Times Square might be the most hashtag-worthy spot for ringing in the new year, but it's certainly not the best if you're a frugal partier seeking an equally grand experience.
Local businesses are notorious for hiking up their prices when big crowds are in town for a major event. That’s especially true for hotels, which can experience price increases of several hundred percent over the rest of the year. The last thing you want to do in the final hours of 2019 is ruin your finances over one night of entertainment.
Fortunately, you have plenty of fun yet affordable options for celebrating #NYE2020. To help you decide where to count down to the new year, WalletHub compared the 100 biggest cities based on 28 key indicators of an epic New Year’s Eve celebration. Our data set ranges from legality of fireworks to average price of a New Year’s Eve party ticket to forecasted precipitation for Dec. 31. Read on for the winners, insight from a panel of experts and a full description of our methodology.
Curious to know how much cash Americans plan to blow this New Year’s Eve or what makes this festive holiday so festive? Make sure to check out WalletHub’s “50+ New Year’s Eve Facts – Traditions, Spending & More” infographic.
Best Cities for New Year’s Eve
(1 = Best)
|City||Total Score||‘Entertainment & Food’ Rank||‘Costs’ Rank||‘Safety & Accessibility’ Rank|
|1||New York, NY||67.79||1||100||21|
|3||Las Vegas, NV||67.47||4||80||33|
|4||San Diego, CA||66.42||9||67||12|
|5||Los Angeles, CA||65.98||3||83||54|
|8||San Francisco, CA||62.59||2||98||52|
|13||San Antonio, TX||59.66||18||22||59|
|14||New Orleans, LA||59.33||11||72||92|
|32||Oklahoma City, OK||51.24||41||2||95|
|35||St. Louis, MO||50.90||24||52||91|
|39||El Paso, TX||50.47||62||8||37|
|40||Virginia Beach, VA||50.18||63||18||18|
|47||Colorado Springs, CO||48.47||56||34||39|
|49||Long Beach, CA||48.24||57||66||6|
|55||Fort Worth, TX||47.10||55||37||70|
|58||St. Paul, MN||46.96||65||63||7|
|61||St. Petersburg, FL||46.36||43||51||81|
|65||Kansas City, MO||46.05||52||44||80|
|72||Santa Ana, CA||44.48||50||89||14|
|74||San Jose, CA||43.92||49||88||35|
|77||Fort Wayne, IN||43.63||91||46||8|
|82||Baton Rouge, LA||42.69||61||43||94|
|83||Jersey City, NJ||42.11||64||86||26|
|86||Corpus Christi, TX||40.24||83||26||93|
|87||San Bernardino, CA||40.04||54||90||75|
|94||Chula Vista, CA||35.66||97||81||32|
|99||North Las Vegas, NV||33.93||95||97||19|
Ask the Experts
New Year’s Eve is one of the biggest holidays in the U.S. — with nearly 200 million U.S. viewers tuning in to the ball drop in Times Square. We asked a panel of experts to share their travel and spending wisdom particularly for this holiday. Click on the experts’ profiles to read their bios and thoughts on the following key questions:
- What factors should people consider when choosing whether and where to travel for New Year's Eve?
- What money-saving tips do you have for people planning to travel for New Year's?
- What are the biggest New Year's Eve money wasters?
- New Year's Eve falls on a Tuesday this year. How does holiday timing affect people’s spending and travel plans?
Ask the Experts
In order to determine the best spots for celebrating New Year’s Eve, WalletHub compared the 100 most populated U.S. cities across three key dimensions: 1) Entertainment & Food, 2) Costs and 3) Safety & Accessibility.
We evaluated those dimensions using 28 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for New Year’s Eve partiers. For metrics marked with an asterisk (*), we used the square root of the population to calculate the population size in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across cities.
Finally, we determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample. In determining our sample, we considered only the city proper in each case, excluding cities in the surrounding metro area.
Entertainment & Food – Total Points: 50
- New Year’s Eve Popularity: Double Weight (~5.88 Points)
- Legality of Fireworks: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- New Year’s Eve Events per Capita*: Double Weight (~5.88 Points)
Note: “Events” include festivals, performances and galas.
- Duration of 2019 Fireworks Show: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
Note: “Duration” was measured in minutes.
- Google Search Interest for “New Year’s Eve Celebration”: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
Note: This metric measures the real intent of the population to find information about “New Year’s Eve events”, “New Year’s Eve concerts”, “New Year’s Eve performances”, “New Year’s Eve party” and “New Year’s Eve dinner”. “Real intent” is measured using the average monthly search volumes for those specific terms.
- Restaurants per Capita*: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Average Ranking of Restaurants on Yelp’s “Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S.” List: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Availability of Luxury Shopping & Gourmet Food: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
Note: This metric measures the number of jewelry shops per capita* and the number of gourmet specialty-food stores per capita*.
- Beer, Wine & Spirits Shops per Capita*: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Party Supply Stores per Capita*: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Nightlife Options per Capita*: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Music Venues per Capita*: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- General Fun: Triple Weight (~8.82 Points)
Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “Most Fun Cities in America” ranking.
Costs – Total Points: 30
- Average Price per New Year’s Eve Party Ticket: Full Weight (~4.29 Points)
- Availability of Affordable Fine Dining: Full Weight (~4.29 Points)
Note: “Fine Dining” includes restaurants rated 4.5 stars or higher.
- Average Alcoholic Beverage Price: Full Weight (~4.29 Points)
Note: “Beverage” refers to wine and cocktails.
- Taxi-Fare Cost: Full Weight (~4.29 Points)
- Restaurant-Meal Costs: Full Weight (~4.29 Points)
- Lowest Price per Three-Star Hotel Room on New Year’s Eve: Full Weight (~4.29 Points)
- Grooming Costs: Full Weight (~4.29 Points)
Note: This metric measures beauty-salon and haircut costs.
Safety & Accessibility – Total Points: 20
- Walkability: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
- Traffic Congestion: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
- Share of Delayed Flights: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
- Neighborhood Security: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
Note: This metric measures the crime rate.
- Car Theft Rate: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
- DUI-Related Fatalities per Capita: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
Note: This metric considers incidents recorded in December.
- Pedestrian Fatality Rate: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
- Forecasted Precipitation for Dec. 31: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Council for Community and Economic Research, Priceline, American Pyrotechnics Association, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Walk Score, Eventbrite, AccuWeather, Kayak, Expatistan, Yelp, Numbeo, Google Ads, Local tourism offices, INRIX and WalletHub research.