12 U.S. Cities That Are Better Than Times Square for New Year's Eve

U.S. Cities For New Year's Eve


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U.S. Cities For New Year's Eve

NYE Beyond the Big Apple

New York City's Times Square is undoubtedly one of the most popular places in the world to ring in a new year. But it's hardly the only place as cities around the U.S. have really stepped up their game. Travelers are heading in droves to destinations like Key West, New Orleans, and Honolulu. Here are some of the places outside the Big Apple where revellers can find a noteworthy New Year's Eve bash.

new_years_eve_2012_fireworks_nola-07881.jpg by enigmaarts (CC BY-NC-ND)

New Orleans

New Orleans is known for throwing legendary parties and free fun. Jackson Square, in the heart of NOLA's historic French Quarter, is where revelers will find bands and entertainers throughout the night. At midnight, there's a famous fleur de lis drop while fireworks light up the sky over the Mississippi River. Bars and nightclubs along Bourbon Street will also be celebrating all night long.

Happy New Years 2012!!!
Happy New Years 2012!!! by Brandon Watts (CC BY-NC-SA)

Orlando, Florida

When it comes to an especially memorable, family-friendly good time, few places beat Walt Disney World's New Year's Eve extravaganza. The Magic Kingdom hosts a long list of events, including a family feast at the Epcot and a Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks at Magic Kingdom park, which is billed as a spectacular frenzy of color and light. There will also be a New Year's Eve countdown and fireworks at Epcot and dance parties at the Disney's Frontierland and Tomorrowland.

Related: 26 Ways to Do Disney on a Budget



No need to brave frigid temps on New Year's Eve when Honolulu hotels and resorts host massive bashes. From its prime perch on famed Waikiki Beach, The Sheraton Waikiki hosts an outdoor party where four DJs entertain a crowd of thousands. The evening will of course include fireworks at midnight. At the Hilton Hawaiian Village, fireworks at 11 p.m. will top off a dinner and musical show.

Related: 20 Tips for Visiting Hawaii on a Budget

Atlanta NYE


Who needs a ball drop in New York when there's a peach drop in Atlanta? Atlanta has been celebrating with a falling 800-pound fiberglass fruit for the past three decades. The party includes entertainers, DJs and live shows by well-known musicians. The city is also famous for its New Year's Eve dance parties, such as Atlanta NYElectric 2020, where four DJs will spin music for some 2,000 people.

Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California

Many Angelenos head a bit south on New Year's Eve to witness the spectacular fireworks display in the ocean front city of Long Beach. The show attracts thousands of people. There's also a famed bash aboard the Queen Mary, docked in Long Beach. Entertainment on board includes the Columbian music group La Sonora Dinamita and a hidden speakeasy. Of course, there are also stellar views of the fireworks from the ship.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas

Sin City's annual celebration shuts down the entire strip to traffic, creating a massive block party atmosphere. Come midnight there's a choreographed fireworks display from the casinos that some say makes New York City's show look tame in comparison. Revelers can also usher in the new year with Trey Songz and Meek Mill at Drai's Nightclub or Third Eye Blind at House of Blues, some of many notable shows taking place.

Related: 36 Free and Cheap Things to Do in Las Vegas

Boston Fireworks


Boston's most famous New Year's Eve bash is known as First Night. This massive event has been taking place since 1975 and includes a variety of entertainment and attractions in the city's Copley Square and Back Bay neighborhoods. Highlights include musical performances, remarkable ice sculptures, and light displays. There are also fireworks earlier in the evening for the little ones. Celebrations here also spill over into First Day, during which there's more live entertainment.

Nashville, Tennessee
Jason Davis/Stringer/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images North America

Nashville, Tennessee

It should be no surprise that a city known for its music throws a memorable New Year's Eve bash. The party, which is free and open to the public, includes performances from such big names as Keith Urban and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. At midnight, there are fireworks and a giant music note drop against the backdrop of the iconic State Capitol building. It is Music City after all.

Related: 36 Bucket-List Destinations for Music Lovers

New Year's Eve fireworks, San Francisco

San Francisco

The Golden Gate Bridge makes a pretty memorable backdrop for this city's New Year's Eve celebration, the highlight of which is the fireworks display over the bay. Hundreds of thousands gather on the city's waterfront for the spectacle. It's just one of many events taking place in the city. This year, the San Francisco Symphony's famous annual bash will be headlined by drag sensation Peaches Christ, Jane Lynch, and Cheyenne Jackson.  

Key West, Florida

Key West, Florida

Among the many highlights here is the lowering of a drag queen on Duval Street from one of the island bars. The descending diva is just one opportunity to see something locally unique lowered in the moments before midnight. Other venues lower a conch shell (at Sloppy Joe's) or a pirate wench from the mast of a schooner (at the Historic Seaport).

Denver, Colorado


Named one of Travel + Leisure's top cities for New Year's Eve, Denver offers fireworks, concerts and family friendly events. Most of the fun centers around downtown Denver, where there are two firework shows, one at 9 p.m. and another at midnight. Costumed entertainers will also interact with crowds in between the shows, including magicians, balloon artists, stilt walkers and comedians.

Palm Springs fireworks show
Palm Springs fireworks show by Raymond Shobe (CC BY-SA)

Palm Springs, California

What does Palm Springs have that New York doesn't? It's what it doesn't have that matters on New Year's Eve: Snow and bitter cold. Here, a Dance Through the Decades at the Agua Caliente Casino is just one notable part of the city's festivities. There will also be an outdoor block party that lasts until 1 a.m., DJ music, a kid zone, beer garden and of course, fireworks at midnight.