Welcome the New Year with healthy, active outdoor fun. Polar Bear Dips are for those willing to brave icy Northwest winter water, including Lake Washington and Puget Sound. If you prefer to stay dry, then check out our list below of the many First Day Hikes at Washington State Parks around the region.
Polar Bear Dip Safety Tips
- Heart health. Anyone with heart problems, consult your health care provider, or just plan to watch the fun.
- Bring change of clothes and towel.
- Do Not Drink Alcohol: alcohol does not warm you up, it accelerates hypothermia.
- Do not stay in the water longer than 15 minutes; body heat is lost 25 times faster in the water than in air.
- Do not remove your clothing until swim time and remove wet clothing before getting back into dry clothes.
- Most events are free, however some are fundraisers for charitable causes. Check their website for details.
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2023 Polar Bear Plunges
(The following plunges are scheduled after New Year’s Day. Listed by date)
January 7, 2023 Kirkland Parks Polar Bear Plunge
January 7, 2023 from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM. Take an icy cold plunge into Lake Washington at Kirkland’s Houghton Beach! After, enjoy the festivities with music, trivia, vendor booths, clam chowder samples from Ivar’s and cocoa from Kirkland Kiwanis. Register in advance. More info: Polar Bear Plunge | Kirkland, WA (explorekirkland.com)
Washington Special Olympics Polar Plunges 2023
The annual Special Olympics Washington Polar Plunge is a unique opportunity for individuals, organizations, and businesses to support Special Olympics athletes by Freezin’ for a Reason. Dates and locations listed below. More info: 2023 Polar Plunge | Special Olympics Washington (polarplungewa.com)
- January 21, 2023. TRI-CITIES Columbia Point Marina Park.
- February 18, 2023. ANACORTES Seafarer’s Memorial Park
- February 25, 2023. SEATTLE Alki Beach
- March 3, 2023. WENATCHEE Walla Walla State Park
February 25, 2023 Aliki Beach Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Washington
February 25, 2023 starting at 8AM. Alki Beach will be packed with brave polar plungers. Just chill though, because you don’t have to get in the water. Whether you get cold for a cause or show up to cheer others on, this annual tradition has something for everyone. It’s an experience like no other! Attendees can expect a full-on beach party with beach games, raffles, a soup station, hot chocolate, costume contests, and great prizes. Individual and team registrants are encouraged to raise donations in support of Special Olympics Washington athletes. As they raise funds, they can also earn prizes including airline vouchers and Papa John’s gift cards for the top individual and team fundraisers. By joining in the fun, you’ll be supporting 7,500+ athletes with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities across our state. More info: 2023 Polar Plunge – Seattle – Campaign (sowa.org)
The following polar plunges take place on January 1, 2023. Listed alphabetically by location.)
Des Moines Polar Bear Plunge
Join your fellow revelers for a time-honored tradition of diving into icy waters in Puget Sound on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023 at 10:00 a.m at Des Moines Beach Park (21815 Marine View Dr at S 7th Ave). More info: Polar Bear Plunge (seattlesouthside.com)
Edmonds Polar Bear Plunge
The annual Edmond’s Polar Bear Plunge takes place at 1:00 PM on New Year’s Day at Brackett’s Landing (just north of the Edmonds ferry terminal, 50 Railroad Ave). Most participants meet at the beach, but the diehards march from Daphnes on Main Street. All are welcome. Proceeds support local organizations. More info: Polar Bear Plunge — Edmonds Holidays
Gig Harbor YMCA Polar Bear Plunge
YMCA Camp Seymour is hosting a Polar Bear Plunge on New Year’s Day. Y members and campers registered for summer 2023 | FREE. Community Members | $5 per person (credit card or cash the day of the event). Space is limited. Reserve your time today! More info: YMCA Camp Seymour | Polar Bear Plunge
Renton Polar Bear Plunge
Celebrate the new year at the annual Polar Bear Plunge on January 1, 2023 at 10AM. Participants will meet at the South Beach of Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park. Bring your towel and dry clothes to warm up. More info: Polar Bear Plunge – City of Renton (rentonwa.gov)
Sammamish Polar Bear Plunge
Festivities will begin at 10:00 a.m. with registration, music, and merriment on the shores of Sunset Beach. The crowd will “plunge” at noon. The first 280 registered participants will receive a Polar Plunge souvenir fleece hat, souvenir pin, commemorative sticker and coupons for a cup of Ivar’s clam chowder and other New Year’s Day offers at local restaurants and establishments. Registration fee is a $10 minimum donation per person. More info: LSSP Polar Plunge 2023! — Friends of Lake Sammamish State Park
Seattle Parks & Rec Polar Bear Plunge at Matthews Beach
Start off the New Year with a splash at noon on Sunday, January 1, 2023 at Matthews Beach, 9300 51st Ave. NE. Registration begins at 10 a.m., and the plunge starts at noon sharp. A 2023 Commemorative Badge of Courage will be given to all heroic Polar Bear participants who immerse themselves neck-deep in the water. The patch will show the world that participants braved the frigid waters. While people wait for the plunge to kick off, there will be a variety of food trucks available, games, a photo booth, music and a t-shirt/sweatshirt vendor. Warming refreshments will be served. As in previous years, younger polar bears and anyone else who needs a little more room can take part in the Polar Cub Club part of the event immediately preceding the main plunge. For the truly hearty, double-dipping is allowed. More info: Seattle Polar Bear Plunge 2023 – Parkways
Tacoma Polar Bear Plunge at Point Defiance Marina
Kick off the new year by plunging into Puget Sound! Costumes are welcome but not required. Shoes/foot protection highly recommended. For the safety of participants, life jackets will be available, and lifeguards will be stationed on the docks. Parking is located at Point Defiance Marina Boat Launch (5912 Waterfront Dr, Tacoma, WA 98407). Sign up online in advance. In-person registration begins at the event at 10 am. More info: Polar Bear Plunge – Metro Parks Tacoma
2023 First Day Hikes
First Day Hikes happen January 1st across the nation in America’s State Parks. These New Year’s Day hikes provide a means for individuals and families to welcome the coming year in the outdoors to connect with nature. For many it has become a tradition. Distance and rigor vary from park to park, but many hikes aim to create a fun experience for the whole family and can included self-guided and guided hikes plus other outdoor challenges and events.
Listed below are some First Day Hikes in Washington State Parks. Many of these First Day Hikes require advanced registration and group sizes may be limited.
- Deception Pass State Park. First Day Hike. January 1, 2023, 10:00 AM.
- Fort Casey State Park. First Day Hike – History at Fort Casey. January 1, 2023, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
- Fort Casey State Park. First Day Hike – History at Fort Casey. January 1, 2023, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
- South Whidbey State Park. First Day Hike – Self-Guided Sensory Hike. January 1, 2023, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
- South Whidbey Island. First Day Hike – Little Ones on a Hike. January 1, 2023, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
- Fort Ebey State Park. First Day Hike – Intro to Biking at Fort Ebey. January 1, 2023, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
- Fort Ebey State Park. First Day Hike – Medium to Advanced Biking at Fort Ebey. January 1, 2023, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
- Saint Edward State Park. Northwest Trail Runs (4-mile or 8-mile): Absolution Run. January 1, 2023, 8:30 AM - 1:00 PM
- Lake Wenatchee State Park. 1st Day Guided Snowshoe Hike. January 1, 2023, 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
- More info about these hikes: Calendar • Washington State Parks
New Year’s Day is also a Washington State Parks ’Free Entrance Day’, when you don’t need a Discover Pass to visit a state park. A Discover Pass is usually required for vehicle access to state parks.
You might also like:
- 30 great park trails for kids in the Puget Sound region
- Popular King County parks for day hikes
- Bird Watching in the Puget Sound region
Calendar for New Year’s
Listed below are events of all kinds on our calendar to celebrate the New Year.
Alki Beach Bathhouse, 2701 Alki Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116