private room. Is table tennis more your child’s speed? Check out Spin, which specializes in ping pong and has plenty of tables to play on!
The Central Park Zoo offers a theater-themed party that also features a live animal encounter—perfect for kids who’ve been vying to get up close and personal with the zoo’s inhabitants! Or, choose your own animal theme at the Bronx Zoo, which offers parties that combine fun activities, arts and crafts, visits to exhibits and live animal guests in the party room!
Pass, Kick, Score!
Opt for the Platinum Ball Party with Super Soccer Stars for some action-packed time on the field. The party includes at least two coaches who oversee activities from warm-up exercises to games to a mini-World Cup tournament. Food and cake follows, and each child leaves with a Super Soccer Stars soccer ball to continue the fun at home.
Want to explore the unknown? At Liberty Science Center, party guests can command an electromagnetic crane, climb a fossil-studded rock wall and control the water in a gushing geyser. For a more scientific approach, team up with Mad Science, which hosts birthday parties featuring hands-on experiments like tornado tubes, indoor fireworks and chemical reactions that produce light!
With a forest-themed play area, an interactive water adventure space called Splash!, and a soft play room, there’s plenty of fun to be had with a Playtime Party at City Treehouse! Or, move the party outside at the West Side YMCA, where kids can play on the venue’s new rooftop playground as part of the Roof Top Party, replete with a slide and spongy surface. At Klub4Kidz in Williamsburg, party goers spend an hour in the four-level indoor playground (complete with crawl tubes, slides, tunnels and web bridges) before enjoying 30 minutes of music, dancing, games and food in the party room.
Customize Your Own Affair
Looking for a great all-around venue where you can customize your own party and theme? Try the JCC of Manhattan. It provides the party space while you bring the creativity! Slate is another great space, which has its own party planner to help you customize the perfect bash.
Host your child’s birthday fete in the brand-new, state-of-the-art party space at Dylan’s Candy Bar! The real-life candy land offers party packages for every age, from “Sugar Babies” for 1st and 2nd birthdays to the “Hide and Sweet Cupcake Party” for kids ages 7-12.
Host a Coney-Island style carnival for your child replete with a basketball toss, fish pong, concession stands, snow cones and more at Carnival, a whimsical space above Bowlmor Lanes. Looking for the ultimate arcade experience? Head to Dave & Buster‘s for Donkey Kong, Pac Man, Dance Dance Revolution and more!
Bring On The Music
Sing, play kid-size instruments, explore the sounds of the orchestra, and have lots of musical fun with a birthday party at Hands On! Singing “Happy Birthday” never sounded so good!
Martial Arts Fun
Kick, punch, and chop your way through the big day with a birthday party at one of the city’s leading martial arts studios. Tiger Shulmann’s Karate, West Side Taekwondo and East Side Tae Kwon Doare all excellent options.
With the Sports Party at Asphalt Green, partygoers have the chance to partake in a sports bonanza, honing their skills in soccer, basketball, softball, flag football and more all in one day! Or, host an Ultimate Sports Party at Kidville, which includes games, relay races and other challenges. Want a more focused sports celebration? Celebrate with Kids In Sports and chose two to three sports to focus on from among baseball, basketball, flag football, floor hockey and soccer. At the NBA Store, aspiring hoop stars can get suited up in NBA All-Star jerseys, pose for photos and show their skills in contests and drills. For a more zen birthday experience, kids can host a Yogi Beans party, where they can partake in fun yoga activities led by a certified and experienced instructor.
Gym’s The Word
Kids run, bounce and slide to their hearts’ content at Jodi’s Gym, where action-packed parties include the use of the tunnels, a space bouncer, tumble track and more.Columbus Preschool and Gym offers a great combination of gym time and old fashioned party fun. Another great gymnastics experience is Discovery Programs,Gymboree Play & Learn, where you can choose from a variety of kid-pleasing themes. Or, try the Jump N’ Jive Party at New York Kids Club, which includes the chance to jump on the venue’s 20-foot trampoline and tackle obstacle courses.
A Personal Circus
Kids can create their own circus with the Under The Top party at Manhattan Movement & Arts Center. Guests fly on aerial silks, juggle, make their own pyramids and become silly clowns. Optional add-ons include cotton candy machines, candied apples, a bouncy castle, magician and more.
by Leah Black, Brittany McNamara and Teresa Tobat