New Year’s Eve 2020 and 2021 may not go down in history as the biggest end-of-year extravaganzas of the 21st century, but 2021 at least promises to somewhat outdo 2020 on some of the freedom and festivities. Travel, for one thing, isn’t off the table as long as health and safety protocol is followed.
We recently conducted a survey on 2022 travel trends, where 40.6% of respondents shared that they plan on booking their upcoming trips within seven days or less of departure. In light of this on-the-fly trend, many people are planning to fly out at the 11th-hour for fun getaways for New Year’s Eve! According to our data at VacationRenter, here are the top 20 North American destinations for New Year’s Eve:
- Key West, Florida
- Maui, Hawaii
- Whistler, British Columbia
- Mammoth Lakes, California
- Mont Tremblant, Quebec
- San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Acapulco, Mexico
- Gatlinburg, Tennessee
- Breckenridge, Colorado
- Vail, Colorado
- Kauai, Hawaii
- Siesta Key, Florida
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- Kona, Hawaii
- Zihuatanejo, Mexico
- Lake Tahoe, California
- Miami, Florida
- Oahu, Hawaii
- Big Bear, California
- Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
As popular as these destinations are, if you’d like to travel somewhere similar but avoid the crowds, here are our picks for last-minute destinations to welcome 2022.
A word to the wise before you finalize travel plans, though: be sure to check any travel restrictions if you plan on flying out of the country.
3 Destinations to Get Away From the Crowds
You don’t have to be a party animal to jet set away for some New Year’s Eve fun. Here are a few low-key locales that promise to be a good time — without the worry of your patience being tested by line-ups and lack of personal space. In these locales, rest assured that you can do away with any COVID-related anxiety when it comes to crowds.
Not only is Yellowknife the capital city of the Northwest Territories in Canada, it’s also the territory’s only city. So if remote is the only way you feel comfortable traveling in our times, Yellowknife is the way to go. If you’re a little green around the gills about the whereabouts of Yellowknife, the city is on the northern shore of Great Slave Lake and it’s about 250 miles south of the Arctic Circle.
The closest major airport to the city is but a stone’s throw away: it’s only six kilometers — or less than four miles — from the center of the city. But what makes Yellowknife the place to be for a New Year’s Eve getaway that makes it stand out? How about a view of the majestic Northern Lights at the top of North America? Yellowknife is internationally known for being the best place in the entire world to view the Aurora Borealis lights!
Ring in the new year with the earth’s most natural set of captivating lights and your eyes will thank you forevermore. The end of December is actually the best time to see Yellowknife in all its Aurora Borealis glory, and there are many tour operators who offer Northern Lights tours, ranging from either active tours or stationary tours — such as ones at a tent, cabin, or lodge.
If you’re looking for a small town that’s big on culture for a New Year’s Eve on the mellower side, fly no further than Sayulita, Mexico. The small town sits quaintly on the Pacific Ocean at the south end of the state of Nayarit and north of Banderas Bay. The closest airport — Puerto Vallarta International Airport — is just 30 miles away.
You can indulge yourself at a range of local dinner houses including Tequilas Bar and Grill: the gourmet food is delicious and it promises to have some New Year’s drink specials. It’s important to note that the city is renowned for its fresh local seafood! This evening establishment also has live music on tap: Juan-Ted and the Amazing Roosters will have you dancing the night away. If you’re looking for something exceptionally romantic, O Restaurant — located on the very south end of the beach — hosts tables situated on the water. Imagine looking down on the beach and taking in the fireworks show while you serenade in 2022.
Sayulita is considered the ideal family vacation. It’s easygoing, peaceful, and is recognized for having a strong sense of community. It’s also hailed as an adventurer’s paradise! Start the first days of the new year out partaking in water activities, exploring the jungle, or working out in a tropical setting to catch a head’s up on any health resolutions. Or just relax on the beach. Saunter through Sayulita’s central streets where you can stare in wonder at the “Ojos de Dios” or the “Papel Picado” — also known as colorful flags — that line the streets. In 2019, Sayulita was celebrated for breaking the world record for the most “Ojos de Dios” of all time — a cultural tradition they plan to carry out every year.
Start the new year on an adventure that promises serenity by touring the city’s hidden treasure: Playa Escondida — also known as The Hidden Beach. It’s a short stretch of beach that is partially covered by a wall of rocks right in the heart of the Marieta Islands. Tours are available around the islands that are found a few kilometers west of Punta Mita, in the Pacific.
Anchorage, Alaska, USA
Anchor at the end of the year in Anchorage, Alaska. This northern-most city in the United States is situated in the south-central part of Alaska. The nearest airport is Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, just six miles away.
Anchorage’s main New Year’s Eve celebration occurs downtown. At Town Square Park, family-friendly celebrations are held from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm local time on New Year’s Eve and include DJ music shows as well as a show of fireworks.
Once you’re clear into 2022, take in the sites of a clear day where you can see six different mountain ranges from Anchorage: The Alaska, Aleutian, Chugach, Kenai, Talkeetna, and Tordrillo ranges. Here in Anchorage, you can also feast your eyes on the Northern Lights that shimmer and shine over Alaska. Unrivaled signature winter adventures include skiing, skating, and sledding. It’s also cool to just play in the snow, curl up next to the fireplace, or celebrate the serene beauty of a classic Alaskan winter.
Cities to Embrace the Nightlife
For many, what would New Year’s Eve be without at least somewhat of a vibrant nightlife? Let’s break down the night scene in these three lively night owl cities that will have live music going on from the get-go.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
This capital of the province of Ontario is Canada’s largest city and has all of the marvels that make up a world-class metropolis. There are two airports nearby. The first is Toronto Pearson International Airport, just 25 minutes away from the heart of Toronto itself Plus, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is the closest to central Toronto, roughly two and a half miles away, and it hosts both domestic and international flights.
The city is celebrated for the iconic sky high CN Tower that beautifully graces its skyline against the gorgeous backdrop of Lake Ontario. Why not ring in the new year surrounded by the CN Tower’s spectacular views of the city from the tower’s 360 Restaurant? Spin in style while you dine a four-course dinner from a Canadian-inspired menu by Executive Chef John Morris. Toast with some bubbly while you float amongst the clouds and feel like you’re on cloud nine.
This year, the city is said to be holding unprecedented fireworks to bring in the new year and the exquisite explosions will be visible across the city in areas that hold a view of Lake Ontario. There will also be a New Year’s Eve party at Hemingway’s Restaurant & Bar, a great space in the heart of Downtown Toronto. Dance the night away to three DJ’s spinning music the night away!
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Playa del Carmen can be found along the Caribbean coast of Mexico. The city is a popular tourist area located in the Riviera Maya. Most travelers fly into Cancún International Airport, 45 minutes north of the city, but Cozumel Airport is also 40 minutes by ferry. In addition to being known for its sprawling beaches and giant resorts, Playa Del Carmen is also lauded as the destination of PGA Tour golf tournaments and the set location for various television shows such as.
The city is a nightlife hotspot for a host of people: whether you’re young, young-at-heart, traveling with family, or happily single — you’re guaranteed to have an amazing time. Many feel that waking up in paradise on New Year’s Day sets the tone for the rest of the year.
One of the most popular places to go for New Year’s Eve in Playa Del Carmen is Mamita’s. Bask in the music from international DJs and musicians to carry you through the night. Here you can wine, dine, and shine for a night to remember. INTI Beach is a beachfront club that is tucked away and a little more private then other beach clubs along the front of Playa Del Carmen to party the night away.
You can also start the new year by taking a ferry out to the island of Cozumel which is acclaimed for its scuba diving to a number of top dive sites including the Mesoamerican reef system — the second-largest reef system in the world after the Great Barrier Reef. Here there is extensive coral and sea life with incredible visibility. No worries if you’re not a diving expert because there are beginner’s discovery dives as well as advanced drift dives.
You can also shop to your heart’s content in Cozumel where there are dozens of shops at the Royal Village Mall by the cruise ship port. Wander a little farther for some treasures to find more artisan “stoops” like Los Cinco Soles, which are filled to the brim with traditional handicrafts, beautiful art, clothing, and jewelry. It even has a tequila tasting bar to boot!
San Diego, California, USA
San Diego, the Pacific Coast city in the Golden State, has a gold mine of things to do to kick off New Year’s Eve celebrations. Once you land at the city’s most convenient San Diego Airport, you’ll want to head to your vacation rental to rest up, shower, and chill out for a bit because — trust us — you’ll need every ounce of energy for a New Year’s Eve night on the town.
Imagine welcoming 2022 at the San Diego Pier Pressure Moonlight Cruise New Year’s Eve Party. Who wouldn’t mind giving unto that kind of pier pressure? There’s also the San Diego New Year’s Eve On the Boardwalk Cruise 2022 if that kind of cruising is more of a fit for your style.
If you’re more interested in staying inland, there’s a New Year’s Eve Bash 2022 happening at The Four Points by Sheraton. For more of a cultural vibe, dance the night away at the New Year’s Eve 2022 Latin Dance Night Event which will be hip, happening, and on the scene at Tango Del Rey. If all-out decadence is the name of the game, go Gatsby style at the 2022 InterContinental Gatsby’s House New Year’s Eve Party. Whichever venue you choose, we promise that New Year’s Eve in San Diego will be primed to slay.