If you're looking to celebrate New Year's Eve in a big way, California's cities and towns have lots to offer. You can go to a dance party or a music festival, watch fireworks up close or see them from a distance.
These are some ideas for the best ways to kick off the new year in the Golden State.
New Year's Eve in Los Angeles
This guide won't try to fill you in on every block party, street soiree, and popping champagne cork in all of Los Angeles. Instead, it focuses on just a few things that are so much fun that they might make you pack your bags and travel to LA just to enjoy them.
- EVE at Universal Studios is billed as Hollywood's biggest New Year's Eve Party. Spend the day getting scared silly, splashed, and shaken on the rides, then stay for the party, which includes dancing, drinks, and midnight fireworks.
- Grand Park + The Music Center’s N.Y.E.L.A. in downtown includes a light show and 3-D digital video projection on the side of the City Hall building.
- Marina Del Rey on the coast south of Santa Monica celebrates the New Year twice with at 8:59 p.m. and again at 11:59 p.m. Their "Glow Party" at Burton Chace Park starts at 7 p.m.– Admission is free, and food is available for purchase.
- New Year's Eve in Long Beach: You can celebrate the new year in all kinds of ways in Long Beach, including a family-friendly celebration at the waterfront, harbor cruises, and dance parties at the Queen Mary, Aquarium of the Pacific, and downtown hotels.
- Wait for the Rose Parade: The parade takes place on New Year's Day, but more people than you can imagine arrive on New Year's Eve afternoon to stake out a viewing spot along the street, as early as the local police will let them. The all-night party along the boulevard is hard to believe unless you see it. Hint: Don't forget your Silly String and marshmallows.
Besides these highlighted activities, you'll find more Los Angeles New Year's Eve parties in this guide.
Host Your Own Private Party: Here's an idea you might not have considered, but it's a perfect fit if you like a little celebration but prefer not to get out in the middle of a big crowd. Find a vacation rental with great city views at Airbnb or HomeAway.com. Use Google Maps' street view and ask questions to ensure that any photos of the view were taken from the rental and not somewhere else nearby. Hang out with your favorite beverage, and enjoy the fireworks going off all over town. Party hats are optional.
New Year's Eve in the Rest of Southern California
New Year's Eve in the Orange County Theme Parks: Disneyland stays open late to bring in the New Year, but it's very crowded, sometimes so packed that they stop admitting guests by afternoon. All those people make a Ridemax itinerary not just a good idea but a necessity.
Knotts Berry Farm celebrates New Year's Eve with fireworks, which are included in their regular admission price.
New Year's on Catalina Island: The Casino Ballroom is an especially festive place to dance in the New Year, with "big band" music in a glamorous venue.
New Year's Eve in San Francisco
The prominent San Francisco New Year's event is the fireworks display, which goes off at the end of Market Street above the Ferry Building. Admission is free, and you can see it from many places, but the best spot is south of the Ferry Building along the Embarcadero between Mission and Folsom Streets.
You can also use the guide to New Year's Eve in San Francisco to find parties and other great things to do for non-dancers and non-drinkers.
New Year's Eve in the Rest of California
Sacramento: The state capital hosts two fireworks displays during their year-end Sky Spectacular: an early one accompanied by family-friendly tunes and a midnight show with rock music.
Yosemite National Park: The Ahwahnee Hotel throws a New Year's Eve party in their gorgeous dining room that includes a six-course meal and dancing. After that, you can start your new year with a hike or tour of the big trees.
Lake Tahoe: At Tahoe, you can celebrate the end of the year in style in several ways. December 31 is also the last day of the Snowglobe Music Festival. When the new year begins, you'll be in the perfect position to start it by skiing at one of the area resorts. All of that comes at a price: Lake Tahoe is among the most expensive places in California to ring in the new year.