Planning an outdoor shindig for your birthday girl or boy has its pros and cons, and they both revolve around the weather. You could get a picture-perfect day (not too hot, not too cold, sunshine galore). Or, it could be raining cats and dogs. Don’t let a little drizzle fizzle kiddo’s fete. Check out these awesome alternative venues that welcome last minute reservations, are dirt cheap (or free), and are just as fun.
It’s one of these places that specializes in birthdays, but they also have a large cafeteria area where you can BYOC (bring your own cake) and then let the party goers loose for some indoor fun. They offer a massive arcade, a climbing/ropes course area, laser tag, and even a separate play area for the under-five set. Added awesome: if the sun makes an appearance, there is a roller coaster (and a ton of other seriously fun outdoor activities) to partake in.
Cost: Passes and food vary, but they offer all day ride passes
11113 W Baldwin (New Market, Md)
Play and Learn Playground Superstores
Technically these venues are for shopping, but for those with little ones who are free to book a party during the week, they can be a great oh-my-gosh-it’s-pouring-out way to salvage some play time on your child’s big day. You can’t do cake and gifts, but you can all get together and play and then head over to a nearby eatery to enjoy your party provisions together. The Columbia location has play hours Monday-Friday on a walk-in basis, but the Chantilly store requires reservations and is only open to play on Thursdays (so if the weather man gives you a heads up Wednesday night, you’re all set!).
9133 Red Branch Rd. (Columbia, Md)
4102 Pepsi Pl. (Chantilly, Va)
You will have to pay $7 per child to get in, but with it your party people will get all day access to this world of kid-flavored fun. You can let everyone enjoy a bit of time exploring and then bring the group together in the “Come Eat with Me” area for snacks and cake. You can also enjoy cupcake decorating with your crew on site (for a small additional fee).
7000 Wisconsin Ave. (Bethesda, Md)
545 8th St. SE (Eastern Market)
Sky Zone Trampoline Park
This place gets crazy busy on the weekends, but you can buy your entrance time in advance online and then have your party crew meet up for a couple of hours of jumping fun. Then when you’re done, hit the cafe area for slushies from their concession stand or dole out pieces of cake. Big kids even think this place is cool (the dodge ball and the b-ball dunking area is on the list of must-do’s for tweens). Only draw back, it’s not cheap.
Cost: Tues. and Thurs. during toddler time, $5. Other times based on duration of visit
7175 Oakland Mills Rd. (Columbia, Md)
Central Park Fun Land
Central Park Fun Land offers tons of indoor attractions to keep your kids busy. They have over 100 arcade games, an indoor roller coaster, an indoor ferris wheel, laser tag, rock climbing, play areas and more. They can accommodate a planned party, but they also are happy to attempt to accommodate you and your group on a last minute basis. Depending on your party’s size, if the weather takes a turn for the worse, they may be the perfect back up plan.
Cost: Varies depending on activities
1351 Central Park Blvd. (Fredericksburg, Va)
Many area shopping centers have made space for indoor play areas to break up the monotony of shopping for the kids. Generally these areas are geared toward younger children so if you’re hosting a party for the preschool set and need a backup plan stat, a local mall play space may be the perfect solution. You can meet up for play and then head to the food court for snacks and cake. One of our local faves to try? The play area at Tyson’s Corner. You can let the little people run around a bit (for free) and then splurge on a train ride if you wish. Maryland peeps might want to try The Forest Play Area at Lakeforest Mall. It’s large and there is seating nearby for post play snack time.
1961 Chain Bridge Rd. (McLean, Va)
701 Russell Ave. (Gaithersburg, Md)
This indoor, action packed play center offers daily open play sessions which means you can crash there with friends without calling ahead first. There is an admission fee for the littles, but adults hanging with them get in for free. And, you can buy snacks from their peanut free cafe for all of your guests.
Cost: $6.95/kids under 2; $9.95/kids ages 2-9
4090 Lafayette Center Dr., Ste. E (Chantilly, Va)
Do you know of any cool back up venues for rained-out outdoor gatherings? Tell us in the comments section below.