INSTITUTE OF CULINARY EDUCATION
50 W. 23rd St.
Junior Boulud wannabes and sous-chefs-in-training can tie on kitchen whites and spend two hours mixing up a three-course meal—like chicken paillard, stuffed artichokes, and molten chocolate cake—in these professional kitchens. The party is run by the executive staff; at the end, parents get to sample the results ($2,000 for up to twenty kids, plus a 20 percent service charge).
If your child sleeps with a baseball bat, you’ll definitely hit a home run here. Start out before the game in the Great Moments Room, where young pinstripe fanatics can look at photos of Yankee greats and eat a substantial, multicourse buffet. After birthday cake, head out to the stands to watch the game ($750; $50-per-head buffet; game tickets not included).
Think of it as an age-appropriate Crobar. At this Latin nightclub-restaurant with two giant rooms, a D.J. spins music chosen by the birthday boy or girl while face-painters and tattoo artists (don’t worry, they’re only temporary) walk around. Happy staffers will encourage any shy partygoers to dance ($600 for the first ten kids, $20 each additional; parents free).
MADAME ALEXANDER DOLL FACTORY
615 W. 131st St.
Go behind the scenes of the venerable high-end doll company to see how Sissy is made. After a tour of the factory and the new doll museum, kids make their own doll accessories, like a hat or a pocketbook, in a showroom lined with hand-painted floral murals and exquisitely dressed glamour dolls ($30 to $95 per person, depending on the goody bag, which can include a doll; pizza and beverages included).
Preschoolers will love the 100-year-old carousel ($250 to rent for two hours). Active types can glide along Wollman Rink ($300 for two hours) or take a pedal boat around the lake ($200 for three hours). And budding history buffs can dress up in period costumes and play nineteenth-century yard games at Lefferts Historic House ($250 for two hours). Or, you know, lie in the grass and play catch for free.