9 Best US Cities to Celebrate New Year’s Eve (Sorry, New York Didn’t Make the Cut)

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There’s nothing like ringing in the New Year with a fun celebration in a vibrant city with your best friends or family.  Whether you want to celebrate with fireworks, parties, great food, or family attractions, we picked out the best cities to have a New Year’s Eve trip of a lifetime. 

Because New Year’s Eve is on a Monday this year, it’s a great excuse to book a long-weekend trip!  Be sure to check out our list of the best travel credit cards to learn how just one lucrative sign-up bonus could save you money on a trip to one of the destinations on our list.

If you’re looking to save on New Year’s Eve activities, you might consider adding the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card to your wallet.  This card comes with a $300 welcome bonus after spending $3,000 in the first three months.  And you can earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, which can come in handy for New Year’s Eve spending!  You can read our full review of the Capital One Savor.

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It’s Almost Time to Party Like It’s 2019! Check Out Our List of the 9 Best US Cities to Spend December 31!

We intentionally left New York off our list because let’s face it, who wants to wait in the cold for 12+ hours crammed into a crowd of 1 million people and unable to use a restroom?  Plus, everyone already knows New York is a classic place to bring in the New Year.

So, in no particular order, here’s our list of 9 fantastic US cities to celebrate New Year’s Eve!

1.   New Orleans, Louisiana

NOLA baby!  I can’t think of a better destination to ring in the New Year than the cultural melting pot that is New Orleans.  With options for young party goers or those interested in a laid back, family celebration, there is truly something for everyone in New Orleans.

New Orleans goes all out for New Year’s celebrations, especially in the French Quarter and Jackson Square.  Jackson Square is the “New Orleans version” of Times Square.  This is where everyone gathers to witness “the ball drop” and, of course, party, listen to live music and ring in the New Year.

If you’re looking for a more traditional New Orleans party night, the French Quarter will be crowded with people ready to rage with people drinking on balconies, loud music in the streets, dancing everywhere, and great people watching.  

New Orleans Is a Fun Party City and Awesome Place to Celebrate the New Year!

If you’re with kiddos, there is a party in the Audubon Zoo that runs from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm.  Here, you can check out the wildlife, eat treats, and enjoy a “noon” celebration.  There is also an annual noon countdown at the Louisiana Children’s Museum with crafts, music, noisemakers and tons of kid-friendly activities.

2.   Honolulu, Hawaii

What could be better than a warm New Year’s Eve getaway and an oceanside fireworks show followed by a beach bonfire party?  

While Honolulu isn’t known for a party scene, it has one of the best low key, beachfront parties, and is a great spot to celebrate with your friends or family.  For a mellower eve, we recommend finding a quiet beach spot, bringing a picnic blanket, champagne, and dinner and lounging all night on the sand until the firework show starts.

Be sure to check out our guide to using miles & points to save on flights to Hawaii!

Why Not Travel to Hawaii to Celebrate the Start of 2019!

We hear the authentic Hawaiian celebration of music, dancing, and cocktails will keep you coming back to this magical place year after year!

3.   Nashville, Tennessee

The town of Nashville ranks #1 for live music, so it’s only natural it would make our list for a New Year’s Eve celebration!

The artists, bands, and performers that come for New Year’s Eve are OFF THE CHARTS.  And heading south to Nashville to ring in 2019 is definitely something to try if you like to rock.

Check out the Jack Daniel’s Music City Midnight Celebration for the ultimate one-stop music shop for your New Year’s Eve Celebration.  Artists like Keith Urban, Peter Frampton, and more classic rock and country bands will play through the night.

Nashville is such a cool city so make sure you leave time to explore while you’re down.   The city is full of rich history, museums, and an amazing culinary scene.

The combination of insane food, good music, and rich culture makes Nashville one of the best places to celebrate.  Be sure to check out one of the many parties offered at venues like the UP Rooftop Lounge, Acme’s or New Year’s Eve at Tin Roof.

4.   Orlando, Florida

Orlando is a classic spot to celebrate the new year with your family because not only is it the top city for family trips and all-in-one resorts, but Orlando is known for having epic New Year’s celebrations and unforgettable firework displays.

If you have kids or enjoy a good theme park, head to Disney World to celebrate in the Magic Kingdom Park with DJ dance parties and an amazing firework display (it will be crowded).

Epcot is also infamous for its celebrations with live music at the America Gardens Theater, a massive fireworks show around the lagoon, and epic dance parties that go on all night.

Team Member Keith Says the New Year’s Eve Fireworks Show at Epcot in 2018 Was Spectacular!

There are amazing dining options available, including New Year’s Eve dinner at the World Showplace Pavilion with mouth-watering food, drinks, and an epic kids menu.  Other delicious dinner spots include Il Mulino, Chef Mickey’s, and Monsieur Paul.  We recommend making reservations early if you want to eat in Disney World over the holidays!

5.   Telluride, Colorado

What is better than celebrating the New Year in a winter wonderland like Telluride, Colorado?  Not much in my opinion! 

The skiing and riding in Telluride are unparalleled and the best way to spend your day if you like the big mountains.  You can also enjoy roaming the streets of the old mining town, getting a world-class spa treatment at The Peaks, or trying another winter activities, like cross-country skiing or sledding in the town park.  

Skiing, Drinking, Dining, Massages…Telluride Sounds Perfect for the New Year

Around the holidays, the bars are packed with lively locals and visitors all afternoon and into the evening with live music and drink specials.

When it comes time for the New Year’s countdown, the entire town empties into the blocked-off main street and the countdown begins at the infamous Telluride clock tower.  A DJ starts and ends the party in the street, but the bars stay open until 3:00 am.  So, if you are looking for a laid back, cozy, mountain-town adventure for New Years, be sure to check out Telluride.

6.   Las Vegas, Nevada

As we all know, there is no party like a Vegas party.  And for New Year’s Eve, you can even catch a glimpse of the fireworks show on the Las Vegas Strip! 

Do It Big This Year and Travel to Vegas to Party for the New Year

And if you want the best light show you’ve ever experienced, I recommend checking out the Hyde Bellagio, which throws one of the best New Year’s Eve parties.

You can check a list of all the Las Vegas New Year’s Eve parties here.

7.   Lake Tahoe, California

Lake Tahoe is known for its world-class ski and snowboard scene and holiday season vibe.  With some of the highest snowfall in the country, Tahoe has incredible skiing, terrain and snow quality making it a great place to celebrate the New Year if you want to get in a bit of exercising and fresh mountain air before celebrating.

There Is Nothing I Would Rather Do Than Ski Into the New Year in Lake Tahoe

New Year’s Eve in Tahoe brings a mountain-town, music lovers crowd that is ready to party with the new Snow Globe music festival.  The line up this year includes Diplo, RL Grimes, and Sofi Tukker.  Even if electronic music festivals are not your thing, the lively energy in the base village and around town will make for a great New Year celebration no matter where you end up.

There are tons of great lodging options in Lake Tahoe, ranging from hotels to a cozy Airbnb.  Be sure to check out our post with ideas for using your Hyatt or Chase Ultimate Rewards points in Lake Tahoe! 

8.   Miami, Florida

Being one of the best party destinations in the world, Miami had to be on our list!  Although the bars and activities can get expensive, the celebrations are worth it!

Relax Poolside at the 1 Hotel in South Beach!

Team member Keith and his wife spent New Year’s Eve in Miami a few years back and they had fun celebrating at Fontainebleau Miami Beach, an iconic luxury resort that is a great place to spend bring in the New Year.  You can also consider going to the top rated End of the World Party at the W Hotel.  The futuristic theme and decor encourages guests to dress up and immerse themselves in the future of 2099.  

If live music is more your thing, check out Pitbull at the Bayfront Park where he performs every New Year’s Eve.

9.   Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles is a great place to visit at any time of the year because of the beautiful weather!  So why not for December 31?  You can celebrate the New Year in beach towns like Santa Monica or Manhattan Beach.  Or party inland in West Hollywood or Downtown Los Angeles.

Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Sunny Southern California!

For families, consider a trip to Marina del Rey’s New Year’s Eve fireworks show.  They have a 30-second countdown at 9:00 pm so the little ones can get to bed!

What are your favorite spots to celebrate the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019?  Comment below! 

Million Mile Secrets features a team of points and miles experts who have traveled to over 80 countries and have used 60+ credit cards responsibly to accumulate loyalty points and travel the world on the cheap! The Million Mile Secrets team has been featured on The Points Guy, TIME, Yahoo Finance and many other leading points & miles media outlets.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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