There are plenty of ways to ring in 2016 in New York City, but we've rounded up the city's best family options from Brooklyn fireworks and FREE bike rides to swanky (and admittedly expensive) Times Square parties.
If you have little kids, you may want to check out our article on pre-midnight bashes happening all day long at children's museums and other venues around NYC. However you welcome the New Year, we hope it's a blast. You can find even more seasonal fun in our Holiday Guide.
New Year's Eve in Coney Island – Coney Island
Steeplechase Pavilion, West 16th Street and the Boardwalk
Coney Island's beachfront fete returns to ring in 2016. Enjoy a DJ, giveaways and sideshow performances from 9pm until midnight, when the iconic parachute jump is illuminated with 8,000 LED lights as fireworks explode in the sky. While there, head down the boardwalk to Deno's Wonder Wheel, which opens on New Year's Eve for the first time in its 95-year history.
RELATED: NYC Visitor's Guide for Families
New Year's in Brooklyn can be just as fun, especially in the family haven of Park Slope-Prospect Heights. Photo by Brooklyn's own Marty Markowitz via Flickr.
New Year's Eve Fireworks in Prospect Park – Prospect Heights
This annual Brooklyn celebration is a FREE and fun way to ring in 2016. The event kicks off at 11pm with live entertainment and hot refreshments, followed by a dazzling fireworks show at midnight. Best viewing spots include Grand Army Plaza, inside the green space on the West Drive and along Prospect Park West between Grand Army Plaza and Ninth Street. Or try to find a friend with a nearby rooftop.
NYRR Midnight Run and Central Park Fireworks – Upper East Side
Starts at the Central Park band shell; enter the park at Fifth Avenue and 72nd Street
In advance: $60 for adults, $30 for children; day of: $65 for adults, $40 for children
A great way to start working off those extra holiday pounds, this noncompetitive, four-mile Central Park run for ages 5 and older is an offbeat, only-in-NYC way to welcome 2016. There's dancing and live entertainment at 10pm, and fireworks at midnight, kicking off the actual race. If you're not the sneakers type, come for the FREE pre-run fun and head back home. The event takes place rain or shine. While you can register the day of, it's best to do it in advance since it's less expensive and less hectic.
New Year's Eve Bike Ride – Greenwich Village to Central Park
Meet at the Brooklyn entrance to the Williamsburg Bridge or the Arch at Washington Square Park, Fifth Avenue and Washington Square North
9:45pm (Brooklyn), 10pm (Manhattan)
Families can join this FREE ride from Washington Square Park to Belvedere Castle in Central Park, sponsored by grassroots environmental group Time's Up. Festive outfits, noisemakers and party favors are encouraged. After the ride, you are rewarded with an outdoor party filled with music, dancing and fireworks, in fact, the same festivities Emerald Nuts runners enjoy. Best for children ages 10 and older on their own bikes, all ages if in a bike seat.
Big Apple Circus: The Grand Tour – Upper West Side
Lincoln Center's Damrosch Park, 62nd Street and Amsterdam Avenue
On New Year's Eve, families are treated to an extra-special performance with a champagne (or cider) toast and a circus-style countdown to midnight.
Statue by Night, New Year's Eve Cruise – South Street Seaport
Pier 16 at the South Street Seaport
Boards at 10pm, sails 10:30pm-12:30am
$110 for adults, $100 for children ages 3-12
How best do you see the fireworks on New York Harbor? An expensive boat ride is probably your best bet. Unfortunately, many New Year's Eve cruises seem to be 21 and older. However, New York Water Taxi welcomes all ages. Enjoy a complimentary glass of bubbly at midnight or purchase concessions; a cash bar is on board. Too pricey for you? Fireworks are visible from anywhere you can clearly see Lady Liberty, such as Battery Park and Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Crowded doesn't begin to describe Times Square on New Year's Eve, but it's an iconic way to ring in the new year. If you're not taking the time to stake out a spot in the square, there are a number of neighborhood spots offering celebrations that accommodate the under-21 crowd. Many of them are right on 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. It's important to note the live ball drop is not visible from most of these shindigs.
Dave & Buster's New Year's Eve Party includes a buffet, dancing, video games and a five-hour open bar (alcohol for parents, nonalcoholic beverages for kids). We've heard 14 is the suggested minimum age.
At Madame Tussauds, you can groove to a live DJ and snap pics with your favorite (wax) celebrities.
AMC Theatre Times Square has PG-13 movies all night, plus dancing.
At Ripley's Believe It or Not! Times Square, you can check out wild and weird artifacts, tackle a laser race, dance to ubiquitous DJ tunes and chow down on hors d'œuvres. Adults enjoy a midnight champagne toast.
Even Mexican chain Chevy's has a party, as do a slew of other area venues. If your heart is set on Times Square, this site seems to list all the packages available. Note that some celebrations don't allow revelers younger than 21.
Admission prices vary significantly. Visit the respective websites for the complete info.
The Countdown Bus – Downtown Brooklyn
110 Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn
Bus boards at 6pm; dropoff begins at 1am
Children $125; accompanying adult, $50
For parents looking for a New Year's Eve babysitter who will pull out all the stops, the Countdown Bus from the folks at NY City Explorers might be just the right splurge. The group, which also runs the Explorers Academy Preschool, is once again hosting a traveling bus that transports kids ages 4 and up on a magical night of holiday entertainment. Stops include dinner, a movie, a tour of the Dyker Heights holiday lights, board games and hot cocoa and eventually taking in the fireworks at Prospect Park before dropping its charges off in four nearby Brooklyn neighborhoods. Parents can accompany kids if they like. Um, yes, please sign us up!
See all events on Wednesday, December 31.
For other seasonal activities, check out our Event Calendar and Holiday Fun Guide.
Top image of fireworks via Pixabay.
This story, originally posted in December 2009, is updated annually.