15 New Year’s Eve destinations in North America for people who love to party
Believe it or not, 2016 is just around the corner, and if you haven’t already, it’s time to decide where you’ll be ringing it in. In no particular order, here’s a lineup of 15 North American cities that promise to make for memorable New Year’s Eve destinations.
With options from coast to coast, across the border, and even out in the Pacific, there’s something on the list for everyone no matter how far you’re willing to travel.
While watching the ball drop in Times Square may seem like the ultimate bucket list item, anyone who’s been in New York City on New Year’s Eve will vote the opposite (spoiler alert: it’s an actual living nightmare). This year, avoid played out gatherings that will leave you stuck in an agitated mob, unable to hear what your company is saying, dead sober without any solutions to being otherwise, and desperately needing to pee. Some less obvious NYE destinations provide for less crowded and more enjoyable experiences (direct causation), and still have fireworks displays to light up the night sky. Whether you’re looking for a glitzy night out on the town, a more quaint and quiet winter retreat, or an adventure to appreciate nature’s beauty, read on to find out where you should be ringing in 2016.
1. Austin, TX
If live music, cowboy boots, and the best barbecue in the world are all things you want on the agenda this NYE, head down south to Austin. Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the fireworks, and Sixth Street’s endless lineup of bars promises to keep the party going well into 2016.
2. Boston, MA
For a snowy city feel that’s not New York, head northeast to Boston. Full of bars and restaurants with plenty of parties to ring in 2016 just right and an endless lineup of local attractions, you’re sure to keep busy exploring all Beantown has to offer. Gather in Copley Square for the countdown to midnight, then take in the dazzling fireworks over Boston Harbor.
3. Savannah, GA
If what you’re in the mood for is a relaxing retreat, escape to this quaint coastal city for some down time down south. Enjoy a free music festival at City Market, the commercial center of historic Savannah since the early 1700s, then take in fireworks at Tybee Pier. If you’re looking for a little adventure, suit up for a dive into the Atlantic during Tybee Island’s Polar Bear Plunge.
4. Seattle, WA
Venture up to the Pacific Northwest for a getaway that appeals to city-lovers and nature-lovers alike. The Space Needle fireworks display is visible from many locations in the city, but especially spectacular from the water, if you climb aboard a boat cruise, or directly from below, if a swanky soirée at Chihuly Gardens and Glass is more your thing.
5. Phoenix, AZ
If you’re craving wide open spaces, head down to this desert city to take in vast natural beauty without giving up exciting nightlife offerings. Take a day trip to Sedona for a nature hike with gorgeous views before ringing in the new year in downtown Tempe or Scottsdale.
6. Nashville, TN
For some affordable fun and tons of live music, throw on your Stetson and make your way to Nashville this NYE. While you aren’t partying in the Music City, you can check out the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry.
7. Honolulu, HI
A tropical getaway is nice any time of the year, but especially as an escape from winter weather. Find yourself in the balmy breeze of Honolulu, front row at a traditional Hawaiian luau experiencing Polynesian dance, local dishes, and tropical cocktails. Come midnight, you can view fireworks over Waikiki Beach or offshore from a boat cruise.
8. Big Sur, CA
For a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, head to the Pacific coast for a breath of fresh air and breathtaking views. Spend your first days of 2016 outdoors exploring the gorgeous west coast with Point Sur Lighthouse tours, whale watching, and condor spotting.
Practice your French before your midnight French kiss in the Canadian city with a European feel. Attend the Grand Ball at Old Port for traditional Quebec music, mulled wine, ice skating, and a midnight fireworks spectacle. After the long night of partying, sober up with some poutine.
10. Brooklyn, NY
Cross the river into Brooklyn to escape the utter chaos that New York City will be on the last night of the year (good luck getting a cab, an Uber, or a spot on the subway). Williamsburg and Bushwick are brimming with bars hosting NYE parties, decidedly less crowded and more hip than anything Manhattan has to offer. Enjoy the city’s fireworks display from the Williamsburg waterfront.
11. Las Vegas, NV
Sin City is a raucous party destination any time of the year, but for NYE the Las Vegas Strip is closed to traffic, making for a pedestrian-only celebration for thousands, complete with food, drink, and live entertainment. There’s plenty to do before and well after 40,000 tons of fireworks ignite in the desert sky come midnight.
12. San Antonio, TX
For NYE, San Antonio’s famed River Walk provides a variety of entertainment. Enjoy live music on three stages, carnival games, rides, festival foods, and of course a midnight fireworks extravaganza.
13. Anchorage, AK
The Last Frontier promises a NYE adventure unlike any other. For a true fire and ice experience, head to the Alyeska Resort in nearby Girdwood for the Torchlight Parade, where around 300 skiers and snowboarders descend the mountain carrying bamboo torches illuminating the slopes. At midnight, ring in the new year with the biggest fireworks show in Alaska.
14. San Francisco, CA
San Francisco is chock-full of events for NYE, from masquerade balls to themed galas to acrobatic acts. Splurge on a dinner cruise in the harbor for the best views of the city’s lights, and at midnight dance beneath the fireworks on the waterfront.
15. New Orleans, LA
Last but certainly not least, New Orleans offers up a NYE experience sure to be one for the books. The Crescent City celebration congregates at Jackson Square in the French Quarter, where instead of a ball, Baby Bacchus drops from his perch on top of Jax Brewery. At midnight, fireworks explode over the Mississippi river, signaling that the night of debauchery has just begun. Party until dawn with live jazz on Bourbon Street then begin your morning with a strong coffee and a beignet.