Kick off 2012 with some fun-filled family time to get your year started right. From a simple hike along Malibu Creek to get back to the basics of nature, to an exciting “Noon” Year’s Eve Balloon Drop bash complete with live music in Pasadena, or a wild overnight adventure at the Santa Barbara Zoo – these ideas are certain to ignite smiles, trigger laughter, and lead to a sparkling New Year.

Los Angeles

American Indian Cultural Day at the Autry
Take the whole family to the Autry National Center at Griffith Park on New Year’s Day, for a fun-filled way to learn more about American Indian cultures. The event features storytelling, music, traditional and contemporary games, hands-on learning carts, a museum scavenger hunt, family museum tours, and much more. Admission is free on this special day, but reservations are required. Sun., 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm, Los Angeles, Free. Event details.

West Side

CleanBeeBaby at the Pump Station
Lately it seems that you’ve nearly been in and out of every store this side of the Mississippi – ensure that the nasty germs your kiddos may have picked up (strep! staph! eek!) and icky conglomerations of cookie crumbles and goldfish are expertly removed from their car seats and strollers by making an appointment with CleanBeeBaby. Their team of pros uses eco-friendly products and even re-install your car seats using a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. Cleaning times vary from 10 to 90 minutes, so enjoy the excuse to shop at the Pump Station while you wait. Fri., 11:00 am to 5:00 pm, Santa Monica, $20 and up. Event details.

Pasadena

New Years Eve Storytime and Craft
Join the crew at Little Junebugs – a fabulous neighborhood children’s boutique and crafting studio – for a New Year’s inspired storytime and paper craft project. Sat., 1:00 pm, Pasadena, $10. Event details.

Noon Years Eve Balloon Drop
Finally – a New Years Eve event for kids! The clever chaps at the Kidspace Children’s Museum plan this festive bash during the day, with a countdown to the “noon” year at 12:00 pm. Arrive early to make party hats and noise makers, sip sparkling cider, and boogie to live music that starts at 11:30 am. Sat., 11:30 am to 3:00 pm, Pasadena, $10. Event details.

Valley

Malibu Creek Hike
Get a jump on New Year’s resolutions with an invigorating hike along picturesque Malibu Creek. Meet at the lower parking lot at 10:00 am for a guided stroll that will enlighten you and your brood about the local flora, fauna, critters, early inhabitants, and even past movies filmed on the spot. Sat., 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, Calabasas, Free. Event details.

Worth the Drive

New Years Eve Overnight at the SB Zoo
Forget calling the babysitter – your little critters can ring in the New Year with an overnight adventure at the Santa Barbara Zoo! Exciting event details are planned from the tip of an elephant’s trunk down to the last zebra stripe, including pizza dinner, a pancake breakfast, train ride, up-close animal encounters, behind-the-scenes tours with the experts, and more. Sat. and Sun., 6:00 pm to 10:30 am, Santa Barbara, $80. Event details.

— Kameron DeWulf