There are quite a few questions to ask yourself when making New Year’s Eve plans—especially if you ring in the new year while visiting a foreign city. If you’re kicking off 2011 in Santa Barbara, consider this: Are you a watch-the-ball-drop-at-home kind of person? The bubbly-puts-you-to-bed-before-midnight date? Perhaps more of a mover and a shaker who rings in each year grooving to live tunes? Do you prefer to imbibe in as much gluttony as possible before resolutions kick in? Sing “Auld Lang Syne” after too much punch? Or, if you’re anything like me, you want to get as far away from the crowds as possible. Fortunately, there are all kinds here on our shores, and there are as many festive New Year’s Eve options for each and every personality. Read on for celebratorions to suit any old way you like to party.
The Music Lover
SoHo is hosting an Oceans of Light theme celebration featuring popular quartet Animal Liberation Orchestra (ALO), and local band The Messengers Trio, $45-$100, 9 pm. But this New Year’s Eve gig sells out quickly, so get a sneak peak of the festivities tomorrow, December 30 at SoHo, $20, 8 pm, for a night with ALO and The Family, a local folk/rock band fresh from recording their debut album.
Loosen your belt with a five-course meal for families at the Four Seasons Biltmore‘s renowned Bella Vista Restaurant, $225, 8 pm. Join late-night festivities—like dancing to a live deejay and sipping champagne—in the hotel’s Ty Lounge, $45, 7 pm-midnight.
The Social Butterfly
Reserve tickets for the “in-flight” theme Air Canary party at The Canary Hotel, $40-$115, 8 pm-1:30 am. Tasty hors d’oeuvres, champagne toasts, and live music by Ulysses Jasz will be in the hotel’s Coast Bar & Restaurant, while DJ Sparx will spin tunes on the breezy rooftop bar, The Perch.
Not for the faint of heart, the red leather booths and Miss Kitty GoGo Dancers beckon at the Wildcat Lounge, $25, 9 pm. The evening promises three balloon drops and live entertainment at this favorite downtown dive bar.
Spend the day sipping local varietals in Santa Ynez Valley’s famous wine country, then cruise back to town to snug into your hotel room. If you want to keep the party—and wine tasting—going until midnight, hit downtown’s accessible urban wine trail.
If downtown happenings aren’t your style, head 20 miles north on Highway 101 and pitch a tent at El Capitan State Beach, where you can sit by the campfire, paddle out for a surf, and walk along the sandy shore. If you’re looking for nature, but not that much nature, reserve a luxe yurt across the highway at El Capitan Canyon Resort.
However you decide to celebrate, get thee to 2011 in one piece, would ya? If after midnight you find you’ve tied one on, hail a taxicab—there’s eco savvy Lucky Cab, 805-968-5020, or click here for Lowrider Cab, 805-722-5118, the most stylish taxi in town—hop on a cruiser (but be forewarned: Biking Under the Influence citations do exist), check the bus schedule here, or enjoy the city lights during a midnight stroll home.