By Jacqueline Runice

Even if you’re snugly tucked in by 10 p.m. on New Year’s Eve without a drop of hooch, New Year’s Day with bored kids, grim teenagers or worn-out-their-welcome out-of-town relations can make your head throb anyway. Get out into the bracing Chicago air and welcome 2018 with excellent eats, lively theater, outdoor recreation and lots of play.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
2430 N. Cannon Drive
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 755-5100
www.naturemuseum.org

The environment doesn’t get the short shrift at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and the first day of a new year is great way to go green with the fam. In addition to appealing exhibits like Birds of Chicago, RiverWorks and Hands on Habitat among them, the museum will be hosting family programming opportunities on New Year’s Day. Toddlers will like Story Time with games and activities at 11 a.m. then get up close with a four-legged friend during  Critter Connection in Mysteries of the Marsh at noon. Watch animal feeding at 1 p.m. and the piece de New Year’s Day resistance is First Flight Butterfly Release in the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven at 2 p.m. Your family witnesses brand-new butterflies spreading their wings and taking flight for the very first time.

Blue Man Group 
Briar Street Theatre
3133 N. Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 348-4000
www.blueman.com/chicago

Celebrating 20 years in Chicago, Blue Man Group promises holiday-themed surprises during three performances at the Briar Street Theatre on New Year’s Day (at 2, 5 and 8 p.m.). School aged kids to teens and grandparents will go for the sensory overload of art, music, comedy and technology used to tell universal stories with custom instruments and lots of laughs. It’s a gloriously uplifting way to welcome 2018. Tickets are available from $39-$99.

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Ice Skating
Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park
337 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 552-3000
www.maggiedaleypark.com

Slide right into a healthier year by lacing up the skates and hitting the Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park with holiday hours on Jan. 1 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink, located in Millennium Park on Michigan Avenue, also offers New Year’s Day skating for free (bring your own pair or skate rentals are $14 on holidays). New Year’s Day, Monday, Jan. 1, skate anytime between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. Ice skating helps improve your balance and joint flexibility, builds leg muscles while reducing stress and gives the old ticker a nice shot of cardio.

New Year’s Day Pajama Brunch
Shaw’s Crab House
1900 E. Higgins Road
Schaumburg, IL 60173
(847) 517-2722
shawscrabhouse.com/schaumburg

You don’t even have to get dressed to belly up for brunch at Shaw’s Crab House. Gather the gang for an impressive brunch featuring Shaw’s breakfast and seafood favorites. Guests who wear pajamas will receive a $25 gift certificate to use towards their next Shaw’s visit.  Brunch costs $45 per person for adults (exclusive of tax & gratuity), $10 for kids 7-12, and is free for kids 6 and younger. Other luscious options on the first day of the year include  West Town Bakery & Dineralso encouraging a “pajama day” for all guests who dine in (staff will be dressed in their favorite jammies so you won’t look as ridiculous as your hangover feels).  Don’t wait until Chinese New Year to eat lucky long noodles (insuring a long life). Imperial Lamian, one of Chicago’s premier Chinese destinations, will be open on New Year’s Day starting at 10 a.m. serving its delish brunch (including hand-pulled noodles) until 3 p.m.

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