Seeking alternatives to watching the ball drop in Times Square? We’ve curated a handful of other amazing locales across the United States for your consideration. If you can’t make it to one of these spots this year, it’s never too early to start planning for 2023.
Andy Newman Key West celebration. Photo courtesy of Florida Keys & Key West
KEY WEST, FLORIDA
If warm temperatures aren’t enough to lure you to the Florida Keys in winter, its quirky twists on the Times Square ball drop might inspire you to make the journey. One is hailed as the Red Shoe Drop. Beloved Key West drag queen, Sushi, hosts this event while dangling above the crowds of Duval Street in a super-sized red high heel that’s lowered at midnight. Another colorful take is the Annual Dropping of the Conch Shell. This happens at dive bar Sloppy Joe’s, and as the title aptly describes, a giant conch is lowered into a sea of bikini-clad partygoers at midnight. A third option can be found at the Key West Historic Seaport, where 15 hours of live music leads up to the annual Lowering of the Pirate Wench.
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
Mardi Gras isn’t the only big party in New Orleans. The city woos New Year’s revelers to its French Quarter, the city’s colorful epicenter of joie de vivre, for a turbo-charged lineup of festivities. Things kick off with a daytime Mardi Gras-style parade on New Year’s Eve to celebrate the city hosting the Allstate Sugar Bowl (Jan. 1). As nighttime descends, partygoers can participate in the Crescent City Countdown in Jackson Square, where a giant fleur-de-lis drops from the old Jax Brewery and fireworks light up the midnight skies above the Mississippi River.
Fireworks over Niagara Falls. Photo courtesy of Stephen Matera Destination Niagara USA
NIAGARA FALLS, NEW YORK
The illuminated falls of Niagara make for a mesmerizing focal point, especially on the eve of a new year full of hope and promise. The nighttime illumination is viewable from both Niagara Falls State Park (U.S. side) and Queen Victoria Park (Canada side), as are the fireworks, which take place twice: 8 p.m. and midnight. For those on the Canadian side, the Winter Festival of Lights (through Feb. 20, 2023) is an additional spectacle to behold: More than 3 million dazzling lights and interactive displays create a nighttime winter wonderland for a 5-mile stretch near the Falls. For those on the U.S. side, parties can be found at local hotels and restaurants framing the Falls. This includes a family-friendly celebration at the Niagara Falls Convention Center that includes a petting zoo, balloon and airbrush artists, dancing, and a balloon drop.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
It’s hard to be bored in Las Vegas. On New Year’s Eve, consider it impossible. First, there’s a crazy amount of live entertainment and nightlife to keep revelers going, with artists such as Bruno Mars, Tiesto, The Chainsmokers, and "RuPaul’s Drag Race" winner Bob the Drag Queen, each headlining NYE performances at concert venues and clubs across the city. Along with the indoor entertainment, revelers can be dazzled by what’s outside. Sin City hosts “America’s Party,” a major fireworks display, with resorts up and down the Las Vegas Strip firing off pyrotechnic wonders to light up the night sky. You could enjoy the views from the Strip (which is only open to pedestrians for the holiday) or from the comfort of the VIP section at a sky-high cocktail lounge.
Nashville Big Bash. Photo courtesy of Nashville Convention Visitors Corp.
Dust off the cowboy hat for a New Year’s Eve experience in Nashville. Music City draws revelers to its honkytonks, farm-to-table restaurants, and its star-studded event—Jack Daniel’s New Year’s Eve Live: Nashville’s Big Bash. The free event is held at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park and will feature Brooks & Dunn, Kelsea Ballerini, and the Zac Brown Band, among many others. "
It’s not just fireworks that light up the slopes of this mountain town on New Year’s Eve. A parade of ski instructors and Vail locals, glow sticks in hand, form an illuminated train that descends Golden Peak for the annual Torchlight Parade. This spectacle is pretty much visible across Vail’s streets and restaurants. Since it’s Vail Mountain’s 60th anniversary season, there will be a more pronounced celebration this year, with champagne toasts, balloon drops, and post-skiing parties across Vail’s restaurants, bars, and resorts that are also ringing in this anniversary milestone.
Say aloha to 2023 in Hawaii. The island of Oahu offers both an urban and tropical experience for those basing themselves in Honolulu. Dazzling fireworks light up the skies above Waikiki Beach at the stroke of midnight, while resorts and nightclubs host a variety of lavish soirees. And, of course, there are the luaus. The Waikiki Starlight Luau at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort and the Rock-a-Hula (which features an Elvis impersonator) are popular NYE options.
San AntonioNew Years party. Photo courtesy of San Antonio Parks Foundation
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
Yee-haw, warm winter weather. Thanks to the mild temps in Texas, most NYE events in San Antonio are held outdoors. The town’s biggest event is Celebrate SA, a family-friendly event that features two stages of live music, food and beverages, games and activities, and a midnight fireworks show. This free event is within walking distance from the famed Riverwalk, a dynamic area where restaurants and hotels offer special celebratory dinners (Tex-Mex, anyone?) and rooftop viewing parties for the fireworks show.
Don’t be shy about requesting that bubbly to go. You're allowed to carry open drinks in Savannah's historic district (as long as they are in a transparent plastic cup). Stroll vibrant River Street with your favorite libation in hand, hopping from bar to bar, as you journey to Savannah’s City Market, which hosts free live music all night long. Another option: Book a riverboat cruise for a NYE sailing that’ll provide prime viewing for Savannah’s waterfront fireworks show at midnight.
NYE is an elevated affair in Napa. This is especially true if you’re willing to splurge at its Michelin-star restaurants and luxury resorts, all of which host special events that, of course, feature the region’s renowned wine. A unique option is the Napa Valley Wine Train. Enjoy a luxurious NYE meal while riding in a vintage railcar whose windows provide views of a vineyard-rich landscape. If delectable dinners and soirees aren’t your scene, consider retreating to a private cottage at Carneros Resort and Spa where you can order a bottle of champagne delivered to your room and enjoy the serenity of the Northern California setting.