If these days leading up to Christmas are overflowing with commitments, consider stealing away for a getaway at New Year's before the kids get back to school. While finding a fun, kid-friendly vibe on New Year's Eve can sometimes be a challenge, many hotels and resorts are offering special family-friendly celebrations complete with kids' menus and bedtime-friendly celebrations. So if watching the ball drop from your living room feels unexciting, consider these getaways to celebrate the arrival of 2014:
Where: Yosemite National Park, CA Why: Because this family-friendly Yosemite lodge delivers a winter wonderland setting this time of year. Holiday packages include dinner for two, followed by a live band and dancing, while the kids get their own party from 6pm to 9:15pm in another part of the hotel, with games, raffle prizes, a DJ spinning tunes, snacks, and an early balloon drop at 9pm. During the day, you get to explore the wintry side of the iconic park, with skiing, snowshoeing, and snow tubing at Badger Pass, an ice rink inside the park, story times, and daily nature walks. The two- and three-night New Year's Eve Celebration packages start at $578 for two adults; kids cost an additional $34.50 a night.
Where: Hershey, PA Why: Because there is perhaps no sweeter place to ring in the new year than Chocolate Town, USA, where the air really does smell like chocolate and the Square in downtown Hershey throws one of the most family-friendly New Year's parties in the country. This year, the free concert will be headlined by teen pop sensations R5, and the midnight countdown will again be accompanied by a seven-foot-tall Hershey's Kiss rising three stories in the air. At the luxurious Hotel Hershey, the Hershey's Chocolate World New Year's Eve package starts at $780 and includes two nights' accommodations, holiday kick-off party, New Year's Eve grand dinner, New Year's Day breakfast, admission to Hershey's Chocolate World, and more.
Where: East Madison, NH Why: Because this lovely and kid-friendly New Hampshire resort throws a mighty New Year's Eve Family Celebration, offering a two-night all-inclusive package with a whirlwind of winter activities, including skiing, snowshoe tours, snow tubing, a torchlight parade, ice skating, music, fireworks, and bonfires. Indoors, kids can join parents in a pizza party, and watch the ball drop on the big screen. Meanwhile, "Tykes Night Out" entertains little ones with face painting, magic, and games. The package also bundles in breakfast, lunch, and dinner. All-inclusive rates start at $226 per night for two adults plus an additional $39.25 per night per child ages 4 to 12. There is an additional charge for horse-drawn sleigh rides and snow tubing, and babysitting can be arranged for $9 per hour, per child. To book, call 800/373-3754.
Where: Carlsbad, CA Why: Because Kids' New Year's Eve is Legoland's biggest annual family-friendly party, allowing children to ring in 2014 without missing their bedtime. Channeling a decidedly Times Square vibe, Kids' New Year's Eve rocks the night with special musical performances from Grammy-nominated musical artists, a huge LEGO brick drop, and a spectacular fireworks display at 6pm. The Family Package for 4 starts at $689 and includes one night in a themed room at the Legoland Hotel plus four two-day resort hopper tickets, including admission to Legoland and Sea Life Aquarium.
Where: Sunriver, OR Why: Because this kid-friendly resort near Bend, Oregon, kicks off its annual New Year's Eve Family Night celebration with board and arcade games, Wii with air guitars, prizes, ice cream sundaes, and sparkling cider for the East Coast countdown at 9 p.m. Afterward, teens can attend the "Rockin' New Year's Eve Teen Dance," with black lights, glow sticks, arcade games, and a mock-champagne toast at midnight, while grown-ups can head to their own celebration, billed as the biggest New Year's bash in Central Oregon. Not up for a party? Your family can sit down to a sumptuous three-course New Year's dinner at Meadows in the Lodge. During the holiday, the resort's best available rate starts at $187 a night. Admission to family night costs $30 per adult and $20 per child 12 and under; $25 for the teen dance; $50 per adult for the grown-up shindig. Alternatively, the holiday dinner costs $75 per adult and $32 for kids ages 6-12, with a kids' menu for the 5-and-under set.
Suzanne Rowan Kelleher contributed this to MiniTime.com.