It happens every year. New Year's Eve planning gets pushed to the back burner while we finish the shopping and recover from the office party hangover. Suddenly it's Dec. 29, the Times Square ball is just two days from dropping and we're panicking. Well, calm down. We found plenty of promising New Year's options within a tank of gas of Washington. Remember that reservations and tickets disappear at the drop of a party hat, so some ticket-required events may have sold out after press time. Call ahead or check the Web before you go.
-- Jen Chaney
Like its big brother in Nevada, Atlantic City likes to howl on the last night of the year. Get down with K.C. and the Sunshine Band at the Atlantic City Hilton (Boston Avenue and the Boardwalk, 609-347-7111, www.caesars.com/Hilton/AtlanticCity). Expensive is the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, they like it: Tickets are $175 on New Year's Eve, $75 on Jan. 1. Also on the retro rundown: Tony Orlando at the Atlantic City Tropicana (Brighton and the Boardwalk, 800-843-8767, www.tropicana.net; $25-$75) on Dec. 31 through Jan. 2. Purchase tickets for all shows through Ticketmaster (202-397-7328, www.ticketmaster.com). For hotel reservations, try non-casino properties, such as the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention City Hotel (2 Miss America Way, 609-344-3535, www.sheraton.com/atlanticcity) or the Holiday Inn Boardwalk (115 Chelsea Ave., 800-548-3030, www.atlanticcity.holiday-inn.com).
THE DELAWARE SHORE
Dewey Beach revelers will gather for the 25th anniversary of Ruddertowne (302-227-3888, www.deweybeachlife.com; $100), a New Year's celebration of the party town's central nightlife spot. The evening includes performances by four bands, three DJs, all you can eat and drink, and a midnight champagne toast. After recovering the next morning, head to nearby Bethany Beach for the Hometown Pet Show on the boardwalk, which gives prizes to outstanding animals; entry fee of $5 per animal. Following at noon down at the frosty surf line is the annual Leo Brady Exercise Like the Eskimos event, where teams of warm-blooded people plunge into the frigid Atlantic in a quest for the Iceberg Trophy. Registration is $30; proceeds provide scholarships for local students. (Info for both Bethany events: 800-962-SURF, www.bethany-fenwick.org.) Prefer to chill without treading into freezing waters? Take advantage of the New Year's Weekend Package at Rehoboth's Bellmoor Inn and Spa (6 Christian St., Rehoboth, 800-425-2355, www.thebellmoor.com; two-night rate of $349 to $599 before tax), which includes breakfast, afternoon refreshments and a bottle of champagne.
OCEAN CITY, MD.
Farther south on Coastal Highway, a few of Ocean City's bars are hosting New Year's parties. The tiki-tropolis Seacrets (49th Street and the Bay, 410-524-4900, www.seacrets.com) throws a bash with performances by four bands and dinner for $55 or $85 per person, depending on seating time. After 7 p.m., revelers can pay a $35 cover to party sans supper. The soiree at O.C. hot spot Fager's Island (201 60th St., 888-371-5400, www.fagers.com) includes dinner ($75-$85), live music and a DJ. Pay $30 just for the party, but make sure to arrive before 7 p.m.; non-ticketholders will not be admitted afterward. Miniature golf gurus will be happy to know that Old Pro Golf Adventure at 68th Street (888-OLD-PRO1, www.oldprogolf.com), an indoor course, is open New Year's Eve until 6 p.m. as well as New Year's Day. To find out which hotels are open year-round, contact the Ocean City Department of Tourism (800-OC-OCEAN, www.ococean.com).
What's a snow bunny to do when most ski resort rooms sell out for the holiday? Head to Mercersburg, home of Whitetail Mountain Resort (13805 Blairs Valley Rd., 717-328-9400, www.skiwhitetail.com). Join the New Year's Eve festivities, which include a dinner buffet at the main lodge and skiing, snowboarding and tubing until 1 a.m. -- or just ride up and down the mountain during the day. A buffet and lift package is available for $64.92 for adults, $44.26 for children ages 6 to 12 and free for 5 and under. Whitetail lacks a hotel, but the Mercersburg Inn (405 S. Main St., 717-328-5231, www.mercersburginn.com), about six miles away, offers rooms for $229 per night (there is one room at $139 if you luck out). The inn also hosts a New Year's Eve party, including dinner with wine, dancing and a champagne toast for $150 per person, or $55 without the full dinner. You don't have to be a guest to buy a ticket. Antiquers should note that the Greencastle Antique Mall (345 S. Washington St., Greencastle), about eight miles from the inn, is open in the daytime on Friday.