It’s often said that first birthday parties are more for the parents than for the little ones. But a shindig at one of these local venues (psst…you don’t have to stay home) helps put the focus back on that too-cute-for-words bambino, while still proving to be loads of fun for the grown-ups. Charge your phones—you won’t want to miss a single second of the celebration.

petting-zoo-baby

Leesburg Animal Park 
Your little birthday cub will have a roaring good time at this party place. Reserve picnic tables indoors, or out in the wild, for two hours. Even if the babes will be eating with their hands, the park provides utensils, napkins and plates. You just bring the food! A zoo guide/hostess with the most-est will help wrangle the kiddos to the pony and wagon rides ($5 for kids under 2), and introduce them to a special animal friend. Each member of your pack will leave with a goody bag and share a bucket of animal food for feeding the animals in the petting zoo. If Junior isn’t too tuckered, be sure to explore the rest of the park since admission is included with the party!

Cost: $16.95/2 and over; $11.95/adults (2 hrs, $200 minimum)

19270 James Monroe Hwy. (Leesburg, Va)
703-433-0002
Online: leesburganimalpark.com

clemyjontri-park-see-saw

Clemyjontri Park
Even if you’re the only one who can say the name of this park correctly (it’s CLEH-MEE-JON-TREE), it’s a win. All over rubber surfacing means that crawlers and waddlers can enjoy every inch of the two-acre playground. Lovingly nicknamed “rainbow park” by the locals for it’s colorful play equipment, you have a built in theme, if that’s your thing. Reserve an outdoor picnic shelter or canopy for a half or full-day, which are each big enough to contain the mess of baby’s smash cake. Wrap things up with a baby’s first carousel group ride ($1.75/ride) before heading home.

Cost: $85/canopy; $120 (4.5 hrs)/shelter

6317 Georgetown Pike (Mclean, Va)
703-388-2807
Online: friendsofclemy.com 

swimming-baby-floaters

Great Waves Waterpark
Little guppies will feel right at home celebrating the “big one” at this local waterpark. You can’t bring your own food, but why bother when your school of fishies get a personal pizza, drink and ice cream cup. You can bring (and go all out) with your own cake though! The birthday kid also gets his or her own inner tube and surprise birthday gift—nope, we aren’t giving it away—from the waterpark. After the party, paddle over to the Kids Zone, which has pint-sized attractions like a shallow pool, slides, and a splash playground. Bonus: One adult per tot gets in free!

Cost: $325 (3 hrs, 10 kids); $5/additional kid h

Cameron Run Regional Park
4001 Eisenhower Ave. (Alexandria, Va)
703-960-0767
Online: greatwaveswaterpark.com

baby-hand-painting

Paint Your Own Pottery
Even though you can’t stop those little cherubs from sprouting wings, you can enjoy those little hands and feet forever by getting them printed onto a photo frame, plate, mug, or any other of the other 600 pieces in their studio. The birthday group can spend all the time they need to create the perfect keepsakes, then let the staff take care of the rest. Bringing light snacks and a cake is optional; bringing your creativity is required.

Cost: Pay only for the pottery (ready for pick-up in one week); $75/after-hours party (2.5 hrs and an additional $10 pottery-firing fee)

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10417 Main St. (Fairfax, Va)
703-218-2881
Online: trulyyourpottery.com

Have you attended any supercool first birthday parties? Share the deets in the comments section below.

—Lisa Ng

Photos courtesy of Friends of Leesburg Animal Park via Facebook, Clemyjontri Park via Facebook, THX0477 via Creative Commons, Jake Perks via Creative Commons