Ways to Celebrate New Year’s in San Diego

New Year’s Eve is typically billed as a holiday for adults–fancy dinners, expensive cocktails, and parties ‘til the wee hours of the morning.

But kids also look forward to the excitement and fun of ringing in the new year. This year, you can celebrate your New Year’s Eve family style with any of these fantastic family-friendly festivities!


1. NYE Cele-Brick-Tion at LEGOLAND 

One of the most exciting New Year’s celebrations for kids is LEGOLAND’s annual Kids’ New Year’s Eve! The theme park boasts its “ball drop” – a giant lego brick falling 22 feet in the air – to recreate Times Square’s tradition at the kid-friendly hour of 6 p.m., along with fireworks! Book tickets here. 


2. The San Diego Zoo’s VIP Aurora Experience 

It is one to take advantage of this NYE! Enjoy a fabulous gourmet dinner at Albert’s Restaurant paired with an extraordinary dessert. Then you’ll be taken to a reserved priority viewing area to watch the magic of Aurora. Blending sound, lights, 3D projection mapping, and live performances, Aurora is an immersive, multi-sensory, magical experience. Dinner reservations are available between 1:00 and 6:00 p.m. Aurora starts at 6:30 and 7:40 p.m. Book here.


3. The Infamous Grape Drop in Temecula 

It has an East Coast (9:00 pm) and West Coast (midnight) countdown, which is a great kid-friendly way to spend New Year’s Eve! The event will include live music, food vendors, and kids’ activities. The Free Fun Zone will be open from 6:00-10:00 pm. It’s an hour outside San Diego, but it may be worth the drive! 


4. Take a spin around Hotel del Coronado’s Famous Beachfront Ice Rink

They feature stunning ocean views and benefit Make-A-Wish® San Diego. They have skates for toddler size 8 on up, and they even offer double-runners for young children sizes toddler 8 to youth 12.


5. Go to the Movies 

Has your family been waiting to catch that great new release? There’s no better time to do it than on New Year’s Eve, when most movie theatres are practically empty. Buy tickets for a show that starts around 9:00 p.m., and you might have the entire theatre all to yourselves!


6. Have Your Own NYE “House Party” 

New Year’s Eve can be just as fun at home, if not more so, than going out. It saves you money and gives your family a chance to bond and reflect on all the incredible events of 2022 and what everyone is looking forward to in 2023. There are some excellent activities you can do at home, including:


Setting up a pizza-making station

Make and bake your own pizzas, and mix and match slices among family members. You can do the same with an ice cream station after dinner, too!


Ordering in from a new place

Thanks to services like GrubHub and Postmates, you can have just about any kind of food you can imagine delivered right to your doorstep. Try a new restaurant or type of cuisine that has been on your family’s wish list.


Game night

A New Year’s Eve “in” makes for the ultimate family game night. Have each family member choose their favorite game and then play one round (or more) of each!


Movies, movies, movies

Catch that final holiday flick of the season, queue up a family favorite or stream a fresh-out-of-the-theaters new release. If you’re having trouble deciding what to watch, leave it up to fate by drawing names from a jar!


Making new resolutions together

Making resolutions together as a family can be a wonderful bonding experience. It gives everyone a chance to offer their unique insight and get feedback and encouragement.


Early NYE Countdown

If you have young children, it may not be possible (or advisable!) for them to stay up until midnight. But you can still ring in 2022 together with a “real” countdown on one of Netflix’s many New Year’s Eve countdown shows. Type “new year’s countdown” into the search field and select from several cool, kid-friendly New Year’s countdowns, fireworks, and ball drops.


For all the best family-friendly holiday activities & events in San Diego, scroll through Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups’ many helpful articles.

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