Birthday Celebrations


Planning a birthday bash for your child? Instead of inviting a gaggle of youngsters to your house, consider having the party at one of these Howard County locations. No need to think up games and craft projects, since the entertainment is included. And best of all, you don't have to clean your house after all the pint-sized celebrants have gone home.


This franchise, which has recently opened in Elkridge, allows children to run, jump, slide and play in a giant room filled with inflatable bouncers, slides, climbing equipment and coin-operated air hockey tables. Parties for as many as 25 kids run either 1 1/2 or two hours, and include a half-hour in a party room, where kids can eat cake and open presents. 7184 Troy Hill Drive, Suite H, Elkridge. 410-579-1122.


As many as 30 players at a time can roam around this two-level arena, carrying tagging devices and wearing special suits that have infrared detectors, speakers and radio links.

A party lasts two hours and includes two tagging "adventures," soda, invitations and paper products, plus a T-shirt for the birthday child.

Children must be at least 6 years old to play.

ShadowLand, 9179 Red Branch Road, Columbia. 410-740-9100.

Libby Lu's

This new addition to The Mall in Columbia holds Libby Lu Makeover Parties for young girls. Little princesses can have their hair, makeup and nails done, then dress up in costumes that are provided, and even mix their own shampoos or lip glosses. Music is played, and the kids sing and dance. Most Libby Lu parties are for girls 4 to 12 years old. The maximum number of participants is 15. The Mall in Columbia, 2305 Columbia Mall. 410-740-5484.


This 24,000-square-foot hands-on learning center offers endless fun for kids between the ages of 1 and 8.

It includes a firetruck for climbing, grocery store for making pretend purchases, craft room for creating masterpieces, sandbox for getting messy, and dress-up area for getting pretty again.

Two-hour parties include an hour and 15 minutes of guided play throughout PlayWiseKids, plus 45 minutes in a party room, where pizza, hot dogs, cakes and drinks are provided. Food can also be catered by Three Brothers in Columbia.

A "party hero" organizes the festivities.

PlayWiseKids, 6570 Dobbin Road, Columbia. 410-772-1540.

CA Art Center

The Columbia Association Art Center is part of the Columbia Association and offers art-centered birthday parties for children ages 6 to 12.

Kids create a project, eat pizza and cake, and leave with their treasures, plus a goody bag. Projects include sand art, sun visors, jewelry and decoupage boxes. Parents can choose which one they want, and all materials are provided, as well as instruction.

Goody bags, drinks and paper products are supplied by the Art Center. Parents can bring food. The parties generally last 90 minutes. Columbia Association Art Center, 10221 Wincopin Circle, Columbia, 21044-3423. 410-730-0075.

Brunswick Lanes

A bowling party is a great way to let children get some exercise without worrying that a rainy day will spoil the fun.

The two Brunswick bowling centers in Howard County hold birthday parties. Parents rent the lanes and let the kids play. Brunswick provides paper products, pizza and drinks; Mom and Dad bring the cake.

Brunswick Columbia Lanes are at 7100 Carved Stone Road, Columbia. 410-381-7750.

Brunswick Zone-Normandy is at 8419 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City. 410-465-0355.

Both have coin-operated arcades.

Soccer Dome

The Soccer Dome is an indoor arena in Jessup, has three soccer fields. Divide up the partygoers for an indoor game, then relax with pizza and birthday cake.

Parties include an hour of field time, a coach, an hour for food and presents, unlimited fruit drinks, pizza, tokens for the automated games, a T-shirt for the birthday child, and paper products.

Soccer Dome, 7330 Montevideo Road, Jessup. 443-755-0014.

Earth Treks

Children can climb to new heights during a party at Earth Treks, the state-of-the-art indoor climbing center in Columbia.

The center offers two-hour parties for kids 6 years and older in a semiprivate climbing area. Kids (and adults) get instructors and all the equipment they need.

Parents are encouraged to bring pizza, cakes, juices or other snacks and serve them from tables in the climbing area.

Earth Treks, 7125-C Columbia Gateway Drive, Columbia. 410-872-0060.

Howard Conservancy

Two-hour birthday parties at this 232-acre parcel of preserved land feature a hands-on activity and instructor-guided nature walk on the conservancy property, plus 45 minutes for cake and present opening.

Parents provide the food and paper goods, the conservancy handles the educational activity and the nature walk. The parties are held year-round. If the weather won't allow the nature walk, an indoor activity will be substituted.

Howard County Conservancy, 10520 Frederick Road, Woodstock. 410-465-8877.

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