And just like that—2018 is coming to a close. And what a year it’s been! As you and your family start to gear up for New Year’s Eve, remember there’s more to the night than hiring an expensive sitter or watching the ball drop in your pajamas. Here are all the best options for some festive family fun, in one convenient list. Here’s to a great 2018 everyone and an even better 2019 from your friends at Red Tricycle.
photo: via Grand Park
Grand Park + The Music Center’s N.Y.E.L.A.
New York has their ball drop, but Los Angeles is catching up with a New Year’s Eve celebration to rival that east coast city. Join thousands of Angelenos as they celebrate at Grant Park’s sixth annual New Year’s Eve Los Angeles event. Highlights include a city-wide dance party, two stages of entertainment, food trucks, and light displays. Video displays will be projected on some of Downtown’s most iconic buildings like City Hall. The best part? It’s all free.
Pro Tip: Take public transportation as parking will be scarce.
When: Dec. 31, 8 p.m.-1:00 a.m.
200 N Grand Ave.
photo: Jamie Pham courtesy of LA Zoo
LA Zoo Lights Family New Year’s Eve
See the zoo like you’ve never seen it before: at night and totally lit up. Tour the zoo after hours and see what your favorite animals are up to. Then hit up a dinner buffet featuring family favorites. Carousel rides, games, and a DJ dance party are all part of the celebration. Top the night off with a champagne (adults) or sparkingly apple cider (kids) toast.
When: Dec. 31; 6-10 p.m.
Cost: $69 for adults and $45 for children (2-12)
5333 Zoo Dr.
Mid City & Hollywood
Zimmer Museum Balloon Drop
Watch hundreds of balloons drop in celebration of the New Year, not one but three times throughout the day. Decorate your own noisemakers and other festive New Year’s Eve party supplies. This event is free with the cost of admission so go ahead and make a day out of it.
When: Dec. 30 1:18 pm, 2:18 pm, and 3:18 pm
Cost: Free with the price of regular admission
6505 Wilshire Blvd., #100
El Capitan Theatre: Mary Poppins Returns
Catch a showing of Mary Poppins Returns at the iconic El Capitan theater where the visit is just as exciting as seeing the movie. The first showing of the day is at 9:30 a.m. and the last is at 7:45 p.m. so you can appease both night owls and early birds. This one is destined to be a classic so bring on the popcorn. Come early to hear some pre-show music and stay afterward to see costumes and props from the movie.
When: Dec. 31; 9:30 a.m., 12:55 p.m.; 4:20 p.m.; 7:45 p.m.
Cost: $13 & up
6838 Hollywood Blvd.
photo: Jenifer Scott
ICE at Santa Monica
No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. That’s an 8,000 square foot ice ring smack dab in the middle of the Third Street Promenade. Bundle up and take the kids for a skate on the ice. And if you don’t know how to skate, no problem. You can join a skating lesson or hire a private tutor for an extra cost of course. Hungry? There are as many options as there are picky eaters in the food court.
When: Dec. 31, 2-10 p.m.
Cost: $15 and includes skate rental
1324 5th St.
Magicopolis New Year’s Eve Spectacular
Ring in the new year by taking in a magic show then learning a few of your tricks in a magic class. Every party-goer will receive a souvenir bag full of magic tricks, hats, and noisemakers. And of course, watch out for a few more surprises. You never know what those tricky magicians have up their sleeves. Stay for the New Year’s toast with champagne for the adults or sparkling apple cider for the kids.
When: Dec. 31, 9 p.m.
1418 Fourth St.
Santa Monica Playhouse NYE Show
The Annual All-New One-Time-Only New Year’s Eve Revue is a treat for the entire family featuring music, dancing, and comedy; the evening ticket comes with a sumptuous buffet, bubbly beverages for all ages (that means champagne or sparkling juices), party hats, tiaras, noisemakers, and surprises. The 6 p.m. show is ideal for little ones. Reservations are required and can be made online.
When: Dec. 31, 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
Cost: $29.50 (kids), $49.50 (adults) / $39.50 (kids), $69.50 (adults
1211 4th St.
photo: Tournament of Roses via Facebook
San Gabriel Valley
Rose Parade Behind the Scenes
Take your tots to get an up close and personal look at the floats that will be featured in the parade in the morning as they get their finishing touches. Watch in wonder and awe as flowers, fruit, seeds, bark, and grasses are expertly applied to the floats.
When: Dec. 31; 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Cost: $15, kids under five are free
835 S. Raymond Ave.
Kidspace Balloon Drop
For kids that still enjoying an afternoon nap, ring in the ‘Noon’ year with two live DJ’s, party hats, noisemakers, and more. This Kidspace tradition features a countdown and festive balloon drop at high noon but get there early to avoid the Rose Parade traffic.
When: Dec. 31; 9:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Cost: Free with price of admission ($14)
480 North Arroyo Blvd.
photo: via Pretend City
These five ideas are worth the drive, rounding out our favorite 14 ways for under 21s to greet the New Year.
LEGOLAND’s Brick Drop: Midnight comes early in the LEGO world…Kids’ New Year’s Eve gives Times Square a run for its money with the early bird ball, er, LEGO drop! The countdown to the 6 p.m. Brick Drop: a humongous Lego block plunges 22 feet, culminating in a crowd-pleasing pyrotechnics display that the whole family can watch wearing party hats and special fireworks watching glasses. Event details.
New Year’s Eve at Disneyland: Mickey and his pals are celebrating New Year’s Eve, with “Ring in the New Year” fireworks spectacular at 8:45 p.m., and the “Fantasmic!” spectacle at 9 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. All the ‘usual suspects’ will be on hand, including the newest members of the Disney Family (think Jedi and Sith), so don’t forget your camera. Event details.
Knott’s Berry Farm NYE: Knott’s Berry Farm has something for the entire family this New Year’s Eve with Snoopy, a variety of dance music, a family-friendly comedian magician, and more. All this plus a day spent riding Knott’s rides, enjoying all the attractions and a Midnight Fireworks Show makes it a great way to spend the last day of 2018. Event details.
Pretend City NYE: With sparkling streamers and festive party hats, this celebration is one the littlest revelers will adore (and you’ll love that they can countdown to the New Year and still sleep through the night). Event details.
Medieval Times: Party like it’s 1099! Celebrate time moving forward by going back in time. Action-packed sword fights, a beautiful princess, elaborate costumes and even a magnificent Andalusian stallion performing without rider…add in a dinner you can eat with your fingers, and you’ve got an evening your kiddos will adore. Showtimes are at 5 p.m., 7:30 p.m. & 9:45 p.m. Event details.
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—Meghan Rose, Andie Huber & Christina Montoya Fiedler