11 unexpected things to do on New Year’s Eve

By now you know the drill. Get dressed up, spend way too much money, and prepare for a night that will wind up being an epic … fail. New Year’s Eve is the quintessentially hyped-up holiday you can’t seem to learn from year after year: As it inches closer, you tend to forget that the typical NYE celebration involves standing in line with hundreds of sweaty and desperate strangers, clamoring your way to the $200 open bar, losing your friends just before midnight, and creepily watching some drunk couple make out. But hey, 2015 was great, and you want to make sure you send it out with the bang it deserves. We get that. But we also know there are plenty of ways to have a magical Miami New Year’s, ones that don’t all involve getting angry or going broke. Here’s our guide to breaking the standard New Year’s Eve cycle, and may the crappy New Year’s past be forgot.

Fireworks at South Pointe Park

Did you know that there’s a spot in South Pointe Park where you can watch all the fireworks being launched across Miami? South Pointe Park is one of Miami’s favorite viewpoints, and New Year’s Eve is the perfect night to get a bird’s eye view of Miami from your picnic blanket. Grab some champagne at the new Total Wine on 1st Street, bring fancy finger foods, and plenty of grapes to ring in 2016.


Jazz at Lagniappe (Courtesy of Daniel X. O'Neil/Flickr Creative Commons)
Jazz at Lagniappe (Courtesy of Daniel X. O’Neil/Flickr Creative Commons)

Garden Party at Lagniappe

What could be better than starting 2016 in a garden, drinking champagne beneath twinkle lights? New Year’s is a happy kind of sad, and Lagniappe gets that, too, which is why the Big City Blues Band will be providing the tunes. In addition to the usual cheese and fig, on New Year’s Eve, Lagniappe is also serving up a very special, once-in-a-year, menu of Oysters Rockefeller and Gumbo. They’ll also have champagne and sparkling wine. Be sure to RSVP here.

El Rap Up! at Churchills

His palms are sweaty, knees weak arms are heavy… and if Eminem’s 8-mile is your only context for a rap battle, you need to get yourself over to Churchill’s for New Year’s. The dive bar is hosting El Rap — a party featuring eight local artists, and all you can drink PBR and Sailor Jerry for $20. Don’t feel like drinking? Free for you then, just register here beforehand.
Courtesy of Trimention Communications

Spend the night with Mr. 305

Last year Pitbull graced millions of loyal 305 fans with his presence at a free (yes, free!) concert at Bayfront Park, which also happened to be televised live on Fox. This year, Pitbull’s at it again, with a little extra help from Norwegian Worldwide, who will host a Food and Wine Party. According to Mr. 305, this Pitbull concert will be the Miami version of the Times Square Ball Drop, so don’t miss your chance to get in on the action. While the countdown and concert is free, purchasing tickets to the Wine and Food Party gets you priority seating – but at $100 for dinner with a side of Pitbull, it’s actually quite a bargain.


The Mighty New Year’s Eve

If you’re tryna just chill out with some old friends and meet some friends-to-be, check out this free New Year’s Eve bash at local favorite, The Mighty. In addition to their usual awesome rotation of beers and cocktails, there are going to be $2 drink specials and a free champagne toast at New Years. They’re also serving up a mean roast duck and steak through midnight — so you can grub your way into the New Year, if you so please.

Miami Children’s Museum

Miami Children's Museum (Courtesy of Phillip Pessar/Flickr Creative Commons)
Miami Children’s Museum (Courtesy of Phillip Pessar/Flickr Creative Commons)

Little ones want in on the New Year’s Eve fun, but any parent (or aunt or uncle) knows that bedtime is a bear. Take the next-next generation of party people to the Miami Children’s Museum’s Noon Year’s Eve Celebration. The big bash starts at 10 a.m. with crafts, a stage show and a real countdown for the noon balloon drop. It’s included with your $14 Florida resident admission and the the party will keep going strong until 4 … 4 p.m., that is.

The Breakfast Club: New Year’s Eve and Grand Patio opening

The Electric Pickle’s patio is finally re-opening, and what a better way to do it than to the chimes of a New Year. It kicks off at 10 p.m. with tunes from local bands and maybe even a surprise guest or two, and it’s all free with an RSVP. But here’s the best part — they’re serving up breakfast at 7 a.m., which will run you $15.

Go back in time with Tropicana at El Tucan

Make history this New Year’s by buying a ticket to see Cuba’s legendary Tropicana dancers, making their first appearance in the United States in 32 years. If you don’t already know, Tropicana is an icon of 1950s Cuba, a cabaret filled with dancers donning glimmering feathered headdresses and men singing Cuban songs in white dinner jackets. This special performance highlighting a pivotal moment in U.S. – Cuba relations starts at $350 for dinner and a show, but you can also just show up for the performance — entrance is $90, which includes a complimentary glass of bubbly.

Have a fancy five-course meal at Alter

Is this is finally the year you’ve decided that you’re a grown-up. Well, grown-ups have fancy meals on New Year’s that they don’t proceed to throw up after midnight, so its time to make a reservation at one of Miami’s most talked-about restaurants this year. Focusing on seasonal cuisine, chef Brad Kilgore will present five- and seven-course dinners, featuring notable dishes like his sea scallop espuma with truffle pearls and caviar. A champagne toast is included with your meal, if you have the room for a toast after all that delicious. Five-course seating is at 7pm, with the seven-course affair kicking off at 9:30pm. Pricing starts at $125.

Hot Chip at Bardot

It’s no secret that Bardot has some of the best indie music programming in the city – after all, Bardot’s music director David Sinopoli is one of the masterminds behind Miami’s III Points Music Festival. British electro-indie band Hot Chip will be gracing Miami with their rad sound this New Year’s Eve, and every single hipster in Miami will be there. And while it’s only a DJ set, because it seems like it’s always only a DJ set, you can be sure the band will play plenty of your favorite tracks – we’ll be crossing our fingers for One Life Stand, anyway.

Billy Joel at BB&T Center

Billy Joel as you remember him best. (Courtesy of pcutler/Flickr Creative Commons)
Billy Joel as you remember him best. (Courtesy of pcutler/Flickr Creative Commons)

If  just want to chill with your dad and do dad stuff, you should take your dad to see Billy Joel. Dads love Billy Joel. They love his fast motorcycle. They love his cool leather jacket. They love his voice. They love him.

The piano man has only toured sporadically in the last few years, preferring to play his tunes almost exclusively at New York’s Madison Square Garden. But he’ll be making his first-ever South Florida New Year’s appearance with a special concert at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, and the tickets are, surprisingly, totally affordable. Just $53 bucks for a chance to see the legend in action — and give your dad his coolest New Year’s Eve since before you were a twinkle in his eye.

Nicole Martinez and Roshan Nebhrajani contributed to this article.