10 great ways to celebrate New Year's
You can put on a party hat or be festive in the forest.
© Beth Gauper
In Chicago's theater district, the restored Ford Center/Oriental Theatre hosts touring shows.
If you want a good way to greet the new year, plan a great getaway.
The traditional plan is to look around for a party or show. Pretty much any big hotel will have a New Yearís celebration with party hats, loud music and cocktails.
But you also can hike by candlelight, ride an indoor Ferris wheel or watch a torchlight parade on a ski slope.
If you want to celebrate in a big city but you can't spend a lot of money, consider staying home on New Year's Eve and starting your getaway on New Year's Day. The more luxurious the hotel, the more the price will drop ó often, by more than half.
With your savings, you can buy a fancy dinner and tickets for a touring Broadway show.
Here are other good ways to spend New Year's Eve (and Day).
Twin Cities by candlelight
If you rather be outdoors than inside, light up the night at one of three parks and an arboretum on New Year's Eve.
In the southern St. Paul suburb of Eagan, Lebanon Hills Regional Park holds a New Year's Eve party with candlelight snowshoeing and ice skating plus sledding, s'mores and a ball drop, $8. It sells out, so buy tickets in advance.
And in the southern Minneapolis suburb of Richfield, Wood Lake Nature Center holds a Candlelight and Ice celebration on New Year's Eve, with luminary-lined trails, marshmallow-roasting and crafts and games, $4.
© Lincoln Park Zoo
The ZooLights display at the Lincoln Park Zoo is free.
Zoo critters in Chicago and Racine
Tickets for the adults-only party are $12-$23 and include a DJ, games, ice carving, carousel rides, cash bars and giveaways. The free ZooLights display is up through Jan. 5.
Or, just across the border in Wisconsin, take in the last night of the Lantern Festival at the Racine Zoo.
Schussing and champagne
Most alpine-ski resorts plan New Yearís Eve festivities.
On Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Big Powderhorn Mountain holds a New Year's Eve Party with a torchlight parade and fireworks.
The party at Ski Brule, due east of Eagle River, Wis., includes a dinner, tubing and music as well as a torchlight parade and fireworks.
And at Afton Alps near the Twin Cities, there will be s'mores, a torchlight ceremony and fireworks.
Circus arts for children in Madison
Kids have all the fun at Madison Family Eve: They can try circus arts as well as martial arts, and there's juggling, magic, LEGO robotics, a craft area and bounce houses. It's from 4-7:30 p.m. at Monona Terrace.
© Destination Madison
Kids can learn circus arts at Madison Family Eve.
If the kids still have energy, take them to the free Holiday Fantasy in Lights in Olin Park; it's open through New Year's Day.
Carnival rides and fireworks in Chicago
Because Chicago has so many hotel rooms to fill, it's one of the few places where prices don't really go up for New Year's Eve (and there are good deals for New Year's Day).
It features more than 24 slides and carnival rides, including an indoor Ferris wheel, plus a climbing wall and indoor ice-skating rink. At midnight on New Year's Eve, there's a fireworks show.
There's also a big fireworks show at midnight along the Chicago River.
For more, see Chicago stories.
© Travel Wisconsin
A cherry drops in the Door County town of Sister Bay.
Big drops in Wisconsin and Michigan
In the eastern Wisconsin town of Plymouth, near Sheboyan, there's a family-friendly Cheese Drop, with free cheese hors d'oeuvres, live music and a champagne toast. In Sister Bay in Door County, there's a cherry drop.
A quiet cottage
If youíre not wild about wild parties, rent a cabin or cottage and make your own party with a crackling fire and cocktails. There's usually plenty of availability, especially for Jan. 1-3.
Every tourism web site lists vacation rentals, but Airbnb and VRBO makes it easy to see everything that's available; just plug in the dates you want.
© Beth Gauper
A vacation rental in Beaver Bay, Minn., overlooks Lake Superior.
New Year's Day in Door County
Door County has lots of rooms for the summer crowds, so you can always find a good inn or B&B for New Year's Eve.
For lodgings, see Where to stay in Door County.
First Day Hikes in four states
Across America, state parks are hosting First Day Hikes, with walks guided by naturalists and a festive atmosphere provided by bonfires and hot chocolates. If there's snow, many parks provide snowshoes.
On New Year's Day, you can join naturalist-guided First Day Hikes (or snowshoe) in 11 state parks in Minnesota, 14 in Wisconsin and 49 in Iowa, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of its state parks in 2020.
In Michigan, there will be three First Day Hikes on New Year's Day.
Last updated on December 31, 2019