The New Year’s holiday is usually an occasion for big crowds of people to gather and ring in the new year together. This year, celebrations are likely to be much more subdued and socially-distanced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whether you live in a city that provides ideal conditions for New Year’s during a pandemic depends on a variety of factors, including safety, COVID-19 cases, quality food delivery options and costs. In order to determine the best cities for counting down to the new year, WalletHub compared the 100 biggest cities based on 15 key indicators of an enjoyable New Year’s celebration.
Best Cities for New Year’s
(1 = Best)
|City||Total Score||‘Safety & Accessibility’||‘Entertainment & Food’|
|1||Virginia Beach, VA||77.08||3||57|
|6||Chula Vista, CA||73.77||6||74|
|8||Santa Ana, CA||72.99||8||42|
|9||San Diego, CA||72.59||10||58|
|13||San Jose, CA||71.34||13||54|
|15||Colorado Springs, CO||69.17||21||5|
|20||San Francisco, CA||67.28||14||96|
|22||Long Beach, CA||66.33||22||53|
|39||Kansas City, MO||62.04||35||75|
|40||Fort Worth, TX||61.73||45||21|
|45||Oklahoma City, OK||60.44||51||35|
|46||St. Petersburg, FL||59.67||50||61|
|50||San Antonio, TX||59.15||59||19|
|55||Los Angeles, CA||58.60||53||68|
|58||St. Paul, MN||57.98||60||43|
|59||Las Vegas, NV||57.59||56||62|
|70||Fort Wayne, IN||54.76||75||37|
|74||El Paso, TX||53.92||81||6|
|78||San Bernardino, CA||52.43||65||94|
|81||North Las Vegas, NV||51.66||68||95|
|84||St. Louis, MO||50.68||89||13|
|85||Jersey City, NJ||50.61||79||86|
|86||New York, NY||49.96||71||97|
|89||Corpus Christi, TX||48.64||93||26|
|91||Baton Rouge, LA||47.94||88||76|
|100||New Orleans, LA||40.23||98||78|
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 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 Thursday this year. How does holiday timing affect people’s spending and travel plans?
Ask the Experts
In order to determine the best cities for New Year’s, WalletHub compared the 100 most populated U.S. cities across two dimensions: 1) Safety & Accessibility and 2) Entertainment & Food.
We evaluated those dimensions using 15 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 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.
Safety & Accessibility – Total Points: 70
- Average COVID-19 Deaths per Capita: Triple Weight (~17.50 points)
- Average COVID-19 Cases per Capita: Double Weight (~11.67 Points)
- Walkability: Full Weight (~5.83 Points)
- Traffic Congestion: Full Weight (~5.83 Points)
- Neighborhood Security: Full Weight (~5.83 Points)
Note: This metric measures the crime rate.
- Car Theft Rate: Full Weight (~5.83 Points)
- DUI-Related Fatalities per Capita: Full Weight (~5.83 Points)
Note: This metric considers incidents recorded in December.
- Pedestrian Fatality Rate: Full Weight (~5.83 Points)
- Forecasted Precipitation for Dec. 31: Full Weight (~5.83 Points)
Entertainment & Food – Total Points: 30
- Legality of Fireworks: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Google Search Interest for “New Year’s Eve Celebration”: Full Weight (~3.33 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 party” and “New Year’s Eve dinner”. “Real intent” is measured using the average monthly search volumes for those specific terms.
- Beer, Wine & Spirits Shops per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Availability of Highly-Rated Takeout or Delivery Food: Double Weight (~6.67 Points)
Note: In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants offer safer alternatives to in-person dinning such as delivery or takeout. This composite metric refers to restaurants rated 4 stars or higher that offer delivery and takeout.
- Average Alcoholic Beverage Price: Double Weight (~6.67 Points)
Note: “Beverage” refers to wine and cocktails.
- Restaurant Meal Costs: Double Weight (~6.67 Points)
Note: In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants offer safer alternatives to in-person dinning such as delivery or takeout.
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Council for Community and Economic Research, American Pyrotechnics Association, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Walk Score, AccuWeather, Expatistan, Yelp, Numbeo, Google Ads, The New York Times and INRIX.