Skip to content

8 Family-Friendly New Year's Eve Celebrations Around the US

Dec. 02, 2018
11 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® Luxury Credit Card from American Express, Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

Let's face it, you may not make it to the typical Champagne witching hour of midnight with your kids along for the festivities, but a New Year’s Eve with the family promises tons of wholesome togetherness and fun. From city celebrations in Annapolis, a big resort hotel bash in Texas, to New Year’s Eve during the day at a downtown Denver museum, the country is full of family-friendly New Year’s Eve parties where you can cash in those points and toast to 2019 in style. And while TPG advises the optimal time to make flights reservations for New Year's Eve celebrations is coming up soon, I wouldn't wait any longer to snag hotels for these fun events.

1. Annapolis New Year’s Eve Celebration

This historic city on the Chesapeake Bay is always a hit with families thanks to its walkability and friendly, small-town vibe. The New Year’s Eve festivities kick off at 3pm at various locations throughout downtown Annapolis, where the free fun for kids includes face painting, moon bounces, an obstacle course and more. An early fireworks display will light up the sky around 5:15pm, with a later edition set for midnight along the waterfront at Susan Campbell Park.

You can use your Marriott Rewards points to stay nearby at the recently renovated Westin Annapolis or earn/cash in Hilton Honors Points at the Hilton Garden Inn Annapolis Downtown. Rooms at both of these hotels are still available for the festivities as of the writing of this article: Westin Annapolis has a Cash + points rate of 17k points + $140 for a traditional double room while the Hilton Garden Inn is 60,000 points for a room with two queen beds. Baltimore Washington International Airport is about 25 miles north of town and here are some free and family-friendly activities when visiting Baltimore.

2. NYE Experience at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines

Around 25 miles east of Austin, the charming Texas town of Bastrop does family New Year’s Eve in a big way at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa. The wooded Texas property turns into an enormous playground for the occasion with carnival rides, tractor rides Ferris wheel, petting zoo, and a Champagne and cider toast. A two-night minimum stay on Dec. 30 and 31 is sometimes required to take part in the fun, but right now I do see Dec. 31 only reservations available. Other New Year’s Eve highlights include a s’mores roast, a family-friendly barbecue and, of course, a countdown fireworks finale. The NYE package includes the fun activities, NYE dinner and a New Year’s Day brunch before you head home.

Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Lost Pines

Award stays are not currently available, but paid rates are available (but be prepared for some sticker shock) at about $500 - $600 per night. However, keep in mind that isn't just lodging, but also some meals and a full slate of activities. If you want to experience this fun on points next year (20k points per night), start stalking the calendar for NYE 2020 this week.

3. Rock the Block at the Boca Raton Resort and Club (Waldorf Astoria Resort)

If you are ringing in the New Year's in Florida, consider cashing in some Hilton Honors points (standard rooms from 80k Hilton Honors points) to stay at this historic, pink grande dame resort in Boca Raton. The onsite New Year's Eve block party stretches a quarter-mile and is all-the-way family-friendly. Tickets are available for purchase online (and aren't cheap). This year's highlight will be KC and The Sunshine Band, performing live, as well as carnival games, a VIP teen experience, bounce houses, bungee games, a rock climbing wall and an appearance by the old-fashioned Good Humor Ice Cream Truck.

4. Fernandina Beach New Year’s Eve Lighted Shrimp Drop

Want to see a giant illuminated shrimp heralds the arrival of the New Year? At this family-friendly festival in the Northeast Florida shrimping town of Fernandina Beach, families love the old-timey ambiance of the New Year’s Eve street festival with face painting, craft stalls, live music and games for kids. The town counts down to the New Year at 7pm, so early-to-sleepers can get in on the excitement.

There are many points hotels in the area, including the Hampton Inn & Suites Amelia Island-Historic Harbor Front (a premium award is currently pricing at 101,000 Hilton Honors points or about $250 per night), and splurge-worthy options like The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island that is still available for just 50,000 Marriott Rewards points per night (versus $599 for a balcony room with two double beds). In fact, that Ritz Carlton is one of our top picks for using an annual up to 50k certificate from the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card for a family vacation.

Sign up for our daily newsletter
(Photo courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island)
A splurge-worthy hotel option in Fernandina Beach: The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. (Photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island)

5. New Year’s Eve in Carlsbad

This charming oceanfront town in California dubs itself Carlsbad, Kidifornia! and no doubt it’s one of the most family-friendly places to find yourself for New Year’s Eve fun. About 36 miles north of the San Diego International Airport, Carlsbad is home to tons of points hotels. Among the best of the bunch that puts on their own New Year’s Eve party is The Westin Carlsbad Resort & Spa (35k Marriott Rewards points per night or use can use a 35k Marriott certificate available with these cards):

  • Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
  • Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
  • Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card
  • Marriott Rewards Business Premier Plus Credit Card
Image courtesy of the Westin Carlsbad

This New Year’s Eve Speakeasy Bash features a live DJ, buffet for kids and adults and a dedicated kids party zone with an early balloon drop at 9pm for the kids to countdown the East Coast New Year’s Eve (get tickets here). The hotel also has a private entrance to LEGOLAND California Resort, home to another epic family-friendly New Year’s Eve bash on Dec. 31. Legoland’s ball drop is, in fact, made of Legos. It replicates the Times Square ball drop and takes place at 6pm, so you can get back to the hotel for more fun afterward.

6. Noon Year’s Eve at the Denver Children’s Museum

Head to the Denver Children’s Museum on New Year’s Eve between 9am and 4pm for face painting, fun science experiments, snacks and a ball drop every hour to ring in an early 2019. Instead of fireworks, the museum lays out huge swaths of Bubble Wrap for kids to stomp across and cause a proper New Year’s Eve ruckus. The city is full of points hotels, among them is the Residence Inn Denver City Center (25k Marriott Rewards points or 12k + $105), Hampton Inn & Suites Denver Downtown Convention Center (currently 50k Hilton Honors points for a premium award) and the Kimpton Monaco for 50,000 IHG points per night. Mommy Points enjoyed a stay at this Kimpton with her kids earlier this year. If you stay, remember to use the secret password for extra goodies.

A large shiny ball makes its way down a pole as the count down takes place and the children are invited to jump up and down on a large sheet of bubble wrap as the Children's Museum of Denver hosts its annual Noon Year's Eve event, treating the outdoor plaza like New York's Times Square. Kathryn Scott Osler, The Denver Post (Photo By Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
A large shiny ball makes its way down a pole as the count down takes place and the children are invited to jump up and down on a large sheet of bubble wrap as the Children's Museum of Denver hosts its annual Noon Year's Eve event, treating the outdoor plaza like New York's Times Square. Kathryn Scott Osler, The Denver Post (Photo By Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

7. Yote’s Family New Year’s Eve Party at Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort

Yote refers to Coyote, the fun-loving mascot at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort, a great points property located about 10 miles from Sky Harbor International Airport within easy reach of both Downtown Phoenix and Scottsdale. Yote throws quite a family-friendly NYE bash, it turns out, complete with a magician, face painting, family photo booth and an early 10pm ball drop celebrated with rounds of festive sparkling cider. Another fun Phoenix celebration to set your sights on earlier in the day is Noon Year’s Eve at the Phoenix Zoo, from 9am to noon, complete with 30 tons of snow, bounce houses, a DJ dance party and the hilarious Dung Beetle Ball Drop at noon. Rooms are still available at Squaw Peak for 60k Hilton Honors points or about $200 per night.

8. New Year’s Eve in Philadelphia

Gather the family in Philly for tons of New Year’s Eve fun. The main event is the SugarHouse New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Delaware River Waterfront with a 6pm extravaganza on the agenda in addition to the usual midnight version. But you can stay busy long before at attractions like the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest, where the family can go ice-skating and warm up with hot chocolate at a chalet-style lodge or play video games at the kids’ lodge. Among the city’s many hotels where you can earn and redeem points are The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia (50k Marriott Rewards points per night), The Westin Philadelphia (35k Marriott Rewards points per night) and there are a variety of options in the Choice Hotels group.

Ice Skaters at RiverRink at Winterfest at Penns Landing, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo via Getty Images)

Bottom Line

With those ideas to get you started, it’s nearly time to start counting down... Where will your family spend New Year's Eve as we welcome in 2019? We'd love to hear all about it.