The results are in. Earlier this year, Expedia conducted a study on the best time to book holiday travel deals based on air ticket demands and a poll of the most popular and affordable New Year’s Eve airfare for the upcoming holiday season. Expedia found that the top factor when choosing a holiday travel destination is the cost of flights and hotels, and about half of the travelers polled said they plan to travel within the U.S. or nearby this year.
Well, there’s good news all around! You may have time to book within the low-price sweet spot, which is between 21 and 30 days prior to departure. This year the most in-demand places to celebrate New Year’s Eve have fun, food, and festivities for all sorts of travel preferences…and they won’t break your budgeting resolutions for the new year. 2018 is coming and we’re ready to bid farewell to 2017 with great getaways and awe-inspiring experiencesCheck out this list of the top 10 NYE destinations with airfare under $400* and New Year’s Eve travel ideas to help you celebrate in style:
1. Seattle – average ticket price of $309
- An essential Seattle experience: Wave in 2018 and watch fireworks over the Sound from the New Year’s Eve Party Cruise with Waterways Cruises and Events. The menu offers a smorgasbord of international flavors and the scenery is second to none.
- Free fun: Pair those low-cost tickets with free festivities at Seattle Winterfest, the city’s largest NYE gathering, located at Seattle Center at the base of the Space Needle. This year, the NYE event features live music by the cover band Sway.
- Fancy festivities: If living vibrantly is among your resolutions, get tickets to the New Year’s Eve pARTy at Chihuly Garden and Glass. Browse the exhibitions, savor appetizers and desserts, and sip lovely drinks to the music of the Michael Benson Band.
- Kid-friendly: At the Seattle Children’s Museum, count down with countries all over the world as they say hello to 2018. The littles get to enjoy the excitement of New Year’s Eve and still make it back to the hotel in time for bed.
2. Salt Lake City – average ticket price of $341
- An essential Salt Lake City experience: This year Downtown SLC launches a new countdown festival at the Gateway, called the Last Hurrah. This celebration includes live music headlined by Joshua James, as well as seasonal hot drinks and a 21-and-over speakeasy.
- Free fun: Start your year with bright lights at Snowbird at the New Year’s Eve Torchlight Parade & Fireworks.
- Fancy festivities: Embrace the new year with a feast. This year, Culinary Crafts brings its magic to the tasting Room in SLC with a popup dining experience. A New Year’s Eve for Foodies includes several spectacular courses with optional wine pairings and a cocktail bar.
- Kid-friendly: Early Countdown at Hogle Zoo’s Zoo Lights. Carolers make their rounds during the evening and the countdown leads up to 9 p.m.
3. Phoenix – average ticket price of $342
- An essential Phoenix experience: Phoenix might normally don flip-flops and short shorts, but each NYE, the Flannel Ball brings cozy clothes, beer, food trucks, and more to the Arizona capital.
- Free fun: When the sun goes down, head to nearby Glendale for the Glendale Glitters Spectacular. The historic downtown area is aglow with holiday lights through January 6.
- Fancy festivities: Wear your cocktail best for an evening at the Phoenix Symphony New Year’s Eve Gala with dancing and world-class music until 2018 rolls around. The city commemorates the symphony’s 70th anniversary season this year.
- Kid-friendly: Get your partying on early at Noon Year’s Eve at the Phoenix Zoo. Celebrate with the kids all before Sunday brunch.
4. Denver – average ticket price of $342
- An essential Denver experience: New Year’s Eve on the Rocks—Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre is one of Denver’s most popular venues, and 2017 is the first year the stage welcomes an NYE concert celebration. Don’t miss it!
- Free fun: Watch the New Year’s Eve Fireworks light up the Denver sky at a free community event hosted by Downtown Denver Partnership and co-sponsored by VISIT DENVER and the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District. The evening includes shows and lots of music for all ages.
- Fancy festivities: This year the NYE Great Gatsby White Rose Gala turns sweet 16, and tickets sell out quick, so book your benefit seats early and invest in some sequins.
- Kid-friendly: Holiday Carousel at Denver Pavilions is a great place to snap some joyful holiday pictures, take a spin around a vintage carousel, and wander through beautiful holiday light displays in a kid-friendly setting.
5. Tampa – average ticket price of $347
- An essential Tampa experience: The New Year’s Eve Celebration at Busch Gardens is one of the biggest NYE bashes in the area. Carnival rides, live music, and a firework show provide fun and entertainment for all ages.
- Free fun: Watch the water light up with rainbow reflections at the New Year’s Eve Fireworks at Apollo Beach—the 2016 celebration was the biggest NYE firework show in the whole state.
- Fancy festivities: See the city from an extravagant vantage point at the Rooftop Eve. This annual event boasts carefree vibes with a glittering dance venue, expert mixologists, and a great view of Tampa’s firework shows.
- Kid-friendly: Take the whole family to the New Year’s Eve Parade in the Ybor City district. It’s one of the events around the annual Outback Bowl.
6. San Francisco – average ticket price of $361
Ring in the new year with romance in San Francisco’s vintage Russian Hill, dine in Fisherman’s Wharf for waterfront vibes, or explore the expansive Golden Gate Park. There’s so many things to do in San Francisco that you’ll have no problem staying awake and entertained till the clock strikes midnight. Just make sure you’re rested and ready for an exquisite evening in the City by the Bay.
- An essential San Francisco experience: Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. If you want to skip the party crowds and have some space to yourself, this is the night to take the pilgrimage, as the bridge tends to be extra quiet on NYE. You can walk at sunset and be back for more festivities long before midnight.
- Free fun: Wander around Union Square and gaze at all the holiday lights, still on display, and take a spin around the ice rink. Admission to the rink is reasonably priced and includes skate rentals.
- Fancy festivities: Take advantage of the shimmering San Francisco Bay and celebrate in style at the fifth annual Speakeasy New Year’s Eve Cruise 2018. Flapper dresses and waistcoats welcome.
- Kid-friendly: This year the live production of “ALADDIN” will be running at the Orpheum Theater over the holidays. Celebrate a whole new year in a whole new world!
7. Fort Lauderdale – average ticket price of $362
- An essential Fort Lauderdale experience: Take advantage of South Florida’s year-round warm weather and party at America’s Backyard. Spring break may be months away, but you’ll find that same carefree fun right here. America’s Backyard one of the most popular NYE venues in the city, so get a spot on the guest list ASAP!
- Fancy festivities: Dine on the Chef’s Tasting Menu at Burlock Coast Seafare & Spirits. Chef Paula DaSilva helms this holiday kitchen with two seatings. The first seating begins at 5:30 p.m. and includes three mouthwatering courses and a Champagne menu, and the second seating starts at 9 p.m. and includes a five-course dinner, an open bar, and the 2018 balloon drop.
- Kid-friendly: Countdown to the Orange Bowl and 2018 at the Downtown Countdown, a huge street fair for all ages in the heart of downtown. The party starts at 3:30 p.m. with a kids’ countdown before the evening entertainment takes center stage until 1 a.m.—if you can stay awake that long. And guess what? It’s free fun!
8. Nassau – average ticket price of $369
The beautiful and balmy capital of the Bahamas is steeped in vibrant traditions and surrounded by bright blue waters. New Year’s Eve brings Nassau’s culture and character to life like no other holiday as the entire island nation observes Junkanoo. The history of this holiday festival is mysterious and debated, but no one lets that stop the colorful carnival from filling the streets of Nassau with dancing, floats, and festive foods every December 26 and January 1.
- An essential Nassau experience: Observe the Junkanoo festivities from the balcony of your hotel or a café patio, or take in all the excitement at the corner of Shirley Street and Parliament Street near the Nassau Public Library. This event is kid-friendly, too!
- Free fun: Go to the beach! Whether you want to ring in the year with others at popular Cable Beach, or reflect quietly at Loop View Beach, the water feels nice in January.
- Fancy festivities: If you’re spending the holiday in the Bahamas to get away from it all, then treat yourself to an exquisite meal to finish off the year. Watch the sun set on 2017 as you dine at DUNE, a French-Asian fusion restaurant led by executive chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
9. Mexico City – average ticket price of $372
- An essential Mexico City experience: Celebrate with locals on Paseo de la Reforma. Much of the city is a big party, but this street is especially festive while staying true to its local character.
- Free fun: Flock to El Zocalo, the city’s main hub for festivals and gatherings. On NYE, the square is filled with music, dancing, and food stalls, as well as great views of fireworks.
- Fancy festivities: Many of the hotels in the area are known for pulling out all the stops for extravagant NYE parties or dinners. The Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico is among the most famous.
- Kid-friendly: Spend the day at Papalote Children’s Museum, and tucker out the young ones with hands-on exhibitions and IMAX adventures.
- An essential Los Angeles experience: Watch the city light up at midnight from a rooftop bar with new and old friends. Mama Shelter in Hollywood boasts a bright and airy rooftop bar with great views of Sunset Boulevard.
- Free fun: Cheer as the 129th Rose Parade presented by Honda sparkles down the streets of Pasadena in the morning, and make it back to LA in time to watch a panorama of firework shows all over the city. Marina del Rey’s pyrotechnic show is free and right over the water.
- Fancy festivities: Enough about balls dropping. Go to the spectacular New Year’s Eve Ball and dance the year away at the Edison. It’s a bit glitzy, because this vintage bar is always a bit glitzy, and the aerialists will amaze you as they soar over the ballroom.
- Kid-friendly: Zimmer Children’s Museum is turning the whole day into a celebration with multiple balloon drops on New Year’s Eve, so everyone can enjoy the excitement no matter how early their bedtime is.
10. Los Angeles – average ticket price of $377
Where are you planning to celebrate New Year’s Eve?
*Average ticket prices based on all coach, roundtrip flights from the U.S. with search dates of June 25 – September 25, 2017 and a departure window of December 30 or 31, 2017, as of September 27.