Should old acquaintance be forgot? Maybe they should, when seeing them on New Year's Eve costs $25/hour in babysitting fees. Far better to find some fun that can be shared with the kids, and see those old acquaintances some other night. LA rings in the new year in fine family fashion from noon to midnight and beyond; check out some memorable outings on our radar.
Skating Plus invites kids and teens to roll into 2018 with both an afternoon and an all-night skate party. If al fresco skating is more to your taste, Pershing Square (until 11pm), and Ice at Santa Monica (until 10pm) are open on New Year's Eve for late skating, but still get you home in time to say "Happy New Year" in PJs.
2. Noon Year's Eve
Local children's museums Kidspace, The Children's Museum at La Habra, and Pretend City all celebrate with balloon drops, live music, sparkling cider, and a countdown to 2018 at 12:00 noon instead of midnight. It's the best of both worlds for little ones: a New Year's Eve bash and an early bedtime. The Zimmer does ball drops on the 18s—as in 1:18, 2:18, and 3:18pm. (Note: The balloon drop at The Children's Museum at La Habra is currently full; you may want to check for cancellations.)
Make your own noise maker at Kidspace. Photo courtesy of Kidspace Children’s Museum
3. 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.
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.
5. Family Festival
Shoreline Village in Long Beach offers a free, early evening, family-friendly celebration featuring all manner of entertainment for kids. The ball drops and the fireworks fly at 9pm, timed to coincide with the east coast, and sensible bedtime.
6. Enchanted Forest of Light
Descanso Gardens' de-LIGHT-ful woodland holiday display is open for business on the holiday. No need to stay up until midnight to enjoy some beautiful lights as a family; a walk in the woods with hot cocoa is the perfect recipe to get everyone to sleep with smiles on their faces and a great way to close the chapter on 2017. (Note: currently sold out for NYE; please check for cancellations.)
7. 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.
Skate the year away at ICE Santa Monica. Photo courtesy of Downtown Santa Monica
What, your family doesn't go out and watch flamenco together? Well what better time to start! El Cid restaurant in Silver Lake is offering two seatings of its 52nd annual New Year's Eve Flamenco Dinner Show, and the 5pm slot is particularly welcoming of families. There's no question this option is pricey, but so is a New Year's Eve babysitter, right?
If not flamenco, how about some good old-fashioned fighting? No, really, old-fashioned—as in knights in armor jousting and clashing broadswords. Medieval Times Dinner Theater has a family-friendly New Year's Eve bash planned (with the emphasis on bash), and it costs less than the flamenco idea.
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 distinctly hometown feel, and the annual variety show incudes a buffet dinner, champagne, and party favors; early and late seatings are available. It's even walking distance to the ice rink, where the skating party we already mentioned goes until 10pm.
11. Party Downtown
If your kids are old enough to stay up until midnight in the heart of DTLA, Grand Park is hosting a free party, with public art installations, face painting, performances, food trucks, and a midnight countdown projected right onto city hall.
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.
13. Winter Fest
Orange County has another family-friendly, large scale celebration option this year, if the theme parks are not your thing. The holiday festival at the OC Fair & Event Center rings in the new year at 6pm for the early-to-bed set, then stays open late to do it all again at midnight, with snow, fireworks, a parade, and a ball drop.
14. Early Fireworks
Kids can get the full-on New Year's Eve experience without staying up much past their bedtime in Marina del Rey, at a perfect compromise celebration in Burton Chace Park. 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.
15. Late Fireworks
Kids who can make it till midnight can huddle close to their parents in the crisp night air and enjoy fireworks over the Queen Mary in Long Beach, or up above Universal Studios when the grown up bash reaches its climax with synchronized fireworks displays throughout the park.
As always, there are plenty more options on our daily events calendar—and we're adding more daily, so keep checking!
Originally published December 28, 2011