© istockphoto.com / juliannafunk
Looking to plan a bash your kid will remember for years to come? HOST A celebration at one of these next-level venues.
photo © Michael Soluri Photography
The idea: Buehler Challenger and Science Center is perfect for your budding astronaut and his crew. This longtime Paramus staple will blast your kid off into space on the simulated mission Rendezvous with Comet Halley. After an hour of pre-flight training, kids in fifth grade and older get to suit up and assume the role of a real space team member, completing experiments, giving navigational orders, monitoring health and life support and more. Bonus? They get out-of-this-world astronaut ice cream (freeze-dried!) to take home. Birthday missions for pre-K and up.
The details: Buehler Challenger and Science Center, Paramus. bcsc.org. Call for prices
Photo courtesy battleship new jersey
The idea: He can spend the night on a legendary ship with friends at Battleship NJ. They’ll watch a simulated launch of a Tomahawk missile and chow down on a soldier-style dinner. During the ship tour, they’ll see the captain’s and admiral’s cabins and climb the ship’s original ladders.
Book a birthday party camp-in at Garden State Discovery Museum and the kiddos will enjoy dozens of interactive science exhibits. After dark, they’ll curl up in the storybook castle, stargaze in the night exhibit and nosh on midnight snacks.
STEM kids will have a blast at Liberty Science Center, especially at night when there are no crowds. Make sure they don’t miss the Touch Tunnel or Skyscraper exhibit before they hit the hay.
If you’re looking for something more luxurious, try a hotel suite à la Eloise. At Embassy Suites in Parsippany, a birthday package includes popcorn, pizza and soda, plus access to a swimming pool and movie library.
The details: Battleship NJ, Camden. battleshipnewjersey.org. $69 per child
Embassy Suites Hotel, Parsippany. embassysuites3.hilton.com. $274-284 per night for 4-6 guests
Garden State Discovery Museum, Cherry Hill. discoverymuseum.com. $35 per child, 15 child minimum
Liberty Science Center, Jersey City. lsc.org. $60 per child.
photo courtesy High Exposure rock climbing
Ninja Warrior Fun
The idea: 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 Kacy Catanzaro on TV, she’ll love trying to get up the warped wall, attempting the salmon ladder or racing her friends through a challenging obstacle course. The kids will be bouncing off the walls, and you won’t be complaining a bit. 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 party, too. Important to note: Signed waivers are necessary, so make sure to send the link with invites.
The details: High Exposure Rock Climbing, Northvale. highexposureclimbing.com. $369 for 10 kids
HudsonPlay, Jersey City. hudsonplaynj.com. $449 for 10 guests
Pinnacle Parkour, multiple locations. pinnacleparkour.com. $275 for up to 10 children.
photo courtesy top golf
The idea: There are driving ranges, and then there’s Topgolf, a mega entertainment center that boasts 102 climate-controlled hitting bays, a restaurant, gaming area and rooftop terrace. Little golfers will get a dedicated hitting bay for two hours, along with the chance to book a pro who’ll provide pointers.
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, giving golfers instant feedback on each shot’s accuracy and distance on a computer screen. During the festivities, kids will feast on chicken tenders, mini hot dogs or cheeseburgers. But it’s the venue’s signature dessert— cinnamon sugar-dusted donut holes with chocolate and raspberry sauces—that’ll be the hit of the party.
The details: Topgolf, Edison. topgolf.com. Parties start at $31.03 per child.
photo courtesy chocolate works
The idea: If she’s obsessed with all things Willy Wonka, being a chocolatier for a day will blow her mind. She’ll start by molding and making her own chocolate treats before decorating them with tons of sweets. The kids will take a trip through the chocolate car wash, play games, win prizes, eat pizza and take home some seriously indulgent goody bags.
The details: Chocolate Works, multiple locations. chocolateworks.com. $400 for 10 kids; $20 every additional.
photo courtesy glassworks
The idea: Your little Picassos have probably had their share of painting or pottery parties, but have they tried glass fusing? 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 plan a designated pick-up spot once everything’s squared away.
The details: Glassworks, Morristown. umakeglass.com. $350 for 10 kids ages 9 and up.
photo courtesy diggerland
Dump Trucks and Diggers
The idea: Diggerland is one of NJ’s most unique spots, giving your truck-loving kid a chance to get behind the wheel of some heavy machinery. She and her pals will spin like crazy on rides made of construction equipment. While this is a hike from North and Central Jersey, we’re betting parents won’t mind making the drive with a bunch of kids since it’s the perfect place for them to channel their inner child. Birthday party admission is for 11 kids and 12 chaperones. The two-hour party includes pizza, a party host and a chance for the birthday girl to dig in the dirt and drive tractors. Even better? Diggerland is open well into November on the weekends, so it’s not limited to kids with summer birthdays.
The details: Diggerland, West Berlin. diggerlandusa.com. Weekend parties start at $369.
photo courtesy american girl
Hit the Big Apple
The idea: She’ll love sharing the spotlight with her favorite doll at American Girl Place. The birthday party crew will munch on crudités, pigs in a blanket and mini cinnamon buns before ordering from the lunch menu, which includes tic-tac-toe pizza, bitty burger bites and more. Little custom-made chairs for each doll hook to a table set with tiny cups and saucers, plus 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.
If she loves ice cream, give her a serious sugar rush on her special day with a party at Cool Mess. Kids choose their own base and mix-ins, then transform it into freshly-churned ice cream in a table-top maker. They can pick their own toppings or try a tasty “messipe.” Want lunch or dinner afterwards? Head to Burger Heaven upstairs.