With a huge playground, mini-golf, a show-stopping fountain and a carousel, one has to remember that Franklin Square is actually a city park and not say, an amusement park with an admission fee. Which makes it a fantastic, hassle-free spot for any party.
Venue: After having a pretty big party for my daughter Sasha’s first birthday (read: lots of beers for me) we decided to make her second birthday as easy and cheap as possible. Having it at Franklin Square made it seem like a carnival, when in reality, I didn’t lay out a cent for the venue. Now, it’s true, I took some risks. Like I didn’t have a back-up plan for bad weather. But you can reserve the spacious (and immaculate) pavilion that was built last year as part of packages starting at $380. I arrived 30 minutes early and was lucky enough to snag a free table (although I did have to ask some sweet older man to vamoose). So the toddler party gods worked in my favor, and it was an easy, casual, truly stress-free party.
Party Details: We had the party on a Saturday at 4 p.m., so the park wasn’t super crowded and the sun wasn’t too hot. I got a plastic tablecloth to cover the wood picnic tables (only so it seemed like a party, not because it was dirty), as well as some things to entertain the kids like sidewalk chalk and bubbles. (Oh! And I strongly suggest bringing tape to stick the tablecloth down.) The week before the party I ordered two dozen birthday cake mason jars from A Baker’s Jar. They were sweet and adorable, but I loved them mostly because they were so easy to transport — the mason jars make them easy to toss in a bag and sit out for a few hours until feeding time. We laid out some blankets for the babies, and some of the kids brought their scooters. They little ones zoomed around, played bubbles or balls, went on the carousel or over to the playground. They were free to run around and make a mess, which was a big stress-reliever for parents and me.
The food: We grabbed a menu from SquareBurger, the Stephen Starr-run burger shack, and had everyone write down their order when they arrived. The order came out 15 minutes after I placed it, and it only set us back (tip included) about $120 for all 20+ guests. Everyone (kids, parents, gluten-free-ers, vegetarians and picky eaters) were all happy with the burgers, fries, dogs and veggie burgers. The black-and-white milkshakes were a big hit too. (Of course, you can order a hoagie tray or even get pizza delivered, too.)
Get to the point already: Two thumbs up. The vibe at the park is already so festive. With the stuff from Target, SquareBurger, The Baker’s Jar cakes, and a bunch of carousel tickets, the whole party cost me less than $350 and was as stress-free as it gets.