SEE MY LIST OF 53+ IDEAS FOR KID’S BIRTHDAY PARTIES AROUND HOWARD COUNTY BELOW – UPDATED April 18, 2023.
There are many great location options for indoor and outdoor birthday parties for kids in Howard County. I have compiled a list of birthday party ideas–some of the party places are popular, but others are more unusual and creative, and even have a few unique ideas.
Please note that these are not paid listings–this is my list of birthday party places. I have added the birthday venues here because I have used them for my own kids, been to a party there, or have it on authority from other parents.
There are a few “negative” recommendations in the list below, too–places that might be popular go-to’s, but like the bouncy birthday parties mentioned above, they should be avoided.
Again, all the recommendations are my own, and I am not paid for by the venues listed. This post does contain sponsored links to party favors on Amazon.com. Hopefully, you’ll find the party favors ideas helpful, but they aren’t related to why I chose each location.
(Please also see my post about what to give out as party favors, and if you’re looking for some great gift ideas, see my post, Gift Ideas for Brainy Kids!)
Since I live in Howard County, Maryland, this list of indoor and outdoor places to have children’s birthday parties pertains specifically to this area (Columbia and other areas of Howard County). Still, many of the things in the list would apply to anywhere USA–you have to look around for a similar venue in your area.
Let me know what you think of this party list–since this is one of the busiest posts on my blog, idea contributions are very welcomed!
List of places to have kids’ birthday parties:
- Nature Centers (Ages 2-10)
Outdoor birthday party venues offer some great birthday party options that aren’t overdone. They are great for toddlers and older kids alike. Not many people have their parties at a nature center, but they’re nice…and educational. We have two nature centers in Howard County that offer parties: Robinson Nature Center and Howard County Conservancy.
There are lots of party options to enjoy. For example, a great Fall birthday party idea would be a campfire party at the Howard County Conservancy. A naturalist leads the kids through activities and making s’mores.
Robinson Nature Center offers various parties at different price points, primarily for ages two and up. For instance, they have a nature puppet theater party, a butterfly party, a nature hike party, or even a full-dome movie party in the planetarium, which looks like a blast! All this means that these nature centers are an excellent place for a 5th birthday party up to a 10th or 11th birthday. Parties start from $350 at this writing, and party rooms are available.
✳Nature Center Party Favor Ideas: Bamboo Plants, Polinator Flower Seed Packets, TickleMe Plant Seeds, Binoculars
- Farm Birthday Parties (Ages 2-8)
Farm parties offer another outdoor venue option. Clark’s Elioak Farm in Ellicott City is very popular. In the fall, you could consider an apple or berry harvest party at Larriland farm (Ages 2-12)–check the harvest calendar to see what is ripe. Educational and fun–plus the pickings are the party favor. Clark’s Elioak Farm is a great standby party venue for toddlers. Breezy Hill Farm (Ages 2-8) – Breezy Hill’s biggest draw is its alpaca herd, although they also have rabbits, goats, sheep, and chickens. Take a tour of this working farm with your group. This will be especially fun for a toddler party, but 8-year-olds and younger will have a great time… this should be enjoyable for anyone. Alpacas are gentle, graceful animals, and you may be able to get one to pose with your party group. You will also want to have a look at what Mary’s Land Farm has to offer for your event.
✳Party Favor Ideas: Straw Hats, TickleMe Plant Seeds, Succulent Plants, Barnyard Animal Ear Headbands
- Zip Lining and Tree Adventures (Ages 8 and older)
Sandy Spring Adventure Park and Terrapin Adventures. Outdoor adventure parties in the trees are very cool. Kids must be at least 8 to be able to participate in a treetop party at Sandy Spring Adventure Park, but if you’re looking for a place that will keep older kids busy, this is for you. These are great parties for 13-year-olds, even sweet sixteens…Sandy Spring Adventure Park is just outside Howard County, while Terrapin Adventures is in Savage, Md, near Savage Mill. Kids will enjoy being challenged at both venues. However, I think Sandy Spring Adventure Park has a more extensive course. Recommended. Party packages at Sandy Spring Adventure Park may include party favors.
✳Party Favor Ideas: Carabiners
- Craft and Painting Parties (Ages 4-13)
The Thrifty Teacher in Laurel is an excellent option for a paint party. Friendly and affordable.
Doodle Hatch in Columbia has many excellent party options in an unusual setting. Check this place out. It includes special workshops such as “Roll Up and Dye,” which would be fantastic for a tie-dye party.
Michael’s craft store parties (price depends on the craft chosen) and Joann Fabrics Parties are relatively popular, and their stores all seem to have some party room. There are also several pottery painting businesses around. The parties center on the kids creating and/or painting a piece of pottery. Another great option is the Columbia Art Center. They have preset parties that look like great fun in a friendly atmosphere. They have a variety of available party themes (even Minecraft!), and parties can be on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays.
In Ellicott City, there is ClayGround (Highly recommended) and the Pottery Stop, which is a combination coffee shop and ceramics studio–they have a small party room. If you bring a small group of kids (maybe five or less), you can “drop-in” to the store and make your party there. You can bring outside food, although they offer a few snacks and a full coffee/hot chocolate menu.
There is a Qdoba restaurant next door to the Pottery Stop, so you can get quesadillas or tacos there and bring them into the Pottery Stop. Unless you set up a birthday party package, there are no reservations, so you must be careful to pick a day and time when they aren’t likely so busy that you won’t find a table for your party. You may want to call and ask the most strategic times to set your party, but probably the safest time is right at opening time. For example, we had a party there the weekend before Valentine’s Day in the mid-afternoon, and it was quite busy; we were lucky to get a table for 4. Still, the children had a perfect time. The bonus is that the item the kids paint is also the party favor. It takes a week for them to fire the kids’ creations in the kiln, so plan to come back and pick up the items and then distribute them back to their owners. If you’re in Laurel or Maple Lawn or in the Northern side of Montgomery County, you might find Burning Down the House in Fulton a more convenient place for a pottery party. I’ve driven past it enough on Scaggsville Road but have never been there. Yet another option is Pinot’s Pallet in Elliott City. This is a great place to hold a painting party for kids (or adults!).
✳Party Favor Ideas: Playdough, Magnetic drawing tablets, Putty Slime Balls.
- DodgeBow – This is a unique party opportunity similar to paintball but with bows and arrows. Check out the website. It is located in Hanover, Md.
✳Party Favor Ideas: Archery Sets
- Race Car Driving (Ages 5+)
Autobahn Indoor Go Cart Speedway in Jessup, Maryland. Looks like a blast with exclusive track time for your party. Kids five and up will love this place.
✳Party Favor Ideas: Putty Slime Balls
- Indoor Pool Parties (Ages 2+)
GoldFish Swim School, Columbia Association, or Lifetime Fitness. If you’re a member of Lifetime Fitness, they offer a competitive package. Kids love pools, especially if you have a winter birthday; an indoor pool party is a welcome reminder of summer fun.Party favors might include swim goggles or water toys. One tip would be to have one parent stay dry while the other gets in the pool with the kids–this way, you have your bases covered. The Columbia Association has pool parties, and I generally do NOT recommend parties there because of crowding at the Columbia Swim Center indoor pool. Although the splashdown attraction has some fun aspects, they do not control the number of kids, which can be no fun. I would only recommend this party for older kids on off-hours. If you’re in Ellicott City, you may want to consider having your pool party at the Roger Carter Center. They offer reasonably priced party packages.
✳Party Favor Ideas: Water Toys, Goggles, Flip-Flop Keychains, Hawaiian Flower Leis, Hibiscus Flower Hair Clips
[Need a kid’s allowance and chore reward solution? Check out my review of FamZoo Debit Cards for Kids]
- Indoor Playground Party (Ages 2-7)
Hyperkids (Snowden River Parkway in Columbia) Part gym, indoor playground, learning kitchen. Great place to host a birthday party for younger children. Another option would be Play N Learn in Columbia – This is a playground sales store, but they let you have birthday parties here.
- Ballet and Dance Parties (Ages 2-10). This is a no-brainer for young girls, but boys can also have fun at dance parties. Most of the time, the gyms will give you a choice as to the style of dance you’d like the kids to learn as part of the celebration, so instead of ballet, you might do a jazz or even hip-hop birthday. For ballet parties, girls will enjoy dressing up like prima ballerinas. Pricing varies. Check out Turning Point Dance Academy in Elkridge, Md.
✳Ballet Party Favor Ideas: Flashlights, Jump Ropes, Streamer Wands, Lucky Bamboo Plants
- Gymnastics Parties (Ages 2-8)
There are plenty of places to hold gymnastics parties. One of my best experiences was at My Gym in Columbia, MD. The staff was attentive, and the kids had a great time–unfortunately, their prices are high.
Locations: Columbia, Ellicott City
✳Gymnastics Party Favor Ideas: Ribbon Wands, Jump Ropes
- Build-A-Bear (Ages 2-7)
This will cost you about $30/kid; they have a six-kid minimum—very good experience with four and five-year-olds. There is a build-a-bear location in Columbia Mall. When we had our party there, we had birthday cake first in the food court. We got to the mall early enough to reserve some tables for the party guests…and it worked out fine.
✳Party Favor Ideas: Bubbles, Squishies
- Lifetime Fitness Parties (Ages 4+)
They offer parties with a rock wall, swimming, basketball, etc… – Two party coordinators are included, and they do a great job of making sure everything is going well…they even set up your decorations for you (you have to provide decorations, plates, napkins, party favor bags, etc). If you are a Lifetime Fitness member, I would recommend the parties there. Here is the information sheet Lifetime Fitness gives you when you want to book a party from a few years back. The parties here would be appropriate for kids ages 10-12, even older teenagers.
✳Party Favor Ideas: Sports Scope Games, Lip balm.
- Idea Lab Parties (Ages: 4+)
Have a STEM-related birthday party in Columbia at the Idea Lab. This is so nerdy. Lots of possible party themes for kids to have a great time: Jedi training, video production, Minecraft, slime, cooking/baking…and much more. This is the place to have a nerdfest of a party. Located off Red Branch Road/Route 108 (near Shadowland).
✳Party Favor Ideas: Puzzle Cube Set
- Bowling Parties (Ages 5+)
Duck pins are better for younger kids if a duckpin alley is nearby. Those are rare. Around here, I know there are duckpins in Silver Spring and Mt. Airy. You can always go for the larger pin-bowling allies, but it is less fun with the kids. Even with the lighter 6-pound balls and gutter bumpers, the kids still have a lot of trouble. I don’t recommend the Bowlero bowling alley off of Snowden River in Columbia. Although it is a relatively nice alley, all the above problems apply, but then as part of the package, they give the kids tokens for the game room. That leads to massive frustration as there aren’t any games young kids can even play! Also, see MainEvent in Columbia Mall. The place looks like fun.
✳Party Favor Ideas: LED Rubberband Helicopters or Rocket Copters
- MainEvent in Columbia Mall
Loads of possibilities here – laser tag, bowling, virtual reality games, and more.
✳Party Favor Ideas: LED Glasses, Can You Spy cards
- Rock Climbing Age Range (6+)
ClimbZone (301-317-1970) in Laurel or MovementGym (Ages 5+)
The bookcase climbing wall at
Compared to Movement Gym, the atmosphere at ClimbZone is less serious and more fun. They have done a fantastic job of making it less serious and making the climbing walls into interesting sculptures and objects rather than the same old walls. For example, they have a wall that looks like Mount Rushmore and another one that’s a replica of a gigantic bookcase. Kids love it.
All of their walls have auto-belay, so you don’t have to worry about having someone paying attention and belaying the kids. This is a huge advantage, mainly because kids six and up can likely hook themselves into any wall and start climbing! They also have some bouncy houses and slides for younger kids. There are party rooms available in this very new facility.
Movement Gym (Columbia Location – 410-872-0060)
Movement Gym’s rock climbing facility offers kids birthday parties — locations in Rockville, Columbia, and Timonium. Pricing as of this writing is $225 for 1-10 participants and $325 for 11-15 participants at the Columbia, MD, location. (Lifetime Fitness also offers rock climbing parties, but you have to be a member) Movement has a few “party rooms” that have their own climbing walls. I’ve been to a party here for five-year-olds, and it worked very well–the kids had a great time. They provided four climbing instructors who put the harnesses on the kids and belayed them. Very nice.
- Escape Room Birthday Parties – Columbia is home to Breakout Games. You can book parties here by purchasing enough tickets for your group. The party will need to be small, and if possible, you’ll want to book the entire thing so you don’t wind up with strangers attending your party. I would recommend this mainly for older kids. It can be frustrating for younger ones. There are several rooms so you can choose between them to find whatever suits you. BTW, if you want something edgier with horror themes, there is a breakout room in Laurel in an old movie theater.
Home Birthday Party Ideas
If you have room at home (or a relative’s home or decide to rent a party room such as at the North Laurel Community Center, The Meeting Room in Clarksville, Occasions Banquet Hall in North Laurel, or Roger Carter Community Center in Ellicott City) there are lots of great ideas for home-hosted parties. For example hiring a magician, having a princess tea party or having someone bring in farm animals, etc.
- ✳Tip: For any birthday party consider getting a photo booth. These can be great fun and provide lasting memories. Choose your provider carefully. I’ve had great luck with Shelly’s Sweet Photo Booth (410) 961-2983. ✳
Here are some entertainers I have seen that do a good job with home parties. For more ideas, see my other post about birthday party themes:
- Science-Themed Parties- There are a few performers you can get. One great choice is Mad Science–they have several performers that can come to your child’s party. I’ve seen Damu perform; he was fantastic. Request him if he’s available. I have also seen several shows by Eric Energy. Eric did a pretty good job with “science-tainment”–he gets the kids involved in several science experiments that they are sure to love…a great party favor to go with this would be a 10-pack of safety goggles.
- You might also try doing a science party if you’re ambitious–see Bird’s Party blog’s Mad Scientist Party how-to. If you like animals, you could have Reptile Wonders/Nature Center On The Go bring all sorts of exciting animals to your home. Reptile Wonders has huge turtles, a Burmese python, a bearded dragon, and various skinks for your party guests to see and handle.
- D’s Magic – Great magic show is complete with rabbit and balloon sculptures. Very entertaining.
- Have an art-themed party. A colleague and friend of mine bought canvases and paints for the party attendees. She put nails in her fence and attached the canvases so each child would have an easel.
- Petting Zoo party – If it’s in the budget, get Leesburg Animal Park to bring their petting zoo to your home. Kids will get to learn about and pet llamas, turtles, chickens, snakes, goats, and more
- Kids all love a face-painters. Try Pirate Girl.
- For a unique flair of sophistication and to perhaps do your job as host a bit easier, consider hiring light catering. For example, the Omelette Guys provide omelette and Belgian waffle stations and pasta stations.
Do you have any ideas to share? Don’t be shy about letting me know. Also, be sure and browse my blog for birthday gift ideas and take a look at my comments about party favors–please choose a healthy option, choose to do something different. Also, here is my list of birthday party places in Anne Arundel County.