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By Ariele Johannsen

December 26, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Looking for the best parties and most fabulous feasts in East County and San Diego’s inland areas this New Year’s Eve?  East County Magazine has prepared our guide to the top local activities where you can ring in the New Year.  Local casinos are hosting parties with drawings for prizes ranging from cars to cash, and some offer free shuttle rides from convenient East County locations. Local chefs are pulling out all the stops with special menus.  There’s even an alcohol-free celebration for those who prefer not to imbibe, plus special transportation to help you reach destinations in more distant locales. Check the websites below for the latest details.

Have a safe and happy New Year!




Viejas Casino

Ever wish you could visit Times Square on New Year’s Eve? Viejas Casino will be re-creating New York City’s Times Square for a free, four-day New Year’s celebration right here in East County. The big event takes place each night from December 28-December 31 on the east side of the casino, adjacent to the Viejas Hotel (which is set to open Spring 2013). The celebration starts nightly at 7 p.m. and features “Big Apple” food and drink specials including Grey Goose specialty drinks, New York-style sandwiches, hot dogs and sliders, plus music by Rising Star band along with guest DJs. To cap it all off each night, guests are provided with free hats and horns in anticipation of a midnight ball drop featuring a massive 700-pound, lighted, flashing New Year’s Eve ball that descends five stories complete with a group countdown as fireworks explode to officially ring in 2013. During the four-day celebration, food, drink and promotional events will also take place inside Viejas Casino. Feeling lucky? Every night from December 28-December 31, Viejas Casino will be giving away a brand new 2013 Porsche Boxster.

Located at 5000 Willows Road, Alpine, CA 91901       Phone: 1-800-847-6537


Valley View Casino & Hotel

It's Vintage Vegas New Year's Eve, Valley View style. Dance your way into 2013 with live music, party favors and entertainment all night long starting at 3 p.m. Restaurant BLDs and the snack stations are open for food choices, but the Lobster Buffet and the Steakhouse will be closed for private parties. Suggested Attire: Red and black are always a sure bet.

Located at 16300 Nyemii Pass Road, Valley Center, CA 92082      Phone:(760) 291-5500


Sycuan Casino

Rock out with live music by Freeze Frame in the lobby from 9 p.m to 1 a.m., playing favorite hits from the 80s and 90s.  Hats, horns and goodies will be provided free to players all night. Plus the final night of Road to Riches drawings will be held, including a chance to win a Golden Passport for entry into a grand final drawing for $100,000 in cash.

Located at 5485 Casino Way, El Cajon, CA 92018 Phone: (800)2-SYCUAN


Pala Casino

Pala gives you more ways than ever to ring in the New Year! Celebrate with award-winning, Top 40 Band POP VINYL at Pala starting at 9:00 p.m. Your admission of $25 (general admission seating) includes party favors and a midnight balloon drop. Tickets on sale with no service charge at the Pala Box Office in the casino, or call 1-877-WIN PALA (1-877-946-7252). Tickets also are available at Star Tickets, 1-800-585-3737.

There are two dinner specials on New Year’s Eve: Choices Buffet offers a Steak and Seafood special for $36 per person from 4:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. and Mama’s Cucina Italiana is serving a special menu for $69 per person. That’s not all; the Oak Room Package for $109 per person includes dinner in the Oak Room with a special New Year’s Eve menu and a private party in the Events Center after 10:00 p.m.

Located at 11154 Hwy 76 Pala, CA 92059       Phone:  877-946-7252-Oak Room and Mama’s Reservations


Harrah’s Rincon

Enter 2013 with your share of $100,000 at The Casino at Harrah's Rincon in San Diego. Receive a free entry and one additional entry for every 10 Tier Credits earned between 6 a.m. December 25th and 11:59 p.m. December 31st. TR Insiders receive 2X entries! From 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on December 31st, 4 people will be selected every hour to win $500 Free Play. At 1am, 2 lucky winners are GUARANTEED to start 2013 with their share of $75,000 CASH! $50,000 CASH / $25,000 CASH.

Located at 777 Harrah's Rincon Way, Valley Center, CA 92082

San Diego website:         Phone: 760-751-3100


Golden Acorn Casino

Ring in the New Year at the Golden Acorn Casino with the style and flair of the 70s! Live entertainment is provided by Masterpiece playing hits from the 1970s to now, starting at 9:00 p.m. Vote for your favorite 1970s party-goer in our 70s Costume Contest at 11:05 p.m. CASH prizes: 1st place $500, 2nd place $200 and 3rd place $100. A one-night drawing at 11:00 p.m. will give away $2013 in free play. Plus, $70 in Free Play every 30 minutes from 7:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

The first 400 Guests will receive a free Golden Acorn Casino wine flute (first come-first served, as supplies last). Remember the 70s and New Year's Eve 2013 with a complimentary 1970s photo shoot in the casino from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. Enjoy a DJ and go-go dancers from 9:00 pm.-1:00 a.m. and a Grand Finale balloon drop across the casino at the stroke of midnight to celebrate the New Year in style.

Located at 1800 Campo Way Campo, CA 91906    Phone: 619-938-6070


Casino Pauma

Celebrate New Year’s Eve with all your friends at Casino Pauma.The party starts at 6 p.m. with New Year’s Eve Special Drawings. Five winners at 1 a.m. & 2 a.m. each receive $1,000 Cash. Earn entry tickets for drawings by visiting the Palm Club, hitting Jackpots over $1,200, suited Hands of Blackjack, and with any dining purchases at Casino Pauma restaurants. Between 8 p.m.-1 a.m., enjoy live music by Bumptown in the Red Parrot Lounge. Free party hats & favors are included.

Located at 777 Pauma Reservation Road, Pauma Valley, CA 92061      Phone: 760-742-2177


Barona Resort & Casino

Leading up to the big night is Barona’s British Invasion from December 28-December 30.  At 9 p.m. on the Hayloft Stage, enjoy the following bands for each of those respective nights: The Joshua Tree/U2 Tribute, The Police Experience/Police Tribute, and Hollywood Stones/Rolling Stones Tribute.  Then on New Year’s Eve, enjoy DJ and live entertainment throughout the casino from 8 p.m.-3 a.m. Earn 500 points to qualify to win $1000 every 15 minutes from Noon-8 p.m.

Located at 1932 Wildcat Canyon Road, Lakeside, CA 92040       Phone: 619-443-2300




La Mesa Adult Enrichment Center

Enjoy a community, non-alcoholic party at the La Mesa Enrichment Center. Dance to the music of the Squires with refreshments and FUN! Tickets are $22 each and can be purchased at the Adult Center Office or at the Friday Night Dance. Hours are 8 p.m. till Midnight.

Located at 8450 La Mesa Blvd., La Mesa, CA      Phone: 619-667-1491




Bistro Sixty on the Boulevard-formerly SD Desserts

SD Dessert owners, Mark Leisman and Arturo Juarez, are not only expert at their desserts; their meals have become as popular. They have changed their name to Bistro Sixty. On New Year’s Eve, they will have live music and a four-course dinner of delectable food from 5:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m. When you arrive, you will be served a sparkler and an Amuse’ Bouche (light appetizer). Then regular appetizers to choose from include Seared Ahi with Avocado, Poblano & Apple Soup, and Risotto with Mushrooms & Asparagus. A slow-roasted tomato salad with baby spinach and fennel follows. Your choice of entrees includes Rabbit Lasagna, braised and shredded; Filet Mignon Medallions with Au Gratin Potatoes and Brussel Sprout Hash; Monkfish served with lentils, mushrooms, and sausage; and Baked Ravioli with Pumpkin Cream, Parmesan Panko. For dessert: your choice of one of the desserts made from scratch in their kitchen. The dinner is $65, plus tax and tip.

Located at 5987 El Cajon Blvd (at 60th St.), San Diego, CA      Phone: 619-287-8186


Bleu Boheme

A fabulous menu of choices awaits you at this Kensington restaurant. There are four options for your hors d’ oeuvres including Smoked Salmon Carpaccio, Wild Mushroom Ravioli, Tartare de Boeuf, and a Maine Lobster Crepe with mascarpone cheese. Entrees include Rack of lamb, Sea Scallops, Filet Mignon with black truffle butter, and fresh local Halibut sautéed with crab. Four fabulous desserts are offered. You really have to see the menu to appreciate the complexity and originality of the dishes as this is only a glimpse.


Located at 4090 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116      Email:      Phone:  619.255.4167


County Line BBQ and Café

As the name states, this eatery is on the county line in Warner Springs and specializes in serving game meats. On New Year’s Eve, they have a special menu offering, and their regular menu items will not be available after 5 p.m. The special menu for their four-course dinner is available from 5 p.m.-10 p.m. by reservation. Your dinner begins with Lobster Bisque and Shrimp with Lobster salad. The main course is a pairing of Grilled Elk Filet and Pheasant, each in their own special sauce and served with sautéed vegetables, the chef’s potato du jour, and bread. Dessert choices are Crème Caramel with Raspberries or Chocolate Mousse with Amaretto. Included in your price of $50 is a champagne flute.

Located at 23446 California 79, Warner Springs, CA 92086‎     

Phone: 951-767-3040


Gingham Restaurant

Savor the “ Feast in the East” with urban cowboy fare; combining the Southwest’s sense of adventure and refinement. The East County can ring in 2013 at La Mesa dining hotspot Gingham with a three-course dinner. Your meal comes with a glass of champagne and an Amuse’ Bouche (light appetizer) for only $35 per person! If the prix fixe menu isn't for you, Gingham's full dinner menu will also be available.  Dinner service is from 6-10 p.m. and guests are encouraged to stay late and enjoy Pick & Rocks cocktails, live music and good company.

Located at 8384 La Mesa Blvd., La Mesa, CA      Phone: 619-797-1922


Jeremy’s on the Hill

This fine California Bistro features a New Year’s Eve Dinner Special for $38 per person. Known for its fresh and seasonal outstanding dishes, the menu for this special 3-course dinner sounds scrumptious. Begin with Lobster Stuffed Mushrooms, Sautéed Spinach, and Bearnaise Sauce. Your dinner entrée is American Kobe Beef Flat Iron with red wine jus, served with broccoli and potatoes. Finish with your choice of the following desserts: white chocolate-pistachio panna cotta, blueberry compote, almond cookie, or house-churned seasonal ice cream.

Located five minutes from the heart of Julian at 4354 Highway 78 in Julian, CA 92036    Phone: 760-765-1587


Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens

This party promises amazing craft beers (36 on tap!), wines, live entertainment, spectacular food, live entertainment and dancing. All for $99 per person. The Soulfires will be featured in the main restaurant and DJ JoeMamma will be spinning tunes on the Mezzanine Dance Floor. Live food stations with mouthwatering short ribs, seafood, Stone’s Mac ‘n Cheese, desserts, and much more. Included are hat and noisemakers, along with a complimentary glass of champagne for the midnight toast. They also have a huge selection of cash & carry beers, wines, and non-alcoholic drinks. Their website has a video of last year’s event and a link to buy tickets. Party from 7 p.m.-1 a.m. You can get there by using public transit; see their website for details and North County Transit District information in this article.

Located at 1999 Citracado Parkway in Escondido, CA 92029     Phone: 760-294-7866



Check casino websites for lists of free shuttle services departing East County locations. 

North County Transit District New Year's Eve Service Information

The North County Transit District is making it easier for you to ring in the New Year without worrying about your ride home. Take the responsible route by riding with NCTD on New Year's Eve if you’re heading north.

Note: Consumption of alcohol is not allowed on the COASTER past 9 p.m. Ride FREE on all NCTD buses and trains after 6 p.m.! Take the COASTER and SPRINTER home after midnight!


The SPRINTER will have extended hourly service from Escondido between 8:33 p.m. - 12:33 a.m., and from Oceanside between 8:33 p.m.-12:33 a.m. A final trip will leave Oceanside at 2:03 a.m. to allow for a final COASTER connection.


An extra round-trip COASTER train departs Oceanside at 8:30 p.m. (arrives Santa Fe Depot at 9:30 p.m.) and departs Santa Fe Depot 12:45 a.m. (arrives Oceanside 1:45 a.m.)

MTS Trolley

The trolley will NOT have free service on New Year's Eve. However, a $5.00 day pass covers unlimited trolley and MTS bus connections in San Diego.





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