Looking to plan a bash your kid will remember for years to come? Consider hosting her celebration at one of these next-level venues.
Photo courtesy Jersey Shore pirates
The details: Your little scallywag would probably love a pirate-themed party at home, but having his birthday celebrated on an actual pirate ship will blow his mind. These pirate adventures deck your little landlubbers in some pirate gear, get them a must-have anchor tattoo (temporary, naturally), before sending them out for an adventure they won’t forget. The party includes sailing time, which is usually a little over an hour, the little mateys getting to shoot a rival pirate with water cannons and a search for sunken treasure. After a high-seas adventure, the kids will enjoy indulging in some pirate booty. And don’t worry that your little ones will be scared—the captain is of the friendly variety and no one will have to walk the plank.
Try: Jersey Shore Pirates, Pier 281 Marina, Brick. 732-899-6100. Parties for up to 43 passengers start at $688, jerseyshorepirates.com; Pirate Time NJ, 73 Blue Heron Dr., Toms River. 732-310-0579. Parties for up to 49 guests start at $695. Piratetimenj.com
photo courtesy topgolf
The details: There are driving ranges and then there’s Topgolf, a mega entertainment center that boasts 102 climate-controlled hitting bays, a restaurant, a gaming area and rooftop terrace. Your little golfer and friends will get a dedicated hitting bay for two hours along with the chance to book a pro who’ll provide pointers to help partygoers with their swing.
Even kiddos who don’t love golf will have a blast swinging at a mix of colorful targets into a sprawling outfield. The best part? Microchipped balls score themselves, providing golfers with instant feedback on each shot’s accuracy and distance on a computer screen. During the party, kids will nosh on chicken tenders, mini hot dogs or cheeseburgers but the venue’s signature desserts— cinnamon-sugar dusted donut holes with chocolate and raspberry sauce— that’ll be the hit of the party.
Try: Topgolf, 1013 U.S. Route 1 Edison, 732-875-7165. Parties start at $31.03 per child. topgolf.com
photo courtesy Scarehouse
The Great Escape
The details: If your tween is into puzzle-solving, detective work or surprises, he’ll love escape rooms. How do they work? Kids enter an area prepped with staged sets filled with props, clues, locks and puzzles that guests try to solve in order to escape before time runs out. Partygoers can expect everything from hidden keys to word puzzles to secret codes along the way.
Rooms are themed, too, so your crew can choose according to the birthday kid’s taste. If you want a classic experience, try Swiss Original at Adventure Rooms in Montclair, where your squad will scavenge for clues and conduct experiments to make their way out. If your kid likes being spooked, try Haunted Scarehouse Escape in Wharton, which doubles as a walk-through haunted house in the fall. Ideal for preteens and up, this venue sends you on a mission to uncover dark secrets about madman John Hayden and his notorious family.
Try: Adventure Rooms, 119 Grove St., Montclair. Kids ages 10-13 must have a parent with them. Tickets start at $30. 973-746-0050. myadventurerooms.com; Haunted Scarehouse Escape, 105 W. Dewey Ave., Wharton. Tickets start at $29. 862-244-4454. hauntedscarehouse.com; Escape Room NJ, 157A Main St, Hackensack, (201) 815-1784. Tickets start at $45. escaperoomnj.com
photo courtesy of american girl place
A NYC Adventure
Give her a serious sugar rush on her special day with a party at Cool Mess. Kids get to choose their own ice cream base and mix-ins, then transform it into freshly churned ice cream in a table-top ice cream maker. Choose toppings yourself or go by one of their tasty “messipes.” Want dinner? Head to Burger Heaven upstairs.
Cool Mess, 137 E. 62nd St., New York, NY. Parties start at $36 per child. 212-355-9834; coolmess.com
If he wants a slumber party, put a unique twist on the night with A Night at the Museum Sleepover at the American Museum of Natural History. Kids ages six to 13 will explore the galleries by flashlight (don’t miss the famous T. rex!), then do some fossil fact-finding and watch a film before bed. Tickets sell out fast, so call ASAP to reserve.
American Museum of Natural History, Central Park W. at 79th St., New York, NY. Sleepovers start at $145 per non-members, discounts for members and groups. 212-769-5100. amnh.org
She’ll love sharing the spotlight with her favorite doll while munching on crudités, pigs in a blanket and mini cinnamon buns as appetizers before ordering from the lunch menu which includes tic-tac-tie pizza, bitty burger bites and more. Little chairs custom made for each doll hook to the table which is set with tiny cups and saucers and fun fortunes to read aloud. The party is topped off with a signature cake and ice cream plus goody bags filled with treats for her favorite doll.
American Girl Place, 609 5th Ave, New York, NY. Parties start at $39 per child, $29 per adult. (877) 247-5223; americangirl.com
photo courtesy high exposure
Ninja Warrior Fun
The details: There are rock climbing spots all over NJ, but only a handful cater to your future American Ninja Warrior star. If she’s watched the likes of Joe Moravsky or Isaac Caldiero on TV, she’ll love trying to get up their warped wall, attempting the salmon ladder or racing her friends through a challenging obstacle course. These high-energy gyms offer every kind of climbing obstacle or balancing act she could imagine, and she can master some serious parkour skills during the hour and a half party. The kids will be bouncing off the walls, and you won’t be complaining a bit. Important to note: Signed waivers are necessary, so make sure to send the link with the invites.
Try: HudsonPlay, 189 Brunswick St., Jersey City, 201-963-4671. Hudsonplaynj.com. Parties start at $449 for 10 guests. High Exposure Rock Climbing, 266 Union Street, Northvale. 201-768-8600 Prices start at $369 for 10 kids. highexposureclimbing.com. Pinnacle Parkour, 1205 Warren Ave, Cherry Hill. 855-PRO-PARKOUR. Pinnacleparkour.com. Prices start at $275 for up to 10 children.
photo courtesy glassworks
The details: Your little Picassos nine and up have probably had their share of painting or pottery parties, but have they tried glass fusing yet? Artists-in-training make their own dish or picture frame before it gets fired up in the on-site kiln. FYI: You won’t be able to take their projects home for a week, so make a designated pick-up spot once everything’s squared away.
Try: Glassworks, 151 South St., Morristown; 973-656-0800, umakeglass.com. Prices start at $350 for 10 kids.
photo courtesy chocolate works
The details: If your kid’s obsessed with all things Willy Wonka, being a chocolatier for a day is a dream come true. She’ll start by molding and making her own chocolate treats under the watchful eye of a chocolatier before decorating them with tons of sweet treats.
Try: Chocolate Works, 42 South Park St., Montclair; 973-744-3344, montclair.chocolateworks.com. Prices start at TKTK I emailed her.