Make an early New Year’s resolution this year: Get more creative about how you celebrate December 31st. Across California, you can choose from glittering parties at downtown hotels, city fireworks (like the big show over San Francisco’s Embarcadero), and sumptuous dinners at acclaimed restaurants. But that’s only the beginning. You can also join celebrations that culminate in torchlight parades down mountains, walks through illuminated gardens, or a glowing “grape drop” over wine country. Some of these West Coast parties last until the wee hours while others wrap up by 9 p.m. (or whenever you say they do). Here are 20-plus great ways to ring in the New Year in California, listed north to south.
NYE at Garden of Lights, Redding
New Year’s Eve marks the dazzling high point for the Redding Garden of Lights experience in Turtle Bay Exploration Park. Walk through Redding’s one million–strong light display, spread across 10 acres, while also enjoying live music at both ends of the park, multiple food-and-drink stations, and a heated lounge that runs until midnight.
Bliss Out Along the North Coast, Mendocino
Low-key Sea Rock Inn in Mendocino offers a New Year’s getaway without a lot of flash—and that’s entirely by design. This inn comprised of suites and cottages offers an excellent spot for watching whales this time of year, exploring Glass Beach, or taking peaceful walks through redwoods. Even better—every morning begins with an organic, house-made breakfast delivered to guests’ doors.
Delta King Dinner Cruise, Sacramento
Enjoy a four-course dinner worthy of the Farm-to-Fork Capital aboard this historic 1927 riverboat docked along the Old Sacramento Waterfront. Think rack of lamb, sea bass, or hand-rolled herb gnocchi, accented with lots of veggies, paired with local wines, and finished with a concert by the Pacific Standard Jazz Orchestra. Make a night of it by staying over in one of the boat’s staterooms.
Napa Valley's Silverado Resort and Spa offers two sumptuous ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve: a five-course, sit-down dinner at the resort’s Grill, or the DJ-fueled New Year’s Eve Party at the hotel’s 150-year-old Mansion, which features bubbly, oysters, truffles, and a balloon drop at midnight.
Feast Your Way Into 2023, Sonoma County
Sparkling wine is just one part of the equation when celebrating at one of the many foodie hot spots in Sonoma County. Consider dinner with dancing and local wine at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa. Or head to the Michelin-starred Cyrus in Geyserville, where Chef Douglas Keane hosts a Kitchen Table experience pairing fresh seafood and vegetables with local and global wines. Another option: Sit down at The Matheson in Healdsburg, which offers two different dining options—a casual menu at its Roof 106 and an elevated Chef’s Tasting Menu in the main dining room.
Kids, meanwhile, can celebrate during the afternoon at Santa Rosa’s Charles M. Schulz Museum, where the Happy New Year, Charlie Brown party offers balloon drops at noon and 3 p.m. To stay in town overnight, tuck in for a prix fixe dinner and lodging at the nearby Flamingo Resort.
Torchlight Parade at Dodge Ridge, Tuolumne County
Ski your way out of 2022 at Tuolumne County’s Dodge Ridge Mountain Resort, which hosts its party from 3–7 p.m. The shindig with live music, food and drink, and giveaways culminates with a torchlight parade and fireworks.
Spy-Style Party at Tenaya Lodge, Yosemite
Taking your NYE into the wilderness doesn’t have to mean roughing it. The Tenaya Lodge, located two miles from Yosemite’s south entrance, is throwing an Agent 007–themed “Tenaya Royale” party with casino games, food and drink, live entertainment, and a Champagne toast. The Lodge also offers two different parties for kids—one for ages 4–8 and another for ages 9–14. This time of year, the resort also offers an ice rink for fun during the daytime.
Fireworks Over Bass Lake, Madera County
Combine a big party with a laid-back setting at the Pines Resort, which boasts of being the only lakefront resort near Yosemite. The resort’s New Year's Eve Party includes a DJ, digital photo booth, party favors, and the all-important glass of Champagne at midnight, when fireworks go off over the lake.
Stay Up Late at Gilroy Gardens, Gilroy
The kid-friendly theme park in Gilroy offers a festive NYE for families with a fun option to stay up past most kids’ bedtimes. The park is open from 4 p.m. to midnight, with after-dark fun that includes illuminated gardens, food and drink, a Charlie Brown and Snoopy Dance Party, and fireworks at midnight.
Pink NYE at the Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo
The fabulously pink-and-kitschy inn in San Luis Obispo has festivity in its DNA. Come for an all-inclusive party with live music, dancing, a midnight balloon drop, and the hotel’s famous Pink Champagne cake.
San Luis Obispo County offers a variety of other parties too. In Paso Robles, the downtown City Park hosts a family-friendly New Year’s Eve concert and bonfire from 7–11 p.m., with live music and a ball drop at 9 p.m.. If you’re bringing your dog for the holiday weekend, stay at the Vespera Resort in Pismo Beach, which offers ocean-view rooms, star-gazing kits for the evening, and a Pismo Pup Club. Its NYE party features a DJ, balloon drop, and three-course dinner menu capped off with a Mexicali Chocolate Mousse topped with Pop Rocks.
Rock Out in the Central Valley, Bakersfield
Send out 2022 with a night of music at the Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace, which throws a NYE party with a four-course dinner and a show by British hard rockers Stampede Band and Bakersfield act Cody Cates and The Rivals. For a dance party plus a silent disco, go to downtown’s Padre Hotel, which offers its own dinner (think cornmeal-dusted oysters and Cornish game hens) and party options, as well as a hotel deal that bundles your overnight stay with party admission.
Kick off the Tournament of Roses, Pasadena
No town kicks off the New Year quite like Pasadena, thanks to the Tournament of Roses’ Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl football game on Jan. 2 (this year’s game is between Utah and Penn State). But plenty of fans love the days leading up to New Year’s Day just as much. See the horses that will strut their stuff in the parade during Dec. 30’s Equestfest, or head to Pasadena City College on Dec. 30–31 for Bandfest, showcasing the marching bands that will play during the parade. Watch the last touches going on floats from Dec. 29–31 at the Decorating Places, or stay in town from Jan. 2–3 to see the finished products up close during Floatfest.
EVE at Universal Studios Hollywood, Los Angeles
Ring in the New Year at this after-hours event at this Los Angeles County theme park. The party starts at 9 p.m., with a variety of music stages, photo ops, and fireworks, as well as “snowfall” and confetti bursts. Buy food and drink, bubbly, and other adult beverages while enjoying the park’s biggest rides, such as Jurassic World—The Ride, and experiencing the last days of the Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Grinchmas.
Pick Your Party at Terranea, Rancho Palos Verdes
Choose from upward of 10 different NYE dinner options at this Los Angeles County resort, including a Monte Carlo Party with casino games and a buffet, a dinner at Mar‘sel created by Michelin-starred chef Fabio Ugoletti, and an all-kids NYE party at the kids club. You can even get a special NYE feast sent to your room.
New Year’s Eve at Disneyland, Anaheim
The Happiest Place on Earth celebrates extra-late on New Year’s Eve: Disneyland Park stays open until 2 a.m.; Disney California Adventure Park keeps rolling until 1 a.m.; and the Downtown Disney District stays open until 3 a.m. Plan your Anaheim evening around the New Year's Eve Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks at 9 p.m., and a special showing of Fantasmic!at 11:30 p.m.
Surf City Splash, Huntington Beach
Morning people can party down on Jan. 1 in Huntington Beach, where this annual event includes a costume contest, breakfast, and an invigorating dip in the Pacific Ocean at noon. Still want to party the night before? Raise your glass at Hotel Pasea’s NYE parties that include dinner, dancing, or a late-night buffet with an ocean view.
Party in the Desert, Greater Palm Springs
Winter’s high season means plenty of parties in Greater Palm Springs. Choose from options ranging from a luxurious sit-down dinner party at Twenty6 at La Quinta Resort to the cheeky drag show at The Saguaro Resort called “Drag Me to 2023.”
Temecula Valley's Grape Drop, Temecula Valley
Head to the Civic Center in Old Town Temecula for a fun annual tradition: watching the giant illuminated grape drop at both 9 p.m. and midnight. Throughout the evening, make the most of live music, dancing, food vendors, and a kid's Fun Zone. Nearby, the Wilson Creek Winery hosts a black-tie event dinner, while Fazeli Cellars throws a New Year’s Eve dance and casino party.
Go Dancing Downtown, San Diego
Come to the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel for its Big Night San Diego party—an all-inclusive, 21-and-up night of food, drinks, and six dance floors, with a countdown hosted by Mario Lopez. Want more dancing? Nearby is PROPER NYE (Dec. 31–Jan. 1), a two-day house music festival held at Petco Park and neighboring Gallagher Square. The line-up includes Grammy-nominated Chris Lake and house-music star John Summit.
Join a Masquerade, Coronado
The Hotel del Coronado, which dates back to 1888, embraces it Victorian roots at a Masquerade Gala in its glamourous Southpointe Ballroom, with black ties and masquerade masks encouraged. Come for the dinner, nine-piece band, and Victorian-style masquerade performances at the Coronado Island resort, followed by fireworks over the sand.