By Laurie Jo Miller Farr 

The first day of 2018 is a special day for exploring San Francisco. Keep in mind (hurray!) that New Year’s Day brings a suspension of parking meter enforcement and other parking restrictions. While many museums, landmarks, and attractions are closed, several of the best are open and may be just what you’re looking for to enjoy a fun family day out.

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Safeway Holiday Ice Rink
Union Square
333 Post St.
San Francisco, CA  94102
(415) 781-2688

Bare your bikini body on skates at the holiday ice rink on New Year’s Day. Join in or watch for free on the afternoon of January 1, 2018. Starting at 2 p.m.,  the Polar Bear Ice Skate tradition is a 90-minute special event when skaters ring in the New Year in their most inventive beach attire in hopes of catching the eye of the judges. The ice rink is open from 10 a.m. to 11:30 on the first of January. Adult tickets are sold online at $18 including skate rental. While in Union Square, grab a hot chocolate and walk across the street to Macy’s to see the live pet adoption windows. Families may also want to check out a larger ice skating rink at the foot of Market Street near Embarcadero, across from the Ferry Building.

Macy’s Holiday Windows and Pet Adoption
Macy’s Union Square
170 O’Farrell St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 554-3000

Press your noses against the glass and say hello to that puppy (or kitten!) in the window. New Year’s Day is the final day for the popular pet adoption display by SF SPCA. Visited by one million people and now in its 31st year, the windows close at 6 p.m. on January 1, 2018. All pets are vaccinated and microchipped, they’re adorable and adoptable, priced from $200 to $400, with adult cats for free. Each year, about 300 animals find new homes from the adoption center at Macy’s and approximately $100,000 is raised via charitable donations.

San Francisco Zoo
Sloat Blvd. at The Great Highway
San Francisco, CA 94132
(415) 753-7080

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Ride the carousel, take a ride on the miniature steam train, listen to a zookeeper talk and see the animals enjoying one of their first tastes of 2018. The feeding schedule begins at 10:30 a.m. at Penguin Island and continues until 4 p.m. at Giraffe Lodge. Right near the Pacific Ocean, the zoo is open all day on New Year’s Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with last admission an hour before closing. San Francisco residents with proof of residency get discounted admission and children age 3 and under are free.

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Pier 15, The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 528-4360

Start out the new year with a bang when you bring science to life. The Exploratorium is chock-a-block with interactive, hands-on exhibitions and learning opportunities that make it as much fun for grownups as it is for the kids. “Curious Contraptions: Small Machines of Love and Mystery” is the special exhibit through Jan. 28, 2018. Make a family day of it on the waterfront at The Embarcadero’s Pier 15. Normally closed on Mondays, the Exploratorium is open on New Year’s Day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Golden Gate Park
San Francisco Recreation & Parks Dept.
McLaren Lodge
501 Stanyan St.
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 831-2700

Spend the day in Golden Gate Park, dropping in at a handful of places that are open on New Year’s Day. Visit two gardens within the park; SF Botanical Garden offers free admission from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the Japanese Tea Garden (free on Mondays when entering before 10 a.m.) is open until 4:45 p.m. Always a hit with the kids, California Academy of Sciences is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a new holiday rink for 55-minute ice skating sessions in the East Gardens.

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