December 28, 2008 — Looking
to party hearty on December 31st? Here are our picks for the best places
to ring in the New Year east of I-15. From a Chinese dragon parade to
a cozy mountain inn, from an alcohol-free celebration to a lavish multi-band
bash, you'll find it all in East County and San Diego's eastern region. Find
details on these events at
our calendar section.
Cheers -- and happy New Year!
MOST ROMANTIC SETTING: PINE HILLS LODGE, JULIAN
Recently restored to its former splendor, this rustic mountain lodge has a
rich history. Built in 1912 and designed by famed architect Richard Requa (known
for many Balboa Park buildings), the lodgeâ's barn once served as a training
ground for boxer Jack Dempsey. Pricey at $100, the New Year's Eve event
is an experience to savor. Start with a lobster bisque martini bar in the pub
beside a roaring fire, savor a lavish dinner and sparkling wine in the cozy
dining room, then dance the night away.
BIGGEST BASH: FIRST NIGHT ESCONDIDO NEW YEAR'S PARTY
This event features 12 stages of music and dance in Grape Day Park, Escondido
City Hall and the California Center for the Arts. Other highlights include
a Chinese dragon parade at 9 p.m. and a fireworks extravaganza at midnight. Also
view street performances and demonstrations by local artists. Kids and
parents will love the free face painting and wacky balloon hats, plus puppet
making and free admission to the Children's Museum. An all-night
food court and New Year's Eve novelties are also available. Guests are encouraged
to transform a paper grocery bag into a top hatâ€”or design and wear a crown
with jewels and sequins.
BEST OF 80S PARTY: BARONA VALLEY RANCH RESORT & CASINO, LAKESIDE
Free New Year's Eve concerts by Berlin, the Romantics and a Flock of Seagulls
are being presented by the Barona Valley Ranch Resort Casino. Guests
are encouraged to relive the outrageous '80s complete with parachute pants,
perms and Velcro. Check out the "Totally awesome '80s yearbook" on Barona's
website for ideas on dressing for this festive occasion.
CASINO-WIDE PARTY AT VIEJAS
This year, for the first time, Viejas Casino will have a Free New Year's
Eve Party throughout the entire casino. It will include five bands in different
parts of the casino, including in the V Lounge and the DreamCatcher Lounge.
Magic 92.5 will be there. As part of the fun, Viejas will be giving away over
$250,000 cash in the Countdown to 2009 promotion, including $100,000 to the
Grand Prize winner. Shuttle service is being provided from seven locations
in San Diego and East County.
ROCK IN THE NEW YEAR: HARRAH'S RINCON
Check into the Harrah's Rincon resort in Valley Center for a rockin' round-the-clock
celebration. Start your day with a sumptuous spa treatment, then dine
in one of several restaurants, each featuring a unique menu created specially
for New Year's Eve. Then disco the night away with the "Super Freaks"
at the Oasis Lounge, dance to top 40 hits with "Diva Soul" at Cabaret Cove,
or catch the soulful groove of "Federal Funk" at the promotions center. You
can also indulge in gaming at the casino, shop at the gift store until 2 am,
then indulge in room service up 'til 3 a.m.
BEST ALCOHOL-FREE EVENT: LA MESA ADULT ENRICHMENT CENTER
Kick up your heels to live music by the Melody Kings. Nosh on sandwiches, salads,
snacks, deserts and non-alcoholic beverages, then ring in the New Year with party
favors and noisemakers--all a bargain at just $20 per person, and no need to bring
a designated driver.