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New Year’s Eve – Seventeen Places to Check Out While You Ring in ‘17

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By Joni Williams


Are your New Year’s Eve plans the same as your old year’s? Are you looking to break free of that Auld Lang grind? You came to the right place, friends. We have suggestions galore for where to go and what to do that are sure to shake up your routine and practically guarantee good times in the New Year and beyond.


DIY Dive Crawl. Forget the stereotype of a dark, seedy bar with questionable character. That’s so 20th century. There’s no better place to find happy times—or the cackle of a karaoke machine—than at a dive bar.


The best place to launch your own personalized dive crawl is Downtown FoWal. In a half-mile stretch, you can find at least a half-dozen dives, pubs, brew halls and taverns, including Coasters, where cheap drinks rule, and the Salty Duck, where it’s literally all fun and games—everything from billiards to beer pong. They have a stellar selection of brews, too.


But why stop with two? Other crawl-worthy pubs in the area include Fokker’s, home of the loaded “Mother Fokker” pizza and killer happy hours, Props Brewery, KC’s and The Boardroom. Need more? Head into nearby Destin where you’ll find a bevy of dives and cozy bars like Lucky’s Rotten Apple, The Red Door Saloon and Duck Duck.


HarborWalk Street Party. If you do end up in Destin, be sure to hit the Harbor where they’ll wrap 2016 with none other than a street party. Think about it. How often do you get to go to a street party in the land of overrun streets and jam-packed traffic snarls? Flow Tribe kicks off the party at 7 p.m., followed by the Journey cover band Departure at 10.


But wait, there’s more. 2016 will go out with a bang, literally, with two fireworks shows, the first at 8 and a midnight finale featuring a sparkly ball drop. Admission is FREE.


Dave and Buster’s, Pier Park, Panama City Beach. If barhopping isn’t your scene but gaming is, D&B is the place to be on New Year’s Eve. Up for grabs are a couple of sweet package deals starting at $47.99 that include dinner and dessert buffets, gaming “power cards,” college football on the tube and reserved VIP seating for an optimal view of Pier Park’s ball drop. You can upgrade the package to include a drink ticket, or just belly up to the bar on your own.


If you fancy yourself a honky tonk woman or man, Pier Park is also where you’ll find the one and only sister location of the world famous Tootsies. And it’s the only place in the Panhandle with a weather forecast of snow. But it’s Pier Park, not Mother Nature, that is once again bringing snow to the beach for the holidays.


Mardi Gras Ball, The Village Door, Baytowne Wharf. Owner John Wehner isn’t going to Bourbon Street for New Year’s Eve, he’s bringing it to Baytowne. The Village Door will welcome 2017 New Orleans style by hosting a Mardi Gras ball, complete with live music and light-up beads. The $25 cover charge gets you FREE drinks from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. and a champagne toast at midnight.


Head east to The Red Bar in Grayton Beach, which has a longtime reputation for putting the happy in New Year’s (and just about every other day of the year, too). Nearby is newcomer Chiringo, fast becoming a preferred gathering spot for its cheerful ambience and food and drinks with Spanish flair.


Grande Gala, Emerald Grande. Trade your flip-flops for heels and your tees for ties, and make like Cinderella and Prince Charming. For a price that starts at $125 plus tax, you’ll be given the royal treatment with a chef-selected dinner, dancing to live music, and a champagne toast at midnight.  The glorious view you’ll have of the ball dropping over the moonlit Destin Harbor is, of course, priceless.

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