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10 Off-the-Beaten-Path Places to Be on New Year's Eve

Celebrate 2017 with epic fireworks displays and lively traditions in these off-the-grid spots.

U.S. News & World Report

10 Off-the-Beaten-Path Places to Be on New Year's Eve

Friends holding sparklers at a beach party.
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(Getty Images)

Ring in the New Year in these under-the-radar retreats the world over.

New Year's Eve marks one of the biggest spectacles of the year. In places such as New York City and Sydney millions cram together to watch fireworks displays, get doused in confetti and enjoy beloved performers sing on a live stage. But if you've already watched the ball drop in festive places across the globe, why not opt for visiting something a little more under the radar? These underrated destinations boast all of the key ingredients of a successful New Year's Eve celebration – think: firework displays and live performances – without the added stress, high costs or massive crowds. Read on to ring in 2017 in lesser-known locales the world over.
A fit, female hiker stands atop a snow-covered rocky high point while bathed in the colors of sunset at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is closed to vehicle traffic in the winter. To experience this solitude, people must hike from the South Rim to the North Rim and back. Hiking Rim to Rim to Rim requires dedication, fitness, and preparation for winter conditions.
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(Getty Images)

Grand Canyon National Park

Imagine spending your New Year's holiday in a place with awe-inspiring views and plenty of scenic trails. Ditch iconic party destinations and opt for a laid-back celebration at the Grand Canyon. Coated with snow and bathed in beautiful winter light, the South Rim is the ultimate place to reflect on the past year. If you're a hiker, spend a few days traversing the Kaibab Plateau (North Rim) trail, which weaves through lofty peaks and isolated gorges or the Boucher Trail. Best of all, you can cut costs by booking a stay at the North Rim yurt or setting up camp (with a permit).
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Ring in the New Year in these under-the-radar retreats the world over.

New Year's Eve marks one of the biggest spectacles of the year. In places such as New York City and Sydney millions cram together to watch fireworks displays, get doused in confetti and enjoy beloved performers sing on a live stage. But if you've already watched the ball drop in festive places across the globe, why not opt for visiting something a little more under the radar? These underrated destinations boast all of the key ingredients of a successful New Year's Eve celebration – think: firework displays and live performances – without the added stress, high costs or massive crowds. Read on to ring in 2017 in lesser-known locales the world over.

Grand Canyon National Park

Imagine spending your New Year's holiday in a place with awe-inspiring views and plenty of scenic trails. Ditch iconic party destinations and opt for a laid-back celebration at the Grand Canyon. Coated with snow and bathed in beautiful winter light, the South Rim is the ultimate place to reflect on the past year. If you're a hiker, spend a few days traversing the Kaibab Plateau (North Rim) trail, which weaves through lofty peaks and isolated gorges or the Boucher Trail. Best of all, you can cut costs by booking a stay at the North Rim yurt or setting up camp (with a permit).

Koh Phangan Island, Thailand

The mother of all beach parties, the New Year's Eve celebration (or full moon party) on Koh Phangan is not for the faint of heart. The all-night party, which kicks off after dark on Sunrise Beach in Haad Rin, rages until the following afternoon. Alternatively, you can opt for your own celebration on one of the isles' smaller beaches, such Thong Nai Pan and Thong Nai Pan Noi. If you're not into sleeping on the beach, stay at the luxurious Anantara Rasananda Koh Phangan Villas, which overlooks the beach at Noi.

Reykjavik, Iceland

A New Year's celebration in Iceland's capital city won't be as crowded as other iconic cities across Europe. Due to the subzero temperatures at this time of year, the party on Dec. 31 will be much more low-key. But Reykjavik still celebrates in style with fireworks displays across the city thanks to the country's relaxed fireworks law. After the spectacles, join locals at bars and clubs such as Kaffibarinn, Club Kiki and Prijo. Alternatively, for a more natural display, head north or south of the city to catch the aurora borealis. Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura is an ideal central spot to enjoy festive parties and the natural wonders.

Ecuador

For an off-the-grid holiday, skip the merry-makers and crowds of Times Square, and opt for a more purge-focused New Year's celebration in Ecuador. Cities all over the country, including Quito, build giant dummies (or scarecrows) out of old clothes and newspaper. The idea behind these scarecrows is to capture all of the negative energy of the last year and destroy them before the sun rises in 2017. When the clock strikes midnight, locals set the dummies on fire to start each fresh calendar year with a clean slate. If you're headed to Quito, splurge for a stay at the five-star Casa Gangotena Boutique Hotel, which is located near the Old City.

Madeira, Portugal

If you prefer a top-notch glass of wine over a shot of whiskey, Madeira is the New Year's Eve place for you. The picture-perfect Portuguese island rings in the new year with plenty of festivity (think: fireworks over Funchal Bay and free-flowing wine from street-side cafes). But you can also still find a relatively quiet place to enjoy a seafood dinner and a hearty glass of port. Before the celebrations begin, spend the day exploring the quaint charm of the island – from tea at Reid's to touring the island's unique waterways. And for a centrally located hotel, stay at the Vine Hotel, a boutique with gorgeous views of rolling hills.

The Caribbean

If you can't decide on just one place to celebrate New Year's Eve, why not experience the holiday in a few different locales? Consider a seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines to ring in 2017 while island-hopping through sunny locales. Not only is the weather perfect with temperatures in the mid-80s and plenty of sunshine, but you'll get a chance to experience the unique cultures of the islands. The cruise aboard the Norwegian Escape takes you from Miami to St. Thomas, the British Virgin Islands and the Bahamas, and offers a special holiday-themed dinner complete with Champagne and sparkly accessories. Fares start at $1,349 per person.

Zion National Park, Utah

With its iconic red rock canyons, deep gorges and tree-studded mountain peaks, the dramatic landscape of Zion National Park has beckoned hikers and adventure-seekers for years. To see the park in a whole new light, consider a New Year's Eve trip. Spend the morning hiking up to Angel's Landing for 360-degree views of the 147,000-acre park. And at dusk, cozy up in a room at the Zion Lodge, which hosts a New Year's Eve Celebration Package, offers a special dinner for two at Red Rock Grill, followed by a romantic reception and New Year's toast. And you can enjoy brunch in the morning, before hitting more of the park's 200-plus trails.

Abu Dhabi

Skip the usual party scene (and the crowds of glittering expats) in Dubai and visit neighboring Abu Dhabi on Dec. 31. With just as much luxury and glamour, Abu Dhabi comes alive with music, concerts and dazzling fireworks shows over the Al Maryah Island Promenade and the Khor Al Maqta. To cut costs, check the celebrations at Al Maryah Island to watch fireworks and sample authentic Middle Eastern fare. Or, for a party with a view, go to the Skylite Rooftop Lounge at Yas Viceroy, which boasts impeccable water views. If money is no object, head to the New Year's Eve Gala at the Emirates Palace for a private fireworks display.

Tasmania, Australia

Known the world over for its incredible hiking trails and pristine landscapes, Tasmania is the ultimate place to get off the grid to recharge and start the New Year on the right foot. If you're an avid hiker, hit the Overland Track, which takes you through the diverse (and challenging) landscapes of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. And for an even more off-the-beaten-path experience, head to the South Coast Track, which is set in lush and towering rainforests, alpine heights and supreme bird-watching spots. Or, for an active adventurer, hit the rapids of Franklin River for a whitewater rafting expedition that spans five to seven days.

Orlando, Florida

For a fairytale New Year's Eve setting, spring for an all-out celebration in Walt Disney World. The park is decked out in thousands of twinkling lights and features one of the best fireworks displays in the country. The epic countdown starts at 8 p.m. and gives you a chance to celebrate at one of their many venues, including the Fantasia Ballroom. If you're traveling with youngsters, visit one of the many restaurants in the park offering menus for all ages, including the California Grill and Citricos. The crown jewel of the evening is the Fantasy in the Sky fireworks display, which erupts over Sleeping Beauty's Castle and can be seen across the park.
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