Kids like to ring in the New Year, too, even if it's hard for them to keep their little eyes open until midnight. Fortunately, a number of venues are offering family-friendly celebrations on New Year's Eve, most of which end by bedtime. Here are some festivities to mark the arrival of 2012:
Family New Year's Eve Parties
Choose from: Either 1 to 3 p.m. or 6 to 8 p.m. at Shipwreck Tavern; 12:30 to 2 p.m. or 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Beaches and Cream Ice Cream Parlor
516-624-7433 or bayvillewinterwonderland.com
COST Shipwreck: $27.95, $17.95 children younger than 12; Beaches and Cream: $22.95; $15.95 children younger than 12
Continue the spirit of Christmas with park attractions such as Santa's toy factory fun house and the holiday express train ride. Enjoy a meet-and-greet with holiday characters such as a snowman, reindeer and Christmas mouse. Shipwreck parties include chicken fingers, hamburgers and pasta, cake and ice cream sundaes, party favors and balloons. They also features a New Year's countdown at 3 or 8 p.m. with glass of Champagne for adults and sparkling cider for kids. Beaches and Cream parties include pizza, burgers, chicken fingers and make-your-own ice cream sundae.
Let's Celebrate the New Year
1 to 5 p.m.
Kids ages 2 to 12 can enjoy making their own Times Square New Year's ball using marshmallows, gumdrops and toothpicks. All the usual museum exhibits are also open.
"Frosty" or "A Wonderful Life"
11 a.m. ("Frosty") or 3 p.m. ("Wonderful")
COST $15 (Frosty) $60 (Wonderful)
Take the littler ones -- ages 2 to 10 -- to see the world's favorite snowman come to life on stage. Or splurge and take the older kids to see the heartwarming musical based on the iconic classic film "It's A Wonderful Life," with music by the late Joe Raposo of "Sesame Street" fame (he wrote music for Sesame Street Workshop).
6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
COST $20 a person, reservations required
Party includes admission, skate rental, unlimited pizza and soda, 10 game tokens per person, a light-rope necklace, chips and pretzels and a mock countdown to the New Year.
Countdown to 12
Noon to 4 p.m.
COST Free with museum admission of $11 for ages 1 to 64; free for younger than 1 and $10 for 65 and older.
Enjoy a DJ and dance party, arts and crafts, and a sneak peek at the museum's new permanent exhibit, "Feasts for Beasts," a gallery that looks at how animals find the food they eat. Includes live animals such as a boa and a bearded dragon as well as artifacts such as skulls and teeth. Culminates in a Times-Square style ball drop from the second floor at 4 p.m. Geared to ages 5 and older.
Fishes, Wishes and Gourmet Dishes
6:30 to 11 p.m.
631-208-9200, ext. 426; longislandaquarium.com
COST Ages 3 to 12 and seniors 62 and older $49; adults $85; 2 and under free. Reservations required.
The fifth annual party transforms the aquarium into a Winter Wonderland, with unlimited submarine simulator rides, animal encounters, Ray Bay feeding, face painting, crafts, and more. There's also a cocktail hour, dinner buffet, dessert and ice cream bar, mock-midnight Champagne and cider toast, and DJ entertainment. For an additional $159, have the family sleep in a room at the brand-new Hyatt Place East End, which opened July 1 next door to the aquarium and has an indoor swimming pool and includes complimentary continental breakfast.
Strike in the New Year
3 to 6 p.m.
COST $25 per adult, $21 per child 12 and younger. Each reservation must include a minimum of four participants
The package includes shoe rental and unlimited bowling as well as a buffet with pizza, hot dogs and breadsticks and soft drinks. Party favors and sparkling cider toast at 6 p.m.
Spirit of New York's New Year's Eve Family Lunch Cruise
Board: 11:30 a.m.; Cruise: Noon to 2 p.m.
Chelsea Piers, Pier 61, Manhattan
COST $44.90 per adult, $24.95 children 3 to 12, younger than 3 free
This family-friendly cruise features a DJ playing Top 40 hits to get the whole family dancing and includes a buffet lunch that includes salmon, rotisserie chicken, apricot glazed pork tenderloin, three-cheese pasta and more. Enjoy a sail to the tip of Manhattan and past the Statue of Liberty, all with the New York City skyline as the backdrop.