Toddler birthday parties are exciting. But for parents, it can be stressful planning that perfect party.
Finding a location or a unique idea is a challenge. But good news: Whether you're looking for an engaging indoor play space, an outdoor environment, or even a home party with entertainment, there are plenty of toddler-friendly options across Long Island that we have compiled for you here. As always, check out our Long Island Party Guide for more on planning the ideal party for a child of any age.
After going through the expense of the party and inviting friends and relatives, it can be disappointing if the guest of honor spends the party in tears. Here are some helpful hints when considering an ideal venue.
- Visit the venue with your child first. Take advantage of any open-play sessions. Your child will require less warmup time to get used to the party place.
- Keep it small. While it can be hard to keep the number of invites down, you might not want to invite everyone as it can be a lot for a little one to handle. Consider a small gathering at home with the grandparents, aunts, and uncles, and save the party for the little ones.
- Prepare your child ahead of time for what to expect. Have a small family celebration at home and sing Happy Birthday so he or she knows what that's like. Don't let the party be the first time you place a cake with candles in front of him or her, as you don't know how the child will react.
- Choose an early-morning time. The later in the day, the more you have to worry about interfering with nap times for your child and guests. Most young children seem to be at their best first thing in the morning. Adults probably will be grateful for the long afternoon nap likely to follow.
Indoor Play Spaces
Children's Museum of the East End — Bridgehampton
376 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike
The South Fork museum features a number of themed play spaces, where children can run a grocery store or an ice cream parlor, sail a ship, play musical instruments, or dress up as firemen and play on a model truck. It also features an arts-and-crafts room, where there is almost always a project kids can join. The discovery area for small children is a delight for all ages. Party packages include baby's first birthday, the "Classic" that includes a birthday announcement over the loudspeaker and T-shirt for the birthday kid, the "Bash," and the all-out "Extravaganza" that includes use of the min-golf course. After the party, kids are invited to stay and play in the museum until closing.
Long Island Children's Museum — Garden City
11 Davis Avenue
LICM offers a tot-spot option for children 2-5. It includes either a music and movement or art activity as well as time in the bubbles gallery and the play-space tot spot. Preschoolers can choose a story and art package that includes a visit to the tot spot, or the messy merriment package, a multisensory experience of goopy and gooey substances similar to the messy afternoons experience offered on weekends. The museum store is available to assist with goody bags.
My Gym Huntington — Huntington Station
128 West Jericho Turnpike
There's plenty to keep a tiny tyke or preschooler busy here. With soft mats, small slides, a ball pit, multiple swings, and climbing structures, toddlers will be engaged and so will their older siblings. Packages provide use of the entire gym as well as a free class for each child.
RELATED: 25 things to do with LI preschoolers
Enjoy an imaginative party experience at Once Upon a Treetop in Plainview.
Once Upon a Treetop — Plainview
151 Dupont Street
This large indoor play space focuses on creating settings for imaginative play. The space is organized as if it were a little town or city, with a post office, restaurant, school, veterinary office, grocery store, construction zone, and more. Kids can run from room to room or ride little cars and bikes. In back, there is a climbing tree house with a slide. Book a basic 90-minute Treetop Party and add an extra 30 minutes of crafting, stuff-a-friend, dance party, baby ballet, or "Soccer Shots" for an additional cost.
Science, engineering and lots of imagination makes a Long Island Explorium birthday party a blast.
Long Island Explorium — Port Jefferson
101 East Broadway
Newly rebranded, the former Maritime Explorium offers young ones a chance to go crazy with interactive and engaging exhibits and a big boat filled with rice. With a science and engineering theme, a birthday party here offers bang for your buck with one of the most affordable on-site parties we've come across. Museum teachers cater activities to your child's age, and the party package also includes invitations, paper goods, pizza and drinks, music, and museum passes for each guest.
Music, Art, and Play Parties
@Play's inviting space makes for an entertaining party experience.
@Play — Farmingdale
229 Broadhollow Road
This venue might seem overwhelming for toddlers when they first walk in, but @Play creates the perfect interactive party for ages 2-5, including a black-light dance party, bounce houses, a toddler-sized roller coaster, and more.
Darlene Graham — Your location
TV entertainer Darlene Graham performs regularly at venues throughout the Island. A veteran of Sesame Street, she brings her birthday-party talents to you, including her guitar, musical instruments for children, bubbles, Lucy the puppet, a parachute, and more.
JumpBunch provides a fun sports-themed party to you!
JumpBunch — Islandwide
Jump Bunch offers sports-themed parties in your home or party location for children 2 and older. It supplies all the equipment, including balls, goals, hoops, and balloons, and can provide an all-inclusive experience with invites and food, or choose from its a la carte menu. Call for pricing information.
Music for Aardvarks — Your location
This company provides 45 minutes of live music and entertainment. Aardvark musical instructors bring instruments, shakers and bells, and festive toys. Parties are recommended for ages 1 and older.
RELATED: Great indoor play spaces for LI toddlers
Parties at Not Just Art stimulate little minds.
Not Just Art — Oyster Bay
183 South Street
Offering creative play and open art studio and music packages, Not Just Art tailors a party to meet a child's interests. It also can accommodate older siblings in attendance.
PlayHooray — Your location or local libraries
This popular program is found at libraries across Long Island, but you can "let Molly Mouse bring the party to your house." PlayHooray parties combine music, instruments, ball play, a parade, and more.
Tuney Tots — Your location
The basic package offers music, bubbles, parachute time, and instruments for each child. Add on face painting and musical instrument goody bags for additional fees.
Petting Zoos and Animal Farms
Garden of Eve Farm — Riverhead
4558 Sound Avenue
This is a favorite of ours for strawberry picking, and we were thrilled to learn it offers birthday parties. Kids can play with toys on the farm until the farm closes for the day. They can climb on the spider web, visit a working bee hive, climb on the castle structures and race around the hay stack on scooters. Pony rides are available at an additional fee, and you can add on an organic lunch, snack and cake.
RELATED: Animal encounter birthday parties for LI kids
Have the zoo come to you with Lollipop Pony Parties.
Lollipop Pony Parties — Your location
Lollipop offers a variety of packages, including a "Princess Carriage" package. The basic package, for kids 1 and older, includes a pony, 15 assorted barnyard friends, feed cups, hand sanitizer, and cleanup.
Tack 'N' Go Farms Long Island Pony Parties — Your location
A basic party here includes one hour of unlimited pony rides. You can add face painting, a miniature donkey, bunny pen, and an extra half-hour of time for additional fees. Winter birthdays can be held on location at Tack 'N' Go Farms in Oakdale.
White Post Farms — Melville
250 Old Country Road
Little ones delight in feeding the animals, riding the ponies, and exploring this hands-on farm. Each party gets a private decorated room, pizza, juice, and a special gift for the birthday child. Check out the fresh baked seasonal goodies on your way out.
This post, originally published in 2013, was updated in March 2018.
All photos courtesy of the venues