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Annapolis Maryland Birthday Party Venues

Being a balloon artist and the father of two young daughters (3 and 5 years old), I end up attending a lot of birthday parties (40 to 50 a year). As a result, I know intimately most of the best birthday party venues around the Annapolis area. If you are new to the birthday party circuit and/or are overwhelmed by all the choices, this post if for you.

I’ve listed 12 of the most common (and best) places to hold a birthday party in the Annapolis, MD area. No business gave me any incentives to list them and this list is in no particular order. Also, while I have performed at most of these venues, there are a few evil places which do not work with having a balloon artist (I will forgive you if you pick such a dreaded place). If you have any questions about these or other places to host your party, feel free to give me a ring.

  1. Your Home

Over 50% of the birthday parties I perform at are in the client’s home.Home is by far, the tried and true venue to host your party.

  • Pros: Cheaper, easy to mingle with friends, can serve drinks/food of your choosing, no need to tra
  • Cons: The main problem is the time/energy needed to prepare and clean up.  I often see parents with 4, 5, and 6 years olds moving away from house parties, because they are looking for an “easier” venue to host their party.
  1. Quiet Waters Park (http://www.aacounty.org/recparks/parks/quietwaters)

You can either rent a pavilion area or just have an informal gathering around some picnic tables.Grilling out, picnicking, playing on the playground, throwing around the Frisbee, and kicking the soccer ball keep kids engaged.

  • Pros: Fairly inexpensive, lots of room, kids will wear themselves out, and you can enjoy nature.
  • Cons: You run the risk of bad weather ruining your fun.  Getting a covered pavilion can help alleviate some of this concern.
  1. Menchies  (www.menchies.com)

You will get a small private party room in this Parole Center based frozen yogurt shop.  The kids will have fun making their own sundaes, meeting the Menchie man character, and getting balloons made by me (if you invite me).

  • Pros: Kids love making their own sundaes and Menchies’ takes care of all the setup and cleanup.  
  • Cons:  It’s a pretty small venue, so you have to limit the number of kids you invite (maybe 10-15 kids).  It can get a little noisy in the room if a balloon breaks, but the laughter of the kids generally drowns out any balloon popping.    
  1. Pip Moyer Rec Center (http://www.annapolis.gov/Government/Departments/Recreation/PMRC.aspx)

You get your own party room and coordinator to help with logistics.  Younger kids can have fun in Ballocity (indoor play center) or you play sports in the indoor courts.  After playtime, kids return to your party room where they open presents, eat cake, and maybe get balloons made by me.

  • Pros:  Good price and kids’ burn up a ton of energy with the activities.
  • Cons: There are a limited amount of kids/adults that fit in the party room.  You get a party “coordinator,” but they are not always that helpful.
  1. Ledo Pizza (http://www.ledopizza.com/in/annapolis)

All kids love pizza and you will get great service at the Ledo Pizza off of Forest Drive in Annapolis.  You can host big parties in their open dinner room and I can make balloons for the kids, which will allow you time to chat with your friends.

  • Pros: No cost for the venue (aside from food/drinks), great pizza, you don’t have to clean up, and I give a discount if you invite me to a party at Ledo (since it is the restaurant I twist balloons at every Wednesday).
  • Cons: No predesigned activities for the kids (aside from eating the great pizza).
  1. My Gym (http://www.mygym.com/annapolis) & Rolly Pollies (http://www.rollypollies.com/)

I lump My Gym and Rolly Pollies together, as they are both indoor gymnastic centers which throw great birthday parties.  The kids first burn themselves out playing and then settle down to pizza/cake.  I’ve performed at both venues, but Rolly Pollies has a separate party room which provides a better setup if you plan on getting balloons as well.

  • Pros: Great staffs, kids have a blast, and well organized.
  • Cons: A little costly, but a lot of value. 
  1. Michaels Craft Store (http://www.michaels.com/)

The store provides a party room in which kids can create a craft and then everyone eats food/cake.  This is not the best venue if you plan on getting balloons.

  • Pros:  Good price and kids always like making crafts.
  • Cons:  Limit on the amount of the kids that can be invited.
  1. First Class Gymnastics (http://1stclassgym.com/)

You are provided a party room , kids get to use the world class gymnastics center (for big and little kids), and then you eat pizza/cake.  The setup works very well if you want to invite a balloon twister as well.

  • Pros: Good sized party room, great staff, and kids burn up energy with the gymnastics.
  • Cons: Hopefully your kid likes gymnastics (but what kid does not like jumping around for an hour).
  1. Tea Party at Tara’s Gifts (http://www.tarasgifts.com/)

My daughter’s celebrated her 5th birthday party in style at Tara’s by sipping tea (juice) and eating cookies with her friends.Kids are provided with an enormous amount of dress up items and then sit down for formal tea.

  • Pros:  Kids loved playing dress up with the vintage dresses, hats, jewelry, etc. and then sitting down to afternoon tea.  Tara’s take care of all setup and clean up.   Good value for what is provided (like me).
  • Cons: Not a good venue to invite a balloon artistL.  Small venue, only 8 (or so) friends are invited.  Good for the girly girl, not so good for others.  This is a drop off party, no parents (other than the birthday kids) are allowed to stay (this could also be a prosmiley).      
  1. Pump it Up (www.pumpitupparty.com

This is an indoor bounce house fun center where they kids play on a variety of bounce “houses” and then settle into a party room to eat pizza/cake.In the last couple years, I have been to a couple different such venues and the kids have a blast playing in the different bounce houses.

  • Pros:  You don’t have to worry about the weather, kids burn up all their energy, adults get to enjoy the fun as well, and the venue takes care of all setup/cleanup.
  • Cons: Not a good venue to invite a balloon artistL.  You feel a little like cattle as they heard you from one station to another, with another party coming in behind you.  Somewhat costly.
  1. Roller Skating (http://www.sk8zone.com/)

A roller skating rink seems to be a quintessential birthday party venue.  It’s also a great place to bring in a balloon artist to spice up the party even more. 

  • Pros: Kids love to skate, no limit on party size, and good price.
  • Cons: Can be noisy and crowded (but, that’s part of the charm).
  1. Severna Park Lanes (http://gobowlingsevernapark.com/)

Little kids, big kids, and adults all have fun at the bowling alley.  I’ve never performed in a bowling alley, but there is always a first time.

  • Pro: Good price, less hectic than some venues, and kids love bowling shoes.
  • Cons:  Not as contained as some other venues, forcing you to wrangle the young wandering kiddos.

To conclude, I have met some parents who get pretty stressed when figuring out the “perfect” place to host a party.  But, in the 100+ parties I have performed at, I cannot remember one kid who was disappointed with their party.  This holds true for the simplest party at home or the most elaborate party at an expensive venue.  My main take from this, is to do whatever is needed to make you (the parent) feel comfortable, because the kids are going to have a blast no matter what.   

Happy hunting in finding the next great place to host your birthday party!!

Turkey Trotting

My sister (Chris) and two twin 9-year old twin nieces (Laura & Synnove) were able to fly in from Florida and join my family in Annapolis for Thanksgiving. Several years ago, when Laura and Synnove turned six, I performed my first magic show and twisted balloons for the first time at their birthday party. Since that time I have increased by balloon repertoire, so it was fun to have them join me at Ledo Pizza last Wednesday to see me twist balloons again.

On Thanksgiving morning, Chris convinced me to run a 5-mile Turkey Trot hosted by Fleet Feet of Annapolis (www.fleetfeetannapolis.com/). Fleet Feet offered prizes for the best dressed turkey, so my sister and I decided to go for the Gold. On Thanksgiving morning, I got up about 30 minutes early and twisted a couple turkey outfits. They ended up being pretty comfortable to wear (very light) during the race and were certainly noticeable. During the entire run we had people cheering for us (or the turkeys), so despite only having run only a couple times this year, it made the 5-miles go by pretty quickly (at least in my mind). We ended up taking home the prize for best dressed turkeys and Fleet Street provided us with a couple nice gym bags and running goodies. Chris was extremely pumped, as she said it was the first time she ever “won” a running event.

I hope you all had as festive of a Thanksgiving as we had.

Kids’ Like Us Art Exhibit

Dealing Cards

For the 3rd year in a row, I have been invited to share balloon sculpting and magic with the children who have participated in the Kids Like Us Art Exhibit.  Kids Like Us (KLU) is a substance abuse prevention program that is offered for selected students in the grades 4-8.  It is overseen by the Frederick County Health Department (http://frederickcountymd.gov/index.aspx?NID=3267).

The young artists in the KLU art exhibit have used art as a means to help them overcome substance abuse issues in their homes.  It is truly inspirational to see the emotions, strength of character, and creative process the kids go through, via their art, to express their feelings.  In turn, I am very happy to be able to share with the kids the creative process of sculpting balloons, a process that bring smiles to many of their faces.

Fall Fun and Block Parties

I love the changes of seasons, but I particularly like the transition from summer to fall.  It is nice to have a release from the summer heat, I am a huge college football fan (Hook’em Horns), and fall generally allows us to settle into life closer to home, as our summer vacations have ended.  With the kids back in school, it seems many neighborhoods are now hosting their annual block parties.  This week, I will have performed at two block parties, a venue I always like performing at.  Block parties are typically held outside when the weather is cooler, there is always a wide age range of  kids wanting different types of balloons, and it is fun hearing all the neighbors catching up with one another.  The block party is another reason why I enjoy the transition to fall.

CureSearch Walk

Being the father of two young kids, I particular like being part of events aimed at helping children.  This Sunday, I volunteered my time and twisted balloons for three hours at the first Annual Annapolis CureSearch Walk (http://www.curesearchwalk.org).  The walk celebrates and honors children whose lives have been affected by childhood cancer.  This event raised over $35,000 to help fund lifesaving research.  During the event, families in attendance who had lost children to cancer were recognized.  Likewise, children who had overcome or were still battling cancer were honored.  Many of those kids then found their way into my balloon line, where I was grateful to be able to add a little smile to their faces.

You can see a couple photos of a few of the happy customers.  One set of boys have a lacrosse stick and bow & arrow; the other set of boys were in the mood for a shark and cow hat.

Naval Academy Wedding

It is always fun to work a new venue and this weekend marked a first for me, my first wedding!! The wedding was held at the Naval Academy, with the reception taking place in Alumni Hall.  The bride mentioned that since she and her husband were getting married a little later in life, many of her friends had kids and would be bringing them to the wedding.  I was tasked with entertaining the kids with balloon art during the reception.  The groom is a Naval Officer and the bride was a former Marine (logistics officer).  Being a former Marine myself, it was great to be able to twist balloons on the Academy grounds at the wedding for two service members.

While the photo is a little blurry, you can see the bride and groom with their matching balloons.  The other picture shows a rainbow hat that was requested by one of their nieces.