This year has been anything but average. And while we’ve loved the extra family time and the social distancing hikes, we think we can all agree—we’re ready to put 2020 in our rearview mirror. Things look a little bit different this NYE; many of our favorite family-friendly New Year’s events have been cancelled, but there are still plenty of ways to host a hearty good bye to 2020 in your own home (you’ll find 7 fun ones here). If you’re looking for in-person fun, read on. We’ve found the best ways to ring in the new year with kids.
MAKE SOME NOISE
Noon Years Eve
Start the festivities early at Alexandria's Hops N Shine where kids can make their own noisemakers on Dec. 26. Reservations are $10/table ( patio tables seat 6). The real fun begins on Dec. 31 when kids get to pull out their handmade noisemakers and make some noise while they wait for the ball to drop at 12 o'clock (in the afternoon, of course). The kid-friendly Noon Year's Eve party will take place virtually.
Where: Hops N Shine, 3410 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305
Time: 2 hr. time slots/per table on Dec. 26
A QUIET CELEBRATION
New Year's Eve Forest Bathing
If you can nab a sitter for the littles, spend a late night with your older crew at this forest bathing event where adults and kids 16 & up can enjoy a quite farewell to 2020. Let the worries and stresses of 2020 slip away as you reconnect with nature. A traditional tea ceremony follows this nighttime stroll.
Safety regulations: Guests are required to wear masks during this 2-hr. walk.
Where: United States National Arboretum,
Time: 9-11 p.m.
DRIVE IN TO FUN
First Night Alexandria
The show must go on! Instead of the live performances that have been a hallmark of this annual event, local talent will be showcased during a Drive-In Concert experience. Tap to the tunes of the Earth, Wind & Fire Tribute Band or get ready to shimmy in your seat to the top 40 hits this band belts out. There are two showings: 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Each vehicle receives a swag bag with admission. Food trucks will be on-hand for those that want some bites during the performance. Want to stay home and dance in your PJs? You can watch the show online for $20.
Old Town Alexandria
Where: 5001 Eisenhower Ave, Alexandria
Time: 6:30 p.m. & 9:30 p.m.
SHAKE IT UP WITH THE MILKSHAKES
The Maryland Science Center will be open and celebrating with their annual event, Midnight Noon. This socially-distant New Year’s Eve party transforms the midnight tradition into something the whole family can enjoy. This popular tradition gives kids the opportunity to see the ball drop before bedtime. There will be fun New Year’s festivities throughout the day, including a DIY noise making activity and a livestream concert by popular kids band Milkshake. Their Grammy-nominated tunes will keep you dancing throughout the day. This event is free with admission. You can also join in on the fun for free on their Facebook page.
The Maryland Science Center
600 Light St., Baltimore, MD
Time: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Cost: free with admission; $25.95/adults, $19.95/3-12
CELEBRATE WITH FIREWORKS
Merriweather Symphony of Lights
Dec. 31 is your last day to walk through the Symphony of Lights where you can marvel at the twinkle and sparkle of over 300,000 lights. Bring your own chairs and set them along the path to enjoy this midnight-at-6 event. Fireworks will be set off at 6 p.m.
Where: Merriweather Symphony of Lights, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, MD 21044
Time: 5-6 p.m.
Cost: $15/person; $50/family of 4
WORTH THE DRIVE
New Year's Eve Celebration and Fireworks
Start the New Year off in a new location; head to Ocean City, MD for a weekend of fun at the beach. Kick off the fun at Northside Park, where fireworks will begin promptly at midnight. You can stroll through the Winterfest of Lights before or after the pyrotechnics. There will be live entertainment, a scavenger hunt and hot chocolate. Start the next day early with the 27th annual penguin swim on Jan. 1.
Where: Northside Park, 200 125th St, Ocean City, MD 21842
Cost:$5/12 & up; Free/11 & under
—Meghan Yudes Meyers