From the July 2015 issue

Top Outdoor Birthday Party Places in Southeast Michigan

Pizza parlors and bowling alleys offer all-season fun. But when the warm weather hits, birthday boys and girls who have summer DOBs have awesome options.

Some pity the kid with a summer birthday. It’s not nearly as easy to pass out invitations to all your school chums when classes aren’t in session and when many of those little buddies are off at camp or on summer vacations. But we say those tykes born in June, July and August are lucky! After all, summer birthdays also offer a big opportunity – families can plan parties anytime during the week or anytime of day.

But an even better reason that summer birthdays rule? Outdoor parties! In the summer months, you can choose among sunny locales to celebrate your child’s big day and warm weather exclusive activities.

Here are some of the top places to stage your child’s summer birthday party and some local suggestions. And even if your child doesn’t have a summer birthday, they make for a great place for get-togethers during these school-free months.

Explore Nature

Here’s a thought: Get your kids off the World Wide Web and into the Wild World of Nature for some face-to-face time with flora and fauna at a local nature center. You can give your child’s special day some extra Mother Nature magic at these sweet southeast Michigan spots.

Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve

  • Address: 333 N. Hill Circle, Rochester
  • Phone: 248-656-0999
  • Party length: 2 hours
  • Cost: $150

Want to party with dinosaurs? Then head to the Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve. OK, so you won’t see any real dinosaurs here, but your child and her friends can enjoy a party designed around them. Themes also include bugs, fairies and other kid-friendly ideas. But if your child has a special interest, the naturalist may be able to create the party around it – just ask! Festivities include one-and-a-half hours of a naturalist-led program and then time for cake and treats. The preserve provides decorations, drinks and paper goods while families need to bring cake and any other food. Max of 12 guests.

Kensington Metropark Nature Center

  • Address: 4570 Huron River Parkway, Milford
  • Phone: 800-477-2757 or 810-227-8917
  • Party length: 1-2 hours/room rental, 1 hour/birthday
  • Cost: $100-$200/room rental fee, $50/birthday party add-on
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Take your pick from various birthday party programs like Animal Adventure, Dino Safari, Bug Hunt Party and Woodland Fairy Treasure Hunt. Your child and his guests enjoy one hour of the nature program followed by another hour to explore the nature center. Go for a hike together in the 4,481-acre park afterwards. All parties include goody bags for up to 15 visitors and a room rental. There is a maximum of 15 children and they need to be between the ages of 4-10.

Sterling Heights Nature Center

  • Address: 42700 Utica Road, Sterling Heights
  • Phone: 586-446-2710
  • Party length: 2 hours
  • Cost: $120 for residents, $156 for nonresidents

Who wants to get an up-close-and-personal peek at a reptile? If your child would love to party with some amphibians, then the Sterling Heights Nature Center is the place to go. The parties are held Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon and can include up to 20 children. An indoor scavenger hunt is part of the fun, too.

Go Animal Crazy

While nature parties have the razzle-dazzle of the outdoors, these parties know who the superstars truly are – critters. For all your animal-obsessed kids, summer is a spectacular time to pet, peruse and ride something besides the family dog. Here are some top spots for party “animals.”

Carousel Acres

  • Address: 12749 Nine Mile Road, South Lyon
  • Phone: 248-437-7669
  • Party length: 2.5 hours
  • Cost: $345 ($50 every extra half hour); provide own cake and food

Does your child love visiting the farm? Has she been begging for a pony? No need to buy the actual pony for her birthday – instead let her and her friends each take a turn riding one. Carousel Acres, which has been in business since 1993, takes care of all the details and setup so you don’t have to. Decorations, balloons and tablecloths will be ready for all the party guests. Along with riding the ponies, kids can brush them and visit other animals on the property and venture through a life-size playhouse.

The Petting Farm at Domino’s Farms Office Park

  • Address: 3001 Earhart Road, Ann Arbor
  • Phone: 734-998-0182
  • Party length: Call for details
  • Cost: $100-$300 (Tractor rides: $1/person, $12/pizza)

What do a sheep, an alpaca, a peacock and a cow have in common? This isn’t the start of a joke but the beginning of a great birthday party. All of these animals and more are residents of The Petting Farm at Domino’s Farms Office Park. Everyone at the party gets to visit with the animals and hang out at the pavilion. Parents should plan on bringing food (or you can buy pizza with your package) cake, drinks, utensils, decorations and other party supplies. You can add on to the cost of your party by purchasing tractor rides for $1 per person. Guest limit ranges from 10-30 based on the package you purchase.

Upland Hills Farm

  • Address: 481 Lake George Road, Oxford
  • Phone: 248-628-1611
  • Party length: Call for details
  • Cost: $9 per person; $2 per pony ride

Head down to the farm at this party place that includes pony rides, hayrides and a playground, too. Make sure each kid gets a turn milking the cows and visiting with all of the animals like cows, goats, sheep, donkeys, llamas and more. Party dates are available on select Sundays throughout the summer and weekends during the fall.

Detroit Zoo

  • Address: 8450 W. 10 Mile Road, Royal Oak
  • Phone: 248-541-5717
  • Party length: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Cost: $400 for covered tented space rental with picnic tables

Go on a wild safari at the Detroit Zoo for your child’s next birthday party. Together you can visit various exhibits like The Arctic Ring of Life, the Australian Outback Adventure, The African Forest, the Polk Penguin Conservation Center and others. When it’s feeding time, head to your covered tent where you can bring in items like cake and sandwiches to serve to your guests. The party package does not include admission, parking, food or beverages, but discounted admission prices are available for groups of 20 or more who pre-purchase their tickets and order the picnic space. You can also enhance your party by adding Dinosauria, the carousel and train rides to your package, for an additional fee.

Be a Good Sport

A big beautiful part of summer is the opportunity for your kids to break a sweat. And what better way to burn off all that birthday cake and sugar highs then by opting for a party that puts the “active” in activities?

Sportway

  • Locations: 38520 Ford Road, Westland, 734-728-7222; 19640 Allen Road, Brownstown, 734-479-0340
  • Party length: Call for details
  • Cost: $25/room deposit, $12-$15 per person depending on party package, minimum of 10 guests

Go-kart time! Your birthday kid can race her friends around and around the track to see who wins. With the basic party package, each guest receives a go-kart ride, mini-golf round and time in the batting cage. You’ll also have an air-conditioned room where you can sing “Happy Birthday” and serve cake and treats.

Futureball Outdoor Paintball

  • Address: 9269 E. MI 36, Whitmore Lake
  • Phone: 248-446-0772
  • Party length: Call for details
  • Cost: vary per package

Welcome to the state’s largest outdoor paintball park. That’s right: There are 14 playfields and 115 acres to explore, plus picnic areas. Fields are divided into different types with names like Futureball City, Pipe Towne, Tombstone City and Hamburger Hill. The birthday package requires 10 players.

Life’s a Picnic

Whether you want a lakeside view or a spot in the wood, southeast Michigan has plenty of places to choose from. And the best part? Many of these parks are free or inexpensive to visit, so your costs will mostly be for the food and any planned festivities. Here’s one prime picnic party spot. To find a spot in your neck of the woods, visit our roundup of the Best Places to Have a Picnic in Southeast Michigan.

Belle Isle in Detroit

  • Address: 2 Inselruhe Ave., Detroit
  • Phone: 313-821-9844
  • Entry fees: $11/Recreation Passport (good for entry into all state parks for one year)

If you haven’t visited this island park in the middle of the Detroit River, now is the time! Choose from an array of standard picnic tables or find your own spots and then rent a bike to cycle through the island, visit the beach, go to the nature zoo or make your way to the renovated aquarium.

Make a Splash

Plan a day at the pool for your little tadpole and his pals. Find outdoor and indoor water parks galore on our list of top spots throughout the state. Here’s two of our faves for splishin’ and splashin’.

Blue Heron Bay Spray Park at Independence Lake County Park

  • Address: 3200 Jennings Road, Whitmore Lake
  • Phone: 734-449-4437
  • Party length: Call for details
  • Cost: $50/deposit, residents: $12/per guest weekdays, $13/per guest weekends; non-residents: $13/per guest weekdays, $14/per guest weekends, $15/picnic area,

Kids can ride the two 24-foot water slides, play on a water structure and splash in the water jet spider, cattails and buckets – plus soak their friends with the water cannons. Your water bug’s special day includes invitations, a banner, birthday cake and free admission for the birthday child.

Turtle Cove Family Aquatic Center 

  • Address: Lower-Huron Metropark, 40151 E. Huron River Drive, Belleville
  • Phone: 734-697-9181
  • Cost: $10/parking, $10/adult, $8/kids under 48 inches, free/kids under $30 inches

This spot offers two water slides, a lazy river, a 300-gallon dumping bucket and much more to get your birthday child soaked from head to toe. You can also get a bite at this spot’s Grille. Children 10 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

This post was originally published in 2017 and is updated regularly. 

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