11 Ways to Ring in the New Year in Miami (When You’re Broke)

From a Burning Bowl service at Unity on the Bay to the Paradise Ball at the Breakers Hotel, New Year's Eve in Miami has its traditions. Photo: Tomas Loewy.

Every year it’s the same damn thing. List after list is published with all the hot, exclusive parties to attend in order to start the new year right. But let’s face facts. Most of us aren’t exactly rolling in the kind of dough needed for rubbing elbows with the Kardashians. For those who are weighing their options – and their wallets – for how to ring in 2017, this list is for you.

1. Hang At Your Friend’s Place With The Best View Of Public Fireworks

We’ve all got that one friend or relative who’s got a nice condo in Brickell, Downtown, hell – even Edgewater. And if their apartment is on a high enough floor, you’ll have a great shot at seeing the fireworks at midnight. Convince your friend with a bottle of tequila or maybe some Groupons you never used, then head over to see the fireworks in a whole new way.

2. Work On Your New Year’s Resolutions Early

Maybe the party scene isn’t for you. That’s alright. Why not stay in with a cup of hot tea and a new notebook to jot down your plans for a solid New Year? It might not seem like the most exciting idea to some, but for others, writing out your plan for world domination (or for opening your own business, saving for a new home, or asking for a much needed raise at work) can be pretty damn powerful.

3. Invite Friends Over For A Fun Potluck

Hosting a party can be a bit costly depending on the sort of event you plan, but there are ways around this. Hit up the dollar store (or ask a friend to) and pick up a few Happy New Year hats, balloons, and noise makers. Buy chips or make sandwiches from whatever you’ve got left in your fridge. Let everyone know it’s BYOB and BYOBG (that’s Bring Your Own Board Game), and wait for everyone to arrive. At the end of the day, you don’t need to be surrounded by hundreds of strangers but rather a few of your closest friends.

4. Rally Hard At The King Mango Strut

This much-beloved Coconut Grove tradition continues into its 35th year and is an excellent way to spend that last day of the year. The off-the-beaten-path parade begins at 2 p.m. and continues into the evening with the After-Strut party, complete with music, dancing, and more. Best of all, it’s totally free (minus whatever you plan to eat and drink that night…though you could very likely get away with bringing your own goodies in a backpack).

Corner of Commodore Plaza and Main Highway, Coconut Grove; 305-582-0955

Main Hwy & Commodore Plaza, Miami, FL 33133

5. Party At Pitbull’s New Year’s Revolution

If you’re the sort that wants to be among the inebriated masses at midnight, there’s no better free, public party than the one thrown by Mr. 305 himself. Pitbull’s New Year’s Revolution starts at 8 p.m. and lasts late into the night because that’s just how Miamians do. You could, of course, just watch the festivities from your couch as well, which will be hosted by Snoop Dogg and Queen Latifah.

301 Biscayne Boulevard, Bayfront Park; 305-358-7550

301 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, FL

6. Go On An Impromptu Road Trip

Maybe 2016 didn’t turn out the way you wanted. Maybe you just feel the need to get the hell out of Dodge…or Miami, rather. That’s cool. Pack up some of your stuff and a few sandwiches and snacks and hit the road. Keep it cheap and crash at a friend’s place, or join Couchsurfing and learn the beauty of meeting and sleeping with strangers (or sleeping on their couches, anyway).

7. Visit Your Local Dive Bar

Dive bars are great because the drinks are cheap and the atmosphere is always interesting. Or at the very least, it’ll be quiet and you can just chat up the bartender with all your life’s problems. Seriously though, for those who want to drink but lack the funds or friends, pull up a chair at your local dive (try the Deuce on SoBe, Hole In The Wall in Palmetto Bay, Little Haiti’s Churchills, the Cutler Bay Sports Bar, Free Spirits Lounge…the options are endless).

8. Dress To Kill And Crash A Party

Crashing a party is easier than you think, especially on New Year’s Eve. There’s a number of ways to do it. You could simply crash one you heard about that you weren’t invited to, sure. Or you can drive around and look for a house with tons of cars and folks walking in and out of the place and waltz right in. So long as you’re there to keep it positive and maybe score a few drinks, the hosts probably won’t even notice or care.

9. Enjoy The Fireworks Display On Ocean Drive

Make a full day of it by chilling on the beach all day. You’re skint, so bring a picnic basket from home (or you know, some Publix subs and beer in a cooler). Once the sun starts going down, change into your New Year’s garb and head to Lummus Park where you’ll get to witness one of the best fireworks displays in town.

8th Street and Ocean Drive, Miami Beach; 306-673-7400

Ocean Dr & 8th St, Miami Beach, FL 33139

10. Sneak Into A Fancy Club

This is probably a lot more difficult during such a big night, but some folks have been able to make it happen. One way is by “knowing a guy.” Maybe you’re friends with the bouncer, or the head of security (this is preferred). Get friendly with this person in the coming days and weeks so you get a better chance of letting them get you past the rope. Some ladies have gotten into fancy parties using flirtation techniques, but considering we’re in Miami and the competition is fierce, you might want to couch that one. Some have said they’ve asked folks for their wristbands after seeing people leave a club. That might work, but you might be waiting a long time. But hey, if any of these work for you, feel free to send me a Tweet ‘cause I’m looking to live vicariously.

11. When All Else Fails, Netflix And Chill (In Whatever Way You Want)

For those of us whose party days are (mostly) behind us, and especially for the ones with young kiddos and a snowball’s chance in hell of leaving the house, there’s always good ol’ television. Put on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBONow, or whatever else you use to stream movies and find one that’s got “200 Cigarettes,” “New Year’s Eve,” “When Harry Met Sally,” “The Godfather II,” or any other New Year’s Eve related film, clink plastic cups of champagne, and enjoy.