Chicago has a great deal of places to go, things to see and activities to participate in, even for the most discriminating pre-adolescents. If you're planning a birthday party for your preteen and would prefer it to be on-location rather than in the home, your biggest dilemma may be deciding among dozens of options. Whether your child and guests are male, female or a combination, and whether they like sports, thrills or artsy activities, you'll find plenty of locations for preteen birthday parties in Chicago.
If you're entertaining a group of preteen girls while honoring your birthday girl, you'll find some options with feminine, fashion themes. At the American Girl Place salon, cafe and doll store on Chicago's well-known "Magnificent Mile," Michigan Avenue, preteen parties can browse a wide selection of dolls, doll clothes and accessories before sitting down to a two-course meal with their newly fashioned dolls. Polka Dots and Pony Tails girls' party boutique on the South Side (20871 S. Lagrange Rd., Frankfort) provides a variety of party themes for birthday girls and guests, including "Celebrity Diva," "Glama-Jama," "Posh Spa" and "Royal-Tea."
Preteen birthday boys may enjoy hosting their birthday galas in a more sporty and athletic atmosphere. FireZone is an interactive play center that offers children a simulated hands-on firefighting experience. Located in Schaumburg, Ill. (1100 National Pkwy.), just 20 minutes outside the city, the facility features a firehouse, real firefighters and fire engines, and educational displays. Birthday party packages include admission, cake, refreshments and group activities. Athletic boys may enjoy a celebration at Frozen Ropes indoor baseball park (6000 W. Touhy Ave.). The facility offers batting cages, an indoor dome covered baseball field, fast pitching and sports-themed video gaming. Party packages include activities and game time on the half or full stadium, in the batting cages and in the party room, as well as pizza and hot dog package options. Parties are welcome to bring their own cake.
Most preteens begin expressing an interest in coed activities, and the opposite sex starts becoming much less "yucky" than in the earlier years. If your child would like a coed birthday party, Chicago offers a considerable number of interesting themes appropriate for young boys and girls together. Go Bananas is an indoor arcade and amusement park in Norridge -- right on the Chicago/Norridge border (4516 N. Harlem Ave.) -- that features rides, games, prizes and concessions by Pizza Hut. Also in Norridge is the Putting Edge indoor miniature golf course (4105 N. Harlem Ave.). The facility provides birthday party packages for children to play glow-in-the-dark golf in a blacklit room adorned with colorful fluorescent decor and golf balls. Just minutes from Chicago in Skokie, preteen partygoers can enjoy the Skokie Park District's Exploritorium (4701 Oakton St.), featuring climbing equipment, water play and art areas, and educational computer gaming.
If you've ever experienced a Chicago winter, you know to keep the celebrations indoors. But for parents of spring and summer birthday kids, outdoor activities often make ideal birthday party events. The Six Flags Great America amusement park, about 35 minutes outside Chicago, has dozens of age-appropriate rides for preteens as well as adult and toddler party guests. Special party packages and discounts can be arranged in advance. For a cool, refreshing and watery good time, book your birthday party at the adjoining Hurricane Harbor water park. Parents who prefer to remain within city limits can arrange to reserve picnic areas in most of Chicago's 30 park district water parks and playgrounds and bring the party along.
- Polka Dots and Ponytails: Welcome to Polka Dots and Ponytails Ultimate Girls Party Boutique!
- The Exploritorium: Skokie Park District
- FireZone: All Inclusive Birthday Parties
- American Girl: Welcome to American Girl Place Chicago
- Six Flags Great America & Hurricane Harbor: Groups
- Frozen Ropes Baseball & Softball Training Centers: Chicago Birthday Parties
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