New Year's Eve parties with a view
Let's face it. The reality of New Year's Eve in Times Square – no bathrooms, no booze and a heck of a lot of tourists — is nothing like what you see on TV. Thankfully, a number of venues with prime ball-watching locations are hosting the sort of New Year’s Eve parties you'd actually want to attend. You'll get ultra-close to the action but still stay out of the fray.
Swanky burger bash
Although West Coast import The Counter just opened earlier this month, the haute burger joint wasted no time in organizing a New Year's Eve fete. A hundred and seventy-five bucks gets you a four-hour open bar (8 p.m.-midnight), passed hors d'oeuvres and a Champagne toast in the shadow of the ball drop – literally. Stick your head outside and you're in the action; step inside to take the chill off and grab a drink. Advance tickets are required to enter the Times Square area. ($175, 7 Times Sq., at 41st St., 212-997-6801)
Movie theater takeover
AMC Theaters Times Square, the multi-story megaplex down the block from the ball drop, is hosting a tri-level New Year's Eve party. On level four, a kid-friendly party (ages 13 and up) will screen fun flicks, host an all-ages dance party and sell concession stand treats. The adult-only open bar party on levels five and six will feature a DJ, a two-hour buffet and, of course, classic flicks. VIP terrace ticket holders will have access to prime viewing of the midnight ball drop. Doors open at 8 p.m. ($35-$499, 234 W. 42nd St., btwn Broadway and Eighth Ave., joonbug.com)
The cocktail soiree
The New York Marriott Marquis hotel, located smack in the middle of Times Square, is hosting a cocktail soiree in its eighth floor Broadway Lounge, which looks directly over the action outside. This year's theme is Hollywood’s Golden Age – think a live 1940s style big band and old Hollywood glamour. (Black-tie dress is encouraged but optional). Tickets include a premium open bar, party favors and chef-manned culinary stations. ($750-$2,800, 1535 Broadway, btwn. 45th and 46th sts, 212-704-8747)
The prix-fixe no-brainer
Brooklyn Diner's prix-fixe New Year's Eve dinner comes with a premium perk: Passes to enter Times Square and restaurant escorts to help you navigate the crowds. The meal will be a classy affair: It starts and ends with Champagne, and in between you'll get passed hors d'oeuvres, a selection of appetizers, one of the diner's signature entrees and dessert. Reservations are available beginning at 7 p.m. ($275, 155 W. 43rd St., btwn. Sixth and Seventh aves., 212-265-5400)
Newly redone R Lounge at the Renaissance New York Times Square hotel has unparalleled views of the ball drop from its elevated vantage point at the top of Times Square, and boy, does the lounge know it. Tickets to the soiree will cost you $995 for two; the party includes dinner (Blue Ribbon fare), a premium open bar and a live show by Bruno Mars. Dare we say the splurge will be worth it? The fete starts at 9 p.m. Packages that include a hotel stay and VIP party access are also available. ($995 and up, 714 Seventh Ave., at 47th St., giltcity.com)
THE ALL-ACCESS PASS
We're not convinced it'll be easy to navigate the crowds in Times Square, but in theory, the All-Access Party Pass being offered by Joonbug.com sounds like a great idea. The $275 pass gets you into numerous venues in the Times Square area, including the AMC Theatres party, Aspen Social Club at the Stay Hotel, Dave & Busters in Times Square, Touch Nightclub, Highbar and Whiskey Park. You'll also have access to Times Square to watch the ball drop live. Ambitious party people, we dare you. For more info visit joonbug.com. Packages are also available for other neighborhoods.
For tips on navigating Times Square, click here.