9 great places to party for every age and budget

By Katie Riley

Are you looking for a fun new way to celebrate a birthday or other occasion in the Baltimore/Annapolis area? Don't get stuck in a party-planning rut at the same places every year.

Last summer Carmel Conaty of Severna Park decided to plan something totally different for her daughter Maeve's 13th birthday party. They had a stand-up paddleboarding party on the Magothy River.

"Stand-up paddleboarding is the hottest water sport out there right now. It's a popular party choice because kids love it," says Carleen Birnes, owner of Mantra Fit, which planned the party. "It's a great way to reconnect with friends, nature, and it feels good."

PartiesMantraFitWMaeve's party was a hit with her friends, and even the parents were excited for their kids to try something new.

"The kids loved it," Conaty says. "For most of them, it was their first time paddleboarding, and we got such great feedback. ... All of the kids were able to master it immediately and the girls had so much fun"

If you are planning a party in the near future, there are plenty of unique party options inside and out at a range of prices, depending on what you plan. Check out nine different party ideas that range from $25 to $300 and up.

Outdoorsy parties

Patapsco State Park
Kids can explore Patapsco's trails, streams, waterfalls and playgrounds and celebrate in a picnic shelter. The 48 shelters in all areas of the park have picnic tables and grills, and some have fireplaces for roasting marshmallows. Rent a small shelter next to the tire park playground in the Hilton area or a larger pavilion right on the Patapsco River in the Orange Grove area where you can hike to a waterfall, swim in the river or bring your own gear for a fishing party.
Cost for 10 people: $50 and up
Guests must pay $2 per vehicle to enter the park during the week and $3 per person on weekends (kids in car seats are free). Many small pavilions, such as No. 217, rent for less than $20. Larger pavilions, like No. 106, rent for $66 per day.
Avalon/Orange Grove area, 5120 South St., Halethorpe
Hilton Area, 1101 Hilton Ave., Catonsville
410-461-5006 or dnr2.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/central/patapsco.aspx and click on picnic shelters on the right.

Homestead Gardens Barnyard Parties
Partygoers can visit with barnyard animals such as baby llamas, goats and donkeys and jump on the enormous jumping pillow, which is similar to a moon bounce. A tented pavilion in the nursery can hold up to 120 people.
Cost for 10 people: $200+
Party packages start at $200 and include setup, cleanup, private tented picnic pavilion, time with barnyard animals and the giant jumping pillow.
743 W. Central Ave., Davidsonville
410-798-5000, homesteadgardens.com/parties

PartiesTerrapin2WTerrapin Adventures
Daredevils will love the zip lines, swings, ropes course and aerial adventures at Terrapin Adventures in Savage. Birthday packages range from easy challenges like a treasure hunt or the zip line course to more challenging adventures like the Soaring Heights course. The Terrapin Trailblazer package for kids ages 5-9 includes mini zip lines and a 20-foot rock wall. Older kids will love the Escapade package with a complex ropes course, Tarzan swing and the choice of a 330-foot zip line or a giant swing with 2Gs of force.
Cost for 10 people: $250-300 and up
Party packages start at $30 per person and include eating area, private use of courses and staff assistance. Individual rates for the Terrapin Explorer, a ropes course designed for kids 5 years and older, are $25/per person.
Savage Mill, 8600 Foundry St., Savage
301-725-1313, terrapinadventures.com

Mantra Fit Paddle Boarding
This fitness studio in Severna Park offers parties on land and in the water for fitness-minded kids, but their stand-up paddleboarding parties are a big draw for the teen set. Parties meet at the Fair Winds Marina in Cape St. Claire before setting out on a 90-minute journey on the Magothy River. Each outing includes instruction on paddling techniques, paddle time and free time to swim. Owner Carleen Birnes can tailor parties to specific interests, like the yoga paddle parties with on-board yoga.
Cost for 10 people: $350
Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) parties are $35 per person and include instructor and all equipment. A picnic area is available and hosts may bring food, drink and craft/party items. Parties also have the use of Mantra Fit's pontoon boat during the party. Recommended for children 12 and up, but parties are available for younger children if parents join in.
760 Ritchie Hwy., Severna Park
443-691-4372, mantrafit.com

Click Next directly below for parties that include sweet treats as part of the fun.

Sweet treat parties

Jojo's Cupcakes and Cream
Budding cake decorators can have a sweet time at JoJo's Cupcakes in Easton. Guests can decorate two gourmet cupcakes and enjoy Kilby Cream ice cream with unlimited toppings from the sundae bar.
Cost for 10 people: $125 and up
Private parties can rent a one- or two-hour time slot in the private party area for $25 per hour. Birthday guests are $10 each and cost includes the decoration of two cupcakes, and an ice cream sundae with unlimited toppings.
218 N. Washington St. No. 313, Easton
410-763-4930, jojoscupcakesandcream.com

PartiesTaras2WTara's Gifts and Parties of Distinction
At Tara's, kids can enjoy an old-fashioned tea party in a private room and even dress for the occasion with Tara's vast selection of fancy gowns, feather boas, gloves, hats and purses. Tables are set with fine linens, real china, and sweet and savory treats like muffins, sandwiches, fruit, cheese and cookies. A choice of tea or juice is provided, as well as a craft and party favor.
Cost for 10 people: $250
Party packages for 10 guests include dress-up fun, a full tea with beverages and food, and a craft and favor for each child for $250.
10 Annapolis St., Annapolis
410-295-5157, tarasgifts.com

Click Next below for party ideas good for any weather — rain or shine!

Rain or shine parties

Monster Mini Golf
Goblins and ghouls hide around every corner of this neon-lit, 18-hole indoor miniature golf course in Columbia. Monster Mini Golf also has an enormous arcade with every video game imaginable.
Cost for 10 people: $80 and up
Kids can play mini-golf for $8 per person. Party packages start at $250 for 10 kids and include a reserved party room with haunted-mansion style décor, paper products, decorations, staff assistance and a full round of mini golf and arcade coins for each guest.
7351 Assateague Drive, Suite 380, Columbia
410-579-4653, monsterminigolf.com/fran-md-columbia

Robinson Nature Center
Nature lovers will enjoy a party with access to 18 acres of trails, gardens and a planetarium. Parents can plan their own party based on the center's many exhibits and nature trails, or choose a deluxe package lead by one of the center's naturalists. Popular packages include a fairy party, live animal demonstration, planetarium experience or the 'Extreme Encounters' package with a guided hike and exploration of stream life in the nearby Patuxent River. The party room can hold up to 40 people.
Cost for 10 people: $100-325
Party room rentals start at $100 for Howard County residents and includes admission to the center and its surrounding grounds. Deluxe party packages are $325 and include a 30-minute naturalist-led program, theme of your choice, two hours in the party room, balloons, birthday banner and table covering.
6692 Cedar Lane, Columbia
410-313-0400, howardcountymd.gov/robinsonnaturecenter.htm

College Park Aviation Museum
Host a high-flying party at the College Park Aviation Museum, which is filled with historic planes and aircraft. Kids will love the interactive exhibits like the flight simulator, hands-on room with pilot costumes and the outdoor pedal planes. There is plenty of action to watch on the live airfield just outside the museum.
Cost for 10 people: $200 and up
Parties start at $200 for 10 children and include museum admission, tour, use of the flight simulator, button making, choice of craft, goody bags and two hours in a private party room.
1985 Corporal Frank Scott Drive, College Park
301-864-6029, collegeparkaviationmuseum.com

Find more birthday party places and entertainers in the Party Resource Directory.

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