When it comes to a child’s bar or bat mitzvah, it can be a stressful time. So many choices to be made! One of the biggest decisions families contend with is where to have the celebration after the service. Children will likely have their own venue preferences, but those don’t always match up with their parents’ desires.
Heidi Hiller of Innovative Party Planners knows how swamped parents and caregivers get when planning the big day — ostensibly one of the happiest in a family’s life.
“There are only so many times we come together. Funerals, if someone is sick, there are so many sad moments in life,” Hiller said. “If you have the means to create a magical day for someone, you are creating a memory for them.”
When it comes to venues, Hiller points to the need for versatility.
“Bar/bat mitzvahs are really two parties in one room,” Hiller said. “What the children and adults are doing may overlap, but they will have different experiences. Do you want to separate the two, or join them later?”
Other issues to consider are food options and what venues demand when you sign a contract.
“A lot of people think their backyards are the cheapest option,” Hiller said. “Do you have a tent? Do you have tables and chairs? Do you have restrooms? Parking? Catering? Noise ordinances? Safety?”
All these considerations are taken care of when you choose a professional venue, which can help you get creative so that the party is personal and unique.
“I can show you one venue with two different parties there, and it will look completely different,” says Hiller.
Luckily, the Greater Baltimore area has plenty of venues to choose from. Below, we offer a list of just a few places that might make for an interesting or unique party. Remember to check Party Space Baltimore to see which venues are available when, and note that for many of these you’ll have to bring in kosher catering if that’s something that’s desired. (For kosher brunch service, try Milk & Honey Bistro: 410-486-4344.)
Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
The zoo offers both outdoor and indoor options. If you want a small party, you may order group tickets starting at $14.99 per person. For their party packages, which include a tent, cake, food, a gift, cutlery and cleaning staff, packages start at $595. If you want to upgrade from their “birthday venues” to something so grand the whole school will talk about it, the zoo offers their historic Mansion House for special occasions, which starts at $2,200. You can ask for a special appearance of various animals for $200 per animal. marylandzoo.org. 410-396-7102
If you were hoping to find a free but beautiful venue on this list, this is it! Dogs are welcome at this 200-acre wildlife paradise. Cylburn has more than 20 vibrant gardens, trees draped in history from the 1800s, adventurous trails for hikers and plenty of birdsong to serenade your party. This is the perfect pick for the kid who’s ardent about ecology. cylburn.org. 410-367-2217
Laser tag! Parties available for four to 30 guests, with DJ optional. Owner Michael R. Felton says: “It serves all family-oriented parties. We give families the opportunity for us to come to wherever they may live or want to party.” warriorsdome.com. 443-525-1893
Sky Zone Timonium
Competitive or athletic kids will jump for joy with this choice — and about its multiple locations (Timonium, Columbia, Rosedale). Guests can “fly without fear, soft landings for huge air” at the Foam Zone, get competitive with dodgeball or challenge their friends with the Ninja Warrior Course. “It’s a great place to ensure fun and healthy exercise for the kids,” says manager Ray Hall. skyzone.com. 410-842-1661
Gramercy Mansion B&B and the Carriage House at Gramercy
Though the Gramercy hosts large and lavish events, they also offer a “private tea” option, for a more intimate gathering of your Anglophile child and friends. For less than $50 per person, you get three hours of tea service and free tours through the mansion and gardens. “There’s outdoor space, big parking lots and inside is a unique venue filled with different ornate decorations. It’s a very welcoming place for a great party where everyone can be together and celebrate,” says Sarah Cullison, head of marketing. gramercymansion.com. 410-486-2405
The national aquarium offers sharks, frogs, turtles and more. Let the tides pull you in at Blacktip Reef, where hundreds of species roam an open-water exhibit replicating an Indo-Pacific coral reef habitat. “Guests have the chance to journey from reefs to rainforest alongside 20,000 amazing animals,” says Nora Campbell, director of sales at the National Aquarium. aqua.org. 410-576-3800
The Maryland Science Center
“Imagine your guests at the edge of the waterfront and enjoying a gourmet dinner as dinosaurs loom overhead,” the Science Center’s website says. Here you can engage your guests at a private screening in the IMAX theater, or spend time with the activities within their hundreds of hands-on exhibits. mdsci.org. 410-685-5225
Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament
For the best deal, call the party a “birthday package” and pay $10 per person to enjoy an epic battle between knights. Other standouts: equine grace, a falcon’s flight and a tournament worthy of the queen. medievaltimes.com. 443-755-0011
Dave & Busters
With locations in Baltimore, Capitol Heights, Arundel Mills, Gaithersburg and more, this arcade-restaurant blend offers much to do. Activities include “Dance Dance Revolution” and virtual reality. Parents can kick back with a sports show or toss some hoops and show up the kids. daveandbusters.com. 410-657-9900
Hilton Garden Inn
A hotel is always a dependable standby, and the Hilton Garden Inn offers plenty of different event spaces that serve as a blank canvas for maximum personalization. hilton.com. 410-654-0030