A Dozen Birthday Party Ideas for Teens and Tweens in NYC
If you're getting eye rolls just uttering the words "bounce house" to your big kid when birthday-party talk comes up, we've found 12 fresh birthday party ideas for teens and tweens at venues new and old, all of which are sure to be a hit with the guest of honor and their (equally judgmental) friends. With party packages this cool, it's a shame to celebrate but once a year.
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Bronx Zoo Treetop Adventure — Bronx Park
The Bronx Zoo's zip line and ropes course offers a couple of different party packages. If you opt to DIY, grabbing a few close friends and heading up into the canopy is probably all the party your tween or teen really needs. Get a lesson, strap on a helmet, and then tackle rope bridges, wobbly bridges, tight rope walks, ladders, rolling and swinging elements, zip lines, and more—all nestled in the leaves. Pay close attention to the rules and regulations in your planning. Everyone will need a waiver, and adult supervision is required. Younger kids require adult participation.
Chinatown Fair — Chinatown
Chinatown Fair offers 40 games, including Guitar Hero and Jurassic Park, along with skeeball, driving, and shoot-'em-up games, and tabletop games such as air hockey. Birthday parties require a 10-kid minimum and cost $15.99 per guest. The standard package includes a $35 game card, a slice of pizza, and soda for each guest, minimal decorations, paper goods, and 1,000 tickets for the guest of honor at the prize redemption area. Hosts supply cake or cupcakes and are welcome to bring additional food and beverages.
Fly High — Bloomfield, Staten Island
Let your tweens bounce off the walls and go airborne at Fly High Trampoline Park, which offers a trio of party packages starting at $395 for weekdays and $495 for weekends. All parties include at least one hour of jump time and 40 minutes in a private party room, plus a dedicated host, pizza, and drinks. The higher tier package gets you a private dodge ball game, too.
Gaming with friends is a great way to spend a birthday. Photo courtesy of Hex
Hex & Co. — Upper West Side
If you have a game-loving tween or teen, they probably already know about Hex & Co., and they would love to spend their big day gaming away. Hex & Co.'s staff helps you plan a customized party, from free play to specific themes (e.g., Pokeman or Magic: The Gathering), and there are loads of party-perfect items on the menu. Prices vary based on time and day but start as low as $10 per person and include a staff member to teach/guide games. Check out our roundup of board came cafes for more board game and quest party options.
Indoor Extreme Sports – Multiple Locations
In addition to paintball, there are several types of laser tag offered here, plus Indoor Extreme Sports is one of the few places in the country to offer archery tag. The franchise also recently added ax throwing and themed escape rooms to its party lineup. Packages for all of these sports—which include food and beverages (you really work up a sweat), gameplay, and all necessary equipment—start at $150 for a VR party and top out at $416. This is a great option for tweens since children need to be at least 10 years old for paintball and archery tag, and 7 and up for laser tag. There are a handful of other laser tag options around the city; most offer party packages, too.
Kick Axe — Gowanus, Brooklyn
This neighborhood hot spot has a rustic, hipster vibe with a grown-up feel for those who aren't into "kiddie" parties any longer. Kids as young as 8 can throw, though adult supervision is required. Review the venue's FAQs before booking. Private ax-throwing ranges start at $300 for 1.5 hours. The venue itself doesn't offer food, but a STUF'd food truck is on-site during peak hours and offers catering if you want to put together a more solid noshing plan.
Lunessa Jewelry – Soho
This intimate designer-run jewelry boutique offers parties for children ages 7 and up. During the 1.5-to-2-hour lessons, up to a 15 kids design and create one to three sparkly pieces from semi-precious stones, Austrian crystals, freshwater pearls, and sterling silver using professional techniques. Lunessa offers two party packages, starting at $85 per person. They include customizable digital invites and pretty organza bags for guests to carry their baubles home. Add-ons include organic snacks and beverages.
Melody Lanes – Sunset Park, Brooklyn
There are a good number of bowling alleys throughout the five boroughs, but many have an over-21 rule after certain hours. Melody Lanes offers an old-school, age-appropriate vibe, with a small arcade and specials such as glow-in-the-dark bowling on weekend evenings. Party packages start at $23 per person and offer balloons, paper goods, shoe rental, bowling, pizza, drinks, and a hostess. Add-ons include lots of catering options and goodie bags.
Playday – Long Island City, Queens
This drop-in art and creativity center offers parties with full use of the space for two hours—including the ping-pong table and outdoor space. Parties include an hour-long art experience that you can customize to include clay sculptures, masks, poster design, weaving, printmaking, and more. Then, kids get pizza and cake, followed by 30 minutes of free play. Parties start at $750.
School of Rock Brooklyn – Gowanus, Brooklyn
While this outpost of the famous School of Rock doesn't offer pre-planned packages, the staff can customize a party for your aspiring rocker, starting at $300. Guests can bang on the studio's instruments (drums, keyboards, and guitars), and pros are on hand to lead jam sessions, sing-alongs, group lessons, dance parties, and musical games. Afterward, the kids chow down on food, beverages, and cake in the student lounge.
There are thrills to be had at a birthday party at Streb. Photo courtesy of Streb
Streb — Williamsburg, Brooklyn
The activities offered during this acrobatic dance school's parties differ from your usual running, jumping, and climbing. At Streb, kids bounce off trampolines, fly on the trapeze, and learn patented Pop Action moves developed by choreographer Elizabeth Streb. Parties start at $680 for instruction and equipment use in an activity of your choice (choose from one of the above or create a combo); parents provide all the food, cake, beverages, and favors.
VR World recently relocated and re-opened, offering even more out-of-this-world gameplay.
VR World — Midtown
VR World, located next door to the Empire State Building, is buzzing with a young-adult crowd (there's a bar), but tweens and teens can bound between the gaming floor, with more than 50 VR options, and a cool party space on the mezzanine level overlooking the action. Prices start at $395 for 12 guests and include all-access wristbands good for two hours of gaming, a setup for cake-cutting, and a Moveo Flight Simulator Ride for the birthday kid. Plus, there are plenty of add-ons, like T-shirts and goodie bags. Check out our review of the original VR World location to get a sense of what you're in for. If you live in Brooklyn and don't want to hoof it into the city, check out VRBar or YokeyPokey. The latter also offers mobile parties, so they'll come right to you!
This post, originally published in February 2018, has since been updated.