Counting Down: 14 Ideas for New Year's Family Fun

Sunday, December 30, 2012


From our news partner Parent Map
Counting Down: 14 Ideas for New Year's Family Fun
Written by Nancy Chaney


Can’t stay up ‘til midnight? No babysitter? No problem -- make ringing in the new year a family affair. Read on for top family outings around the Sound for both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. When you get home, toast 2013 with your kids. What better way to welcome 2013 than with a good night’s sleep for everyone?

New Year’s Eve, Monday Dec. 31

Celebration Lane, Bellevue. You might have experienced Bellevue’s Snowflake Lane, but now it’s Celebration Lane with new features and fun. On its last night, kids of all ages will delight in saluting the close of 2012 and the dawn of 2013 with dazzling lights, music and dancing characters. Plus, you won’t want to miss the special surprise that falls from the sky. Grab a spot on the sidewalks between Bellevue Square, Lincoln Square and Bellevue Place for the 7 p.m. show. Free.

Children's Museum, Seattle Global Countdown: Ring in the new year and improve your kids global IQ: The Children's Museum will count down the arrival of the new year in six different countries, one each hour, including doing a craft that represents a tradition of that country. (Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m.)

The Children’s Museum of Tacoma, New Year’s Eve at Noon. Admission is pay-what-you-can all day long December 31 (10 a.m.-5 p.m.) and at the civilized hour of 12 noon, grab your noisemakers and join the parade marching through the museum.

The Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia, Noon Year. Check out the brand-new Hands On Museum and attend its Noon Year’s Eve party. Highlights include Dr. Science experimenting with light, a noon-time ball drop, face-painting and other fun stuff. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and recommends advance, timed-entry tickets; $12-$15 for kids, $4 for adults and babies free.

Seattle Center’s New Year’s Eve celebration. High-energy band Rhythm Nation plays a variety of tunes to get bodies (young and old) moving. This FREE party runs from 8:15 to 11:45 p.m.; dance for an hour and have the kiddos tucked into bed by 10 p.m.; free. Come early to take in the last of Seattle Center's Winterfest: holiday train set-up, ice rink and more.

Tacoma’s First Night New Year’s Eve celebration. One of the region's best New Year's Eve events transforms the city’s downtown theater district into one huge theater street party from 6 p.m.-midnight. A packed evening of musical acts, performances and activities (a one-mile run, mini-golf, a scavenger hunt, special museum admissions and more) are on the docket. First Night buttons cost $10 advance, $14 day of; kids 10 and under free.

The Imagine Children’s Museum’s in Everett: Enjoy a buffet of activities including a magician, DJ dance music, crafts, plus snacks for purchase. This New Year’s Eve party begins at 6 p.m. and the evening culminates in an East Coast midnight (that’s 9 p.m. here) ball drop that promises to be “spectacular.” Dress for the weather as the ball drop is outdoors, rain or shine. Tickets $10-$15 advance, $15-$20 at the door, space permitting.



New Year’s Day, Tuesday Jan. 1

Polar Bear Plunges. If you're seeking a truly invigorating start to 2013, we suggest one of the region’s several Polar Bear Plunges. Pick your poison — the Sound or a lake. For Lake Washington, try the Matthews Beach plunge, reportedly the oldest in the area. (The Edmonds waterfront is a newer event but just as cold). Even if you can’t stomach a dip, it’s fun to watch others show their courage. But bring your towel just in case. All free.

Take a First Day hike. Start your family's hiking resolution for 2013 by going on a "First Day Hike," organized jaunts at one of many Washington state parks on New Year’s Day, in honor of our state parks' centennial anniversary. The closest spot to Seattle is a hike at Olallie/Iron Horse, but there are hikes in many other beautiful places, from Moran State Park to historic Cama Beach. Free, but a Discover Pass is required for vehicle access to the events.

Snowshoe at Mt. Rainier. Mt. Rainier National Park is leading daily guided snowshoe walks (throughout winter break) from its snow play area at the Jackson Visitor Center, at 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. for only $4 a person. Bring  your sled, and take a run down the sledding hill, too!

Café Flora New Year’s Day brunch. Madison Park’s venerable veg restaurant serves up a delicious, healthy, kid-friendly brunch on January 1 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Menu teaser: orange-cranberry French toast, potato latkes, blueberry cornmeal muffins, smoky Roma Florentine scramble and much more. Yum! Adults $25, kids under 12 $12.50.

IMAX movie. Bag official celebrations and take in a movie that will leave little eyes wide with wonder (and yours, too). We recommend Rocky Mountain Express, showing at 10:30 a.m., and Flight of the Butterflies in 3D showing at 11:45 a.m. Both films play at the Pacific Science Center December 31 and January 1, (as well as other days). Fantastic scenery and an engaging learning experience will please train fans, butterfly fans, and everyone else. Tickets $6-$9; under 2 free.

MOHAI Family Day. Visit the Museum of History and Industry’s brand new location at Lake Union Park, with a host of new kid- and family-focused activities for New Year’s Day. Admission $12-$14; age 14 and under free. Note: While you’re in the neighborhood, stop by the Center for Wooden Boats next door and check out its new exhibit Fish On! Historic Boathouses and Fishing Resorts of Puget Sound.

Skate into 2013. Chances are, one too many holiday treat has passed your lips or holiday family togetherness has given you cabin fever. Or maybe both! Get outside and skate away any troubles at one of these indoor or outdoor rinks (including Highland Ice Arena in Shoreline); most are open for New Year's Eve and Day. The Bellevue Magic Season Ice Arena, for example, is both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; $10 admission includes skate rental, $7 with your own skates.

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