Why are we planning New Year's Eve this early?
August 31, 2009 6:27 PM   Subscribe

My friends and I trying to plan New Year's Eve. Help us figure out if New Orleans or Miami would be better...

Hey everyone,

Even though it's August, my friends want to plan New Year's Eve. We've narrowed it down to two choices: Miami or New Orleans, and we're having trouble deciding.

If you have any experience with either of these two cities (especially around New Year's) I'd appreciate your input.

New Orleans:


1) We'd stay on Bourbon St. All the action is centrally located here.

2) Sugar Bowl is going on. It would have lots and lots of people

3) We feel like drinks/entertainment would be cheaper here.


1) NO seems to be a lot more "dirty" - especially Post-Katrina

2) There doesn't seem to be much to do besides drinking.

3) Potentially colder

Miami (South Beach)


1) BEACH! (Though weather seems to be hit or miss)

2) More glamorous

3) Seems to have more non-drinking activities

4) Potentially warmer

Cons: (Basically the NO Pros)

1) We're a pack of 7 guys. I feel like we'd have an easier time getting into places in NO than Miami

2) Miami nightlife is going to be more expensive

3) Everything is more spread out in Miami - a lot of time in cabs traveling to and fro, no central location like vegas.

So HiveMind, I turn to you. If anyone has experience with either of this two cities (especially on NYE), I'd appreciate the input.

Let me know if you want more info about us, and our tastes.
posted by unexpected to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total)
If you're in South Beach you can walk pretty much everywhere. It's only spread out if you want to go to Miami proper.

That said, I'd choose South Beach over N'awlins in a heart beat. But, yes, you're correct: South Beach will be much more expensive.
posted by dfriedman at 6:40 PM on August 31, 2009

Miami is a blast for New Years, but I'm biased, because I was there to see Phish. Still, before and after the shows, we had a blast just walking around South Beach.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 7:28 PM on August 31, 2009

New Orleans is fun for New Years, if you're into the Bourbon St. thing. I was just there and I don't think it's any more dirty now than it was in the 90s when I was there for NYE. I remember wanting to burn my clothes and shoes afterwards, but we did have alot of fun. If you're out on the street, you may find it hard for the 7 of you to stay together.
posted by cabingirl at 7:43 PM on August 31, 2009

While I would never really want to go to either of these cities for New Years, I would choose Miami if you made me.

Miami in January is generally not warm enough to swim, but certainly warm enough to hang out outside. And if you're on South Beach, anywhere you'd really want to go is in walking distance. Miami is really lax (i've found) about letting people drink outside, which I'm a huge fan of, and when you get a lot of people outside drinking on New Year's, everyone is generally really happy - which makes for a good party. And while there's a lot of the fru-fru martini crowd on South Beach, it's really pretty laid back, people get ugly early and party until dawn, and basically everyone there is there to have a good time. It can be pretty damn fun.

Miami also has a bunch of cool stuff to do in the pre or post New Year's days. I mean, there is the beach. Fairchild Tropical Gardens are incredibly neato. And the Wolfsonian Museum of Thinkism usually has something cool to offer as well.

It will, however, be more spendy than New Orleans.
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:07 PM on August 31, 2009

Response by poster: We're crossing cities off of our list, Lutoslawski. We've done NYC (2x), we've done Vegas. Where else would you go?
posted by unexpected at 8:14 PM on August 31, 2009

I haven't been to NO on NYE, but I've been 3 other occasions (including halloween and mardi gras). I went to visit people who live(d) in NO, and so my experience was very different from the typical Bourbon St. tourist, though I've done that bit too. If you actually know someone (pref. a native) who can act as a sort of guide, you can find a lot more interesting places to go in NO than Pat O's. Start with your friend's favorite neighborhood place and go from there (I recall having a great time at Le Bon Temps Roule on Magazine). If you don't know anyone who knows NO, you're probably not going to have as much fun unless Bourbon St. is enough for you.

Can't speak to Miami, never been.
posted by axiom at 8:16 PM on August 31, 2009

Ha! That's a cool project. I do like traveling projects. In that case I guess it makes more sense to me. Sorry, it's not that Miami can't be a really, really fun place (my SO is from South Miami and I go a couple times a year), I'm just not a big crowd party sort - but if you are, you'll absolutely have a fantastic time in Miami (not that I don't get down every now and again...I can be cool if I really try). And South Beach is where the party is, though I much prefer some place like the Grove.

Miami makes sense because it won't be freezing like NYC usually is on New Year's (and impossible to get anywhere). I've had really great New Year's times in Chicago (which is usually freezing as well...but Chicago is just a wonderful city full of wonderful bars and music and people - in a very opposite Miami way), San Francisco (weather not too bad and defo the weirdest, as you might imagine, New Year's parties around) and of course Portland (i'm biased) - not that these are necessarily better than Miami or NO, they're just more up my alley. I don't mean to hate on Miami. My idea of a good New Year's is some really tasty scotch, some sort of good music (and generally the Miami music scene, at least in my opinion, is pretty...well...not great), tasty snacks and good people...and general low key-ness.

Really it's just that large crowds of extremely attractive and well-dressed people just give me anxiety.

If you had a blast in NYC, you'll no doubt have a blast in Miami, for sure.
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:30 PM on August 31, 2009

I've spent a New Years in New Orleans. I had a ton of fun.

Keeping in mind that I was there pre-Katrina: Bourbon Street, the actual street part of it, will be fucking packed almost every night. And I don't mean Really Busy Trendy Club Packed. I mean, Mosh Pit Packed. With a large contingent of collegers from whatever teams are playing in the Sugar Bowl. We retreated to the casinos just to get away from the crush of humanity more than once.

But they also had these really awesome orange-colored frozen drinks made with Everclear that you could buy damn near everywhere, and for an extra dollar they'd add an extra shot. I drank so many I freezer-burned my tongue.

Also, apropos of nothing, when I did my NOLA New Years, it snowed.
posted by Cyrano at 9:22 PM on August 31, 2009

Bourbon Street and the FQ in general are a lot cleaner than pre-Katrina. The company that has the sanitation contract actually does its job, surpisingly.*

I haven't actually been out on NYE in NOLA proper, but I can tell you that Halloween is a blast and I would imagine that NYE is as well. Some places may have a small cover but you're not going to be blowing a paycheck trying to get into some swanky club (a la Miami). I have hung out downtown for 4th of July and enjoyed the fireworks on the river. Plus, in New Orleans you can DRINK ON THE STREET. OUTSIDE. NEED I SAY MORE?

*I was house-sitting for a guy in the quarter, and I asked him what day(s) the trash pickup was. He gave me a funny look and said "Every day, just put it out and it's gone within a few hours."
posted by radioamy at 9:41 PM on August 31, 2009

This was well before Katrina, but my New Year's Eve in New Orleans was a nightmare. (And I love New Orleans.) I was in Jackson Square, and calling it "mosh pit" crowded is an understatement. It was "riot in a burning disco" crowded. I am short, and was physically picked up and carried by the crush of the crowd for a quarter of a city block. If someone had managed to fall in this crowd, I have no doubt a severe trampling would have occurred. So, if you choose NO, stay out of Jackson Square is my take-away, I guess.
posted by thebrokedown at 3:40 AM on September 1, 2009

I had a great time in New Orleans for NYE, but this was back in 1994, or 1993, or something like that. It was indeed very crowded -- also expensive, because they jack up the prices for the Sugar Bowl. But it was great fun. However, if I recall correctly, that year someone died (in Jackson Square, maybe? I forget) when she was hit by a falling bullet that had been shot upwards in celebration of New Year's. So... I would probably be somewhere other than Jackson Square at midnight, maybe.

We actually stayed at the youth hostel in the Garden District that time. Part of it is (was?) a normal hostel; the other part is apartments with kitchens. Much cheaper than a hotel, and useful to have the kitchen, though if you are in NO I strongly recommend eating out a lot, because the food is amazing there. We just took the streetcar to the Quarter when we wanted to go there (which was most of the time), and it didn't take long. The folks who owned the hostel actually let us use their house to have a New Year's party while they were away. (We were there with a large group.) We had lots of fun. I don't even drink, but I was never bored -- there are always things to see and do in the Quarter (and elsewhere), and I was with a group of cool people.

There is at least one other MeFi member who was there at the same time with our group who might have something to add...
posted by litlnemo at 5:39 AM on September 1, 2009

I was in NO for the weekend before Mardi Gras last year, and the Canal St./Bourbon St. district didn't seem particularly dirty to this city slicker - a couple sleazy guys tried to hit us (a group of college-age girls) up for sex and/or drugs, but that's pretty typical no matter where we go.
posted by muddgirl at 7:26 AM on September 1, 2009

NO is much cleaner after Katrina, IMHO. The only thing we can figure is the water washed away hundreds of years of crud. It's going to be really crowded, and the Sugar Bowl crowd will be extremely loud and kinda obnoxious. But I would pick New Orleans over Miami in a minute, especially for this situation. It's my favorite city in the whole world.
posted by raisingsand at 8:04 AM on September 1, 2009

I've been to New Orleans and Miami, although neither on NYE. Have you been to Miami before at other times of the year? Miami is probably my least favorite city in the US. I found the people to be extremely rude and unpleasant. It's filled with fake "glitz" and has very little of interest. Would you be flying? Miami has one of the worst airports I have ever been to. I would avoid it at all costs. The baggage handlers there don't even bother to load any of the bags onto the plane, so you'll likely come home and have to wait for a day or two for your bags to arrive.

On the other hand, I loved New Orleans. The architecture is interesting. I don't care for drinking and I still had a lot of fun walking around the French Quarter and visiting historic areas.

This is just my biased opinion though. Maybe my bad Miami experiences were just flukes.
posted by parakeetdog at 1:16 PM on September 1, 2009

I've never been to Miami but if you go to New Orleans I'd avoid Bourbon St altogether. It's just sleazy and sad... and all the bars there are really ugly.

There's much more interesting places north of the French Quarter on Frenchman St and in the Bywater.
posted by riverrun at 7:23 PM on September 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

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