There are a lot of things a family can do on New Year’s Day in Boston. Staying home and playing games, watching television or just lazing about are always nice ways to spend the day, but for those who want to make the most of this opportunity to do something special and start the year off right, Boston has a lot to offer, from watching (or joining in) a polar bear plunge to ice skating on the Common, to taking a tour by trolley or boat, or catching a flick in an historic art deco theater. Here are just five of the best ways to spend New Year’s Day with your family in Boston.

L Street Brownies and other swimmers take the plunge Sunday morning in Boston Harbor. (WBZ-TV)

L-Street Brownies Polar Bear Plunge
Curley Community Center
1663 Columbia Road
Boston, MA 02127
(617) 635-5104

While jumping into the icy cold waters of Boston Harbor is obviously not for everyone, hundreds of families go down to the beach of Columbia Road to cheer on the hundreds of people who will do just that. The Polar Bear Plunge has been a Boston New Year’s Day tradition for more than a century. It is sponsored by the L Street Brownies, the oldest of the many Polar Bear clubs in the United States. The annual event has also received the backing of the Curley Community Center, one of the oldest, largest and best known of the Boston Centers for Youth and Families. After watching as many as 600 swimmers brave the chill, consider joining up at your neighborhood community center, many of the 36 of which in Boston, like the Curley Community Center, have a swimming pool, gym, indoor track, computer center and other facilities. Most also offer after-school programs, classes in everything from dance to yoga, and which also put on special events.

The Frog Pond in 2017 (WBZ)

Frog Pond Ice Rink Skating
Boston Common
38 Beacon St.
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 635-2120

Frog Pond on Boston Common becomes an ice skating rink every winter, and it will be open on New Year’s Day. There are day and season passes available, all at a reasonable fee. Skates can be rented or sharpened, and there are even skating aids, such as the big blue seals to help younger skaters stay upright. Lockers are also available on a first-come basis. There are many skating clubs and skating schools in Boston that are associated with Frog Pond, and joining one of those opens up this great sport and winter activity to all members of the family. The Skating Club of Boston, for example, offers individual and group lessons, starting with skaters as young as four years old.

Old Town Trolley Tours
3 Park Plaza
Boston, MA 02116
(855) 269-7150

Although the ever-popular Duck Boats were already sold out for New Year’s Day as early as mid-November, there is always space on the hop-on, hop-off Old Town Trolley Tours trolleys. There are 19 convenient spots to get on (and off) the trolley in Boston. These old-time trolley buses are a great way to get around the city and to see the sights that so many people who live in and near Boston never seem to have the time to see. This New Year’s Day take the family on a trolley and listen to the tour guide’s spiel … or just use it as a way to see the city without having to worry about traffic and finding parking. Old Town has maps and guides and recommendations for things to see and do and places to shop and eat and find other entertainment, and helps families start the New Year off right by getting in touch with the great city in which they live.

Related: Boston’s Best Places For New Year’s Day Brunch

Historic Sightseeing Cruise
Boston Harbor Cruises
1 Long Wharf
Boston, MA 02110
(617) 227-4321

Take a 90 minute cruise around Boston Harbor, complete with narration by a guide who will point out the historic and natural wonders of what has always been the beating heart of the city: its commercial harbor. Stay warm inside or brave the observation deck on one of the many boats sail from Long Wharf by the aquarium and pass by such sights as Spectacle and Long Islands, the harbor light houses and famous warships like the U.S.S. Constitution. There are also whale watch tours that go past the harbor islands out into Massachusetts Bay. Individual, family and group rates are available, but get those tickets now!

(Image Credit: Somerville Theater)

See a Movie in historic Art Deco Theater
Somerville Theater
55 Davis Square
Somerville, MA 02144
(617) 625-5700

New Year’s Day is a great day to spend in a nice, warm, cozy movie theater, which fresh popcorn, cold fountain sodas and a box of candy from the concession stand. While there are no shortage of big chain movie theaters in Boston, such as the massive 25-screen AMC on the Common and the Regal 13 at Fenway, there are also a few independent theaters, most of which have a story of their own that rivals whatever is up on the screen. The Somerville Theater in, well, Somerville, just across the Charles from Boston proper, is an old art deco theater that has been ini operation since 1914 – the year the Great War (World War I) began in Europe. The giltwork is a bit chipped these days, and the old girl is showing her age a bit, but the big screen is still there – and it shows movies in glorious 70 mm, which makes it a very rare bird in this age of multiplexes. The theater was for many years also a vaudeville and burlesque house, and the basement, which once housed a cafe, has now been turned into the local Museum of Bad Art, admission to which is included with the price of a movie ticket. The Somerville plays classic as well as first-run films. Check its website for movies and show times.

Related: First Night, First Day Gets A New Look For New Year’s Eve In Boston

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