Thanks to The Lawrence Hall of Science for sponsoring our guide to family-friendly New Year's Eve celebrations with kids in the East Bay because parents and little kids can't always stay up until midnight!
You already know that New Year's Eve with kids is a little different than partying with your friends. Luckily, there are some terrific kid-focused daytime celebrations for ringing in the New Year with children. Besides, here on the West Coast, it's New Year's somewhere all day long. Cheers!
Top East Bay picks for family-friendly New Years Eve
The Lawrence Hall of Science (Berkeley)
Bring the whole family to the Hall on New Year’s Eve day! Commemorate another year of scientific discovery and fun at this festive annual New Year’s Eve celebration.
Countdown to 2020 at any one of three different timed and ticketed parties.This year, to be more eco-friendly, the Hall is taking a cue from Times Square and ringing in the New Year with confetti cannons instead of dropping balloons. Plus, make your own noise makers to take home. Join in for timed confetti launches at 11 am, 1 pm, or 3 pm.
To ensure safety and fun with the anticipated crowds, these exciting countdown events require advanced registration but are FREE with paid admission. Register for your tickets >
Cost: Free with admission. $16 Adults, $12 Children 3–17, Seniors 65+, Free for Members and children age 2 and under, UC Berkeley students and staff. Pre-registration is required for Members and the general public.
When: Open 10am to 5pm, confetti celebrations at 11am, 1 pm, and 3 pm.
Albany Community Center Hall (Albany)
Celebrate Noon Year's Eve for free in Albany – perfect for kids (and parents) who can't stay awake past 9 pm. FREE party kits (check out those party shades!), craft stations, trivia a performer and music. And an apple juice toast to boot! Best for K through 5th graders.
When: From 11am to 1pm; Come early, it gets crowded. The ball drops at noon – don't miss it.
Alice's Rockin' New Year's Eve (Downtown Berkeley)
The Bay Area Children’s Theatre fundraising party. Dress to impress for a wondrous New Year’s Eve party in Wonderland. Expect treats, a special performance of Wonderland: Alice’s Rock-N-Roll Adventure, games, prizes, 9 pm New Year’s Eve toast, and dancing. This event WILL SELL OUT.
Cost: Adults $120 and children $60 (it's a fundraiser!)
When: 6 pm to 9:30 pm
Habitot Noon Year's Eve (Berkeley)
Have a Habitot fun time and make noise-makers and hats in the Art Studio with a countdown and bubbles at noon. Super for the under-five crowd.
Cost: Regular Habitot admission prices
When:Tuesday, December 31 9:30 – 12:30
Scooby Doo Dinner Celebration at the Tilden Merry Go Round (Berkeley)
Tilden Park's beloved Merry Go Round is not to be missed this holiday season. Scooby Doo is making an appearance with all his pals for a fun filled New Year's party. There is a buffet dinner, music and dancing, unlimited rides (!) and a balloon drop for good measure.
Cost: Adults $35 and Kids $25
When: 5:30 pm to 8 pm
More details >
Always festive, the Oakland ZooLights will be running. Why not sip cocoa in a gondola decked out in twinkle lights with all the groovy holiday magic in full swing.
Cost: Adults: $12; Children (2-14) and Seniors (65-79): $11; Children under 2 and Adults over 76: FREE. Rides (even the train) still cost $$ but parking and gondola are free.
When: 5 pm to 9 pm
More info on ZooLights >
Dimond Branch Library Pajama Storytime (Oakland)
Keep it low key with an evening pajama storytime. Perfect for kids whose bedtime is 7pm but they can push it to 8 pm in a pinch.
When: 7 pm to 7:30 pm
More info >
Chabot Space & Science Center (Oakland)
Ring in 2020 with your kids at this daytime Balloon Drop Celebration happening at 11 am, 1 pm, and 4 pm. Children 5 and under are separated from the bigger kids. Pre-registration is required.
Cost: $5 additional to entrance fees.
When: 11 am to 4 pm
Swings & Wings (Alameda)
Toddler-friendly dance party with a ball drop. Enjoy crafty treats with your friends and play in the terrific indoor playspace.
Cost: $15 per child
When: 6 pm to 8 pm
Pacific Pinball Museum (Alameda)
Get your game on with 2 for $20 Tuesdays with any two people ALL DAY! Since New Year's Eve falls on Tuesday this year, get unlimited play on 90+ Games. Plus you can come and go to explore the neighborhood shops and eateries.
Cost: Two people for $20
When: 11 am to 9 pm
Join for a balloon drop at noon, along with crafts, nibbles and more at this creative indoor playspace in Alameda.
Cost: $10 per person
When: 10 am to 1 pm
John's Incredible New Year (Newark)
For $20 per person, enjoy nearly all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-play arcade games and rides, pretty rad. New Year's accessories like hats, glow sticks, and noise maker provided. Ball drops on the big screen. Kids also earn prizes along the way. VIP upgrade offers more games available for $10 extra per person.
Cost: $20 – $30
When: Open from 7 pm to 1 am
Home Sweet Home
In your house. Sparkling juice, videos, twinkly lights, or however you choose. Kids go to bed when you say!
When: When you say so
Worth the drive: family-friendly New Years Eve in the Bay Area
Need a few more fun ideas to make it a memorable day? No problem!
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (Vallejo)
Holiday in the Park at Six Flags sounds like a special way to ring in the New Year with bigger kids. Thousands of holiday lights, rides, animals, junk food would be my pre-teen's dream, and maybe yours too? The views from the rides at night will be epic.
Cost: $46.99 per ticket online, parking $30 Check height requirements before you go!
When: 11 am to 6 pm
Noon Year's Eve at the Bay Area Discovery Museum (Sausalito)
Countdown to noon and watch the ball drop in Festival Plaza. Glitter crowns, bubbles, wish wands, confetti, dancing, and all the regular exhibits help kids celebrate the Noon Year. Party until naptime.
Cost: Regular admission prices: Adults & Children (Ages 1 to 64) $15.95; Babies and Seniors (ages 6-11 months or 65+) $13.95; FREE for members
When: From 9 am to 2 pm, museum open until 4pm
Road Trip: Monterey Bay Aquarium Sleepover (Monterey)
Ring in 2020 with an epic sleepover with the sharks. There will be fun family activities and programs for a night of celebration, including a pj dance party, cider toast at 9 pm, make-your-own taco bar and a sundae bar. Wake up with the fishes on New Year's Day, enjoy a continental breakfast, and then join the naturalists in watching wildlife from the Great Tide Pool deck. Mega cool.
Cost: $165 per person age 5 and up. Ticket also gives you admission into the Aquarium for the day following the sleepover.
When: 7 pm Dec. 31 through 8:30 am Wednesday Jan. 1
Hiller Aviation Museum Noon Year's Eve (San Carlos)
Kids and parents, come celebrate the New Year with music, activities, face painting and a countdown to THREE GIANT balloon drops at noon! This event requires advanced purchase and will sell out so get your tickets early. Members are FREE but must also get the online tickets and show your membership card at the membership check in at the door.
Cost: Adults $20, Youth (5-17) $13, Senior (65+) $13, Child (0-4) FREE
When: Party from 10 am to 1 pm, museum open until 5 pm
This post was sponsored by The Lawrence Hall of Science, who is floating massive amounts of colorful confetti to kick off the New Year. They really know how to party.