The last holiday of winter break or the first holiday of the new year—however you look at it, New Year is a day for family time; and if you opt for a kid-friendly New Year's Eve activity, you could even have the energy for an early start. You might just choose an outing from our list of 47 Things To Do While Everyone Else Is Out of Town, but how to know if it's an option on the holiday? All of the outings below are great choices for a New Year's Day activity—in fact, some of them can only be enjoyed on January 1st. Happy New Year!
- While there is never really a quiet day to visit Disneyland, for most of the other big theme parks New Year's Day is a relatively quiet holiday. Let other families sleep off their New Year's Eve adventures; yours can be getting an early start on the rides at Knott's, Universal, or Legoland without the usual winter break mayhem.
- For more than 50 years people of hardy constitutions have been gathering at Venice Beach on New Year's Day to plunge into the chilly surf as part of the annual Penguin Swim. Watching them is at least as much fun as joining them, followed by a round of sand sledding on the berms.
- Most of the area's outdoor ice rinks know what's good for them—which means they're open for skating on January 1.
- The Aero has an annual tradition of ringing in the new year with a Marx Brothers double bill. Those jokes never get old.
- Make a resolution to be a cooler parent, rocking out at the GRAMMY Museum's Jermaine Dupri and So So Def exhibit Downtown.
- The LA Zoo is open, with Reindeer Romp running all day, and Zoo Lights in the evening.
Take advantage of the smaller crowds at Legoland and other theme parks. Photo by Tom Caswell
- Not only is Santa Anita Park open for racing on New Year's Day—hot dogs are $2 and drinks are $1. (Hair of the dog, anyone?)
- You can greet a new year with PacMan and Ms. PacMan by your side, playing non-stop vintage arcade games at Neon Retro Arcade, open from noon until 10pm at the new Northridge and original Pasadena locations.
- At some point, every family needs to join the masses and watch the Rose Parade in person. If, however, this is not that year for your family, you could sleep a bit later and still enjoy the "only in SoCal" experience of seeing the floats up close in the Post Parade Showcase of Floats.
- Not only is the Autry National Center—aka the Cowboy Museum—open on the holiday; it's even free!
- There's nothing like starting off the new year with a family hike (even if it needs to be a stroller-friendly hike) or a bike ride. Tell yourself you'll do it at least once a week this year, and see how good you'll feel.
- Even better, after the recent rains, why not make it a waterfall hike? It's a great time of year to catch them in full flow!
- If you've got an American Girl fan in your house, you may already know: the Girl of the Year is released on January 1st with a big, free event at the American Girl Store. Free tickets are distributed at the store on the day and are, of course, limited.
Start your year off with a hike - this one was in the Kenneth Hahn Recreation Area. Photo by Jeremy Miles/CC BY 2.0
14. If the rain returns, it's good to know that LACMA is open for the holiday; there is a family storytime, plus kids love that Metropolis II exhibit.
15. Descanso Gardens' Enchanted Forest of Light is open for the evening, and the Enchanted Railroad is running during the day.
16. Start the new year by taking flight: iFly Hollywood is open from 11am-10pm.
17. Pacific gray whale migration season has officially begun. A family whale watching cruise can provide the excellent omen of kicking off the new year with a whale encounter.
18. Oshogatsu—the New Year's celebration in Little Tokyo—promises dance, drumming, treats, crafts, and other outdoor fun for families at locations around Little Tokyo.
19. And finally, if you get an early start, sledding or skiing on January 1 might not be as crowded as you think. After all, the parents who sprang for babysitters probably just want their kids to be verrrry quiet on New Year's morning. Beat them to the slopes and enjoy the snow!
If one of these doesn't do it for you, check our events calendar for more ideas...
Originally published December 29, 2012