Residents of Cortland, a town in the Finger Lakes district of New York state, have a choice of venues when they plan a birthday party for a 4-year-old. Cortland's proximity to nearby cities provide residents with opportunities to plan a birthday party that meets the developmental interests and abilities of a group of 4-year-olds. The party options available also allow a family to plan a party that fits almost any budget.
Take the kids to a nature center for an educational experience that connects them with the northern New York region where they live. Bring a picnic birthday lunch to enjoy at these centers after the children complete the activities. The Lime Hollow Nature Center in Cortland (limehollow.org) on McLean Road operates a preschool program, Nature's Keepers, along with the Travel Trunk Pre-school. These programs run throughout the year. Kids learn about the local ecosystem, including birds, fish and plant life through hands-on experiences. The Ithaca Children's Garden (ithacachildrensgarden.org), 35 minutes outside of Cortland, invites families to bring their children to the garden to engage in experiences that promote an understanding of plants and their role in everyday life. The garden provides programs and activities that encourage the development of the children's imagination, teaches horticulture skills and allows the children to express what they learn at the garden through art.
Organize a birthday party at your home. Preschoolers can have a great time in your basement or backyard, reducing your worries about transportation or lost kids. Bounce Around (bouncearoundrental.com) rents inflatables that you can set up in your back yard; let the kids climb, jump and slide for a few hours before you serve the refreshments. Magicians, including Ithaca-based magicians Mickey Mars (mickeymarsmagic.com) and Matt Episcopo (mattepiscopo.com), will come to your house to perform at your child's birthday party, providing an engaging magic show before the kids sit down to birthday treats.
Take the kids to a zoo. The Rosemond Gifford Zoo (rosamondgiffordzoo.org) in Syracuse, 40 minutes from Cortland, offers a number of party packages for birthday groups. Families choose the package that fits their needs, including options to reserve a party area, make an animal-themed craft, and serve the kids pizza and ice-cream cake. All packages include admission to the zoo for all party guests. The Ross Park Zoo (rossparkzoo.com ) in Binghamton, 45 minutes from Cortland, also invites families to plan a party at the zoo. Birthday party packages at the Ross Park Zoo include zoo admission passes and a party area. Families wanting a more elaborate package may request zoo gift bags for each child and a presentation with zoo animals.
Reserve a party venue for your child's birthday celebration. Book the party at the Syracuse Chuck E. Cheese (3023 Erie Blvd., Syracuse; 315-449-4131). Chuck E. Cheese offers birthday party fun for kids of all ages, removing the hosts from the chore of setting up and cleaning up after a party with a group of preschoolers. Syracuse Tents and Events (syracusetentsevents.com) allows parents to book a private birthday party in its indoor inflatable party house, where the kids can play before sitting down for refreshments. Families provide the food while Tents and Events provides staff members to watch the kids and keep them safe during their two-hour fun with the jumping toys. The Shipwreck Golf Amusement Center (shipwreckgolf.com) in Cortland offers an option of a bounce house or a mini-golf activity for a group of birthday party guests. Parents may select the activity, including a choice of indoor or outdoor mini-golf. After the activity the kids will sit down to birthday refreshments.
If you have lots of adults to help out and hold the little ones' hands, head to an ice-skating party. The J.M. McDonald Sports Center (jmmcomplex.com) in Cortland offers a variety of party packages. Parents may select an hour of private ice time for the kids or ice time during public skating or, if some kids would rather play on the center's turf, the party can move to that area. The Center provides a party room for parties. The State University of New York at Cortland (SUNY) has an ice-skating rink (no website; Park Center SUNY Cortland, Cortland; 607-753-5585), which is open in the winter. The rink includes public skating times and invites people to organize a birthday party at the rink.
- Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images