Winter birthdays can feel limiting; cold temperatures and slushy weather makes most outdoor activities out of reach. But these venues pack outdoor-type fun in indoor spaces. From a hands-on petting zoo experience to indoor bumper cars, these party venues are sure to please those that may have previously longed for a summer party.
Photo: Adventure Park USA
Everything (But the Kitchen Sink)
If you can’t decide on a party theme – climbing wall? laser tag? rope course? arcade? — choose “all of the above” at Adventure Park USA in Maryland. Geared more toward the younger crowd (think 10 and under), this amusement park boasts both indoor and outdoor activities. In the winter, the roller coasters and other outdoor attractions are not operating. But there is plenty to do inside the Wild West themed building; in addition to all of the “themes” mentioned above, you also find bumper cars! Birthday parties start at $159.62 for eight guests and includes the use of the party room for one hour, pizza for all guests and access to indoor games and the arcade. Lucky guests may also get to meet Dustin the Cowboy and Tumble the Prairie Dog, Adventure Park’s resident mascots.
Petting Zoos used to be a party experience reserved for warmer weather. Until now! The Leesburg Animal Park recently added an indoor petting zoo to their grounds. Children can mix and mingle with exotic animals like camels and emus in the comfort (and warmth) of a fully heated indoor barn. Kids will also enjoy the indoor play space that includes seven distinct learning zones: a baby The Animal Park’s Safari package is available year-round and includes the use of a private party room for two hours, a pony ride for each child, a souvenir cup filled with animal feed and more. Party packages start at $359 for 10 kids (and 10 adults). For an additional $40, you can add a bounce house to your party room.
Monkey See, Monkey Do If you have a monkey for a munchkin, a jungle-themed party is in order. Tots who like to oo-oo-ee-ee their way around the great outdoors will enjoy an active, animal-filled birthday celebration at MagicGround. The DC-based indoor playground features a rock climbing wall, jumbo slides, a ball pit. a treehouse, a swinging bridge and more. The resident face painter can transform your party guests into jungle creatures like leopards, zebras and parrots. There is also a game room, a craft space and a toddler play area. Weekday packages start at $200 for 90 minutes of play for 10 guests.
Sound the Alarm! Warm up a cold winter weekend with a party at the Friendship Firehouse Museum.Little firefighters will be mesmerized by hoses, ladders and shiny trucks of yesteryear. Party packages, which cost $250, include 90 minutes of hands-on, guided activities including firehouse-themed games and crafts. Each guest also receives a firefighter hat. After exploring the antique firehouse apparatus, head over to one of the two neighboring firehouses that will give your guests a tour of a modern facility (advanced reservations required).
Ice, Ice Party If your little one wants the beauty of a snowscape without the actual chill, head to Falls Church-based BusyBees. This indoor playground would make a polar bear feel at home; sleek, Arctic-white vinyl with touches of icy blue, mint green (with pops of pink) make this indoor play place picture-perfect for a Polar Bear party. Your guests can slide down frozen-looking slides that light up (like Northern Lights!) or waddle like a penguin through ball pits. This polar-perfect party space also offers pre-planned party packages; prices start at $35 per child (there is a 12 kid minimum). BusyBees also has a location in Fairfax Corner.
Let the Sun Shine Unicorns are mythological and, let’s face it, so are warm, sunny days in the (often) dismal months of January and February. But celebrating your pint-sized Sunshine requires something light and bright, like winged horses and colorful rainbows! If your little dreams of a party dipped in glitter and topped with sprinkles, check out Host and Toast a Reston-based party planning company that brings the level of detail and design usually reserved for weddings to children’s parties. If you want to tackle all things mythical and magical on your own, start with a bare-bones party room, like the one at Nook. These rooms are a monochromatic white, offering a blank canvas to create your fanciful vision.
Let your child’s party soar with a birthday celebration at Dulles International Airport. Geared for children age 5 and up, IAD offers packages that let kids explore the many aspects of air travel, from scanning luggage to meeting working K-9s. Party packages include party space, free parking and group activities (prices start at $300). You can customize your party with options like touring the airfield ($75) or doing a plane-related craft. Decoration options are limited inside the airport (you wont’ be able to float balloons), but all the activity you’ll see in the skies is sure to make up for it!
Birthday Crossing Whether your little one likes Thomas the Train or The Little Engine that Could, The Fairfax Station Railroad Museum is the ideal place to host a choo choo party. Little ones will enjoy exploring the railroad-themed rooms and the miniature train tables, and don’t forget the picture-perfect backdrop for your party pictures: the little red caboose! Audio visual equipment is available to screen your little one’s favorite steam engine. Party packages start at $200.
You’ll find Elemeno between the letters K and P (get it?!); it’s the perfect place for tots still learning their ABC’s. This DC-based play space and birthday venue caters to the under 6 set. Prices start for parties start at $476 (for members; non-members are an additional $119). Prices are steeper here than at other venues, but that fee reserves the entire space for your guests and family. The space can accommodate 60 people, so Elemeno suggests inviting 20 kids (since each comes with one to two adults). Parties are held early morning or late afternoon and last for an hour and a half.