Are you a parent in the Champaign-Urbana area wondering, “where do I have my child’s first birthday party?”
Well, you’re not alone. It’s one of the most asked questions to the chambanamoms.com Facebook page.
We get it. A first birthday is a huge milestone, not just for babies – but more importantly, for their parents!
We decided to do some digging and get some answers.
First, a few things to ask yourself before you get started on the planning of this most important event.
1. Who’s on the guest list? Will it be mainly grown-ups, or will other kids be invited? What ages?
2. Time of year. Indoors or outdoors, if that’s even an option?
3. Do you want just space for the party, or activities to do with it?
4. And most importantly – how many are coming?
Please note, it is always a good idea to book your party a few months in advance if you would like a specific date. Some venues fill up well in advance for weekend parties. (And don’t forget to check out our Champaign-Urbana area birthday party guide. Do that first!)
When you’re looking to be outdoors:
- Have a party in the park. If your group is large, and you want space to put out a big spread, consider reserving a park shelter. You can do this through Champaign Park District, Urbana Park District, Savoy Recreation, and the Champaign County Forest Preserve District. A few of our favorite places to do this: Colbert Park in Savoy; Homer Lake Playscape (shelter is nearby); the new Friendship Grove natural playground in Urbana; Porter Park in Champaign.
- Have it at the pool. Babies love to get wet! Who doesn’t love a pool party? Crystal Lake Family Aquatic Center and Sholem Aquatic Center both offer pool party packages. Pool parties are a great option when you have a lot of different age groups.
- Curtis Orchard is always a big hit, especially in the fall. Party packages available, or just reserve a few tables.
When you’re looking to be indoors:
- Indoor playgrounds are great options. One reader recommended the Leonhard Center in Champaign, which has a party room almost straight across from the indoor playground (party packages available). The Adventure Room at the Stephens Family YMCA is a good option for a party with a lot of younger kids. The Windsor Road Christian Church and First Christian Church also rent out their space, but on an extremely limited basis. Plan *way* ahead.
- Check out restaurant options. Many readers mentioned Jupiter’s at the Crossing, which is great for large groups, and of course has arcade games for the kids and young at heart. If you want a private room for your restaurant party, but still want a casual place, try Papa Del’s, Scotty’s Brewhouse, El Toro Bravo, or Attie’s, depending on your size.
- Indoor pool is always a hit for the kiddos, no matter the age. Check out the Urbana Indoor Aquatic Center, Campus Rec (CRCE pool), or Stephens Family YMCA.
When you don’t need a lot of frills:
- Many readers recommended using a community building space, in towns large and small.
- If you’re a member of a church or other place of worship, check to see if the fellowship hall (or equivalent) is available.
- You can rent rooms at many locations without buying the “party package.” For instance, you can rent a room at the Leonhard Center or Springer Cultural Center, generally by the hour.
- Crystal Lake Park Lakehouse in Urbana: Offers a beautiful view of Crystal Lake with easy access to pavilions, playgrounds, and boating in the park. The climate-controlled room can seat 50 people. Expand outside. Group boating discounts available. Available at an hourly rate.
- Orpheum Children’s Science Museum: Rent out the museum for a private party, which is pretty cost effective for even a larger group. Fun for kids of all sizes.