7 Best Destinations for New Year’s Eve in California

Ali Sullivan
New Years Eve (1)

Wondering where to spend New Years Eve in California? Here are some of our recommendations for where celebrate the holiday, whether you want to party it up or simply relax with family and friends.

As the clock ticks down to the final moments of the year, there’s no better place to bid farewell to the old and welcome the new than the dazzling state of California. With its diverse landscapes, vibrant cities, and a year-round festive spirit, California sets the stage for an unforgettable New Year’s Eve celebration.


Whether you’re seeking the glitz and glamour of a bustling metropolis or the serene beauty of nature, the Golden State offers loads of options for travelers looking to ring in the New Year. Explore why California is a prime destination for New Year’s Eve festivities and discover the seven best destinations to make your celebration truly memorable.


From iconic cityscapes to breathtaking coastal views, California has something for everyone to ensure that the countdown to the New Year is nothing short of spectacular. Here are seven of the best destination you need to experience for New Years Eve in California.

New Years Eve in California: San Francisco

San Francisco, with its cool breeze and iconic skyline, emerges as a fantastic choice to welcome the New Year in California. The city’s blend of laid-back vibes and charm creates an atmosphere of celebration like no other. As the clock nears midnight, the glittering lights of the Bay Area come alive, reflecting the festive spirit that permeates the air. In San Francisco, you can expect a New Year’s Eve extravaganza that caters to various tastes.


Check out the bustling festivities along the Embarcadero, where the Bay Lights illuminate the waterfront with a mesmerizing display. Venture into the heart of the city for lively street parties and vibrant fireworks. Here are some must-try activities to make your San Francisco New Year’s Eve unforgettable:


  • Fireworks at the Embarcadero: Witness the spectacular fireworks show over the iconic Bay Bridge.
  • New Year’s Eve Cruises: Set sail in style on the San Francisco Bay for a unique celebration on the water.
  • Street Parties in Union Square: Join the lively street celebrations in Union Square, featuring live music, dancing, and a festive atmosphere.
  • Dining in Chinatown: Indulge in a delicious New Year’s Eve feast in San Francisco’s vibrant Chinatown.
  • Countdown at Twin Peaks: Head to Twin Peaks for a panoramic view of the city and a breathtaking countdown experience.
  • Clubbing in SoMa: Dance the night away in the trendy South of Market (SoMa) district, known for its vibrant nightlife.
  • Bay Area Bars and Pubs: Explore the city’s diverse array of bars and pubs for a more intimate celebration with friends.

New Years Eve in California: San Diego

San Diego emerges as an ideal spot to revel in the New Year’s festivities in California. The city’s pleasant weather sets the stage for a joyous celebration that blends a relaxed atmosphere with the excitement of the countdown. Whether you’re strolling along the scenic waterfront or dancing the night away in the Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego offers a diverse range of activities to make your New Year’s Eve memorable. Check out these must-try activities for a splendid celebration in “America’s Finest City”:

  • Big Bay Boom Fireworks: Marvel at the spectacular fireworks display over the San Diego Bay, a breathtaking show that lights up the night sky.
  • Countdown at Gaslamp Quarter: Join the lively street party in the historic Gaslamp Quarter, where bars, clubs, and restaurants come alive with music and cheer.
  • Yacht Parties: Sail into the New Year on a festive yacht cruise, enjoying stunning views of the city lights and coastline.
  • Harbor Cruise Dinners: Indulge in a delightful New Year’s Eve dinner aboard a harbor cruise, combining fine dining with picturesque views.
  • Beach Bonfires: Experience a more laid-back celebration by joining one of the beach bonfires along the shoreline, offering a relaxed way to welcome the New Year.

New Years Eve in California: Los Angeles

Los Angeles, the entertainment capital of the world, is an electrifying destination to ring in the New Year. LA offers a celebration that’s as dynamic and diverse as the city itself. From glamorous Hollywood parties to beachfront gatherings, the options are endless for those seeking a memorable New Year’s Eve in the City of Angels. Here’s a glimpse into the excitement that awaits in Los Angeles:

  • Grand Park’s NYELA: Join the massive celebration at Grand Park in downtown LA, featuring live music, food trucks, and a spectacular fireworks show.
  • Hollywood Boulevard Bash: Walk the famous Hollywood Boulevard and revel in the glitz and glamour, with numerous clubs, bars, and street parties.
  • Rooftop Parties: Elevate your celebration at one of LA’s trendy rooftop bars, offering panoramic views of the city lights and fireworks.
  • Venice Beach Fireworks: Head to the iconic Venice Beach for a laid-back celebration with beach bonfires and a dazzling fireworks display.
  • Countdown at Universal Studios: Experience the magic of Universal Studios Hollywood with special New Year’s Eve festivities, including rides, shows, and a midnight countdown.
  • Santa Monica Pier Party: Celebrate on the Santa Monica Pier, where live music, amusement park rides, and a festive atmosphere come together for a lively celebration.

New Years Eve in California: Big Bear Lake

Sitting within the San Bernardino Mountains, Big Bear is a picturesque destination to celebrate New Year’s Eve in California. Known for its alpine vistas and cozy mountain town ambiance, Big Bear provides a festive setting for those seeking a more intimate celebration away from the city lights. With snow-covered landscapes and a warm community spirit, here’s why Big Bear is an ideal spot to ring in the New Year:

Snow Summit’s Torchlight Parade: Witness the breathtaking Torchlight Parade at Snow Summit, where skiers and snowboarders glide down the slopes adorned with twinkling lights.

Fireworks Spectacle: Catch the dazzling fireworks show over Big Bear Lake, reflecting off the snow-covered surroundings for a truly magical experience.

Night Skiing and Snowboarding: Extend the celebration on the slopes with night skiing and snowboarding options, offering a unique way to welcome the New Year under the stars.

Cozy Cabin Retreats: Embrace the warmth of a cozy cabin retreat, complete with crackling fireplaces and stunning views of the winter wonderland outside.

Snowshoeing Excursions: Explore the pristine winter landscape on a snowshoeing adventure, taking in the quiet beauty of Big Bear’s snow-laden forests.

Countdown in the Village: Head to Big Bear Lake Village for a festive street party, where shops, restaurants, and bars join forces to create a lively New Year’s Eve celebration.

New Year’s Eve in California: Joshua Tree

Embrace the magic of the desert and ring in the New Year under the star-studded skies of Joshua Tree. This bohemian haven offers a one-of-a-kind setting for a laid-back and celestial New Year’s Eve in California. Here’s why Joshua Tree is the perfect spot to welcome the dawn of a new year:

  • Stargazing Extravaganza: Revel in the brilliance of the night sky as you join fellow stargazers for an awe-inspiring celestial show in the peaceful desert.
  • Bonfires and Drum Circles: Experience the eclectic energy of Joshua Tree by partaking in one of the community bonfires or drum circles, creating a vibrant and communal atmosphere.
  • Desert Hikes at Sunset: Take a hike through the unique rock formations and Joshua Tree forests during the day, and as the sun sets, witness the desert landscape bathed in warm hues.
  • Intimate Desert Retreats: Book a cozy desert cabin or glamping spot for an intimate and tranquil New Year’s Eve retreat, surrounded by the rugged beauty of the Mojave.
  • Live Music at Local Venues: Explore the local music scene with live performances at eclectic venues, where you can dance the night away to tunes that echo the spirit of the desert.

New Year’s Eve in California: Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a delightful destination to bid farewell to the old and welcome the new. Nestled between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean, this city offers a perfect blend of relaxation and revelry for a memorable New Year’s Eve celebration. Here’s why Santa Barbara is the ideal spot to ring in the festivities:

  • Beachside Fireworks: Enjoy a spectacular display of fireworks along the coastline, illuminating the night sky with bursts of color over the Pacific Ocean.
  • State Street Revelry: Join the lively atmosphere on State Street, where bars, restaurants, and clubs come alive with music, dancing, and jubilant crowds.
  • Harbor Cruises: Set sail into the Pacific on a New Year’s Eve harbor cruise, offering stunning views of the city lights and a festive nautical experience.
  • Wine Tasting Extravaganza: Indulge in the region’s renowned wineries, hosting special New Year’s Eve tastings and celebrations for a sophisticated and celebratory experience.
  • First Night Celebration: Join the family-friendly First Night celebration in downtown Santa Barbara, featuring live entertainment, art installations, and a vibrant parade.

New Year’s Eve in California: Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe stands as a winter wonderland and an exhilarating destination to welcome New Year’s Eve in California. With its breathtaking scenery and a wealth of outdoor activities, Lake Tahoe offers a unique blend of adventure and celebration. Here’s why Lake Tahoe is the perfect spot to bid adieu to the old and embrace the excitement of a new beginning:

  • Glistening Fireworks Extravaganza: Marvel at the dazzling fireworks display over the pristine lake, where bursts of color reflect off the snow-covered landscape for a magical spectacle.
  • Skiing and Snowboarding: Hit the slopes at one of Lake Tahoe’s world-renowned ski resorts, where you can welcome the New Year with a thrilling descent down powdery mountainsides.
  • Snowshoeing Under the Stars: Experience the tranquility of the winter night on a guided snowshoe tour, offering a unique perspective of the snow-covered forest and starlit sky.
  • Casino Celebrations: Try your luck at one of the lakeside casinos, where lively New Year’s Eve parties, concerts, and gaming create a festive atmosphere.
  • Village Festivities: Join the lively celebrations in the charming mountain villages, where street parties, live music, and a jubilant atmosphere mark the arrival of the New Year.
  • Cozy Cabin Retreats: Embrace the warmth of a cozy cabin retreat, complete with crackling fireplaces and panoramic views of the snow-capped mountains.



As we wrap up this journey through California’s top New Year’s Eve destinations, one thing is clear – the Golden State knows how to throw a celebration! From the glittering skylines of San Francisco to the shores of Santa Barbara, California offers a New Year’s experience for every taste. As you plan your festive getaway, why not take it a step further? Consider staying at one of the many ITH Hostels scattered around California. Make your visit not just a vacation, but a communal adventure. Ring in the New Year with a sense of adventure and community that only the Golden State can offer. Cheers to a memorable and spirited celebration!

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