New Year's Eve Celebration (credit: DMITRY KOSTYUKOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Aside from snuggling up at home and watching the ball drop at 9pm, giving you an excuse to fall asleep before Pacific Time’s midnight, what’s a parent with young kids to do on New Year’s Eve? You could shell out an arm and a leg for a babysitter, or you can pack up the whole family and head out to one of the family friendly events throughout the Southland we’ve highlighted here.

Legoland New Year's Eve


Carlsbad, CA 92008
(760) 918-5346
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The child-centric amusement park is putting on a truly kid-friendly New Year’s Eve event, complete with live bands and with an incredible simulation of New York’s Times Square (constructed of LEGOs, naturally) – and fireworks.

Midnight strikes here at 6:00 PM (it’s midnight somewhere in the world, right?) so your littlest ones won’t have to stay up late to enjoy the fun. Kids will receive party hats, glow-in-the-dark bracelets and fireworks viewing glasses.

Universal CityWalk Rockin’ New Year’s Eve

Universal CityWalk Rockin’ New Year’s Eve

100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608
(818) 622-4455
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While Universal Studios will be closing early, families can attend the free New Year’s Eve extravaganza at adjacent CityWalk. The folks at Universal claim that this will be L.A.’s LARGEST free New Year’s Eve Party: Live bands on two stages, giant video screens and THREE fireworks locations.

First Night '11

Fullerton First Night

125 E. Wilshire Avenue
Fullerton, CA
(714) 738-6545
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For the last 20 years, the City of Fullerton has been staging First Night: a free alcohol-free family New Year’s Eve arts celebration in the city’s historic downtown area. You and your kids will enjoy live entertainment, children’s activities, food vendors, art galleries, and midnight fireworks.

New Year's Eve in Downtown Long Beach

New Year’s Eve in Downtown Long Beach

330 S. Pine Ave.
Long Beach, CA
(562) 436-4259
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Ring in the year with a family-friendly celebration at the Waterfront . The festivities begin at 6:00 PM at the Nautical Shell with live music, kids’ activities and fireworks at 9:00 PM. After 9:00, the street party moves up to Pine Avenue and Broadway with outdoor bars, dancing and live music – and more fireworks from the Queen Mary at midnight.

New Year's Eve Party (credit:

Woodland Hills Ice Skating

6100 Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Woodland Hills, CA
(818) 854-4151
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You can view the Times Square celebration and see the ball drop at midnight (both East Coast time and West Coast time) while you skate at this open air rink in the San Fernando Valley. The $25 New Year’s Eve special runs from 6pm – 1am: and includes skating, skate rental, and a kid friendly meal (hamburger or hot dog/chips/beverage).

New Year's Eve Grape Drop (credit:

Temecula Town Square

41000 Main Street
Temecula, CA 92589
(951) 694-6423
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Celebrate New Year’s Eve “Temecula style” with the annual Grape Drop (a play off New York’s ball drop). Enjoy live music, family-friendly fun, food and much more. Plus, check out “New Year’s Eve at Noon” for the children who won’t be able to stay up until midnight. The skating rink at Temecula Town Square is also offering special skating times on New Year’s Eve.

Be sure to check out all of the outdoor skating rinks that are open New Year’s Eve:

New Year's Eve Musical Revue (credit:

The Annual One-Time Only New Year’s Eve Revue

Santa Monica Playhouse
1211 4th Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 394-9779
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Two performances (6:00 and 9:30) are scheduled for this family-friendly extravaganza, which the website describes as “an all-new evening of audience favorite songs, dances, comedy and other delights culled from five decades of beloved critically-acclaimed Santa Monica Playhouse productions.” The ticket price includes a complimentary buffet supper (with champagne), favors, hats and the chance to win special prizes. The late show allows audience members to ring in the New Year alongside members of the Playhouse’s repertory group.

Rose Parade (credit:

Tournament of Roses Parade

Pasadena, CA
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The region’s most famous New Year’s Day tradition kicks off with what is probably our longest-running unofficial New Year’s Eve party, in anticipation of the Tournament of Roses Parade. Grandstand seats on January 1 will cost you $55 each (available here), but there’s no charge for curbside viewing in designated areas. You just have to stake your spot early. That means curbside camping along the route, opening at 12 noon on December 31.

You can also preview the floats ahead of time from 11:00 – 1:00 at Rosemont Pavilion ($10 per person; under 5 free). Details here

Donna Schwartz Mills is the blogger behind

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