Hitting the one-year-old milestone is definitely a cause for celebration. But despite the abundance of party venues throughout the state, not all are suitable for your little birthday girl or boy. Whether you are looking for a location indoors or outdoors, with animals or a jungle gym, we have some ideas. While one-year-olds might not yet be ready to jump, climb, or ride ponies themselves, they will love watching their guests play. Most of these spots emphasize parental participation, so fun can be had by all. If you need more inspiration, be sure to check out our NJ Kids' Birthday Party Ideas Guide.
If you think your child might be overwhelmed by a lot of guests in a large, unfamiliar space, consider bringing the party into your home. Check out our list of Kids' Birthday Party Entertainers in New Jersey That Come to You, from character visits to art, music and dance to animal visits, magic to puppets. Don’t worry: just because the party is at your place doesn’t mean it won’t be exciting. Let the party begin!
Alstede Farms – Chester
1 Alstede Farms Lane
Take your little farmer and friends to Alstede Farms, where all parties are considered "family fun" and include activities like pony and wagon train rides, a bounce house, a petting zoo, and more. The three themed packages have activities like plant potting, pick your own fruit, or visiting with the Easter Bunny and baby animals, but you can also custom-design a party for your child and guests. All themed parties are three hours and include a hay ride, a reserved, covered party area, and a farmer tour guide. For more animal-centric inspiration, consult our farm guide: See Baby Farm Animals and More at New Jersey Farms.
Elite Gymnastics – Hawthorne
80 Fifth Avenue
Elite offers gymnastics parties in a special "mini-gym" suitable for children three and under, who can crawl, jump, climb, and swing (with the help of a parent). Parties are 1.5 hours long and include a half hour of food and drink followed by an hour of playtime. You are responsible for bringing paper goods, food, and drink; Elite provides tables and chairs.
Goldfish Swim School – Various locations
If your little one is a water baby, have a splashing good time at Goldfish, which caters to kids four months and older. The professional staff will handle all of your party needs, and two professional lifeguards will keep everyone safe, though parents or guardians are expected to participate in the water play. Two-hour parties include paper goods, cupcakes and beverages, and a T-shirt for the birthday child. If there isn’t a Goldfish near you, check out our list of Swim Lessons and Classes for New Jersey Kids for nearby options.
The Great Story – Hackensack
430 Huyler Street
If you’re looking for a party place that’s great for a very young child's birthday, the indoor play space at the Great Story is a perfect option. Your little one and guests can play dress-up, go down the slide, play in the toy kitchen, build castles in the indoor sandbox, dive into the ball pit, and more. The Great Story offers three basic party packages with different themes and inclusions, as well as a small-group and a private party option. No outside food or beverages are permitted, but catering—traditional and Korean—is available.
Gymboree Play & Music — Various locations
Gymboree makes your party experience personal by letting you pick your little one's favorite theme—and first birthday parties are a theme of their own. Children are encouraged (with the help of a parent) to navigate the indoor playground, blow bubbles, and play with balls and other toys and musical instruments. Parties for one-year-olds are generally 45 minutes to an hour, and a trained instructor will guide the activities. After playtime, guests move to a party room for food and beverages; packages vary by location, however, so be sure to call to inquire.
Hudson’s House of Play — West New York
40 Riverwalk Place
Created specifically for kids up to five years old, Hudson’s House of Play might just be the perfect place to ring in your baby's first birthday. This bright and modern play space has a separate section for kids up to two years old with soft mats and age-appropriate toys. Though there are no set themes available, Hudson’s offers three packages for parties between 1.5 and 2 hours, as well as a special package for small parties, and works with a variety of local businesses to customize the celebration to your interests.
Kidz Village — Kenilworth and Woodbridge
131 West 31st Street, Kenilworth
507 King Georges Road, Woodbridge
With separate play sections for different age groups, Kidz Village offers fun for all ages. While your youngest tots play in Guppy Toddler Town and the playhouse, older children can head over to the huge indoor climbing structure with slides, bridges, and tunnels; explore themed playrooms (a spa, a castle, a comics shop); or visit the arcade. Kidz Village offers packages that include an hour in a private party room followed by unlimited playtime, as well as various themes and packages. Also be sure to check out our Guide to Indoor Play Spaces for New Jersey Kids for alternative indoor play spaces that host parties.
Liberty State Park — Jersey City
If you’re lucky enough to be a phenomenal DIY-er who has a child with a warm-weather birthday, why not head to a park to celebrate with a picnic and open-air play? With its spectacular skyline and Hudson River views and expanse of green grass, Liberty State Park is an ideal location. If you want to explore more park options, check out our Guide to Playgrounds and Parks in New Jersey.
My Gym — Various locations
Children as young as six weeks old can enjoy the festivities at My Gym, including clapping to songs, free play, slides, puppets, and more. My Gym offers two party packages, which both include exclusive use of the facility, two party specialists, decorations, and food. The fully trained staff will entertain your guests and assist with setup and cleanup.
Turtle Back Zoo — West Orange
560 Northfield Avenue
Turtle Back Zoo is a New Jersey landmark and an ideal celebration spot for your baby’s first birthday, with both indoor and outdoor facilities for rent. Giraffes, penguins, and countless other animals will add excitement to an already tremendous day—and if you think your little one is up for a spin, you can even rent Turtle Back's Endangered Species Carousel. Catering and face painting are available upon request. Be sure to look at our list of other New Jersey Zoos and Aquariums for more animal-centric party options.
This article was first published in 2013 and has since been updated.