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 2021 is ruin your finances over one night of entertainment.
Fortunately, you have plenty of fun yet affordable options for celebrating #NYE2022. 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.
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
|Overall Rank||City||Total Score||Entertainment & Food||Costs||Safety & Accessibility|
|1||New York, NY||67.50||1||99||10|
|2||Las Vegas, NV||67.39||4||80||48|
|7||San Francisco, CA||62.73||5||93||41|
|13||Los Angeles, CA||60.65||10||84||69|
|18||San Diego, CA||56.82||19||82||21|
|20||San Antonio, TX||55.89||22||50||70|
|21||New Orleans, LA||55.10||15||89||72|
|22||St. Louis, MO||55.10||20||51||94|
|23||Santa Ana, CA||55.08||28||75||6|
|31||El Paso, TX||51.41||61||2||25|
|41||San Jose, CA||49.87||46||61||14|
|48||Virginia Beach, VA||48.66||53||56||23|
|50||St. Petersburg, FL||48.16||55||55||16|
|53||Corpus Christi, TX||47.25||79||10||39|
|57||Colorado Springs, CO||46.59||62||37||45|
|60||Oklahoma City, OK||46.34||56||9||80|
|61||St. Paul, MN||46.17||59||65||26|
|67||Fort Worth, TX||45.81||58||29||76|
|75||Fort Wayne, IN||44.82||89||17||43|
|79||Baton Rouge, LA||43.77||68||31||83|
|82||Long Beach, CA||43.51||54||81||44|
|84||Jersey City, NJ||43.24||78||74||2|
|86||Chula Vista, CA||42.86||88||71||13|
|88||San Bernardino, CA||41.70||31||95||100|
|89||Kansas City, MO||41.69||71||34||98|
|100||North Las Vegas, NV||31.56||100||98||73|
Note: With the exception of “Total Score,” all of the columns in the table above depict the relative rank of that city, where a rank of 1 represents the best conditions for that metric category.
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 Friday 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.
Emtertainment & Food – Total Points: 50
- New Year’s Eve Popularity: Double Weight (~8.33 Points)
- Legality of Fireworks: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- New Year’s Eve Events per Capita*: Double Weight (~8.33 Points)
Note: “Events” include festivals, performances and galas.
- Duration of 2021 Fireworks Show: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: “Duration” was measured in minutes.
- Google Search Interest for “New Year’s Eve Celebration”: Full Weight (~4.17 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 (~4.17 Points)
- Average Ranking of Restaurants on Yelp’s “Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S.” List: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Availability of Luxury Shopping & Gourmet Food: Half Weight (~2.08 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*: Half Weight (~2.08 Points)
- Party Supply Stores per Capita*: Half Weight (~2.08 Points)
- Nightlife Options per Capita*: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Music Venues per Capita*: Half Weight (~2.08 Points)
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
- Percentage of Residents Who Are Fully Vaccinated: Double Weight (~4.00 Points)
- Walkability: Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
- Traffic Congestion: Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
- Share of Delayed Flights: Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
- Neighborhood Security: Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
Note: This metric measures the crime rate.
- Car Theft Rate: Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
- DUI-Related Fatalities per Capita: Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
Note: This metric considers incidents recorded in December.
- Pedestrian Fatality Rate: Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
- Forecasted Precipitation for Dec. 31: Full Weight (~2.00 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, TripAdvisor and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.