7 Cool Outdoor Birthday Party Spots in Philly
Plan ahead for warmer weather with these super choices.
Got a summer birthday kid? Then you need a great venue. Fortunately, Philly is full of them. Here are some of the best — start planning now.
What to do: Kids 12 and under can ride a colorful carousel, jump, stretch and climb at one of two shaded playgrounds, or score a hole-in-one at the Philly Mini golf course.
What you get: Choose from five all-inclusive packages ranging in price from $380 for up to 20 guests to $780 for up to 64 guests. They provide pizza, colorful paper goods, sweet beverages, a party facilitator, miniature-golf tickets, unlimited rides on the Parx Liberty Carousel, with the add-on option of gift bags. Book three to five months in advance
Bring with you: Birthday cake, cake-cutting tools, matches, utensils, balloons, bottled water, and music. Personal entertainment vendors and activities are welcome. Note: Franklin Square does not have Wi-Fi, so bring your iPod, MP3 player, or CD for music.
Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse
What to do: A birthday dream come true for kids 10 and younger: Be active on a huge playground (the size of six football fields), play in the 16,000 square foot, three-story playhouse (you can ride a tricycle inside), or play on a wooden train. A perennial favorite is the restored 39-foot long Ann Newman giant wooden slide.
What you get: Choose from three rental spaces: the party room in the playhouse for $150, or one of two outdoor side porches rentals for $275 from April through October. The star of the party gets a special Smith T-shirt and crown. Smith staff greets and directs you to the party and disposes trash. For added flexibility, you can bring your own party activities. Kids can use play areas before, during, and after the party.
Bring with you: Decorations, food, drinks. Grilling and alcoholic beverages are not permitted. Please note there are no electrical outlets on the side porches.
Location: 3500 Reservoir Dr.. Free parking. Call 215-765-4325 ext 100 or head online for more info.
Big Red Pedal Tours
What to do: Be one of the first kids this spring to take the “Cookies and Cream Tour” of Philly on a Big Red pedicycle, a 15-passenger bike, with your closest friends and family. New to Big Red Tours, this tour is geared for kids 12 and older (younger ones can sit with mom) with 15- to 20-minute scheduled stops at select kid-friendly shops offering samples of desserts and food items children love. “It’s active and a little bit different,” says Big Red Pedal Tour general manager Jessica Nartey.
What you get: A two-hour guided tour to various Philly hot-spots with a pedicycle driver so you can enjoy your guests and the scenery. The vehicle has a roof, so it’s water-proof.
Bring with you: Food, beverages (sorry, no alcohol), and iPods or iPhones to plug into Big Red’s sound system.
Location: Front & Chestnut streets. Call 215-625-2509 to see the site book.
Independence Seaport Museum
What to do: Explore historic warship Olympia and submarine Becuna, row in the Delaware River Basin, go on an interactive-scavenger hunt, and take on hands-on crafts. Kids 6 and older “love playing boat tag, where they tag each other with paddles, or just splash each other,” says Katie Burke, Seaport education and volunteer coordinator.
What you get: The museum offers a pirate-themed party package for 20 guests for $300. You can add on a pirate-themed cake, a visit from a real pirate, goodie bags, and rowing.
Bring with you: “Our parties are hassle-free,” says Burke. “We take care of activity planning, set-up, and clean-up.”
Location: 211 S. Columbus Blvd. Call 215-413-8665 or check their website.
Zoofiesta at the Philadelphia Zoo
What to do: Celebrate getting a year older with your wildest friends. Birthday parties at America’s first zoo get you all-day access, tickets to the Rainforest Carousel for kids 12 and younger, crafts and activities, zoo staff party set-up, and free parking.
What you get: Birthday packages start at $550 for up to 35 people.
Bring with you: Food and drinks, or try a zoo-recommended caterer.
Location: 3400 W. Girard Ave. Contact a Zoo birthday coordinator at 215-243-5657 or head online.
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation
With more than 150 designated picnic sites and 200 recreation centers in Philadelphia, it’s easy and inexpensive to host an outdoor party. Start at the Parks and Recreation website where you can download a picnic permit application to rent a picnic area ($35) or pavilion ($140) starting March 8, 2015, says Barry A. Bessler, chief of staff, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation. He reminds partiers of the rules and regulations: No inflatables or bounce-houses, no amplified sound or DJs, and no smoking.
Interested in a party at a staffed facility, like Belmont Mansion or Cosmic Café on Boathouse Row? Contact the specific location for rental prices and availability.
Camden Children’s Garden
What to do: This four-acre “horticulture playground” boasts educational exhibits and abundant nature all presented in a fun and colorful way. There’s a dinosaur garden equipped for fossil digging, the Red Oak Run Maze that’s like a prehistoric jungle, or meet Mum Bear, the Garden Mascot. Kids can ride a train, play on butterfly-spring rides, or go on the animal-themed garden carousel in the Children’s Garden.
What you get: Rent the Butterfly Tent or the Garden Tent for two-hour sessions starting at $70 up to $95. Mum Bear appearances are $25 for 20 minutes, rides are $1.50, and optional gift bags are $2 per child.
Bring with you: Decorations, table and paper supplies, food, drinks, snacks, and birthday cake. No balloons or piñatas.
Location: 3 Riverside Drive, Camden. Call 856-365-8733 to book your event or go to the website.
Photograph by Jeff Fusco for Historic Philadelphia.