And, just like that, 2018 is coming to an end. In San Diego, there are plenty of ways to ring in the new year and you can choose how to celebrate depending on your personality. So, whether you're a high-end party animal or laying low with the family, these spots should offer something for everyone.
Big Night San Diego (For the energetic party animal)
The name of this 21+ New Year’s Eve event – Big Night San Diego – says it all. This high-energy, all-inclusive, glamorous gala at Hilton San Diego Bayfront includes drinks, food, party favors and live music and dancing across 10 party areas and eight dance floors. Tickets range from $109 to $239 (VIP option). NBC 7, Telemundo 20 and SoundDiego will broadcast a countdown special live from this party; the show airs from 11:35 p.m. to 12:05 a.m. on NBC 7. Here are some details on the music lineup at this party, via SoundDiego.
Balboa Park (For the museum enthusiast)
During the day on Dec. 31, museum enthusiasts looking to acquire more knowledge before the end of 2018 can stroll Balboa Park and visit the many museums open that day, most starting at 10 a.m. Open institutions include the Japanese Friendship Garden, the San Diego Museum of Art, the Fleet Science Center, the San Diego Natural History Museum, the San Diego Air & Space Museum, and the San Diego Museum of Man. The famous Balboa Park Carousel will also be open from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Most of the museums close between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on New Year’s Eve but after you’ve fed your mind and curiosity, you could feed your belly at Balboa Park’s landmark restaurant, The Prado. On New Year’s Eve, The Prado is offering a three-course dinner priced at $54.95, served from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Revelers can stay until the clock strikes midnight by upgrading to the dinner and dancing package priced at $84.95, which includes a sparkling champagne toast while counting down to midnight, plus music and dancing in the lounge. The park’s Panama 66 restaurant is also open on New Year’s Eve, but will close early. It'll reopen on New Year's Day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the bar open until 5 p.m.
The Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalow (For those with a love of vintage)
North Park’s vintage boutique hotel plans to ring in 2018 by hosting its 5th annual "On With the Show" New Year’s Eve celebration. This year’s theme is "Euphoric Haze," a throwback to the groovier times of the 1960s. The party will boast three rooms of peace, love and music: “The Factory,” an Andy Warhol-inspired room of bold prints and mod style; “The Groovy Twist,” where revelers can bust out the “mashed potato” and “the twist,” set to soulful jams; “The Lava Underground,” the Lafayette’s Mississippi Ballroom, transformed into a space filled with psychedelic projections.
The live music lineup at this bash includes Lady Dottie & The Diamonds, The Sleepwalkers, Strawberry Moons and more local acts. Tickets range from $60 to $190; the Dinner Show package ($60 in addition to $60 general admission) includes appetizers, two courses and dessert, plus a performance from Finest City Improv. Prices vary depending on how many drink tickets you'd like to add to your package.
New Year’s Eve on the Water (For the bay view fanatic)
There is, perhaps, nothing more San Diego than celebrating the New Year on our scenic waterfront. If you’ve got your sea legs, you can ring in 2019 on one of many cruises around San Diego Bay. Rock the Boat by the Hornblower invites revelers aboard the Adventure Yacht for drinks and dancing from 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. There’s also the New Year’s Eve Dinner Cruise by Flagship Cruises & Events, which cruises from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Another option is the New Year’s Eve Yacht Party aboard the three-level Spirit of San Diego, which boards at 9 p.m. and returns to the docks at 12:45 a.m. Happy cruising!
The San Diego Zoo (For an all-ages outing with your little critters)
Grab the kids and head to the San Diego Zoo on New Year’s Eve, where the seasonal Jungle Bells event continues through Jan. 6. The zoo is open until 8 p.m. on Dec. 31 – giving you plenty of time to admire the twinkling lights, special music, animals and more and the world-famous attraction. If you want to end the year with a special meal, head over to Albert’s Restaurant for the three-course “Mildly Wild New Year’s Eve Dinner.” Seating runs from 5 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. and reservations are required by calling (619) 685-3200; the dinner is $65 per person. Check out the dinner menu here, prepared by chefs Carissa Giacalone and Grant Toraason.
San Diego’s Casinos (For those who are feeling lucky)
Feeling lucky as you head into 2019? Go with the vibe and ring in the New Year by heading to one of San Diego’s many casinos. In East County, you’ll find Viejas Casino – among many others (Barona; Golden Acorn; Sycuan; Hollywood Casino: Jamul). Viejas is hosting two NYE 2019 parties, each starting at 8 p.m.: the NYE Bash at the outdoor Park at Viejas venue ($10), which includes a fireworks display, and the NYE Gala at the Oak Ballroom ($165), which includes dinner, drinks, dancing and access to the NYE Bash outside, too.
If you’re in the North County, you’ll find the Valley View Casino & Hotel, among others (Harrah’s Resort Southern California; Pala Casino Spa & Resort). The New Year’s Eve bash at Valley View goes from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. and includes a concert from R&B star Evelyn "Champagne" King, at the Main Stage Bar.
San Diego’s Landmark Hotels (For those who like glitz and history)
For those who want glitz, glam and history on New Year’s Eve, San Diego’s landmark hotels might suit you. The Hotel Del Coronado will host a couple of parties – its 21+ black-tie gala, dubbed "The World's Greatest Legend," and its “Kids & Teens” party for those age 8 to 17. Prices for these parties range from $125 (kids party) to $375 (adult party) per person.
Meanwhile, the famous US Grant in downtown San Diego is offering New Year’s Eve dining options at its on-site restaurant, Grant Grill, including a pre-celebration, four-course meal ($75 per person). There's also a late-seating, five-course dinner that includes a midnight toast and live music ($129 per person). Over at the hotel's Rendezvous lounge, the NYE party starts at 7:30 p.m. and runs through 1:30 a.m., and will include French-inspired cocktails, a DJ and live music. No matter the option that strikes your fancy at the Grant, make reservations ahead of time.
Craft Breweries (For those looking to toast with a locally-brewed beverage)
There may not be a more authentically San Diego way to toast to the New Year than with a craft beer in hand. Look up your favorite local brewery in a sudsy sea of dozens for specific NYE hours and events.
For instance, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens Escondido and Liberty Station will host Craft Beer New Year 2019, a party featuring live music, DJs, dancing, light bites, an outdoor cigar lounge and, of course, craft brews. Tickets cost $99.
Over at AleSmith Brewing Company, the New Year's Eve "Hop Drop" goes down from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. and will boast party favors, dancing, beer flights and an "East Coast New Year's Eve Cheers" at 11 p.m. Tickets range from $20 to $65, depending if you want to add dinner to your party package.
These are just a few samplings of what's happening in San Diego County on New Year's Eve. Here's to a happy, safe celebration and a prosperous 2019.