Party Places for Kids in Connecticut
Sassy Mouth PhotographyCelebrating your child’s birthday at home with cake, ice cream and a few games to get the party started can be special. It can be all you need to make memories that’ll last a lifetime.
That being said, if you’re looking to get out of the house—and the responsibilities that come with cleaning, cooking, shopping and preparing for a party in said house—you’ve come to the right place.
Three years ago we did our first feature on the then-burgeoning trend to host kids’ birthday parties outside the home—and came up with some pretty spectacular options. Since then, there’s been no end to the pint-sized partying going on. From baseball parks to water parks, candy factories to karaoke bars, the number of Connecticut attractions ready, willing and able to do a bang-up job of hosting a child’s birthday party is pretty astounding—and maybe even a touch overwhelming.
Have no fear: we’ve done the legwork for you with this latest batch of favorites. All you have to do sit back, grab a little glass of something relaxing and browse your options.
Piece of cake, wouldn’t you say?
Off the wall
The folks at Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park, which opened its first Connecticut location in Bethel in February, have just one question: “Are you ready to fly?!” Known for having invented “all-trampoline walled playing courts” (a concept so unique it was awarded a U.S. Patent), Sky Zone is all about high-flying fun. Highlights include a main court with 42 individual trampolines, a foam pit and slamma-jamma basketball hoops as well as three private courts for 3-D dodgeball. A party package for 10 ($260 to $300, depending on the day) includes an hour of jump time, 40 minutes in a party room for pizza and soft drinks, a T-shirt for the b-day kid and SkySocks for each jumper.
(203) 428-4080, skyzone.com/bethel
I enjoy being a girl
The party rooms at Sundae Spa in Waterbury and its new location in Milford go by names like “cupcake,” “sweet treats” and “cookie creation.” Super-sized ice cream sundaes back the pedicure stations, big red cherries float from ceilings and daydream lollipops line the stylists’ chairs. Party packages include everything from facials, pedis and manis to making lotions and potions like nail polish, bath fizz and perfume. The “Cupcake Cuties” package ($625 for eight guests) includes a hair style/wrap, mini dessert mani, sparkling eye “kandy” application, make-your-own lip gloss or body spray and, once the girls are all glammed up, a runway photo shoot and spa gift bag for each guest. A yummy ice cream sundae, but of course, tops things off.
Waterbury (877) 737-3593 or Milford (888) 654-6577, sundaespa.com
Sing, sing a song
After listening to your mini Idina Menzel belt out “Let it Go” for the 900th time, do you have any doubt she (or he) would love a party at a karaoke bar? New Haven’s Karaoke Heroes is the first dedicated karaoke bar in the state, and just so happens to boast a super-hero theme. Picture an old-fashioned phone booth just like Superman’s, red phones for calls from the commissioner, a waitstaff that sports capes and bam! pow! comic-book art designed by an artist from Marvel Comics. Kid shindigs, held during the day on Saturday or Sunday, are $300 for up to 25 kids. There’s a special kid-friendly songbook and unlimited “mocktails” included all around (think lemonade “cosmopolitans” served in martini glasses).
(203) 848-8854, karaokeheroes.net
New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Car No. 2765 is all yours for a party at the Connecticut Trolley Museum in East Windsor. April through December birthdays aboard the 1908 wooden combine passenger car start at $200 for 25 guests and include use of the air-conditioned/heated car for two hours, a party coordinator and three-mile rides on the museum’s historic rail line—once part of the Hartford & Springfield Street Railway. You can also explore the trolley museum itself, featuring more than 70 pieces of rail equipment dating back to 1869, as well as the Connecticut Fire Museum and the Connecticut Motorcoach Museum, which are also here.
(860) 627-6540, ct-trolley.org
Swing batta batta
Birthday bashes at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, home of the Connecticut Tigers, the single-A short-season affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, are $20 per person (with a 10-person minimum). Included is early entry to the stadium to watch batting practice while celebrating with a hot dog or some pizza in the picnic area, reserved seats for the game, popcorn vouchers and a souvenir Connecticut Tigers wooden bat for each guest. The guest of honor also gets a Tigers’ “junk ball” set, recognition on the video scoreboard and the honor of throwing out the first pitch! After the game partygoers get to run the bases and have a catch on the field. Opening day is June 18.
(860) 887-7962, cttigers.com
The big screen
It’s easy to spot the Bank Street Theater in downtown New Milford—its Art Deco façade and retro-chic marquee make it abundantly clear that this is one neighborhood joint that’s been around for quite some time (since 1920 in various incarnations). No worries, silent films are no longer shown at the thoroughly up-to-date theater. Birthday-party packages include private rental (which is $15 per guest with a 10-guest minimum) as well as any movie currently playing, your own exclusive theater, popcorn and beverages. A “Bring Your Movie Option” rental is a flat fee between $200 and $400, depending upon the size of the theater (there are three that seat between 35 and 120). Private rentals are typically held on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
(860) 354-2122, bankstreettheater.com
“C” is for cookie
The Cookie Workshop in Trumbull has several hundred cookie cutters at the disposal of bakers-in-training who come to the nut-free bakery to whip up a batch of something sweet. Here’s how it works: The birthday baker picks out a party theme ahead of time. All matching paper products are included, as are a choice of two flavors of sugar-cookie dough and four icing and sprinkle colors. Each participant is given two balls of dough, which make 16 to 24 cookies. He/she rolls out the dough, cuts it with specially chosen cookie cutters and then, while the cookies bake (there’s a window into the kitchen to watch), celebrates with a cupcake tower while decorating a cookie box to bring home his/her creations. When the oven dings, the cookie decorating commences and the sprinkles (which you—glory be!—don’t have to clean up) fly. Parties are $24 per person, with a 10-person minimum.
(203) 452-8872, cookieworkshop.com
Party Places for Kids in Connecticut
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Climb, crawl, wobble, zip, bounce, balance, teeter…
… and that’s just some of what you’ll find yourself doing at Soarin’ Indoors in Manchester (right), an indoor aerial adventure center that opened last October. The 12,000-square-foot course is split into two sections: a low course that’s 2.5 feet off the ground and a high option that’s 12 feet up. Both present obstacles from rope bridges and cargo nets to zip lines, slack lines and trapeze. There are mandatory double-clipped safety lines and the nimble folks here train everyone to use the equipment at ground level before tackling anything more ambitious. Parties include 90 minutes of course time, an hour in a party room and a dedicated guide. Rates for 10 guests range from $215 to $295. The course is designed for anyone who can reach their arms up to a height of five feet while standing flat on the floor—that usually means kiddos over the age of six.
(860) 645-1595, soarindoors.com
On a roll
Can you do the Cha Cha Slide on roller skates? How about the Hokey Pokey? Each deejay at Galaxy Roller Rink in Groton is an expert at making sure you have fun trying. This family-owned-and-operated throwback (which began life as the Melody Skating Rink in ’55) is all about good old-fashioned fun—with a modern twist. Three “Glow Rooms” with luminescent paint and laser lights are used for parties. The Glow Package is $195 for 10 guests and includes admission, skate rental, pizza, beverages, assorted glow-stick paraphernalia, a birthday T-shirt and game tokens. Celebrations are held Saturday and Sunday afternoons during Kids Pop Great Skates; a Teen Glow package is offered Friday and Saturday nights during Top 40 Evening Skates.
(860) 448-3882, galaxyrollerrink.com
Location, location, location
Ever tried to find a group of lounge chairs together at Lake Compounce in Bristol now that Crocodile Cove Water Park has opened? Then you will appreciate how much easier and breezier 15 new VIP cabanas throughout the water park make celebrating a birthday by the lake. The shaded cabanas (which can be reserved online) are $149.99 for up to 10 guests and are yours from noon to 7 p.m. Rental includes a Lake Compounce beach tote and towel, sunscreen, discount coupons for the park and two lockers—there’s even cabana food service available via pre-order. Beginning July 4, the new laser-light show “Illuminate the Night” lights up the sky every weekend through Aug. 24 (expect a 50-foot water wall across the lake and synchronized music). The first Pink’s Hollywood Hot Dogs on the East Coast also opened this summer as has Bear Creek Campground, ideal should you bravely decide to keep the party going overnight.
(860) 583-3300, lakecompounce.com
The 95-foot-long turntable at Danbury Station was built in 1917 for the thriving New Haven Railroad. Used to turn locomotives, it serviced a nine-stall roundhouse and was the centerpiece of the rail yard, as it is today at the Danbury Railway Museum. Parties for 24 guests range between $125 and $175 and are offered January through November in either an indoor party room or under the canopies of the landmark station. Admission to exhibits and operating layouts is included, as is a hands-on tour of the six-acre rail yard, a 20-minute train ride in season (the birthday child gets to sit in the cab alongside the engineer) and a 360-degree ride on the turntable.
(203) 778-8337, danbury.org/drm
You’re not the only one with a birthday coming up…
The Bushnell Park Carousel turns 100 in July, and to celebrate the city of Hartford is giving the venerable landmark some great gifts: heat for its pavilion, new restrooms and a snazzy function room to host parties year-round. Construction, which began in April, will be paused for the festivities on July 26 and is projected to be completed by November, when the newly restored Stein-and-Goldstein beauty and its 48 painted ponies will be ready to whirl once more. Parties will be $10 per child and include use of the party room for two hours, unlimited rides, popcorn and balloons. Giddyup!
(860) 585-5411, thecarouselmuseum.org
Like a kid in a candy … factory
A towering wall of PEZ dispensers past and present greets you at the entrance to the PEZ Visitor Center in Orange. There’s a smokin’ PEZ motorcycle custom-built by Orange County Choppers, a 14-foot-tall dispenser (the world’s largest), an interactive timeline of PEZ history, viewing windows to the production floor and, as of January, a dedicated party spot on the bright-and-shiny center’s mezzanine level. Packages for 15 kids are $299.95 and include entry to the center, pizza, soft drinks and goodie bags with blank PEZ dispensers to customize and candy buckets to fill with any (and all) PEZ flavors. The best part? The birthday boy or girl gets to visit the demo room and make his/her own batch of PEZ to bring home!
(203) 298-0201, pez.com
Can you get to Key West by way of Connecticut? You can via Waterbury’s CoCo Key Water Resort. It’s always a bright and sunny 84 degrees at the 50,000-square-foot indoor water park. A Water Fun birthday package for 10 children and two adults is $275 weekdays and $399 on weekends, and includes a two-hour open swim and party-room celebration complete with hot dogs, pizza, beverages and birthday cake. Each child also receives a goodie bag and a $5 gift card for the Key Quest Arcade. Make time for the Adventure River, a swoosh (or 10) down one of three 40-foot slides and Parrot’s Perch Interactive Play Island and its zero-depth-entry kiddie area.
(203) 706-1042, cocokeywaterbury.com
In the zone
Webb Mountain Discovery Zone started out as a 171-acre tract purchased by the town of Monroe for open space in 2004. In the decade since, it has been transformed into a stellar outdoor learning center that offers interactive—and fun!—science, history and nature programs. A Discovery Zone educator leads party programs, available March through November, for one hour, and an additional hour is set aside for cake, presents and revelry at tented outdoor picnic tables. In “Elf Adventure,” children are transformed into elves to help keep Jack Frost from freezing up the pools and ponds in the Discovery Zone and thus save frogs, turtles and salamanders. For a “Vernal Pool Party,” kids grab nets and get a little wet in order to see who lives in the Discovery Zone vernal-pool ponds. Differing parties are available; the cost for 12 children is $185 ($170 for Monroe residents) and includes a takeaway craft or gift.
(203) 556-9737, webbmountaindiscoveryzone.com
(This article was originally published on a different platform. Some formatting changes may have occurred.)
This article appeared in the June 2014 issue of Connecticut Magazine
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