Things to do While Everyone Else is Hungover

Way back, lo these many years ago, when I was a small girl living in southern California, my Uncle Guy taught me a valuable lesson. He taught me that on New Year's Day in our neighborhood everyone was one of two places; at the Rose Bowl Parade or sleeping off a ferocious hangover brought on by a surplus of celebratory champagne. He said if we wanted to go to Disneyland, (and what girl didn't? this was the day to do it so off we went and boy was he ever right. I went on my favorite rides, the Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion, without having to wait at all. There was something special about being out early in the morning with the streets so quiet we only saw one or two cars and ever since then I've loved to get up early and do something grand on New Year's Day.

If you're not in the mood to be first in line at the amusement park, something a little more scientific or artistic might be just the thing. If you happen to be in the Chicago area I cannot recommend the Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibition enough. Closing on New Year's Day, there were still tickets available the day this column went to press. I saw the Tut collection when it came through America when I was in middle school and I loved it. A friend of mine was especially moved to be able to see the back of the famous death mask, but I was enthralled by the fact that all this amazing art belonged to a king so unimportant that he's not even mentioned by his contemporaries. What did the tombs of the greater Pharaohs contain before they were ransacked? This is a beautiful and thoroughly provoking exhibit and you should absolutely catch it before it moves on. More information can be found here.

Zoos can be a terrific January first destination. No need to worry about the monkeys paying attention to some other family because if you get there early enough yours will be the only family in sight. The Fort Worth Zoo has a nice 25-foot climbing wall called the Congo Climb and the Zoo Montana in Billings has very rare retired Black Footed Ferrets as well as a Christmas tree recycling program. It's not often you get to take out the trash and see one of the most endangered animals on the planet at the same time.

The Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior, Arizona, has guided tours at one pm. You can learn about different kinds of cactus and other desert plants and animals while you get a head start on that "be more active" New Year's resolution. Be sure to check out the gorgeous photos at the Edith Krueger-Nye exhibit, running until the end of January.

While we're on the subject of fitness, you may want to consider skiing on the first day of the year. The slopes will be relatively uncrowded and many resorts are offering nice weekend packages. There's nothing wrong with combining champagne, a roaring fire, snow and a new beginning is there? Heck if you head off to The Canyons in Park City, Utah you can even throw in some free live music and some fireworks. Or head up to Black Mountain of Maine for dinner, dancing, champagne and skiing. I'm guessing you don't do them all at the same time.

Sticking with the outdoor and cold motive, you may also want to try your hand at ice-skating. Centennial Olympic Park claims to offer Atlanta's only outdoor ice skating rink. They also have a synthetic rink for kids, with the idea that when the kids fall down they land on a slightly softer surface. New Year's Day hours are noon to ten. While you're there you'll probably want to check out the holiday light display or take a ride on the penguin train, running until the seventh. The first is also the last day for Skate on State in Columbus, Ohio. The ice rink is set up at the Ohio Statehouse Plaza, on the lawn, although I imagine there will be some sort of frozen water between you and the grass. I hear there is also a Ferris wheel but that could be a crazy rumor. If you've got a few extra minutes you may want to take a close look at the actual courthouse. The steps and walls are made of limestone and there are aquatic fossils stuck in the rock. I've always heard if you spy a snail fossil on New Year's Day you're bound to have good luck throughout the entire year.

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