If you want to escape the cold winter and bask in a warm climate, plan a New Year’s Eve getaway in sunny Florida. The state’s average temperatures in December and January are in the 70s, so you can even hit the beach even on New Year’s Day. Whether you’re traveling solo, planning a trip with your significant other, or having the whole family in tow, there are plenty of opportunities for fun and excitement when you stay at a vacation rental in Florida. Plan your itinerary with these eight New Year’s Eve getaway destinations in mind.
If you’re wondering where to go in Tampa to celebrate the coming year, your possibilities are endless. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay offers an ideal option when celebrating with the whole family. Music blares through the park as visitors count down to midnight. Enjoy an incredible fireworks show, and ride roller coasters in the dark after the clock strikes 12. The Florida Aquarium’s Aqua Eve features fireworks, food, music, and champagne, while Apollo Beach sets off an impressive fireworks display that’s earned the title as largest in the state. Since Tampa hosts the Outback Bowl early in the new year, there are plenty of related events to catch during your stay. Check out the parade and pep rally, join the team for Beach Day at Hilton Clearwater Beach, or score tickets for the big game.
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Where better to begin your new year than the Happiest Place on Earth? Watch the fireworks over Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom as you count down to midnight, join a dance party at Frontierland, or attend the party at Epcot. If the little ones can’t hang until midnight, check out the kid-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration at Legoland Florida, where a giant Lego block drops at 7 p.m. and the whole family can enjoy a dance party and fireworks display afterward. After the kids are in bed, attend an adults-only New Year’s Eve bash at Icebar Masquerade, where everything is made of ice, or play some games as you watch the ball drop at Dave & Buster’s. For an unforgettable time, ring in the new year from atop the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye, the 400-foot observation wheel that stays open late on New Year’s Eve.
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Start December 31 off with a treat for the kids at Noon Year’s Eve, a family-friendly event hosted by the Miami Children’s Museum. Featuring a dance party, a countdown, and a balloon drop at noon, this event is a delightful way to celebrate the coming year. Bayfront Park is a popular South Florida location to celebrate the evening. The exciting event is free for the whole family, offering lots of food, fireworks, music, and a giant orange that drops at midnight. For a night of drinks and dancing leading up to the final hour of the year, head to Mango’s Tropical Cafe for its big New Year’s Eve bash.
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4. Panama City
Panama City Beach rings in the new year twice in one night, ideal for families with young kids that can’t stay up until midnight. At 8 p.m., make sure you’re in Pier Park for the Beach Ball Drop, when over 10,000 inflatable beach balls are dropped from nets that hang above the streets. A fireworks display follows the fun event. From then until midnight, enjoy live music and entertainment while you prepare for a single glowing beach ball to drop during the countdown to midnight. A second fireworks display caps off the night, ushering Panama City Beach into New Year’s Day.
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For visitors trying to decide where to go in Tallahassee to celebrate New Year’s Eve, Florida’s Capital City does not disappoint. If you’re looking for a quiet night out with that special someone, book dinner for two at KitchenAble Cooking School, where you enjoy an intimate 10-course meal by candlelight. Mint Lounge offers an open bar party, so you can drink all you want while a live DJ spins some tunes. For a fun twist, head to The Laughing Stock to enjoy a night of laughs when you watch the comedic cabaret-style performance. Downtown Tallahassee throws a huge party that’s fun for the whole family, featuring music, entertainment, food, bounce houses, a ball drop, and fireworks.
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6. St. Augustine
St. Augustine doesn’t save the party until midnight. This fun beach location celebrates all day long on December 31. Gather the whole family at St. Johns County Pier for the St. Augustine Beach Blast Off. This exciting event packs in more than 30 food vendors, while a beer, wine, and champagne tent serves drinks for the adults. A Kids’ Zone has face painting, balloon animals, inflatables, and more. Run around in a human hamster ball, ride a mechanical bull, or try your luck on the rock wall. An incredible fireworks display is set to music, making the night even more memorable for everyone.
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7. Amelia Island
Amelia Island is located off the coast of northeast Florida, and this Nassau County location knows how to ring in the new year in a big way. If you’re looking for an elegant evening out, attend the New Year’s Eve Black & White Gala at The Ritz-Carlton. This upscale, adults-only event offers an open bar, live music, incredible food buffets, fireworks, and a champagne toast. Buy your tickets before November 30 to enjoy a discounted price, and be sure to pull out your best black-and-white attire for the event. Wear a mask if you have one, or pick one up at the event. Families traveling with the kids can head to Fernandina Beach for the annual Shrimp Drop. Watch a huge shrimp lit with LED lights drop while you enjoy music, food, and activities for the kids.
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8. Key West
A vacation rental in Key West affords you access to some of the most interesting midnight “drops” in the country. Schooner’s Wharf Bar lowers a pirate wench from the mast of a ship docked in front of the establishment, while Sloppy Joe’s drops a conch shell. For something really out of the ordinary, head to Duval Street to see Sushi the drag queen descend in a huge red high-heel shoe. For live music and a fun celebration at midnight, check out Green Parrot Bar. This place fills up fast, so be sure to get there early in the evening.
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