New Year’s weekend: Travel the world and hang out with critters

Go back in time, travel the world, hit the beach and hang out with critters; it’s the weekend for celebrations and, alas, for resolutions.

San Diego

Travel the world at the Global Winter Wonderland with multicultural holiday festivities. Illuminated lanterns up to 20 feet tall are shaped like gigantic peacocks, polar bears, mushrooms, the Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China and Leaning Tower of Pisa. Kids make crafts, decorate lanterns, ride carnival rides and watch skilled acrobats, jugglers and fire dancers.

When: Dec. 24-27, 29-31 and Jan. 1 and 2, 5-7

Cost, info: Adults $22 plus fees, seniors (63 and older) and children (4-12) $19 plus fees, children 3 and younger free, military families $4 discount per ticket. Only service animals permitted. (510) 962-8586,



Did you know improvements in GPS, solar energy, longer-lasting tires and cell-phone cameras came from NASA’s scientific research? Live on Green’s five pavilions focus on space research, “Making a Difference,” the Rose Parade, culinary experiences, a family fun-zone and entertainment with music, dance and comedy.

When: Dec. 29-31

Cost, info: Free. Family-friendly. Only service dogs permitted. (818) 243-6800, Ext. 108.

Los Angeles

Dance the fox trot, bunny hop, canary or buck-and-wing at the D.J. dance party at L.A. Zoo Light’s Family New Year’s Eve. Walk through parts of the zoo, feast at a buffet dinner, ride the Conservation Carousel and play games. Midnight comes at 9 p.m. with the live broadcast of the famous ball-drop at Times Square in New York.


When: Dec. 31, 6-10 p.m.

Cost, info: Adult $69 plus fees, child (age 2-11) $45 plus fees, child under 2-years free but ticket required. Cash bar. No dogs. (866) 949-8007,

Long Beach

Ring in the New Year with magnificent sharks, graceful jellyfish, wild-looking frogs, quirky fish, funny penguins and adorable sea otters at the second New Year’s Eve Night Dive at the Aquarium of the Pacific. Bands play and DJs spin. Dance the swim, anyone?

When: 8 p.m. Dec. 31


Cost, info: $29.95. Food tickets purchased separately. Cash bar. Family-friendly. No dogs. (562) 590-3100, Ext. 0,


Don your flapper dress, fringe and long pearls or your pinstripe suit for a 1920s New Year’s Eve Countdown Party. A DJ’s spinnin’ in the Goodbar while a jazz band performs in the VIP speakeasy.

When: 10 p.m. Dec. 31.

Cost, info: $10 plus fees for Goodbar only, $20 plus fees for speakeasy. Adults 21and older. No dogs. (805) 964-1288,


Huntington Beach

Start the year at the coastline with the sound of the surf at Sealegs at the Beach New Year’s Eve at Bolsa Chica State Beach. Ravi Drums and Vegas DJ Dig Dug play tunes in a heated tent, not that you would need that if you dance to every song.

When: 7 p.m. Dec. 31

Cost, info: $75 plus fees advance purchase, $100 at door. Adults 21 and older. No dogs. (714) 536-5700,

Palm Desert

Costume yourself for the Roarin’ ‘20s theme or wear a faux-giraffe print at the indoor/outdoor Mildly Wild New Year’s Eve Dinner-Dance at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Guests watch aerial acrobats pour Champagne, wander past stilt- and ball-walkers, dine on surf-and-turf, and marvel at meeting several animals. Champagne toast is 9 p.m. Proceeds benefit giraffe conservation.


When: 6-10 p.m. Dec. 31

Cost, info: $125. Adults 18 and older. No pets. (760) 346-5694. Ext. 2111,