New Year's Day in Los Angeles: 18 Fun Things To Do with Kids

Garden Slate Painting at the Autry Museum. Photo by Jackie Jones
Garden Slate Painting at the Autry Museum. Photo by Jackie Jones
12/27/19 - By Roberta B

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 50 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!


Take advantage of the smaller crowds at Legoland and other theme parks. Photo by Tom Caswell

  1. Annual Penguin Swim

    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 like penguins. Watching them is at least as much fun as joining them, followed by a round of sand sledding on the berms.

  • Knott'sUniversal, or Legoland

    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; your adventure can be getting an early start on the rides at amusement parks without the usual winter break mayhem.

  • Free Day at the Autry National Center

    Not only is the Autry—aka the Cowboy Museum—open on the holiday; it's even free!

  • Lightsaber Dojo

    You can go lightyears beyond an ordinary screening of the new Star Wars movie by visiting the Huntington Beach Lightsaber Dojo pop-up, where your kids can have a VR Jedi experience along with the movie.

  • Marx Brothers Double Bill

    The Aero has an annual tradition of ringing in the new year with a classic comedy double feature. Those jokes never get old.

  • Battleship Iowa

    Tour a real battleship, learn some military history, and check out the Lost at Sea exhibit on board the historic vessel.

  • Zoo Lights

    The LA Zoo is open during the day for the animals, and in the evening for the lights!

  •  The Rose Parade

    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 during the Post Parade Showcase of Floats.

  • Outdoor Ice Rinks

    Most of the area's outdoor rinks know what's good for them—which means they're open for skating on January 1. 

    Start your year off with a hike - this one was in the Kenneth Hahn Recreation Area. Photo by Jeremy Miles/CC BY 2.0

  • Family Hiking

    There's nothing like starting off the new year with a 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.

  • Waterfall Hiking

    Even better, after the recent rains, why not head for a waterfall? It's a great time of year to catch them in full flow!

  • American Girl Store Girl of the Year Debut

    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 free event at the store. Free tickets are distributed at the store on the day and are, of course, limited.

  • LACMA 

    If the rain returns, it's good to know that a local museum is open for the holiday.

  • Enchanted Forest of Light

    Descanso Gardens' is open for the evening, and the Enchanted Railroad is running during the day.

  • iFly Hollywood

    Start the new year by taking flight: iFly is open from 11am-10pm.

  • Whale Watching Cruise

    Pacific gray whale migration season has officially begun, so why not kick off the new year with a whale encounter?

  • Oshogatsu in Little Tokyo

    Oshogatsu, the New Year's celebration—promises dance, drumming, treats, crafts, and other fun for families at locations around Little Tokyo.

  • Sledding or Skiing

    January 1 might not be as crowded as you think. 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