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.
And if you're welcoming 2018 at home, try 12 grapes before midnight and other lucky New Year's Eve treats from around the world and toast the new year in celebratory fashion with 12 amazing mocktails and cocktails.
New Year’s Eve: Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017
Seattle Children's Museum's Global Countdown: Ring in the new year and improve your kids' global IQ... and you don't have to be on a schedule. The museum counts down the arrival of the new year in different countries, one for each hour, with an apple jucie toast and a craft that represents a tradition of that country. New year's toasts start at 11 a.m. and countries include India, Turkey, Brazil and more! Festivities are included with admission. The museum is open 10 a.m.–5 p.m. on Dec. 31 and hourly celebrations are on the hour from 11 a.m.–4 p.m.
The Children’s Museum of Tacoma's Music Shakers: Kids can make plenty of noise celebrating the new year after creating their very own musical shaker. Stop in any time. Every hour, museum staff will lead visitors in a dance party with everyone playing their new music maker! Admission is pay-what-you-can every day and the museum is open 10 a.m.–5 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 31.
New Year's Celebration at KidsQuest: It's an all-day New Year’s celebration at KidsQuest Children's Museum this year. Activities happening every hour including a New Year’s Eve storytime (11 a.m.), streamer-making (1 p.m.) and the always entertaining — and ultra noisy — Bubble Wrap Stomp (noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.). All activities are included with admission. The museum is open 10 a.m.–5 p.m. on Dec. 31 and special activities take place 11 a.m.–4:15 p.m.
Imagine Children's Museum Pajama Party: Buy your tickets ahead and pick out your best jammies for Imagine's new year's eve family bash. Enjoy a variety show, glow bowling, caricatures, party hats and more. This party begins at 7 p.m. and the evening culminates in an East Coast midnight (that’s 9 p.m. here) ball drop that promises to be “spectacular.” Ball drop is outdoors, rain or shine. Tickets are $15 per person in advance and $20 at the door, space permitting.
Hands On Children's Museum's Noon Year's Eve Party: Go on an Australia-themed new year's exploration of Down Under, animating kangaroos and koalas, "swimming" with sharks and more. Dr. Science will be in attendance working with kids to set ice on fire and freeze Vegemite with liquid nitrogen. Activities included with regular museum admission. The museum is open 9 a.m.–6 p.m. on Dec. 31.
New Year's Eve Hike at Lewis Creek Park: Ponder the changes of the season and close out 2017 with a ranger, exploring the wilds of Lewis Creek a one-mile nature hike. Families are welcome at this free, drop-in hike. Dress warmly and just show up! Meet at the Lewis Creek Park Visitor Center; hike takes place Dec. 31, 10:30 a.m.–noon.
Go skating at seasonal skating rinks: Get your glide on at seasonal skating rinks open on New Year's Eve. The Winterfest rink at Seattle Center, Bellevue's Magic Season rink, Frozen Fountain at Point Ruston and Redmond Town Center's rink are all open on Dec. 31. Hours vary, check links for times. (Tip: Most of these rinks are open Jan. 1 as well.)
Seattle Center’s New Year’s Eve celebration: There is plenty of family fun to be had at Seattle Center's annual Winterfest celebration. Come early to take in the last of the Winterfest train and village (open until 6 p.m.) or go for an evening skate at the ice rink (open until 11:30 p.m.). Spend a little time at the beautiful outdoor International Fountain of Light featuring music mixes created by James Whetzel. If you have older kids, join the free, all-ages, New Year's Eve dance party with the band Sway. The dance party goes from 8–11:45 p.m. Dance for an hour and have the kiddos tucked into bed by 10 p.m.
First Night Tacoma: One of the region's best New Year's Eve events transforms Tacoma's downtown theater district into a huge, all-ages and alcohol-free street party. A packed evening of musical acts, performances and activities are on the docket. All outdoor activities are free, which includes a selection of music, firedancers and giant puppets. First Night buttons for entry into indoor venues cost $10 advance, $15 day of; kids ages 10 and under free. First Night Tacoma takes places Dec. 31, 6–11:45 p.m.
New Year’s Day: Monday, Jan. 1, 2018
Polar Bear Plunges: If you're seeking a truly invigorating start to 2018, 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. 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.
Resolution Run and Polar Plunge: If you want to get warm running prior to your plunge, try a combo run and dip at Magnuson Park in Seattle. The post-race celebration includes a free kids' dash for children 10 and under, a beer garden for those age 21 and over and a post race chili feed. $30–$45; kids' dash free. The run begins at 10:30 a.m.; be sure to check the full schedule of activities online.
First Day Hikes: We had beautiful, sunny weather on Jan. 1, 2017. Will 2018 give us a repeat? No matter the weather, start the new year with a big dose of nature. Join an organized hike in one of Washington's amazing state parks. Check the schedule online and pick one that suits your family. And if you don't fancy joining an organized hike, Jan. 1 is a state parks free day, when the usual Discover Pass parking pass requirement is waived.
Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2013 and updated for 2017.