Brooklyn Birthday Party Places

brooklyn birthday balloons

Where should you get the party started?

In the summer, most Brooklyn parents we know opt to hold their kid’s birthday party in Prospect Park. Pros are obvious: no space rental fee, kids can run free and enjoy the sun.

But there are cons, too: you’re beholden to the weather (who wants to deal with a birthday party rain date or, worse, having to move it to your house?); unless you’re a whiz at coming up with creative games and crafts, it’s mostly unstructured play; and you have to lug all of your party gear (food, decorations, presents) in and out of the park.

Our kids have summer birthdays, and we held one very successful party at our local playground. We took the cake and minimal decorations with us, but had the pizza delivered — and kids moved back and forth easily from the swings and slides to the few games (a treasure hunt, races, etc.) that we had lined up. There was more for them to do than if we’d been hanging in the park, and it was way better than hosting a bunch of kids and adults in our house.

It’s different, though, with birthdays that fall during the school year — particularly in the coldest months, when a park or playground party isn’t an option. And of course the older the kids get, the higher their expectations seem to be.

We’re in the midst of birthday party season right now, and we’ve been to several recently that went beyond the pizza-and-cupcakes-at-home thing. Here are a few of the places we’ve seen. (It’s by no means a comprehensive list, it’s only meant to give you some ideas based on parties we’ve attended or fun visits we’ve made that we could see translating into a party experience.)

Brooklyn Boulders — I took Jasper to a party there last weekend and it was AWESOME. We’d never been to this rock-climbing facility before, but the space is vast, music is pumping, and the energy level is high. Don’t assume it’s just a place for kids — it was crawling with adults getting in their exercise and challenging themselves on walls that ranged from simple to advanced. Our party was a small group of 6 or 7 kids, and we had two BKB staffers to get kids in their harnesses and special shoes and then spot them as they climbed.

As “The Wonder Pets” say: What’s gonna work? Teaaam-work! Not only is the climbing a great physical activity, this place really builds teamwork, with kids enthusiastically cheering each other on. It was pretty sweet to watch, and I’d definitely consider hosting a party here. After the climbing, we decamped to a private room for pizza and cake.

BounceU — We’ve been here before — think of it as a big space with bouncy structures a-go-go — and Jasper recently went for a birthday party. They do offer party packages, but the clever (and thrifty) mom who hosted did things her own way — she didn’t hold the actual party there. BounceU was just the entertainment. She took 11 kids to “open bounce” (don’t forget, you have to reserve), and THEN took them back to her apartment for food and festivities. Kids got to enjoy the place, but mom didn’t have to spring for the privilege of eating and opening gifts there.

The Painted Pot — While Jasper was bouncing his butt off at the BounceU party, we took Magnolia to The Painted Pot for some fun of her own. It’s the second time we’ve been to this pick-you-own-pottery-and-paint-it place and, I have to say, I’m kind of amazed by how into it she is — she gets really focused on the painting and takes great pride in the outcome. There was a birthday party going on while we were there — a group of girls, and they seemed to be equally into it. They served pizza on the long work tables when the kids had finished their projects. A structured activity — easy, and worth considering.

The Old Stone House & Mario the MagicianMagnolia recently attended a party here. The space is basic, big enough but not too big. Kids ran around, there were decorations, balloons and food — but the “find” at this party was Mario the Magician. The shrewd hosting mom served Mario up as party entertainment, and he was AMAZING. Not only were the magic tricks fun and impressive, he was funny, engaging, and super high-energy — he had the kids screaming and clapping with delight, and their eyes were locked on him every second. I have totally filed this guy away for future reference and would absolutely recommend him for party entertainment.

Melody Lanes — This old-time Brooklyn bowling alley was a bit of a mixed bag for me…. When Jasper and I arrived, there were some extremely seedy types hanging around out front. And there were more seedy types hanging out in the bar inside. Major ew. But once we got to our reserved party lanes, things began to look up. If you can get past the frightfulness of young kids with bowling balls — yikes! I thought it was a miracle no one left with a broken foot! — there is a good time to be had here. Like Brooklyn Boulders, there’s lots of supportive cheering going on — and Jasper actually got a strike, which was beyond exciting. The food was highly unremarkable — I might consider bringing my own healthy snacks and cupcakes instead, if they’ll let you. If you want to try the bowling experience in a different venue, check out the Mommy Poppins list: 15 Places to Bowl with Your Kids in NYC

We’ve escaped the party place rental so far, but I know we won’t be able to forever. Here are some other places I’ve got my eye on to explore:

Pool Party at the Prospect Park Y or ElsewhereJasper thinks this would be an excellent idea; I don’t see party deets on the Prospect Park Y‘s site, but a parent recently told me his kid attended a wild but fun one there. Call for rates and details.

Klub 4 Kidz — We had a blast exhausting the kids at this new Williamsburg play space not long ago; could be good for a party, too, if prices don’t break the bank.

Construction Kids — Kids use real tools and materials to BUILD THINGS. Cool. And the parties sound fun.

For more ideas, see:

New York City Kids Birthday Party Guide via Mommy Poppins

Birthday Party Places for Kids in New York City via TimeOut New York Kids

Related:

Birthday Parties: An Easy Tea Party

Birthday Parties: Why the Drop-Off Party Rules

Birthday Sheet Cake from Rick Bayless

What has been your most successful Brooklyn kid’s birthday party so far? Give us a shout!

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