New Year's Eve cities to celebrate

Top Party Cities for New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is one of the biggest holidays for celebrations and travel. Over 125 million people will hit the roads, skies, and rails to ring in the new year. During the festivities, Americans will consume over 360 million glasses of sparkling wine and champagne. If you have a fear of missing out, do not fret. We will outline the top party cities for New Year’s Eve.

WalletHub’s 2023 study compares America’s 100 biggest cities across 26 key measures of an epic New Year’s celebration. Factors include everything from the legality of fireworks and nightlife options to food affordability and forecasted precipitation. Beyond an overall score, the analysis provides separate rankings for costs and safety & accessibility. So, travelers can choose a destination based on what is most important to them.

Based on overall scores, here are the top cities for New Year’s Eve.

Orlando

top cities for New Year's Eve - Orlando
Orlando. Photo credit: sepavone via Deposit Photos

While New York City may get most of the attention, Orlando quietly sneaks in as the winner. Whether you want to celebrate at a world-class theme park, hotel, or house, Orlando provides attractive options. Many travelers visit Disney World to hang out with Mickey Mouse and his friends or Universal Studios to celebrate with Harry Potter-themed food and drinks. However, Orlando brings more than theme parks to the table.

The city offers a vibrant nightlife and scores well for affordable restaurants with a minimum of 4.5 stars. Orlando has the most party supply stores and received the second-highest score for gourmet food stores. Travelers will discover many fireworks displays. Consumer fireworks are legal in Orlando for those who want a more personal display.

San Diego

Are you still expecting New York? Not just yet. With mild weather and the lowest chance of precipitation, San Diego is perfect for outdoor gatherings and observing fireworks. No wonder it has the highest Google search numbers for “New Year’s Eve party” and “New Year’s Eve dinner.” 

San Diego ties Orlando for the most affordable, high-quality restaurants. Visitors seeking something different can check out the San Diego Zoo or the Old Globe Theater. 

New York

Fashionably late, New York comes in at number three. So, how is New York, not number one, you ask? It all comes down to price. The average cost for couples to enjoy dinner and a show on New Year’s Eve in New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago is $872.

On the positive side, visitors can brag about attending the famous celebration. How legendary is the New York New Year’s Eve party? Approximately 1 million people participate in person, and another billion watch it live. Beyond the essential party, New York offers robust nightlife options, many music venues, and lengthy fireworks shows.

Las Vegas

Sin City ranks fourth overall for New Year’s Eve celebrations. Las Vegas offers many performances, gourmet restaurants, bars, and dance clubs. Casinos are nearly as abundant as the glitz and glam. Everything about it exudes party.

On New Year’s Eve, the Las Vegas Strip is closed to traffic, transforming the city into a giant block party for about 300,000 people. Guests get treated to an extensive choreographed fireworks show at midnight.

Atlanta

You may be surprised to find Atlanta at number five. Beyond the city’s charm and rich history, it offers some unique New Year’s Eve activities. College football fans rejoice as the city ushers in the new year with the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Atlanta is renowned for its live concerts and late-night parties. 

Travelers will discover many beautiful hotels and accommodations from downtown to the upscale Buckhead neighborhood. For families with children, the Atlanta LEGO Discovery Center hosts its annual Noon Year’s Eve Celebration, which includes a LEGO ball drop and toasts with glasses of sparkling apple cider.

Safety and Accessibility

Safest city for New Year's Eve - Lincoln, NE
Lincoln, Nebraska. Photo credit: mandritoiu via Deposit Photos

Some travelers prioritize other factors over the best party or entertainment options. The WalletHub study shines in this regard, ranking the top cities for safety & accessibility and cost.

Where can travelers go for the safest New Year’s experience or accessibility? The top five ranked cities are:

  • Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Irvine, California
  • Jersey City, New Jersey
  • Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky
  • Raleigh, North Carolina

Most Affordable 

Most affordable city for New Year's Eve - Fort Wayne, IN
Fort Wayne, Indiana. Photo credit: cboswell via Deposit Photos

WalletHub provides valuable insight into the most affordable cities for New Year’s Eve so travelers can choose a destination that does not drain their savings. 

Cassandra Happe, WalletHub Analyst, says, “When choosing which city to spend New Year’s in, it’s important to consider a variety of factors, from the activities offered to how big the crowds will be to what weather you can expect. The biggest concern has to be the cost. Hotels and restaurants may hike their prices significantly for the holiday, which puts an extra strain on people’s wallets after they have already been hit hard by inflation.”

The highest-ranking locations with cost as the primary factor are:

  • Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • El Paso, Texas
  • Glendale, Arizona
  • Gilbert, Arizona
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma

Money-saving Tips for New Year’s Travelers

How can travelers save money when planning a trip to celebrate the new year?

Karin Curran, Assistant Professor of Accounting & Finance at Nichols College, says, “If you are traveling for New Year’s, there are a few money-saving tips to help with the budget. When booking hotels, find one that offers free breakfast and parking. Make sure there is a refrigerator and a microwave, as that gives you the option to save leftovers from expensive dinners that can be eaten for lunch the next day.”

Claire Stewart, Associate Professor, Department of Hospitality Management – New York City College of Technology, City University of New York, says, “You may consider making travel expenses part of holiday gifts; rather than buy a Christmas present for a spouse, for instance, agree to make travel a mutual gift. Exchange a small or sentimental gift, and then funnel money into the vacation rather than into possessions.”

Celebrating at Home

If you decide to stay in during the festivities, there is no reason to feel embarrassed. WalletHub reveals that 24% of Americans plan to celebrate New Year’s Eve at home.

Regardless of where and how you celebrate New Year’s Eve, prioritize safety. May we all be blessed in the new year.

Featured image credit: last19 via Deposit Photos

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Scott And Julie McConkey

After 30 years, Scott and Julie McConkey left the corporate world for a life of travel and adventure. What started as a gap year became a second act, and they are now full-time travel bloggers!
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