25 Best Places to Go for New Year’s Eve
Some people are happy to spend New Year's Eve at home, but for most, the holiday comes with a high set of expectations that can only satisfied by planning a trip away from home. There are countless wonderful ways to ring in the new year without leaving the United States; depending on your budget, you can spend the last hours of the year skiing at a resort town, partying on a beautiful beach, or relaxing in a remote cabin with your loved ones. No matter what your perfect New Year's Eve looks like, you're sure to find it at one of these incredible places. Photo: ungvar/Fotolia
Most people associate New Orleans with Mardi Gras, but the city can also provide a first-rate New Year's Eve experience. The last night of the year turns the entire city into a party, with people drifting between elegant cocktail bars and grungy nightclubs. Many venues offer free entry, meaning that it's relatively easy to spend New Year's here, even if you're making your plans at the last minute. At midnight, head to Jackson Square to watch the fireworks and the city's trademark fleur de lis drop, which take place at midnight over the Mississippi River.
Las Vegas is a party no matter what the time of year, but the city is particularly exciting on New Year's Eve when the Strip is closed to traffic and given over entirely to the people determined to party. Shows and parties can be found in all the city's casinos, bars, and showrooms, but even the streets are filled with people decked out in party hats and their finest cloths. As if that's not enough, the midnight fireworks show is choreographed by the city's casinos and is big enough to rival the show put on in Times Square.
Photo: Greg Reese/Fotolia
The beautiful Florida Keys are known for their tropical beaches and vibrant nightlife, and they're the perfect place to spend your New Year's Eve if you want to escape the cold. Visitors can end the year with a sunset sail, a rowdy beach party, or a tasty seafood dinner, but anyone looking for the biggest party in the Keys should head to Key West. Many of the other islands offer great celebrations as well; midnight fireworks are held on Islamorada and Key Largo, and a popular beach barbecue with live performers takes place on Morada Bay Beach.
Nestled in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Aspen is a great place to spend New Year's whether you're interested in spending the day skiing with your loved ones, attending an exclusive concert, or enjoying an elegant champagne toast at midnight. Two sets of New Year's Eve fireworks are held over Aspen Mountain: One show takes place at 8 p.m. so it can be enjoyed by everyone and another is held at midnight. Most accommodation and event tickets typically sell out well in advance, so it's best to plan your trip as soon as possible.
If you'd like to spend your New Year’s Eve celebrating Southern style, Atlanta is an excellent choice for all interests and budgets. Parties are held at venues throughout the city, and visitors can choose from options like elegant masked balls, intimate cocktail soirees, and large celebrations with open bars and DJs. Other popular activities include attending a football match, a live concert, or one of the family-friendly events put on by the city's museums. Many visitors also flock to Woodruff Park to watch the famed Peach Drop; festivities typically begin around 5 p.m. and include live music, food vendors, and celebratory confetti.
Known for its casinos, its lofty high-rise hotels, and its glitz and glamour, Atlantic City is one of the country's best New Year’s destinations for anyone in search of a party. Most of the city's hotels, casinos, and nightclubs host special New Year's Eve events, some of which are themed and many of which include open bars. Fireworks can be seen from the boardwalk at midnight; you'll need to show up well in advance if you'd like a prime viewing spot. An annual Polar Bear Plunge is held at noon on New Year's Day for anyone willing to brave the cold.
Charlotte is a fantastic destination no matter what the time of year, so it's not surprising that it's an ideal place to spend New Year's Eve as well. The biggest event in the city is the annual celebration held in Romare Bearden Park; visitors will enjoy music by DJs and live bands, a wide selection of food trucks, and an exciting firework show that begins at midnight. A kid-friendly celebration begins at noon on New Year's Eve in the same park, and plenty of adult-oriented celebrations are held in the city's uptown clubs and bars.
As one of the biggest cities in the country, Chicago boasts plenty of things for visitors and locals to do on New Year's Eve. Anyone looking to indulge won't be disappointed; there are plenty of extravagant events to choose from, and many parties in the city include open bars, multiple dance floors, and even midnight buffets. Another highlight of a typical Chicago New Year's Eve is the midnight fireworks held on the waterfront at Navy Pier; the pier also offers plenty of family-friendly rides and entertainment, making it a wonderful place for families to spend the whole evening.
Photo: Christian Hinkle/Fotolia
Whether you're planning to celebrate with your family, your friends, or your partner, Dallas offers a Texas-sized New Year's Eve experience that you won't be able to find anywhere else. The selection of parties ranges from boisterous to elegant to intimate, and a daytime event is held at the Dallas Arboretum for families with children. The rooftop of Saint Rocco's is the city's official firework viewing location, but you can also watch the show from Trinity Overlook Park, from the western bank of the Trinity River, or from one of the viewing parties held in the area.
Niagara Falls is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the country, and the city certainly knows how to ring in the new year. The falls are spectacular enough during the day, but New Year's Eve visitors will have the incredible opportunity to see the cascading water illuminated by the fireworks that go off over the falls at 9 p.m. and midnight. There are also plenty of parties and celebrations for people of all ages; some of the most popular include the guitar drop at the Hard Rock Cafe and a kid-friendly event held at the Conference & Event Center.
Photo: Alexey Rotanov/Fotolia
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Tucked up right against the Canadian border, Lake Champlain is an affordable New Year's destination perfect for nature lovers and people looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. There are plenty of winter activities to keep you entertained during the day; popular options include ice fishing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and visiting the frozen Ausable Chasm. During the evening, ring in the new year by relaxing with your friends and family in a beautiful rental chalet or by visiting one of the area's hotels to enjoy dinner and a midnight champagne toast.
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Surrounded by beautiful beaches and excellent ski resorts, Lake Tahoe is a year-round destination that becomes even more lively and inviting over the holidays. One of the most exciting New Year's Eve events that takes place here is the annual SnowGlobe music festival, which combines world-class skiing and snowboarding with performances by some of the world's best musicians. Children are welcome at the SnowGlobe festival, but another great family-friendly event is the celebration held at Heavenly Village, which occurs between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. and includes live music, fireworks, and a ball drop from the gondola.
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Home to Hollywood and countless movie stars, Los Angeles is one of the country's most important and exciting creative hubs. The New Year's Eve celebrations held here rival those of New York City, ranging from exclusive parties held on floating hotels to laidback gatherings at craft breweries. A free celebration with DJs and food trucks is held in Grand Park every year; the festivities start at 8 p.m., and all ages are welcome. No matter where you're celebrating, it's well worth heading outside at midnight to watch the stunning fireworks show put on by the city.
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The biggest city in Kentucky, Louisville is a cultural hub with a surprising number of art galleries and performance spaces. However, most New Year's Eve visitors come here to enjoy the nightlife rather than the culture. The city's bars and clubs are open until 4 a.m., and they host parties and celebrations for all tastes and budgets. There are plenty of options for anyone looking for a more relaxed evening as well; special dinners are held at many of the top restaurants in the city, and a spectacular fireworks show takes place right at midnight.
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No matter where in the country you might live, it's worth making the trip down to the southeastern tip of Florida to spend New Year's Eve in Miami. Not only will you be able to spend the evening outside without being bundled up in winter clothing, but the city also boasts some of the best fireworks and parties in the United States. Spend the evening partying on in a swanky nightclub, bring your family to the party on South Beach, or hop aboard a giant yacht to drink, dance, and get an excellent view of the midnight fireworks.
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With more than 180 recording studios spread throughout the city, Nashville is best known for its incredible music scene. Live music performances can be found somewhere in the city every day of the year, but the events held on New Year's Eve are really something special. If you're on a budget, the good news is that one of the best parties here is free to attend; held in Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, the New Year's event put on by the city typically features live music performances by some of the biggest names in country music.
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The country's capital might not be the first destination to spring to mind when you're trying to plan a fun New Year's Eve, but Washington DC offers some of the best celebrations in the United States. Many of the city's nightclubs host parties with open bars, but if you're looking for a quieter evening, take a romantic cruise down the Potomac River or bring your family to the Capitol Riverfront to enjoy music, face painting, and other activities. Of course, the fireworks set off at midnight are spectacular, and they can be seen from various locations throughout the city.
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»New York City
New York City is one of the most iconic places in the country to spend New Year's Eve; almost everyone in the country has seen or at least heard of the ball drop in Times Square. Plenty of people visit the city with the intention of spending the entire evening in Times Square, but there are plenty of other things to do as well. You'll be able to find a party at all of the city's most famous bars, and anyone looking for a more family-friendly celebration can enjoy the live music and fireworks held every year at Prospect Park in Brooklyn.
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Set on Aquidneck Island, Newport is a tourist town with no shortage of things to do on New Year's Eve. Glitzy parties and dinners are held at almost every restaurant and bar in the town, and lucky visitors will also be able to get tickets to a live music performance, an improv comedy show, or one of the many other special events held on the last night of the year. If your budget permits it, you can even attend a luxurious yacht party and spend the evening cruising around Newport while drinking champagne and enjoying gourmet cuisine.
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Best known as the home of more than a dozen giant theme parks including Universal Studios and Disney World, Orlando is one of the country's best New Year's destinations for the young and the young at heart. Head to one of the theme parks to celebrate with your family's favorite characters and watch a spectacular midnight fireworks show, or party the night away in an elegant bar or an exclusive nightclub. If you really want to indulge, you can also book a stay at one of the city's resorts and spend the holiday getting pampered with champagne and gourmet food.
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»Sun Valley, ID
Sun Valley was the first destination ski resort in the United States, and it's still one of the country's leading ski towns. New Year's Eve is an ideal time of year to come and enjoy the excellent skiing and snowboarding that the area has to offer, but it's also a terrific opportunity to pamper yourself with delicious meals, fantastic shopping, and spa treatments or massages. A delightful selection of celebrations take place throughout the town, but many of these events sell out well in advance, so it's best to plan your trip here as soon as possible.
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Portland has a laidback and welcoming atmosphere that most visitors find irresistible, and it offers a wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities all year long. The temperatures can get quite chilly during the winter, so bundle up and go tubing or ice skating or visit Pioneer Courthouse Square to admire the lights. When the evening comes around, hop aboard a ferry to participate in a dance party on one of the area's two rivers, or take a more traditional approach and attend one of the celebrations that take place in the city's many bars, nightclubs, and breweries.
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Sitting on the Pacific coast, San Diego boasts beautiful beaches, world-class golf courses, and plenty of sunshine. There are plenty of things to see and do here; some of the best include San Diego Zoo, the USS Midway Museum in the harbor, and the many art galleries and studios scattered throughout the streets. The nightlife here is especially vibrant on New Year's Eve, and visitors won't struggle to find a party, even at the last minute. The city is a great destination for families as well, and kid-friendly New Year's celebrations are held at many museums and attractions.
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Nestled between Puget Sound and the beautiful mountains of the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is home to Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, and some of the biggest tech companies in the country. However, the city still knows how to party; there's a New Year's Eve celebration here to suit every taste, from elegant five-course dinners to rowdy dance parties in the city's top nightclubs. If you don't want to blow your budget, check out the free party held at the Seattle Center. Everyone is welcome, and highlights include live music, a light show, and fireworks at midnight.
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Located on Mount Desert Island, Bar Harbor provides access to beautiful Acadia National Park. Visitors come here all throughout the year to marvel at the town's breathtaking views of the beaches and cliffs, but winter visitors have the special opportunity to enjoy activities like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. One of the most popular New Year's events in the town is the family-friendly carnival held during the afternoon at the Criterion Theater, which offers games, fairground-style activities, and a comedic variety show. Celebrations are also held at many of the town's restaurants and hotels.
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25 Best Places to Go for New Year’s Eve
- New Orleans, Photo: Courtesy of f11photo - Fotolia.com
- Las Vegas, Photo: Courtesy of Greg Reese - Fotolia.com
- Florida Keys, Photo: Courtesy of miami2you - Fotolia.com
- Aspen, Photo: Courtesy of aharond - Fotolia.com
- Atlanta, Photo: Courtesy of f11photo - Fotolia.com
- Atlantic City, Photo: Courtesy of creativefamily - Fotolia.com
- Charlotte, Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
- Chicago, Photo: Courtesy of Christian Hinkle - Fotolia.com
- Dallas, Photo: Courtesy of f11photo - Fotolia.com
- Niagara Falls, Photo: Courtesy of Alexey Rotanov - Fotolia.com
- Lake Champlain, Photo: Courtesy of spiritofamerica - Fotolia.com
- Lake Tahoe, Photo: Courtesy of haveseen - Fotolia.com
- Los Angeles, Photo: Courtesy of Tierney - Fotolia.com
- Louisville, Photo: Courtesy of hstiver - Fotolia.com
- Miami, Photo: Courtesy of jovannig - Fotolia.com
- Nashville, Photo: Courtesy of digidreamgrafix - Fotolia.com
- Washington, D.C., Photo: Courtesy of viii - Fotolia.com
- New York City, Photo: Courtesy of FotoMak - Fotolia.com
- Newport, Photo: Courtesy of jerdad - Fotolia.com
- Orlando, Photo: Courtesy of Richard - Fotolia.com
- Sun Valley, ID, Photo: Courtesy of John - Fotolia.com
- Portland, OR, Photo: Courtesy of pngstudio - Fotolia.com
- San Diego, Photo: Courtesy of f11photo - Fotolia.com
- Seattle, Photo: Courtesy of paulfell - Fotolia.com
- Bar Harbor, Photo: Courtesy of f11photo - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of ungvar - Fotolia.com
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