If you want to have a wonderful party for your child, but you’re overwhelmed by the choices and don't have time to mine for information, I have a gift for you: Recommendations for eight great indoor birthday party places in the Boston area, and everything you need to know about them.
The places featured are different in many ways, but they all have some things in common: They have been recommended by local parents, are indoors (so you don't have to worry about the weather), minimize the amount of work you have to do, and offer parties that kids with a wide range of interests enjoy. So read on, pick a place, and have a party your child will be talking about for a long time to come. Since prices may fluctuate and there's a range of packages at many places, we give you an idea of costs ranging from $ (inexpensive) to $$$ (more pricey).
If your child is a little older and prefers parties with more of a sporty spin, you may want to also consider our picks for indoor parties for active kids in Boston, the North suburbs, South suburbs, and MetroWest.
Little Lovage Club—Boston
Little Lovage Club boasts "Instagram-worthy parties," and they aren't kidding: The clean, lovely, and light-filled space bucks every stereotype of the birthday "partyplex" you might imagine when considering an indoor bash for your child. They'll do everything for you for one of their popular theme parties, which include "party animals" (with cuddly friends), "fairy tea party," "under the sea," or whatever you like. That includes setting up beautiful decor related to your kid's passion du jour, running play activities (there's a coordinator for every party), serving lunch or brunch, and creating party favors.
- When: Saturdays and Sundays morning through evening, Thursday and Friday afternoons
- How long: 2 hours
- Food: As part of their themed parties, Little Lovage will supply food, drinks, and treats.
- Number of guests: Maximum 16 children
- Cost: $$$
- Contact: email email@example.com
- Good to know: If you'd prefer to handle details yourself, you can rent the space for three hours.
Boston Fire Museum—Boston
The Boston Fire Museum is a gem of a place for a child’s birthday party. It's located in a beautiful circa-1891 firehouse, and the staff takes good care of you from the moment you walk in the door. And for two full hours of this great service, it's less expensive than many indoor party places, especially in the city. Parties include a tour of the fire museum (kids can climb on the old engines and try out gear) and exclusive use of the entire second floor, with one large room for games and running around and a smaller room with a table that seats 16 kids. All the kids get their very own fire helmet as a gift. The museum also supplies a host/hostess to help with the party.
- When: Saturdays and Sundays between 11am and 5pm
- How long: 2 hours.
- Food: You bring your own food and supplies. You can also have pizza delivered from one of the neighborhood pizza joints on West Broadway.
- Number of guests: Maximum 25 children
- Cost: $-$$
- Contact: email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Good to know: There will be other visitors in the museum, but not on the second floor. You get a reserved, free parking spot nearby, which makes it easier to move gear in and out of the party.
Puppet Showplace Theater—Brookline
Not many people know that this charming little theater in Brookline Village, a magnet for some of the country's best puppeteers, hosts well-run birthday parties, too. Hosts for a Puppet Showplace Theater bash can have a "public party" that includes a puppet show (part of a public performance) and then rental of their well-lit lobby for a half-hour or hour; or a "private party" that features an exclusive puppet show, use of the lobby for an hour, and a theater staffer to help run activities.
- When: Check calendar for showtimes; parties are designed around them
- How long: 1.5-2 hours
- Food: You bring your own food and supplies, and the theater will have tables and tablecloths on hand. A small kitchenette is helpful for assembling food. Theater staffers will help set up your decor, food, and activities during the performance.
- Number of guests: A maximum 60 people fit in the lobby (including children).
- Cost: $-$$$
- Contact: email email@example.com
- Good to know: A non-refundable $100 deposit is required to book a party. The gift store includes small puppets starting at a quarter that are perfect for party favors.
My Gym Boston—Allston/Brighton (there are also locations in Newton, Framingham, and Medfield)
My nine-year-old daughter had her third birthday celebration at My Gym, and she still talks about it. She says it was her best birthday party ever, and I don’t disagree. Kids love My Gym parties because they're fun – the perfect balance of structure and free play, physical activity, and relaxation. Parents love My Gym parties because they have to do so little to yield so much fun. My Gym has three different party packages available, ranging from the basic "Silver" to "Platinum", which includes food and all the bells and whistles. Add-on options include a bouncy house, pizza for the adults, an extra ½ hour of party time for the last party of the day, and a donation option for those who want to make their celebration a philanthropic opportunity.
- When: Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays
- How long: 1.5 hours.
- Food: You bring your own, unless you go with the Platinum birthday party package.
- Number of guests: 20 children included in all three packages; additional children may be added for a fee. No more than 30 children can be on the gym floor.
- Cost: $$-$$$
- Contact: Phone: 617-789-3669, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Good to know: There is a $125 non-refundable deposit payable at time of reservation; balance is due at conclusion of party.
Jump On In—Boston (there are also locations in Woburn, Haverill and Lowell)
Parents we know report that a Jump On In party is the least amount of work for the greatest amount of fun. The best thing about this place? The kids are tired after all that jumping, sliding, and climbing. If you want the scoop on Jump On In of Boston, read our review. If you choose the Big Jump Party package, you get 2 hours total (45 minutes in first gym followed by 30 minutes in second gym, and 45 minutes in the private party room), a sound system, and paper goods.
- When: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon parties can be booked online; contact Jump On In to arrange a party for other times
- Food: You may bring your own cake, soft drinks, or snacks to enjoy in the party room, but no food or beverages are allowed in the gymnasium areas. They have an exclusive arrangement with their local pizza shop, so they do not allow people to bring in pizza. You order directly from them.
- Cost: $$-$$$
- Contact: 617-789-5867 or Boston@jumponinfun.com
- Good to know: Socks are required, and having the guests' parents sign waivers before the party will help to make things go smoothly the day-of. The online invitation option, which you can set up through the website, is a nice and convenient touch.
Jump N' Slide—Newton
This huge playspace in Newton is becoming a hot destination for birthday parties. Jump N' Slide packs a lot of fun into each party, with active play areas that suit both toddlers and bigger kids, lots of big inflatables, and even an "arcade castle." Staffers help set up the party room, serve food, and direct the kids in the play areas. Perhaps most unique at all: There's no time limit for parties. There's structured play for two hours, but partiers can stay and play as long as they'd like. You can choose from four party packages, and some options include a Build-a-Bear, Lazer Maze access, and more.
- When: Thursday and Friday evenings, Saturday and Sundays all day
- How long: 2 hours structured time; kids can stay and play longer
- Food: There's a new on-site kitchen you can order food from. Three of the party packages include pizza, drinks, and cupcakes.
- Number of guests: 10-15 kids (customized parties allow for more)
- Cost: $$-$$$
- Contact: 617-906-6206 or email@example.com
- Good to know: A non-refundable deposit of $100 is required to book a party. Waiver forms are required for each child, and filling them out online in advance of the party helps.
Whether your child loves to dance, dress up, or just roll around on a mat, Dance Place has a birthday party celebration already planned out for you. All you do is invite the kids and bring the food – they do the rest. You get private use of both studios and the teachers lead the activities. Everyone goes home happy, with a craft they made at the party in hand. And the cost for a two-hour party is about half of other party places around the city. You may choose from one of three party themes; Tumbling Party, Dance Party, and Dress Up Party.
- When: Sundays
- How long: 2 hours
- Food: You bring your own food, which you may store in their fridge. You can order pizza from the restaurant across the street, My Brother’s Place.
- Number of guests: Up to 14, including the birthday child.
- Cost: $
- Contact: 781-643-8456 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Good to know: Once you set your party date and choose a theme, they will give you inserts for your invitations that include a description of what the kids will be doing and directions to Dance Place.
Lanes & Games—Cambridge
Is there a better combination than pizza and bowling? I don’t think so, especially if it’s candlepin bowling, which is perfect for kids. Everything is on a smaller scale, the ball is lighter (and has no holes!) and if you ask for bumpers, everyone scores a whole lot more. There's also an arcade, which was a big hit at a recent party my son attended. At Lanes & Games, you build your party to suit, and you don’t pay for more than you use. You reserve lanes on the first or second floor, and dining space is reserved for your party as well. A party for younger children should be reserved on the 1st floor candlepin lanes. There's table space directly behind the lanes. On the second floor, tenpin and candlepin are both available. Dining space is reserved in the lounge. You pay an hourly rental rate for each lane, and for each pair of shoes.
- When: Saturdays and Sundays, 10:30am-4pm; contact Lanes and Games for additional weekday slots
- How long: 2 hours
- Food: You can order pizza or other menu items, like hot dogs or chicken fingers. For allergy info and accommodations, see their dining page. You are welcome to bring in water, juice or milk as a soda alternative. You supply the cake and paper goods.
- Cost: $-$$$
- Contact: 617-876-5533 or email@example.com.
- Good to know: They require a $25.00 non-refundable deposit that will be applied to the total cost of your party. If you need to reschedule, the deposit will be applied to the new time slot.
Top photo: Parties are pretty at Little Lovage. All photos courtesy of the facilities