Party by Personality: Where to Ring in 2018 in San Diego

When the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31, you can celebrate at a high-end gala or at a vintage hotel -- whatever suits your style

New Year’s Eve is upon us, San Diego, and there are plenty of ways to ring in new beginnings across our county – depending on what type of outing suits your personality. Whether you’re a high-end party animal or celebrating with the kids, these spots should offer something for everyone.

Balboa Park (For the museum enthusiast)
During the day on Dec. 31, museum enthusiasts looking to acquire more knowledge before the end of 2017 can stroll Balboa Park and visit the many museums open that day, most starting at 10 a.m. Open institutions include the San Diego Museum of Art, the Fleet Science Center, the San Diego History Center, the San Diego Natural History Museum, the San Diego Air & Space Museum, the San Diego Museum of Man and the Japanese Friendship Garden.

Most of the museums close at 5 p.m. on New Year’s Eve but after you’ve fed your mind and curiosity, 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, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the bar open until 5 p.m., and again 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 cool, vintage, boutique hotel plans to ring in 2018 by hosting its 4th annual New Year’s Eve celebration. This year’s theme is “On With the Show: The Enchanted Carnival,” promising a spectacular, circus-themed bash. For one night only, the hotel will transform into a land from the 1920s and 1930s complete with three party venues: The Big Top, The Hall of Illusions and The Odditorium. The 21+ party includes a lineup of live music and DJs. Tickets range from $85 to $155, depending if you add the drink vouchers to your package.

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 $84 to $229 (highest VIP option).

The San Diego International Auto Show (For gearheads with a need for speed)
This annual auto expo runs on New Year’s weekend at downtown’s San Diego Convention Center, showcasing more than 400 of the newest, drool-worthy rides from a long lineup of manufacturers. In addition to strolling across the exhibit floor, attendees can take part in some test drives and buy the latest auto products. The #mce_temp_url#San Diego International Auto Show revs up from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on New Year’s Eve – still plenty of time to hop in your car and head out somewhere else afterwards. Come back on New Year’s Day, too, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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 New Year’s Day. 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 starts at 5 p.m. and reservations are required by calling (619) 685-3200; the dinner is $65 per person. Check out the dinner menu here.

San Diego’s Casinos (For those who are feeling lucky)
Feeling lucky as you head into 2018? Go with the vibe and ring in the New Year by heading to one of San Diego’s many casinos. In the East County, you’ll find Viejas Casino – among many others (Barona; Golden Acorn; Sycuan; Hollywood Casino: Jamul). Viejas is hosting an NYE 2018 party from 8 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. in both the Oak Ballroom and the open-air venue, The Park at Viejas. Entry to the bash at The Park costs $10 (drinks and food cost extra), while the Oak Ballroom party starts at $160. 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 group Rose Royce at the Main Stage Bar.

San Diego’s Landmark Hotels (For those who like glitz and history)
For those who want glitz 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+, exotic black-tie gala, “A Passage to India,” and its “New Year’s Eve for 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, three-course meal and a late-seating, six-course dinner that includes a midnight toast. In the Grant Grill Lounge, patrons can enjoy live entertainment and champagne paired with cheese and charcuterie. 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 Liberty Station will host “Craft Beer New Year 2018,” a party featuring live music, DJs, a dance floor, lawn games, food stations, an outdoor cigar lounge and, of course, craft brews. Tickets cost $99.

These are just a few samplings of what's happening in San Diego County on New Year's Eve. We wish you a happy and safe celebration! Here's to 2018.

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