Top 10 Destinations For New Year’s Eve in the U.S.
K.C. was a featured writer for Yahoo! Travel before joining trips to discover in 2013. She is the author of Best Travel Guide for First Time Visitors to Ireland, an Amazon bestseller every year between 2013 and 2016. She has been a featured expert on Newsweek, Travel + Leisure, Travelocity, among others.
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Where are you planning to spend New Year’s Eve? If you still aren’t sure, these fabulous destinations across the United States offer the chance to take part in everything from music, dancing, food, and drinks to spectacular fireworks displays, street parties, and more. Whether you prefer to stay closer to home or are looking for a more exciting spot, you’re sure to find one on this list that will provide an especially unforgettable celebration.
Every year for over a century, as the clock nears midnight on December 31st, the world has its eyes on the dazzling lights of Times Square. An estimated one million people fill Times Square, while over a billion watch from around the world as the massive glittering ball is lowered, starting its 70-foot drop at 11:59 p.m. before confetti is released into the sky. One of the biggest parties on the planet, it features big-name music acts as well as a wishing wall where you can write down your resolutions for the coming year. Special firework programs typically take place at different points around the city, including Rockefeller Center, the Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, and the Empire State Building.
If you’d like to ring in your holiday with pleasant weather – and be in one of the last places on the planet to enter the new year, the Hawaiian Islands are ideal. Here you can enjoy the warm, tropical climate along with spectacular fireworks displays right from the beach. There are shows held throughout the islands, including Poipu Beach on Kauai, Hana and Manele Bay on Maui, and a number of spots on Oahu: Aloha Tower, Waikiki, and Ko Olina. In many areas, you’ll find waterfront bars and clubs with special theme nights and open-air music concerts. A wide range of boat cruises provides even more fun options for celebrating the New Year.
Las Vegas is really a year-round party, but on New Year’s Eve, it steps things up a notch. The iconic Vegas Strip will have a special firework event, while a number of hotels will throw their own massive celebrations, including the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, California Hotel & Casino, The Plaza Hotel and Casino, The D Las Vegas, and many more. Visitors come from around the world to Sin City to celebrate each year, so you’ll have plenty of company to join you. On December 31st, the Strip is shut down to vehicle traffic and opened up to pedestrians for drinking, mingling, and watching the array of fireworks that are shot off from surrounding rooftops. Live bands, pyrotechnic displays, and laser shows transform the four-mile area into a giant street party.
If taking part in Hollywood’s exclusive club scene sounds like your idea of a fun night, you’ll have lots of options. There are rowdy pub crawls, an over-the-top Cleopatra’s New Year’s Eve Ball, and W Hollywood throws a swanky electric party. Many hotels feature headliner DJs, amazing city views, and VIP bottle packages in poolside cabanas where you can dance the night away. Stick around for New Year’s Day to watch the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, one of America’s most beloved celebrations.
The Emerald City’s annual fireworks display for New Year’s Eve has been ranked as of the best in the United States. The New Year’s party at the Space Needle party spans two floors and offers plenty of excitement inside the newly-transformed space. Dance the night away with live music while enjoying stunning views on The Loupe, the world’s first and only revolving glass floor. Lean out over the city lights with tilting glass walls 520 feet above ground and ring in the new year as you marvel at an iconic firework show. Another option is to watch the show from the water, where an unobstructed view is guaranteed.
New Orleans is well known for hosting great parties and is also home to one of the best New Year’s Eve fireworks displays in the United States. With a brilliant kaleidoscope of colors cascading over the Mississippi River, the 15-minute-long show is the highlight of an evening of festivities that includes the renowned Fleur de Lis drop-in, in which an oversized object is dropped from the roof of the Jax Brewery at Jackson Square, reminiscent of the Times Square Ball drop. In “The Big Easy,” parties often continue until dawn, with live music throughout the bars and clubs in the French Quarter.
Miami is a city renowned for its parties – on the beaches and in the nightclubs, filled with Latin heat and glamour. This is your chance to dance the night away at a trendy club, watch big-name performances and marvel at one of the biggest fireworks displays on the East Coast.
The Windy City pulls out all the stops on New Year’s Eve with a celebration along the Chicago River. It hosts a six-hour-long, free extravaganza that includes lots of parties at multiple venues, live entertainment, a huge fireworks display, and, of course, a countdown to the new year.
If you’re thinking about heading to San Francisco for a fantastic New Year’s Eve party but think it’s just a bit too pricey, consider heading further north to Portland, Oregon, instead. The massive Champagne Ball has been taking place here for nearly three decades, held at the Hilton Portland Downtown. The all-night party features DJs and live music, multiple bars, as well as themed party rooms, dance floors, food, party favors, and more. On New Year’s Day, you’ll find plenty of places to burn off all those calories, like a hike on the 11-mile trail through Forest Park that offers views of the Columbia River, Mount Hood, and Mount St. Helens.
Georgia’s adorable alpine village, Helen, will be celebrating the oncoming of the new year this New Year’s Eve. Enjoy an evening of music, snacks, dancing, and midnight champagne for toasting. If you were wondering, the Edelweiss is a flower found high in the Alps; Helen’s light-up version mimics all of the other popular countdown “drops” in the US. If you can’t get enough of Helen, be sure to check out its Oktoberfest celebration.