Where to Spend New Year’s Eve in Pierce County

By Holly Smith Peterson

lucky eagleWhether you’re with kids or a couple, or just hanging with friends on the evening of December 31, there are countless ways to welcome 2015. From family friendly daytime activities to evening parties for adults, check out this complete list of pastimes and places around Pierce County where you can ring in the new year.

FAMILIES & KIDS – DAYTIME ACTIVITIES

NorthWest Trek (2)
Enjoy the last day of 2014 visiting the animals at Northwest Trek with your family.

Northwest Trek Wildlife Park
Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, with outdoor adventure for all ages, is the perfect spot to spend the last day of the year with the family. Winter Wildland, the week after Christmas celebration, has animals opening gifts, finding treats, and taking down a holiday tree. Special activities, tours and keeper talks are all part of the fun, which runs until 3:00 p.m. so you can make an early night of it.

Where: 11610 Trek Dr E, Eatonville
When: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Info: http://nwtrek.org

Washington State History Museum
The Washington State History Museum in Tacoma hosts its annual Model Train Festival celebration of railroad life in one of its upper galleries, where there’s plenty of room for a winding maze of tracks. This 18th year, several trains glide over the rails and through miniature towns and wintry countryside landscaping. Plenty of staff are on hand to answer questions and share demos, and interactive kids’ activities are part of the fun. Just grab a conductor’s hat and get going!

Where: 1911 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, WA 98402
When: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Info: www.washingtonhistory.org

Museum of Glass
Experience Hawaii in the Hot Shop the last day of the year at the Museum of Glass, which is wrapping up 2014 with an islands theme. Besides the regular glass arts displays, fire dancers will be on the steps at 4:00 p.m. Leis, crafts, and the chance to blow glass figures and ornaments are also part of the activities. There are even Hawaiian treats in the cafe, and a drawing for a Hawaiian vacation. Museum-goers visiting the MOG between the hours of noon and 5:00 p.m. can even get New Year’s Eve party ready by creating a unique “conehead” party hat with artist Jennifer Adams (all while enjoying “ambient musical dreamscapes” performed by Dean the Dreamweaver.

Where: 1801 Dock St, Tacoma
When: 10:00 a.m – 5:00 p.m.
Info: http://museumofglass.org

washington history museum model train
Celebrate the start of a new year by peering into the past during the Washington State History Museum’s 19th Annual Model Train Festival.

The Anna Lemon Wheelock Library
There’s a “Midday Dance Party” at the Tacoma Public Library’s Wheelock Branch this year. The mini New Year’s Eve for kids includes activities, crafts, music and more. After the countdown to noon, the dancing begins!

Where: 3722 N. 26th St., Tacoma
When: 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Info: http://www.tacomapubliclibrary.org

Tacoma Public Library Main
Midday music is ready to go with a “Happy Noon Year” theme at Tacoma’s Main Library downtown. Decorate a party hat and watch the ball drop during the countdown — then take part in a juice toast to the new year. Family songs, sing-alongs, music and entertainment by national award-winning children’s entertainer and Northwest star Nancy Stewart is the highlight.

Where: 1102 Tacoma Ave. South, Tacoma
When: 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Info: www.tacomapubliclibrary.org

FAMILIES & KIDS – EVENING ACTIVITIES

Harmon Brewery & Eatery
The Harmon Brewery & Eatery in downtown Tacoma is holding a free, all-ages party for after regular dinner and drink hours. Rich Wetzel’s Groovin’ Higher Orchestra will be on stage, plus dancing and other entertainment.

Where: 1938 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma
When: 9:00 p.m. – midnight
Info: www.harmonbrewery.com

Ring in the New Year at the Hub in Gig Harbor where family friendly fun and food awaits.
Ring in the New Year at the Hub in Gig Harbor where family friendly fun and food awaits.

Rock Out in Gig Harbor
If it’s family-friendly music in a safe environment, head across the Narrows Bridge to The Gig Spot, where a host of Christian bands will help ring in the new year. Steele Cross is the headliner for music, and kids can also enjoy crafts and games. If you can make it to midnight, there’s complimentary sparkling apple cider.

Where: 6615 38th Ave. NW
When: 8:00 p.m. – 12:30 a.m.
Info: http://thegigspot.com

First Night in Tacoma
More than 300 cities participate in this safe, family-friendly, non-alcoholic New Year’s Eve celebration, and Tacoma — the first city west of the Mississippi to participate in the event — is an award-winning venue. The focus is on community-building and education, which means that there are plenty of local artists and performers, music groups of all genres, and activities from which to choose all around town. A parade at 6:00 p.m. kicks off this year’s evening lineup on 20 different stages and spaces, where you can see everything from the jazz group Pearl Django to the Seattle Rock Orchestra, with crafts, contests and celebratory treats in between. Note: Outdoor events are free; a $10 button is required for special activities for ages 11 and older.

Where: All over downtown Tacoma
When: Noon to 1 a.m.; parade at 6:00 p.m.
Info: firstnighttacoma.org

Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo
If you haven’t seen the holiday hallmarks at Zoolights yet, New Year’s Eve is a great time to get out and experience the annual festivities. From antique carousel spins and camel rides to posing in the giant shark jaws at the aquarium, there’s tons of fun inside and out. More than a half-million lights mean dazzling displays, including new 3-D arrangements of a Sumatran tiger, polar bear family and bald eagle.

zoolights featured
After dark, head to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and start a New Year’s Eve tradition with the family at Zoolights.

Where: 5400 N. Pearl St., Tacoma
When: 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Info: http://www.pdza.org/zoolights

Wild Waves
Federal Way lights up this amusement and water park along the freeway for the holidays, and while the pools are closed the park is transformed into a colorful after-dark wonderland. New Year’s Eve is the last night to enjoy more than 25 rides and attractions, all amid more than one million lights. Don’t miss Toyland, animal character sing-alongs, or Mrs. Claus’ special hot chocolate! Note: Online tickets are $9.99.

Where: 36201 Enchanted Pkwy. S., Federal Way
When: 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Info: http://www.WildWaves.com

Fantasy Lights
Spanaway County Park strings more than a million lights through more than two miles of backroads, and its 20th year is as breathtaking as ever. While taking a country drive through forests and fields, the colorful displays of animals, storybook characters and Christmas scenes are a delight for participants of all ages. Note: It’s $14 per car; $45 per bus (25+ passengers).

Where: 14905 Gus G Bresemann Blvd., Spanaway
When: 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Info: www.piercecountywa.org/

Polar Bear Plunge
Start off your new year clean and healthy with a plunge into Puget Sound at the Point Defiance boat launch in Tacoma the morning of January 1. Don’t worry if you’re not a swimmer — wading counts, too, and there’s a Cub Plunge for kids 10-years-old and younger. Heaters and hot drinks will help you warm up afterward.

Where: 5912 N. Waterfront Drive, Point Defiance Park
When: Cub Plunge: 11:30 a.m.; Polar Plunge: noon
Info: http://www.metroparkstacoma.org/pointdefiancemarina

ADULT NEW YEAR’S EVE FUN

polar bear plunge
The Polar Bear Plunge is an exhilarating way to start the new year.

C.I. Shenanigans
C.I. Shenanigans on Ruston Way is again ringing in the new year with special champagnes, live music by Curt Hoagland at 9:00 p.m., dinner served until 11:00 p.m., and midnight toasts.

Where: 3017 Ruston Way, Tacoma
Info: http://www.cishenanigans.com

Pacific Grill New Year’s Eve Party at the Courtyard Marriott
Pacific Grill is celebrating New Year’s with a tantalizing appetizer buffet ($25) and the smooth, Michael Bublé-like music of artist Chris Anderson ($59, with champagne) starting at 9:30 p.m.. Of course there will be party favors and a champagne toast at midnight! This fun and festive events takes place in Downtown Tacoma at the Courtyard Marriott.

Where: 1515 Commerce St., Tacoma
When: 8:30 p.m. – midnight
Info: http://www.pacificgrilltacoma.com

Live Music at Jazzbones
Jazzbones is the place to catch famed Duvall-based jazz artist Austin Jenckes on New Year’s Eve ($20 to $35), and you can’t go wrong in either the main floor or balcony seating. Country music-via-rock band Aces Up, from Enumclaw, is also on the schedule.

Where: 2803 6th Ave., Tacoma
When: 8:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.
Info: www.jazzbones.com

Hotel Murano New Year’s Eve Package
Hotel Murano, Tacoma’s chic boutique lodging, will have all-evening entertainment in the lobby — but an even better idea is to go for the New Year’s Eve package, which includes dinner for two at Bite, a bottle of bubbly, party favors and free valet parking.

Where: 1320 Broadway Plaza, Tacoma
When: 8:00 p.m. – midnight
Info: www.hotelmuranotacoma.com

fireworks4
With so many ways to ring in the New Year across Pierce County, you may find yourself party-hopping.

Don Giovanni Ristorante Italiano & Wine Bar
Don Giovanni Ristorante Italiano & Wine Bar in Auburn is doing up New Year’s Eve Italian-style with a four-course meal and midnight buffet. Musician Tony La Stella will be center stage for a repertoire of Sinatra, “Italian Cha-Chas” and soft rock; dancing will be encouraged!

Where: 18 Auburn Way South, Auburn
When: 5:30 p.m. – 1:30 a.m.
Info: www.facebook.com/events

Salty’s at Redondo Beach
Salty’s at Redondo Beach has the talented Mike Roy Trio from Lacey ready to serenade diners with everything from blues and folk to funk and rock on New Year’s Eve. Enjoy the music while dining on a special holiday menu or sipping champagne.

Where: 28201 Redondo Beach Drive S, Des Moines
When: 8:00 p.m. – midnight
Info: http://saltys.com/south-seattle

The Hub at the Narrows Airport in Gig Harbor
The Hub at the Narrows Airport in Gig Harbor has the rollicking Steve Cooley and the Dangerfields ready to rock the crowd and ring in 2015. Come for great pizza, good local beers on tap, and an audience that’s sure to be energized.

Where: 1302 26th Ave. NW, Gig Harbor
When: 8:00 p.m. – midnight
Info: http://thehubrestaurants.com

Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel
A short drive to Rochester’s Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel offers a full-fledged evening of fun. There will be $500 Free Play drawings from 8:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m., free party favors and a midnight balloon drop you won’t want to miss. As always, food, beverage and fun are all on the menu, and you can even book a room and stay the night.

Where: 12888 188th Ave. SW, Rochester
When: 8:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
Info: http://www.luckyeagle.com

Emerald Queen Casino
Emerald Queen Casino is hosting the classic rock and roll with The Cronkites to start the night, then the band Three Dog Night will perform to bring in the new year. If that’s not your thing, just go gamble and dance at the casino’s other venues. Note: Capacity is limited and bracelet-entry only; passes available at 4:30 p.m. day of show.

Where: 2024 E 29th St., Tacoma (showroom)
When: 8:30 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Info: http://www.emeraldqueen.com

Muckleshoot Casino
Muckleshoot Casino is also full of action this evening. Come for free party favors, champagne and a variety of DJs — there are even go-go dancers to go with your gambling.

Where: 2402 Auburn Way South, Auburn
When: 8:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Info: http://muckleshootcasino.com

tacoma first night
The crowd of Tacoma’s First Night 2014
Photo credit: Scott Haydon Photography

The Tacoma Comedy Club
The Tacoma Comedy Club has actor and comedian Jon Reep ready to tickle the funny bones. Two shows are on tap, as well as a good party ($25 to $150).

Where: 933 Market St., Tacoma
When: 7:30 p.m. – midnight
Info: http://tacomacomedyclub.com

The Liberty Theater
The Liberty Theater in Puyallup will feature comedian Marc Yaffee to warm up the crowd, and then local comedian and national headliner Susan Jones to close out the event. The price includes a gourmet buffet dinner, dessert by Gallucci’s Catering, party favors and a champagne toast at midnight.

Where: 116 W. Main Ave., Puyallup
When: 7:30 p.m. – midnight
Info: www.thelibertytheater.com

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