Best Family-Friendly New Year’s Eve Activities In Chicago

December 22, 2010 7:00 AM

Family Friendly New Year's Eve

(credit: Brian Harkin/Getty Images)

Family Friendly New Year's Eve

(credit: Brian Harkin/Getty Images)

Remember when New Year’s Eve meant a glamorous party, champagne toasts and dancing the night away? So do I – barely. Once you are a parent, however, that kind of New Year’s Eve means paying inflated prices for a babysitter and waking up at 6:30 am on New Year’s Day, regardless of how late you were up the night before. In other words, it’s just not worth it. Better to spend New Year’s Eve celebrating with your kids and still get to bed at a reasonable hour. Here are the best bets for a family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration.

Navy Pier’s Family New Year’s Eve Bash

Winter WonderStage in Festival Hall
Admission: Free

With live music and break-dancing performances, this is a New Year’s Eve party that will score you major “cool” points with your tweens and pre-teens. The festivities culminate in one of Navy Pier’s famous fireworks shows at 8:15 pm. The entire Winter Wonderfest will be open before and during the party so you and your family can enjoy all kinds of indoor fun, including ice-skating and carnival rides. Some of the Winter Wonderfest rides have height requirements, but many, such as the Kringle Carousel and Reindeer Express Train Ride are appropriate for all ages.

DuPage County Children’s Museum Bubble Bash

301 N Washington St
Naperville, IL
Admission: $15 for members; $20 for non-members

This popular event for all ages features musical performances by Chicago’s own Mr. Singer and the Sharp Cookies, arts and crafts, refreshments, and lots and lots of – you guessed it – bubbles! The museum’s three floors will also be open during the event. Just for fun, there’s a countdown to 2011 beginning at noon. The Bubble Bash is a sell-out every year, so be sure to make advance reservations.

Zoo Year’s Eve at the Brookfield Zoo

3300 Golf Road
Brookfield, IL
Admission: Regular Zoo admission prices

The Brookfield Zoo is pairing with Radio Disney for a family-friendly New Year’s Eve bash that will have everyone doing the Monkey, or maybe the Bunny Hop. There will be games and prizes in the zoo Pavilions and an early bird countdown to 2011. The Hamill Family Play Zoo will have special activities for kids under the age of 6. The zoo’s Holiday Magic light display will still be up with over 120 new animated light displays.

Family New Year’s Eve Party at Enchanted Castle

1103 S. Main St.
Lombard, IL
Two seatings: 3-7 pm or 8 pm to midnight
Admission: $21.95 per person

Kids love the loud, crazy, indoor fun at Lombard’s Enchanted Castle. Rides, mini-golf, go-karts, karaoke, midway games — it’s like a kiddie Las Vegas. So what better place to ring in the New Year as a family? The per person price includes a buffet dinner with party favors and a sparkling juice toast; 20 game tokens; an unlimited pass for all attractions; and a countdown complete with balloon drop. Please note: advance reservations are required for this event.

A happy and healthy 2011 to all!

Emily Paster is a mother of two living in the near west suburbs. She teaches writing at Loyola University School of Law. Read more of her thoughts on balancing work and family and raising kids in the Chicago area on her blog West of the Loop.

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