New Year's Eve fireworksRather than spend the last day of the year scrambling to find a babysitter, try one of these family-friendly New Year’s Eve events. Most start just after nap time.

Celebrate with the Animals

Zoos around the country, including Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado, have their holiday light displays open on New Year’s Eve. It’s your chance to see the lights you might have missed during the holiday madness. The Electric Safari features more than one million sparkling lights, with light-themed clusters, animated light sculptures, and energy-saving LED lighting. Families can soar over the lights on the Mountaineer Sky Ride, and then warm up by one of the fires throughout the zoo. Since it’s a season of giving, you can help make gifts for the animals nightly at The Loft. Special zookeeper talks are scheduled at night and select animal exhibits arealso open, including African Rift Valley, Rocky Mountain Wild, Asian Highlands, Monkey Pavilion, Lion’s Lair, and Aquatics.

At the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, attend a performance of the Madcap Puppet Theatre, meet Baby Zoo Year and Father Time, and watch fireworks.


Celebrate like a Celebrity

The Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, has a family-friendly New Year’s Eve that includes a Junior New Year’s Eve Party: Hollywood Style. The event is geared toward children ages 4-12 and includes a Hollywood Red Carpet Experience, as they enter through the main lobby and are greeted by a Hollywood usher. The young starlets can sip on sparkling grape juice while being escorted to the Hollywood Center, for a night filled with activities, including: A Hollywood Walk of Fame, complete with hand print in “cement” station, Junior Top Chef experience, awards ceremony, movie viewing, sno-cones, popcorn, a “tattoo” station, money machine, photo booth, and piñatas. The night ends with a special Midnight Countdown with disco ball, music and balloons.

Sleep Under the Sea on New Year’s Eve

Join the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California, for a sleepover. In addition to sleeping next to world acclaimed exhibits, the event also includes a Ghirardelli ice cream sundae bar, special activities, behind-the-scenes sneak peeks, and a sparkling cider toast at 9 p.m. to celebrate when 2012 hits the East Coast, followed by a late night nature movie for night owls. New Year’s Day begins with a breakfast in the aquarium’s cafe and wildlife spotting alongside naturalists on the Great Tide Pool deck.

Countdown to Noon.

Not interested in staying up until midnight? Then head to Science Central in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for “Countdown to Noon.” From 10am-­2pm, Science Central will offer activities and demonstrations centered around New Year¹s Eve, including making a calendar, party hats and noisemakers. After a soda pop toast, a countdown to noon will begin and end with a 1000+ balloon drop. 

Light Up the Last Night of 2011 With Fireworks.

In Port Townsend, Washington, families can ring in the New Year with the Fifth Annual First Night celebration. This is a maritime-themed (and alcohol-free) event.

Make a Splash for New Year

In Sterling Heights, Michigan, the New Year’s Eve Splash Bash & Family Fun Fest is happening at the Best Western Plus Sterling Inn Banquet and Conference Center. The bash includes admission to the hotel’s 32,000-square-foot indoor water park until 12:30 a.m., party hats and favors, $5 in game room tokens per room,, unlimited fountain soda from 3p.m.-midnight, a non-alcoholic toast at midnight and continental breakfast on New Year’s Day.

The Peach Drop

This claims to be the largest New Year’s Eve Celebration in the Southeast. The Atlanta, Georgia, celebration culminates with a giant peach drop (much like the ball in Times Square) and a performance by the classic rock band Kansas. But before that, kids will be center stage. There are family friendly concerts, performances and activities geared specifically for kids and families from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

New Year’s Eve Live!

New Year’s Eve Live! is Houston, Texas’, newest holiday event. It’s a fun and funky community celebration full of family-friendly activities including a kid’s zone, ice-skating, 3D light show and fireworks display as well as the Illuminated Art Car Parade, including decorated and illuminated motorcycles, school buses, convertibles and mini vans.

Celebrate on Sand

Take the family to the beach on New Year’s Eve and have a party at the Island of Lights New Year’s Eve celebration, held at Carolina Beach in North Carolina. The New Year’s Celebration starts at 9 a.m. at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk. This free family-friendly event will feature a DJ, dancing, a raffle for local original holiday art and refreshments. In an island of lights tradition, a giant lighted beach ball is dropped at midnight followed by a spectacular fireworks demonstration.