Welcome to 2016! It’s time to ring in the New Year with some outings that can only happen this weekend. Like a Polar Plunge or spin around the rink in your bathing suit. Only in LA can you see the biggest parade in the country in person, and only in Long Beach can you experience sub zero weather to really feel a winter “chill.” Make a comet, clean the coast, soak up some art or play Pac Man: whatever you do, when you do it as a family, it’s a fabulous start to a Happy New Year.

Rose Parade - Sam Churchill


Polar Skate at Pershing Square
Celebrate the popular frozen New Year’s Day tradition with a twist.  Grab your sunglasses and swim suit to “take the plunge” with a skate around the rink dressed in beach attire for an invigorating welcome to the year. Fri., 2:30-3:30 p.m. Downtown. $9-$13. Ages 2 & up. Event details.

Griffith Park

Visit the Wild West (For Free)
Saddle up, cowpokes! The Autry National Center is a fabulous museum that explores the history of the American West, from Native Americans to Gold Rush settlers to movie pioneers. And for New Year’s Day, it’s totally free. Fri., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Griffith Park. Free. All ages. Event details.

See A Comet Formed Before Your Eyes
Let’s Make a Comet is a show at the Observatory where scientists show how mixing common household ingredients with dry ice will to make a small comet that’s just like the real thing. The program teaches fascinating water science, and is also just great fun. Sat. & Sun., 1 & 3 p.m. Griffith Park. Free. Ages 4 & up. Event details.


Meet the New American Girl
Your AG fanatic is chomping at the bit to meet this year’s new girl, so bring her to the store for a welcome party that includes awesome activities, colorful crafts and giveaways. It’s also your last chance to see the holiday decorations at the Grove (and hit the sales and make some key returns…). Fri.-Sun., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Mid-City. Free. Ages 6 & up. Event details.

San Gabriel Valley

The Rose Parade
Get there early and grab a curbside spot for viewing the most magical flower-adorned floats, horn-blazing bands, dancers, equestrians, celebrities and more. There are 44 float entries that will participate in the 127th Rose Parade this year and the theme is “Find Your Adventure.” Fri., 8 a.m. Pasadena. Free-$95. All ages. Event details.

Purr or Bark? It’s All Art
This Norton Simon Program has kids wondering if they’re fearless like a cat or friendly like a dog when they read a story, look at art and make drawings. Sun., 2-3p.m. Pasadena. $12 adults, free for kids. Ages 4-8. Event details.


Laugh Your Way Into 2016 with the Marx Brothers
It wouldn’t be New Year’s at the Aero without the Marx Brothers, and these two films are the perfect introduction to their inimitable brand of verbal and physical comedy. Start the evening off with Duck Soup, then finish it with The Cocoanuts. Fri., 5 p.m. Santa Monica. $9-$11. Ages 4 & up. Event details.

San Fernando Valley

Play Classic Video Games
Start the year with something you can all enjoy: this arcade shop opens its doors to the public to let you get reacquainted with classic games you haven’t seen in years. Introduce your kiddos to your favorites with over 60 games (no entrance fee or tokens required). Sat., 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Chatsworth. Free. All ages. Event details.

South Bay

Polar Bear Plunge
Participate if you like, or just watch all the warm bloods get wet!  A Polar Bear swim is a New Year’s Day swim to start the year in nature. This one crowns the king and queen of the chilly ones and then everyone gets cocoa and treats to warm up. (There’s also an event in Santa Clarita, if you prefer a pool plunge.) Fri., noon. San Pedro. Free. All ages. Event details.

Take Part In A Coastal Cleanup
Cleaning up the beaches we use all year is a wonderful way to start the New Year. Even the youngest of kids can help clear the shore. Sat., 8-10 a.m. San Pedro. Free. All ages. Event details.

Long Beach

Chill at the Queen Mary
You won’t know if you’re in Dickensian London, the Arctic or Long Beach. Temps dip below zero, and an ice kingdom made up of 2 million pounds of ice awaits, along with a skating rink, ice tubing runs and plenty of leftover holiday fun. Fri.-Sun., 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Long Beach. $24.99-$34.99. All ages. Event details.

One of our LA editor’s New Years Day traditions is on the list (the Marx Brothers movies at the Aero). What are yours?

—Meghan Rose

Photo credits: Sam Churchill via flickr and  Armando Maynez via flickr and