This year’s New Year’s Eve marks the end of the decade, and the promise of a brand new one. From classy roaring ‘20s cocktail parties to beachside DJs, there are plenty of great opportunities for you to toast to another decade down and a new one to come. Aside from watching the ball drop in the ever-so-popular New York City, here are the top eight U.S. destinations to ring in 2020.
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans offers a ton of New Year’s activities, from rowdy and festive fireworks shows, to relaxing riverboat cruises. For the main talk of the town and one of the largest New Year’s celebrations in the nation, head to Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve right on the edge of the Mississippi River, offering live music, fireworks and a New Orleans twist on the ball drop, featuring the iconic fleur-de-lis in Jackson Square.
If you’re traveling with the family, head to Zoo Year’s Eve at the Audubon Zoo for costumed characters, a kid-friendly “midnight’ toast” in the afternoon, and a unique wildlife bash. You can also check out New Year’s Eve Kids’ Countdown to Noon at the Louisiana Children’s Museum for an exhibit-paired-party perfect for ages 1 to 12. For a slice of the legendary night-life of the French Quarter, wander down the blocks of Bourbon Street to experience “balcony bashes” from bars like Bourbon Cowboy, full of bead tossing, and majestic views of the nearby Mississippi. Or, ride the river aboard the Paddlewheeler, feast on famous Creole fare, and toast to the new year ahead while you watch fireworks on the water.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Leave it to America’s Playground to offer some of the most wild and outrageous ways to celebrate the new year. New Year’s Eve means the entire Las Vegas Strip is shut down to traffic to create a single giant block party that averages around 300,000 people each year. At midnight, the casinos launch a choreographed all-out fireworks show, while each casino offers a night of world-class performances and parties.
This year’s New Year’s Eve lineup includes Cirque du Soleil shows such as Michael Jackson’s One and Mystére, in addition to legendary stage performances by Madonna, Third Eye Blind, Christina Aguilera, Journey, Criss Angel, and David Copperfield. For a VIP experience, check out the New Year’s Eve Tower Party at the STRAT offering a breathtaking 360-degree view of Sin City’s skyline, or button up your suit and head to the Vintage Vegas New Year’s Eve Party at Ron DeCar’s Event Center for an elegant party and lavish buffet.
To welcome the new year at the beachside, head to Miami’s South Beach at 9th and Ocean Drive, claim your spot on the sand, bring a picnic basket, and enjoy a free fireworks show. If you’re looking for a big bash, head to one of the hotels along South Beach like the Casa Victoria Orchid for a New Year’s celebration full of flowing champagne and specialty cocktails. Other hot spots include the drop of a 35-foot neon orange icon with sunglasses called “The Big Orange Drop” and fireworks at Bayfront Park in downtown Miami, all hosted by Pitbull at a New Year’s Eve celebration constantly touted as one of the top choices each year.
For your final culinary experience of the year, try The Wharf Miami – a stylish space along the Miami River that brings in the New Year with a host of famous local chefs and midnight fireworks. Or for an off-the-beaten-path New Year’s celebration, head to Luminosa for a journey through the jungle with hand-crafted Chinese lanterns, exploring wildlife, birds, blooms, and even an underwater tapestry full of fish, turtles, and manatees which leads you to South Beach so you can join the rest of the festivities to follow.
Hau’oli Makahiki Hou means Happy New Year in Hawaiian, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try it out if you head to Honolulu to ring in the new year. The Paradise of the Pacific’s capital offers a warm option to toast to fresh beginnings and tons of different ways to do it. Start the evening off by heading down the famous surfing neighborhood Waikiki, put on your finest roaring ‘20s outfit and begin the new year in style with Tiki’s Waikiki 2020 New Year’s Eve Soiree Dinner & Party. Then wander down to the beach, offering views of the pristine ocean, and a shoreline full of high-rise hotels.
Midnight fireworks are preceded by a count-down firework every minute from 11:55 to midnight, launched from a barge and sparkling in the night sky in the shapes of palm trees, rings, strobes, colorful falling leaves, and willows that drop into the ocean. Looking for something a little more swanky? Head to the New Year’s Eve Party at RumFire, an oceanfront poolside nightclub located at the Sheraton Waikiki. This year’s theme is Rio Carnival, promising spectacular dancing and dazzling displays of color, offering guests a view of Waikiki’s fireworks when the clock strikes twelve.
Lake Tahoe, California & Nevada
Lake Tahoe’s slopes offer unique ways to start off the new year that are as exciting as a freshly powdered snowfall. If you’re looking to ski, spend the last day of the year on Mt. Rose resort and join in the Poker Run, where participants must ski or snowboard to five different checkpoints on the mountain and draw a card at each one. Whoever reaches the bottom with the best poker hand wins the day.
As midnight approaches, you can either join or watch the festivities on the mountain, complete with snowcats and a human torchlight parade made up of skiers and boarders who zip down the mountain in a single-file line holding sparklers. The outdoor festivities conclude with an evening fireworks display, then move indoors for drinks and a live DJ. For a different mountain experience, head to Squaw Valley with the kiddos and catch the world’s largest torchlight parade consisting of roughly 3,000 participants over a duration of one and a half hours, carrying colorful LEDs down the 3.2-mile Mountain Run. Stick around for glow stick carnival games, live music, drinks, and a New York-style ball drop at the Olympic House.
From DJs to ballrooms and fine dining, Chicago offers a wide menu for counting down to the new year . The annual Chicago Resolution Gala includes over 30 bars offering unlimited drinks, delectable buffet stations, access to the Grand Ballroom, views from the Lakeview Terrace, and live music with plenty of dancing at Navy Pier. Another option is the Crystal Gardens New Years Eve, where NBC will be broadcasting live for the 3rd straight year. The party features a red carpet for the snaps, over 20 premium liquor bars, live DJs, a private terrace for the fireworks display, and a midnight champagne toast.
You can also hit the waters of Lake Michigan for the best view of the fireworks and the shining iconic skyline by booking one of Chicago’s many dinner cruise options, or grab a spot on the Chicago Riverwalk to catch a mile-long fireworks show from different bridges and barges down the Chicago River as the clock strikes midnight. For a break from the bars and buffets, try Zoo Year’s Eve at the Lincoln Park Zoo where you can enjoy the animals and see a myriad of lights illuminate one of Chicago’s most beautiful parks.
The live music capital of the world doesn’t disappoint on the eve of a new decade, with plenty of ways to dance and shake your way into 2020. Catch electro-swing from DJ Phauxkis as you sip classic cocktails from the 1920s at the Roosevelt Room’s annual Roaring 20s Party, or shuffle your way through the decades with DJs who play requests from any era all night at The Water Trough.
You can usually find Willie Nelson at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater doing his duty to properly welcome Austin into the new year, or head to The Paramount to see for beloved Austin artist Bob Scheider’s New Year’s Eve Party. If you’re travelling with the whole family, head to Austin’s New Year at Auditorium Shores kicking off at 3pm and offering three stages of live music, food, art, face painting, train rides and more.
Due to its’ time zone, Maine is one of the first states in the country to celebrate the new year. Portland sits on the Casco Bay with river and mountain views that are hard to top and a plethora New Year’s festivities to choose from. Dawn a mask, dress up in your finest, then head to The Maine Table for a 1920s Masquerade Ball for a modern spin on a classic tradition. Special guest DJ Stormin’ Normin will help kick off a quirky night with a showdown of The Main Table’s Karaoke Contest’s finalists, followed by a playlist of songs that jumps through different decades, and culminating in a grand count down and champagne toast at midnight.
Still want to dress your finest, but want to ditch the mask? Head to Prohibition New Year’s Eve at Erik’s Church for specialty cocktails and a three-course dinner menu. Once the plates are cleared, so are the chairs as Stolen Mojo kicks off the swinging that lasts until after midnight. Looking for something unusual? Try New Year’s Planetarium 2020 at the University of Southern Maine where they showcase the year’s most popular shows throughout the evening, following by the Times Square ball drop on the full dome projector.
Wherever you decide to ring in the new year, make sure you start off the year right with an experience you won’t forget. VacationRenter can help you book a stay and plan the best trip possible. Allow us to help you end the decade right. Cheers!