Party by Personality: Where to Ring in the New Year in San Diego

When the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31, you can celebrate at a high-end gala or at a laid-back tiki lounge -- 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 – it just depends what type of outing suits your personality. Whether you’re a laid-back reveler, 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 learn one more thing or two before the end of 2016 can stroll Balboa Park and visit many of its museums, including the San Diego History Center, the San Diego Museum of Art, the Mingei International Museum or the San Diego Air & Space Museum. Most museums close at 5 p.m. on New Year’s Eve but after you’ve finished feeding your mind and curiosity, feed your belly at Balboa Park’s landmark restaurant, The Prado. On New Year’s Eve, The Prado will offer 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, music and dancing in the lounge.

The Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalow (For those with a passion for vintage)
North Park’s cool, vintage, boutique hotel plans to ring in 2017 by hosting a “Psychedelic Masquerade” bash that takes it back to the mind-expanding era of the 1960s. Revelers are encouraged to wear masks and masquerade attire to this 21+ affair; the night includes a three-course dinner and live music from cool local bands including The Midnight Pine and The Verigolds. Tickets to this party range between $45 and $190.

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. Also, check out the “Silent Disco” for a quieter zone sure to make you giggle. Tickets range from $89.99 to $189.99.

The Grass Skirt (For those who like that laid-back, tropical vibe)
If you’re looking for a laid-back way to ring in the New Year, then perhaps a night of tiki culture in Pacific Beach is the answer. The Grass Skirt – a buzzy new tiki lounge and restaurant on Grand Avenue – will host a New Year’s Eve party where attendees are encouraged to trade in the suit-and-tie attire for relaxed Hawaiian shirts. Matt Spencer, of The Grass Skirt, tells NBC 7 patrons can even wear their sunglasses at night for this party – no judging. “We’re trying to take New Year’s Eve – which can be a little bit of an intense evening – and make it kind of fun. It’s the place to go if you don’t want that intense, high-end experience,” Spencer explained. Fittingly, instead of regular champagne, the midnight toast here will include some sort of pineapple-flavored bubbly.

The San Diego International Auto Show (For gearheads with a need for speed)
This annual auto show runs on New Year’s weekend at downtown’s San Diego Convention Center and will showcase 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 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 9 p.m.

The San Diego Zoo (For a family-friendly outing)
Grab the kids and head to the San Diego Zoo on New Year’s Eve, where the holiday-themed Jungle Bells event continues through Jan. 10. 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 landmark’s centennial comes to an end. For a special multi-course holiday meal, head over to Albert’s Restaurant for the “Midly Wild New Year’s Eve Dinner” prepared by Executive Chef Chris Mirguet and Chef Charles Boukas. Seating starts at 5 p.m.; the dinner is $65 per person and for an extra $15, you can add wine pairings. Check out the menu here. 

San Diego’s Casinos (For those who are feeling lucky)
Feeling lucky as you head into 2017? 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). The party at Viejas goes from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. in both the Oak Ballroom and the open-air venue, The Park at Viejas. Tickets range from $50 to $175. 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 ‘80s funk group Midnight Star at the Main Stage Bar. 

San Diego’s Landmark Hotels (For those who like glitz and history)
For those who want lots of glitz and history on New Year’s Eve, San Diego’s landmark hotels might suit you. The Hotel Del Coronado will host several parties – its 21+, exotic black-tie gala, Far East Fantasy and its 21+ Club Crown bash – as well as its New Year’s Eve Kids and Teens party for little ones ages 4 to 17. Prices for these parties range from $120 to $470 per person. The US Grant in downtown San Diego is also offering several NYE options – from a special Celebration Dinner at Grant Grill to a fancy midnight countdown; prices start at $75 per person.

Craft Breweries (For those looking to toast to the year ahead 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 sea of dozens for specific NYE hours and events. For instance, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens at Liberty Station will host a party from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. that includes a dance floor, food stations, desserts, an outdoor cigar lounge and, of course, tasty beers. Tickets are $125 per person.

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!

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