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5 Kid-Friendly Places to Ring in the New Year

Celebrate the start of a new year with family-friendly fun in these festive locales.

U.S. News & World Report

5 Kid-Friendly Places to Ring in the New Year

Young family with daughter celebrating New Year in the city

Whether you want to kick-off 2017 with a dazzling fireworks display or a low-key performance at sunset, there are plenty of enticing kid-approved holiday escapes across the country.(Getty Images).

If you're a parent whose top New Year's resolution is to spend more quality time with the kids, there's no need to wait until January to take action. Even if you've waited until the last-minute, it's easy to land a deal and enjoy plenty of festive holiday events in these lively locales. Here are five crowd-pleasing, kid-friendly destinations that celebrate the arrival of the new calendar year with early and, often, alcohol-free public events that are perfect for families.

The Draw: The First Night

Boston was the first city to produce a fee-free (and alcohol-free) civic-minded First Night event focused on performing arts more than 40 years ago, a tradition that has spread to more than 200 cities around the world. For 2017, First Night First Day festivities will take place indoors and outdoors around Boston Common and Copley Square. All day and into the night, families can see concerts, dance performances, holiday lights and ice sculptors. Art gallery tours begin at noon; at 6:00 p.m. there's the annual People's Procession and at 7:00 p.m., there are family fireworks displays at Boston Common. Revelers can stay on until midnight for the even bigger Countdown to Copley fireworks illuminating the sky over Copley Square, or watch it live on NBC Boston. On Jan. 1, 2017, family and children's entertainment will be live in Copley Square from 12 to 4 p.m.

Clearwater Beach, Florida
The Draw: The Sunset

Don't expect much bubbly to flow on the sugary beaches of Clearwater Beach. On New Year's Eve, like most other nights, locals and visitors alike stroll over to Pier 60 on the Gulf of Mexico shoreline to admire the sunset, listen to live music, shop for crafts and watch fire-throwers perform daring feats. The free nightly Sunsets at Pier 60 Festival takes place from 4 to 8 p.m., after which most families head over to Frenchy's Original. In the past 45 years, the Quebec, Canada, expat known as "Frenchy" has opened five very popular seafood cafes. Kids love the beer-battered grouper, garlic fries sprinkled with crabmeat and key lime pie; a special menu will be available on New Year's Eve. If the gang is still awake afterward, lay your blanket out on the beach to wait for Light It Up Clearwater, the annual fireworks spectacle amplified by reflections from the calm Gulf waters.

The Draw: Double Fireworks Displays

The Mile High City is situated above 5,000 feet and its thin air is ideal to view fireworks. Fortunately, the annual New Year's Eve Fireworks Downtown are done twice: at 9 p.m. for families and at the traditional stroke of midnight for night owls. Get to the 16th Street Mall by 8:00 p.m. for a good viewing spot, and enjoy the costumed characters, stilt walkers and balloon-making artists while you wait. And if you're traveling with preschoolers, start the last day of 2016 at the Children's Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. for fun family-friendly activities such as confetti showers, bouncing on bubble wrap and art projects. The Denver Zoo Year's Eve party also welcomes families to view its extensive holiday lights and enjoy a 9 p.m. countdown party.

The Draw: The Big Orange

Whether you and the kids are fans of Justin Bieber or Billy Joel, Miami has you covered with private New Year's Eve concerts by both superstars, along with dozens of world-class DJ-hosted parties at top nightclubs. Families traveling with youngsters in tow should head to downtown Coconut Grove at 2 p.m. on Dec. 31 for the King Mango Strut Parade, a fun parade filled costumed locals whose first float features the winner of the Little Miss Mango Pageant. Afterward, hit the beach, enjoy some Cuban food and head to Bayfront Park to check out Pitbull's New Year Revolution by 10 p.m. Queen Latifah and Snoop Dogg are hosting the free outdoor countdown concert that's sure to thrill teens. Plus, younger kids can get in their PJs and watch the spectacle live from your hotel room. Make sure to keep an eye out for the 35-foot-wide Big Orange that will be hoisted up the side of the InterContinental Miami. As it reaches the roof at midnight, fireworks illuminate the city, the park and Biscayne Bay, where hundreds of party boats are waiting to host the city's famed after-parties.

Mobile, Alabama
The Draw: The MoonPie Drop

Approximately 50,000 people are expected to attend Mobile's New Year Celebration, which begins at 3 p.m. with the live broadcast of the National College Football Championship play-off game on big screens off Bienville Square. But beyond football, Mobile is known for its MoonPies (or marshmallow sandwiches). In fact, they are the prized treat thrown out by the country's most experienced Mardi Gras revelers, since Mobile was the very first city to celebrate it in 1703. During New Year's Eve, a 12-foot-tall, 600-pound electric MoonPie hovers over the square, while spectators chow down on the world's largest edible MoonPie baked by the original Chattanooga Bakery. While waiting for the clock to strike midnight, you can dance to the live music of En Vogue, parade around with painted umbrellas and find a viewing spot for the laser light show, fireworks and of course, the MoonPie drop.

About En Route

Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.

Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.

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