bluemangroupNew Year’s Eve isn’t the same as it used to be pre-children: big parties full of drinking, glamour and lots of people.  The question becomes whether or not to bring the kids?  How much will the evening cost? How late can everyone stay up?  At the end of the day, it might seem easier to snuggle up in front of the television in everyone’s pajamas to watch the ball drop in Times Square.  But the beauty of living in or near New York City is that there is always a variety of family-friendly choices of ways to bring in the New Year so you can have your cake and eat it, too.  Here’s a short list of a few of your options, both during the day and at night.

Daytime options:

Reserve a lane at a bowling alley throughout the city, like the Brooklyn Bowl (61 Wythe Avenue), Bowlmoor (100 University Place) or Lucky Strike (42nd Street and 12th Avenue) and expend some energy while bringing in the New Year.  At Chelsea Piers (62 Chelsea Piers), from 3-6pm, families can bowl at their second annual New Year’s Eve party for $150 and get a lane for up to eight people which includes food, favors, a toast, shoe rental and bowling.

The Museum of Natural Historyopens its doors on New Year’s Day.  Take your kids to the Butterfly Observatory, the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life or Journey to the Stars, a space show narrated by Whoopi Goldberg.

Your kids can get ready to party making knock out party glasses at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan (212 West 83rd Street) New Year’s Party Shades event.    The event is free with museum admission and offered several times during the day.  

Head to the Long Island Children’s Museum (11 Davis Avenue, Garden City) for their Countdown to Twelve where kids can celebrate with an early afternoon ball drop and other fun activities made just for them.

Nighttime Options:

The Big Apple Circus has a special performance at 9:30pm at Lincoln Center, as well as a post -show party with the ringmaster in attendance.  Lincoln Center, Damrosch Park, Amsterdam and 62nd Street.  $25-$175.

Join singer-songwriter Judy Collins, Harry Smith and Lauren Flanigan in a night of readings, meditations and festive music at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine at 7pm for about 90 minutes.  1047 Amsterdam Avenue at 112th Street, 212-316-7490. Free, first come, first served.

AMC Times Square is offering a New Year’s Eve party, good for all ages, but you do have to brave the crowds to get in.  Kids can watch movies, play arcade games and be in a safe place until the ball drops right outside the door. 8pm; $35; under 21, $25 – AMC Times Square, 234 W. 42nd Street, tel: 888-262-4386

Watch the fireworks in Prospect Park, starting at 11pm with live music and warm food.  11pm, free – Prospect Park, Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, tel: 718-965-8999.

Join the 12th Annual New Year’s Eve Bike Ride and Outdoor After Party in Central Park, where you can watch the fireworks. Free, but your kids have to be able to stay up late and endure the cold.  The bike ride starts at 10:30 at Washington Square Park under the arch and ends up at Belvedere Castle in Central Park at 11:45 in time for the festivities.

Catch the Blue Man Group. They have a few shows going on at 4, 7 and 10pm.  Tickets range from $85-$95.  434 Lafayette Street between Astor Place and East 4th Street. Tel: 800-258-3626.