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New Year’s Eve, Family Travel Style

Matt Villano

It’s always fun to ring in the New Year in a faraway place. Of course for family travelers, that means finding destinations with family-friendly activities that can accommodate old-acquaintances-forgetting grownups and our kids, too.

With this in mind, a number of popular destinations are offering a number of age-appropriate New Year’s celebrations this year. Here’s a sampling of some of the best.

Atlantis, Paradise Island
The Atlantis hotel, on Nassau, offers two activities for teen-agers staying at the resort. First up: the “Jungle Fever” bash, a party for kids ages 9-13. Attendees to this party automatically will be entered in a raffle to win a prize; party goers will receive complimentary apple cider before the countdown to the balloon drop. No. 2 on the list: a retro-rave session for teenagers at CRUSH, the on-site nightclub. According to resort officials, the party will boast glow sticks, retro music and a whole lot of sass.  Another bonus (for parents, at least): No booze. Anywhere in sight.

Sausalito, Calif.
Staying up and waiting for the ball to drop on New Year's is so grown-up. For the littlest of little ones, there's a better option: Noon Year's Eve at the Bay Area Discovery Museum. Instead of welcoming 2012 at the stroke of midnight, the just-outside-of-San-Francisco museum ushers it in at noon. What’s more, throughout the day, families can dance to live DJs, picnic on the museum lawn and play with "party packs" that include two large bubble wands, two noisemakers, two sets of beads, stickers, special coloring paper and more.

Hershey, Pennsylvania
Hershey, Penn., the headquarters of Hershey’s Chocolate, is known as the Sweetest Place on Earth. On New Year’s Eve, that’s a good thing—especially for the toddler-aged members of your clan. The NYE celebration in Hershey’s Chocolate World caters to teen-agers and their parents looking to celebrate the stroke of midnight together. There are concerts. There’s free food. And all of the festivities culminate at midnight, when a giant Hershey’s Kiss drops from the sky and sets off fireworks mayhem.

For the first night of the New Year, Beantown serves up an appropriately titled celebration: First Night. The all-ages celebration begins midday, when families can partake in everything from tango lessons to puppet shows and arts-and-crafts. For $15 apiece, revelers can purchase a button that grants them entrance to 35 venues around the city for theater, dancing, movies, ice sculpturesa and more. Later in the night, after sundown, the celebration migrates go the harbor and the Charles River, over which fireworks are shot to ring in the New Year.

Of course there’s always the option of a quiet New Year’s Eve, too. Back on Dec. 31, 2011, Powerwoman and I spent the holiday holed up with an 18-month-old L (the baby, R, hadn’t been conceived yet) in a tiny cottage in the Cotswolds (in England). We spent the morning hiking through fields; at lunchtime, with L passed out on a pub bench, we grownups managed to have a quiet meal to ourselves. Finally, after a home-cooked dinner (and a drawn-out tub), the three of us did some puzzles and went to bed. To this date, it remains my favorite New Year’s of all time.

Where are your favorite places to celebrate New Year’s Eve on the road? Leave a comment and let us know.