Times Square may play host to the most televised New Year’s Eve celebration in the country, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only place to have some fun. Why not ring in the new year, and say good riddance to 2017, with a visit to one of these six cities instead?
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISANA
Mardi Gras may be this city’s biggest attraction, but its New Year’s bash is nothing to be scoffed at. There is the usual dancing along Bourbon Street and a party in Jackson Square, but the midnight ball drop is unlike any other. Instead of a glittering disco ball, a giant fleur de lis descends from a 25-foot pole to ring in 2018, followed, of course, by fireworks set to jazz music.
Sure, you’d imagine NYE in this quirky city might culminate in the tasting of a few rare microbrews, but turns out the Portland Champagne Ball is NYC-level bananas. Tickets don’t come cheap (the lowest price is $105 per person if you buy as a group of four), but you’re guaranteed access to 18 bars, three dance floors, a delicious dinner, a midnight Champagne toast and a to-go bag filled with lots of enviable goodies. A portion of the proceeds also go to the Oregon Active Foundation, a non-profit that guides people in the community with disabilities and other life-challenging conditions on outdoor adventure trips.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
As one of the biggest party cities in the country, Vegas is not at all a surprising addition to this list. The entire Strip closes off to traffic, forming one enormous block party that over 300,000 people are expected to attend. Throughout the evening, all the casinos compete with one another to host bigger and better events than the next (hot tip: use the app Discotech to navigate the options). At midnight, however, they all come together to launch one coordinated fireworks display that might just put all others to shame.
With just over five and a half hours of sunlight per day in deep winter, Anchorage is perhaps the best place in the U.S. to put on an endless fireworks show or host an all-night party. (The sun sets just before 4 p.m., meaning you better be prepared to start early.) However, if you’re looking for a man-made light display, head to nearby Girdwood and the Alyeska Resort, where a parade of 300 skiers and snowboarders greet the new year by gliding down the mountain carrying bamboo torches.
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
Bop from party to party along San Antonio’s famed River Walk while you enjoy beautiful views of the city’s top tourist destinations and five-star hotels. Live music plays from three stages, while the kiddos can enjoy carnival games, rides and food trucks. Oh, and this year should be particularly fun considering it’s the city’s tricentennial celebration.
Standing around in the frigid cold waiting for fireworks to pop isn’t all that fun, but it’s especially unpleasant when you have little kids in tow. Lucky for you, Honolulu is one of the best places in the country to find family-friendly NYE activities. Our top choice: Kaka’ako Waterfront Park’s transformation from a quiet beachside knoll to a theme park playground complete with a giant Ferris wheel, food trucks, carnival rides and games for all ages. Firework displays go off every hour starting at 9 p.m., so even the youngest participants won’t have to stay up too late to be a part of the celebration.