New Year's Eve with Kids: Things To Do on New Year's Eve in Los Angeles as a Family
It’s almost New Year’s Eve— and out with the old, in with the new sounds pretty good this year! While many events are going virtual again this year, there are still loads of in-person New Year celebrations and things to do on New Year’s Eve with kids in Los Angeles. Ring in 2022 by taking the kids for a paddle in swan boats, ice skating in the heart of the city, seeing fireworks, or even taking the kids to a Noon Year's party. There are also plenty of innovative ways to party at home, family style, or learn some cool New Year celebrations from around the world.
Happy New Year from all of us at Mommy Poppins.
Be sure to check with the venue for its COVID guidelines and requirements before heading out to any event. Many places in LA now require guests to show either proof of vaccination or a negative test; some events are getting canceled or postponed at the last minute due to the latest COVID surge.
Skating Plus invites kids and teens to roll into 2022 with both an afternoon and an all-night skate party. And while LA Kings Holiday Ice doesn't have any special events planned on New Years' Eve, the rink is open on Dec. 31 from 4pm until midnight, so you can still skate in the New Year in the heart of the city.
2. Universal Studios
Kids who have the energy for a big night out can ring in the new year Hogwarts style, at Universal's all-new EVE at Universal Studios celebration. Festivities include music and dance areas, late hours on the rides, and lots of extra Lights over Hogwarts shows leading up to fireworks at midnight.
3. Grand Park’s NYELA Countdown to 2022
For 8 years running, Grand Park has held LA’s answer to Times Square—a giant bash in the heart of downtown with music, lights, people, and a countdown on the side of City Hall. But this year the party is once again going virtual. No standing in line or hunting for a bathroom, as the dance party takes place on your computer and in your home, ending at midnight with a 3-D digital countdown. Yep, it ends at midnight on the West Coast, so this is only for kids (and parents) who take nice long naps in the afternoon! But a giant LA dance party with those you love the most sounds like a great way to close out this year. The event is streaming live on Fuse and Grand Parke's Youtube Channel.
It's the best of both worlds: a New Year's Eve bash and an early bedtime. Photo courtesy of The Children's Museum at La Habra
4. Noon Year's Eve
Several local children's museums—The Children's Museum at La Habra, Southern California Children’s Museum, Discovery Cube Los Angeles, and Pretend City—all celebrate with balloon drops, live music, sparkling cider, and a countdown to 2022 at noon instead of midnight. It's the best of both worlds for little ones: a New Year's Eve bash and an early bedtime.
5. Take an illuminated swan boat ride
Every night in Echo Park, as dusk settles, the lights come to life on the swan boats at Echo Park Lake. Up to 5 people can rent one together and paddle around the lake with the real birds who call this park home. It’s a dazzling, only-in-LA moment, with the city skyscrapers in the distance, and the fountain gushing in the middle of the lake. Bundle up; it gets very chilly at night. Last boat rental begins at 9pm, and reservations (and masks) are required.
See Christmas lights from your car! Photo courtesy of Santa’s Speedway Christmas Drive-thru Spectacular
6. Drive-thru holiday adventures
While a few of our favorite holiday drive-thru adventures are closed on New Year’s Eve, holiday drive-thru experiences like Magic Mountain Holiday in the Park, Santa’s Speedway Christmas Drive-thru Spectacular, and Night of Lights OC are open for one last adventure in 2022.
7. Hit the slopes and swoosh in the New Year
If a chilly adventure calls, pack up the car and head north to hit the slopes. Whether your kids are speed demons on skis, shredders on snowboards, or just like to float down a mountain on a tube, we know the perfect place for them to play. Several of these ski spots are an easy day trip from Los Angeles. You can even check out the Torchlight Parade at Mountain High or the one at Snow Summit.
Legoland hosts its annual gala celebration, with character encounters, movie screenings, and a dance party, culminating in a brick ball drop at 6pm followed by fireworks.
LA Zoo Lights is open on New Year's Eve! Photo courtesy of the zoo
9. LA Zoo Lights
If holiday lights need a few reindeer thrown in to pique your interest, LA Zoo Lights' New Year's Eve is the outing to choose. The evening zoo activity includes the same elaborate light display as other nights this season, and as usual, the only animals on display are Santa's visiting reindeer. For NYE, the fun is paired with a buffet dinner, a DJ dance party, and live broadcast of the NYC Times Square ball drop.
10. Knott's New Year's Eve
We feel the same way; it's Knott New Year's Eve already, is it? But apparently it is—and happily, the Knott's New Year's Eve party definitely is a party, with family entertainment everywhere you look, all day and way into the night. We did this last year and had a ball; and by the time it started getting really crowded, the kids were ready to call it a year anyway.
11. Ring in the New Year on the high seas
Feel that salty sea air cleanse away the old year, and leave the whole family refreshed and ready for 2022, when you head out to the open seas. Charters and cruises out of Newport Beach, San Pedro, Long Beach, and Ventura are all running on New Year’s Eve for whale watches, cruises to Catalina, or harbor jaunts.
12. Old Town Music Hall New Year's Eve
El Segundo's Old Town Music Hall hosts a family-friendly celebration to ring in the new year. Music, performers, classic shorts, and one feature film help guests count down to midnight and toast 2022 with sparkling cider.
13. New Year's Eve Review at the Santa Monica Playhouse
Santa Monica Playhouse offers its family-friendly New Year's Eve show, the Annual All-New, One-Time-Only New Year's Eve Review (which performs twice!). The theater, in the heart of Downtown Santa Monica, has a hometown feel, and the annual variety show includes a buffet dinner, champagne, and party favors; early and late seating are available.
RELATED: At-Home Guide for Family Fun
Holiday Magic Fireworks Spectacular is on at Disneyland. Photo courtesy of Disneyland Park
If you want the closest you can get to that Times Square crowd energy, the Happiest Place on Earth is also one of the most popular places on Earth. Disneyland fireworks are grander (and happen twice) on New Year's Eve, and the party is all around, as you ring in the new year with every Disney character your kids normally dream of at this time of night.
15. Early fireworks
Kids can get the full-on New Year's Eve experience without staying up much past their bedtime in Marina del Rey. The big countdown starts at 8:59, as everyone watches the Times Square ball drop on a big screen. A big fireworks display is then fired off the south jetty in the Marina, at the civilized hour of 9pm (though for the real deal, there are still fireworks at midnight too). Please note that Burton Chace Park is closed on New Year's Eve, but the fireworks can be viewed from nearly anywhere in Marina del Rey and Venice and Dockweiler Beaches.
16. Disney Concert Hall
If you're a music-loving family, head to the Disney Concert Hall for Pink Martini led by pianist Thomas Lauderdale. The musical program features an eclectic mix of genres like samba, dance music, Latin jazz, and some contemporary pop. There are shows at 7pm and 10:30pm.
17. Bob Baker's Nutcracker
Bob Baker's holiday show is performed twice on NYE: at 10:30am and 1:30pm getting you home in plenty of time for a nap!
18. Stream NYE from Times Square
You don't have to fly out to New York City to enjoy its iconic ball drop ceremony. The virtual celebration streams commercial-free as a webcast beginning at 3pm PST.
19. Head to Big Bear
If you're up for a destination New Year's Eve, check out Wyatt's New Year's Eve Party in Big Bear. This family celebration will include free kid's activities, a special dining menu, free champagne toast for mom and dad, a full bar, music, and dancing! Plus, at the end of the night there's a complimentary shuttle back to your hotel or amazing Airbnb.
20. Temecula's Grape Drop
If you're in the Inland Empire, or up for a drive, Temecula has a great family New Year's Eve celebration. There are two countdowns, one at 9pm and one at midnight, plus live music and a kid's zone from 6pm to 10pm.
Goodbye, 2021. Here’s to a wonderful 2022, exploring Los Angeles together.
Originally published December 28, 2011