The one time I don’t like to travel during the year is between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Theoretically, it’s the week when I clean up my office, get my affairs in order, and enjoy more time with family and friends. Oh yes, and watch some football, especially my beloved Michigan Wolverines, who often play in a bowl game on the morning of January 1 so I have to be abstemious the night before. Go Blue!
In practice, it doesn’t always work out that way, but I still prefer spending New Year’s Eve at home with my wife, Netflix, and clam dip, unless we’re invited to a small party with nearby friends or family. I lived in New York for 20 years and never made it to Times Square to see the ball drop — not on my Bucket List.
Apparently a lot of Americans feel the same way. According to the financial website Wallethub, about two-thirds typically spend New Year’s Eve at home or at a friend’s house. Only nine percent go to a bar, restaurant, or organized event.
Nearly a third fall asleep before midnight. (I’m guessing a lot of these are outside the Eastern Time zone, allowing them to see the ball drop early and call it a night.)
And more than 80 percent spend less than $200 celebrating New Year’s. (That’s still a lot of clam dip.)
But For Those Who Do Travel…
Lest you make me out to be a Scrooge of New Years’ Eve celebrations, I bring you Wallethub’s choices of the best places in which to celebrate the New Year, based on a survey of three main factors — Entertainment and Food, Costs, and Safety and Accessibility — in America’s 100 most populous cities.
Within those three broad categories are a number of sub-categories, each weighted for importance.
These include the most and fewest nightlife options per capita, the most and fewest restaurants per capita, the most and fewest gourmet food stores per capita, the lowest and highest wine prices per capita, the lowest and highest prices for a three-star hotel room on New Year’s Eve, and the number of DUI arrests, among others.
I’m not sure if they included average prices for hangover remedies or an airport misery index, but they covered the celebratory turf pretty well.
The Winners and Losers
The number one best city for celebrating the New Year?
New York City, of course — even though it ranked 99th out of 100 in the “Costs” category. But it finished on top for Entertainment and Food and in sixth place for Safety and Accessibility.
Completing the top five were Orlando, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
Orlando fared just well enough in Entertainment and Food and Costs to top Atlanta, though neither did well in the Safety and Accessibility department.
Los Angeles placed sixth for Entertainment and Food, did only average for Costs and Safety, but still edged out San Francisco, which placed second in Food and Entertainment but finished 97th in Costs and well down the list in Safety and Accessibility. (Anyone who has tried to drive to SF over the Bay Bridge or Golden Gate Bridge at anytime resembling New Year’s Eve can attest to the [lack of] Accessibility factor — though public transportation is available from across the bay.)
San Diego, Chicago, Miami, Washington, DC, and Las Vegas, Nevada, rounded out the top ten, though Miami finished last in Costs, Washington finished 88th in that category, Chicago finished 70th, and Las Vegas 69th (spending the evening in a casino might well skew that statistic into the stratosphere.)
All the top ten did well in the Food and Entertainment realm, but (except for New York) didn’t fare particularly well in Safety and Accessibility, ranging from Washington, DC’s 35th spot to Atlanta’s 88th.
My own city, Tucson, finished in the top third (well, number 32) based on a pretty alluring Costs rank, which still won’t lure me out of the house.
But there’s good news for folks traveling to Hialeah, Florida, which finished dead last (number 100) in Wallethub’s survey of Best Places to Spend Christmas.
Hialeah zoomed all the way to 97th place in the New Years’ survey, ahead of Newark, New Jersey, Fremont, California, and North Las Vegas, Nevada.
So here’s to you, Hialeah — and to everyone, a Happy New Year!
Bonus! Recipe for clam dip:
One clove garlic, halved
One 8-ounce can minced clams, drained but with liquid reserved
One 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Sriracha to taste
Freshly ground pepper and 1/2 tsp. salt
Rub a bowl with garlic halves and discard garlic
Combine clams, cream cheese, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Salt and pepper and Sriracha to taste, and stir until blended.
Add reserved clam liquid as needed to reach spreading consistency. Give unused liquid to cat and wish him/her Happy New Year.
Cover, refrigerate 2 hours or more, unless you are in desperate need (usually the case with me).
Serve with chips, crackers, crudites, etc.
Enjoy with Netflix, Amazon Prime, or whoever has replaced Dick Clark on Rockin’ New Year’s Eve.