Slipping away from New York can sometimes be your best bet on New Year's Eve, when the city devolves into an overcrowded, overpriced, and over-served reptile zoo—without any cabs. Consider singing "Auld Lang Syne" far away from the pandemonium of Times Square at one of these alternative destinations.
WEST VIRGINIA: The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs
Because what you have in mind for the last night of 2015 is a whole lot of luxurious nothing—grand, old-school National-Historic-Landmark-resort, mineral-springs-in-the-mountains kind of nothing. Granted, The Greenbrier will offer up an elegant, black-tie affair in its sumptuous Chesapeake Room, featuring the splendid sounds of The Springhouse Orchestra. But blissful peace and quiet is accessible in a room situated away from the event where you won't know anything but the quiet pleasure of a warm, comfortable repose in the midst of a 10,000-acre retreat in the Allegheny Mountains.
New Year, New You
Need a reset for 2016? Cari Cohen is Greenbrier's on-site spiritual healer and teacher and available for guided meditation, meditative movement, or chakra cleansing.
Twenty-four U.S. presidents, dating back to 1838, have taken advantage of this sulphur-rich water therapy, which claims to ease tired muscles and stimulate the circulatory system.
PHILLY: SugarHouse Casino's New Year's Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront
There are two fireworks displays—one at 6 p.m. and another at midnight—on the Delaware River Waterfront. There's also ice-skating on the waterfront, if you want to fit in a little cardio in the closing hours of 2015. If you want an even closer view of the fireworks, have dinner on the world's only restaurant on a tall ship, the Moshulu.
Then, on New Year's Day, the beloved Mummers Parade, which started in Philly in 1901, is quite an experience. Lavishly costumed Mummers (German for "pantomime" or "masquerade") start strutting and sashaying southward down Broad Street from City Hall at 10 a.m.
You don't want to travel that far, you're not necessarily looking for a big party, or you have a real jones for Mummers.
Where to Stay?
Hilton Philadelphia at Penn's Landing. Close to the action, comfortable, and affordable.
Still have a grip on the Christmas spirit? The Walnut Street Theatre (the most subscribed theater company in the world) presents A Christmas Story: The Musical through January 10th.
WASHINGTON, D.C.: The Gatsby Trilogy on the Potomac
Because you're dying to break out some Jazz Age threads and attitude while feasting and imbibing at Sequoia, the spectacular event venue on the Georgetown waterfront. The Gatsby event is sure to be a blast, with gourmet dinner buffets, open bars, multiple entertainment areas and more. Plus, you'll be able to spot fireworks across the river shooting high above downtown Alexandria, Virginia.
Where to Stay:
The swell fellas and dames with the Gatsby Trilogy operation arranged a special deal with Georgetown Suites, right down the street from Sequoia and close to DuPont Circle and Foggy Bottom.
Culture, Cute, Cuisine:
You've got nearly 200 museums to choose from, including plenty not on the National Mall—check out "Wonder" at the newly renovated Renwick Gallery, which showcases the work of nine contemporary artists in site-specific installations. Or visit Bei Bei, the new baby panda; the National Zoo opens at 9 a.m.on New Year's Day. Finally, be sure to keep these great new restaurants and bars in mind.
MIAMI: Pitbull's New Year's Eve Revolution at Bayfront Park
The lineup for Miami's free Pitbull NYE bash features Puff Daddy, Timbaland, some of the Empire cast (Jamal!), and of course its namesake host. There will be fireworks at midnight over Biscayne Bay, and the Norwegian Cruise Line Worldwide Food & Wine Party is running December 30 to January 1 at Bayfront Park, concurrent with the NYE celebration. (Advance tickets are advised.) The Weeknd is performing poolside at the iconic Fontainebleau in Miami Beach (tickets are steep, but include an open bar), or for $90 you can get in on the dance party at the retro Rec Room. Upstairs from the Rec Room, the Gale Hotel's rooftop party also sounds like a fun soiree. Miami New Times has a huge roundup of NYE options if you're getting serious about this.
You like the idea of midnight temps in the 60s? And a New Year's Day Polar Bear swim at one of Miami's warm, tropical beaches doesn't sound so bad either.
Where to Stay:
InterContinental Miami hotel at Chopin Plaza. The rise of the 35-foot neon Big Orange takes place on the side of this 34-story hotel overlooking Biscayne Bay adjacent to Bayfront Park.
Take a Bite:
Homesick? Check out the newly opened Izzy's Fish and Oyster, which offers New England-style seafood in a South Beach setting. Stop by for happy hour (5 p.m. to 7 p.m.) for half-price oysters or the "salty dog" basket of fried everything.
By T. Wayne Waters
Wayne Waters is a Pennsylvania-based wordsmith whose energetic sense of curiosity leads him to write about all sorts of things but most often about travel and adventure.