Fireworks erupt at Alexandria First Night in Virginia.

Fireworks erupt at Alexandria First Night in Virginia. ©Victor Wolansky Photography, Courtesy Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association

Weekend Getaways: Dec. 28-31

By WhereTraveler Staff on 12/27/12, updated 04/18/13

New Year's Eve is close upon us, so if you're considering a getaway this weekend, plan on extending the trip a couple more days to enjoy a New Year celebration as well. Flight prices tend to climb around Christmas and the New Year, so the smart money is on a driving-distance getaway if you can't find a last-minute ticket deal. We asked our Where editors around the country to tell us how their city celebrates, and this is what we found:

1) Boston—First Night Boston 2013

Ice sculptures enchant at First Night Boston

New York’s Times Square isn’t the East Coast’s only epic New Year’s Eve party. On Dec. 31, the Hub hosts First Night Boston 2013, the 37th edition of the country’s oldest and largest arts festival, and a fun, family-friendly event. Experience more than 1,000 music, dance and art activities at 35 different locations, including elaborate ice sculptures, a parade, and fireworks over Boston Harbor. Noon-midnight. Free admission to outdoor events; unlimited admission to indoor events with purchase of button ($18).

2) Chicago—Millennium Park Ice Skating

Skaters in front of the "Bean"in Millenium Park

Practice your axels and figure eights with a backdrop of the city’s grandest outdoor space, Millennium Park. Tote your own skates or rent them for a small fee and skate for free right along Michigan Avenue, within view of the famous “Bean” sculpture.

3) Las Vegas—PSY

PSY comes to Vegas ©Angel Management Group

Of course, New Year’s Eve is over-the-top in Las Vegas, but the nights leading up to it offer just as many amazing performers. At PURE Nightclub this Saturday, Dec. 29, learn the moves to PSY’s “Gangnam Style” from the Korean rapper himself, who celebrates his birthday with a performance at the club. The energetic video was named the most watched in YouTube’s history, with a staggering 1 billion views and counting. This appearance is one of the hottest tickets in town.

4) London—Walking With Dinosaurs at the O2

Tyrannosaurus Rex, photographed by Joan Marcus ©CPC 2008

Travel back 65 million years to the Cretaceous period when continents and oceans were first formed, and in an alien-like landscape, dinosaurs dominated the land. At the O2 Arena, the spectacular Walking With Dinosaurs (on view through Dec. 30) uses outstanding puppetry, animatronics and high-tech audio-visual techniques in a show bringing the prehistoric world to life.

5) Orlando—The Russell Athletic Bowl

Rutgers' Scarlet Knights (left) face off against the Virginia Tech Hokies (right)

The Russell Athletic Bowl, formerly the Champs Bowl, comes to the Florida Citrus Bowl. Rutger’s Scarlet Knights will square off against the Virginia Tech Hokies at 5:30 pm Dec. 28. The first Orlando bowl appearance in Rutger’s school history, the Scarlet Knights hope to get past Virginia Tech’s second-ranked scoring defense (ACC).  Whether you plan to paint the Citrus Bowl red or purple, this game is sure to be action packed.

6) Philadelphia—SugarHouse New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront

SugarHouse Fireworks on the Waterfront in Philadelphia

Philadelphia rings in 2013 with twice the fun and fireworks. Head to the Delaware River waterfront on Dec. 31 to take in fireworks displays at both 6 pm and midnight. Both shows are free and timed to festive soundtracks, with the pyrotechnics launched from barges in the middle of the river. Clear views can be had from both Philadelphia and Camden waterfronts, with free viewing areas and broadcast soundtrack at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing and Wiggins Park in Camden.  

7) St. Louis—Way of Lights

Way of Lights illuminates trees near St. Louis

One of the St. Louis area's most popular holiday light displays is on view this Friday, Dec. 28, at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Ill. The free event includes a mile and a half of lights, a laser light show, petting zoo, choirs, children's village and much more.

8) Washington, D.C.—First Night Alexandria

Fireworks over Alexandria, Virginia ©Victor Wolansky Photography, Courtesy Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association

In the streets of 18th-century Old Town Alexandria, families celebrate New Year’s Eve with a “fun hunt,” Fido-friendly activities, 100-plus live performances, face painting and a spectacular midnight fireworks show over the Potomac River. Dec. 31, 2 pm-midnight. $20, children 12 and under free. Alexandria, Va., just a few miles south of Washington, D.C.