Dec. 14, 2012 – As this wonderful, tumultuous and sometimes challenging year draws to a close, the San Francisco Travel Association has assembled a list focusing on the last few days of 2012, setting stage for some fresh starts and highlighted some favorite places for a NYE toast.

When in San Francisco, make time to visit the San Francisco Visitor Information Center. Located at 900 Market St. on the lower level of Hallidie Plaza near the cable car turnaround at the foot of Powell Street, the center is open Monday-Saturday and offers personalized suggestions on what to see and do in and around the city.

Public transit is highly recommended when traveling around San Francisco. For bus schedules and information on San Francisco’s cable cars, historic streetcars and light rail system, visit www.sfmta.org or call 511 (www.511.org) or 510-893-8729 if calling from outside area code 415. And remember, Muni rides are free from 8 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2012 until 6 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2013.

New Year’s Eve highlights include:

27th Annual Japanese Bell Ringing Ceremony
Dec. 30, 2012
Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St., http://www.asianart.org
Parting is such sweet sorrow, so make it count when you say goodbye to 2012. Gather your loved ones and take a swing at an actual object from the museum’s collection. Literally "ring in" the New Year by gently striking a 2100-lb. 16th-century bronze bell from a temple in Japan. Reflect peacefully upon the passing year while symbolically greeting the new one. Stick around afterwards for art activities. Members can take a swing at the bell earlier in the morning. Tickets are free with museum admission. For more information on scheduling and how to purchase tickets visit http://www.asianart.org/bellringing.htm.

Fireworks by the Bay
Dec. 31, 2012
Mission Street on The Embarcadero Pier 14
The City and County of San Francisco’s New Year’s Eve free, midnight fireworks show will be staged from barges located 1,000 feet out in the bay off of Pier 14 (foot of Mission Street on The Embarcadero). The best public viewing locations are the wide sidewalks that run on both sides of The Embarcadero between Mission and Howard Streets. The pyrotechnics can also be viewed along The Embarcadero in the vicinity of Washington Street and Justin Herman Plaza. There is zero tolerance for alcohol at this family friendly event. And remember Muni rides are free from 8 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2012 until 6 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2013.

California Twilight Cruise with Red and White Fleet
Dec. 31, 2012
Pier 43 ½, www.redandwhite.com
On this casual two-hour cruise, passengers enjoy views of the city’s stunning sunset over the Pacific Ocean, live guitar entertainment, hearty appetizers from the buffet and a beverage from the bar. Nestled into the warm and cozy atmosphere of Red and White Fleet’s historic ferry boats, passengers on the cruise sail along the San Francisco skyline with its modern skyscrapers and historic landmarks, past Alcatraz and cruise under the legendary Golden Gate Bridge. Tickets are $58 per person.

“Beach Blanket Babylon” at Club Fugazi
Dec. 31, 2012
678 Green St., www.beachblanketbabylon.com
Beach Blanket Babylon rings in 2013 with two special performances on Monday, Dec. 31, 2012 at 7 and 10:15 p.m. Both shows feature a pastiche of the best and worst of 2012 – Beach Blanket Babylon style. Guests at each show will receive champagne and truffles. The second show - ending at the stroke of midnight - features post-show dancing until 1:30 a.m. Packed with hilarious spoofs of pop culture and political characters, outrageously gigantic hats and one show-stopping number after another, the show continues to dazzle audiences at Club Fugazi in San Francisco’s North Beach district.

New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball at Davies Symphony Hall
Dec. 31, 2012
201 Van Ness Ave., http://www.sfsymphony.org
The San Francisco Symphony welcomes 2013 with its annual New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball December 31, 2012. Michael Francis leads the Orchestra and soprano Susanna Phillips in a concert with the Orchestra of well-loved waltzes, and masked party-goers dance the night away before and after the Orchestra’s performance to the big band sounds of the Peter Mintun Orchestra, the swing music of the Martini Brothers, and Super Diamond playing Neil Diamond covers. Revelers anticipate the countdown to 2013 with complimentary sparkling wine, beginning right after the Orchestra concert, and culminating in a celebratory toast and a massive balloon drop at midnight. Doors open and entertainment begins at 8 p.m. Concert begins at 9 p.m. Tickets are $85-$195 and can be purchased at sfsymphony.org.

Hotel Events

San Francisco NYE International Ball at the Palace Hotel
Dec. 31, 2012
2 New Montgomery St., http://www.sfpalace.com/
Celebrate the New Year in luxury at the Palace Hotel’s New Year’s Eve dinner dance. Reservations are available from 6–9 p.m. at the Pied Piper Bar & Grill. Enjoy dancing to the music of the Cosmo Alley Cats as chefs prepe a delicious five-course prix fixe menu priced at $95 per person. Festive party favors and a champagne toast are included.

NYE at the W San Francisco
Dec. 31, 2012
181 Third St., http://californianightlife.com/event/san-francisco/w-san-francisco/new-years-eve-2013-at-w-sf#.UNzEIm_AeNc
Ring in 2013 with style and splendor at the W San Francisco. Enjoy live DJ sets by six top San Francisco's DJs while indulging in a four-hour premium open bar from 9 p.m.-1:30 a.m. The evening will conclude with party favors, midnight balloon drops and a one-of-a-kind countdown.

'Passport to the World' 2013 at Westin St. Francis
Dec. 31, 2012
335 Powell St., http://www.westinstfrancis.com/
This glitzy, landmark event will feature a diverse mix of music, fashion, art, culture and sophistication. Venture from room to room, experiencing different music and entertainment throughout. Enjoy all-inclusive beverages, a stylish fashion show, live 80’s cover band, 15 DJs from around the world, live art, stilt-walkers and exhibitionists. Visit http://alistsf.com/ for more details.

New Year’s Eve Reception and Dinner at Top of the Mark
Dec. 31, 2012
Intercontinental Mark Hopkins, 999 California St.
http://www.intercontinentalmarkhopkins.com/
Toast the New Year at one of San Francisco’s most iconic destinations – Top of the Mark. From 6:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m., enjoy a special reception, entertainment, dinner, dancing and a Champagne toast at midnight. Start your evening with Champagne and hors d’oeuvres. Following the reception, guests will enjoy a seated four-course dinner with a bottle of Moet & Chandon Imperial before dancing the night away and toasting the New Year with a glass of Moet Chandon Rose. Rounding out the festivities is live entertainment from pianist Michael Athens and the Megatones, a Bay Area rock and roll band. Reservations are required. The InterContinental Mark Hopkins lobby will also celebrate the New Year with live music from 5 - 9 p.m. by the Al Marshall Trio. Regular reservations are $375 per person; window seating is $425 per person.

CLIFT Hotel
Dec. 31, 2012
495 Geary St., http://www.clifthotel.com
Known for its over-the-top parties, New Year’s Eve is the perfect holiday to spend in the opulent atmosphere at CLIFT. Connecting the space between Velvet Room and Redwood Room, and featuring live music, delicious cocktails and an exuberant and sexy vibe, CLIFT is a prime location to ring in the New Year. Featuring DJ Jazzy Jeff, and a hosted premium bar from 9 p.m.-2 a.m. and passed appetizers from 9-10 p.m. Early bird tickets are $150; table tickets are $15,000.

Beyond San Francisco

Bay Area Discovery Museum
Dec. 31, 2012
557 McReynolds Rd., Sausalito
http://www.baykidsmuseum.org/programs-and-events/holidays/
Can’t keep the kids up until midnight? Join The Bay Area Discovery Museum for its annual family-friendly Noon Year’s Eve Party from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Count down to noon and watch the ball drop in Festival Plaza. Dance along to the museum DJ and create party hats to celebrate the Noon Year. Tickets are $11 for ages 6 months and up.

USS Hornet’s New Year’s Eve Gala
Dec. 31, 2012
USS Hornet Museum
707 W. Hornet Ave, Pier 3, Alameda, http://www.uss-hornet.org/
Welcome 2013 with the ultimate New Year’s Eve party aboard the USS Hornet Museum. From 7:30 p.m.-1 a.m. revelers can enjoy live music, a silent auction, cash bars and food concessions, and a midnight countdown with the spectacular view of the Bay Area skyline. Guests will be able to view San Francisco fireworks from the flight deck, weather-permitting. Spend the evening dancing to the sounds of 3 O’Clock Jump, a 17-piece band made up of some of the best swing and jazz musicians from the Bay Area. Free dance lessons will be provided throughout the evening by Jim Truesdale, a former Fred Astaire instructor. Proceeds from a silent auction will benefit the USS Hornet Museum. Tickets for the New Year’s Eve event are $45 to $85 per person and include free parking. Food and drink are not included but can be purchased on board. For information and reservations call (510) 521-8448 x 282.

Ahwahnee New Year's Eve Dinner Dance
Dec 31, 2012
Northside Dr., Yosemite National Park
http://www.yosemitepark.com/new-years-eve.aspx
Ring in the New Year with The Ahwahnee’s Black and White ball. Chef Percy Whatley will serve up a five-course dinner with dancing to follow. Attendees are encouraged to dress in black or white formal attire. There are two-and three-night packages available, including lodging for two at either The Ahwahnee or the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, tickets to the dinner dance, a portrait sitting and New Year’s Eve brunch in the Ahwahnee Dining Room. The New Year’s Eve dinner dance tickets are $265.20 per person.

The San Francisco Travel Association is the official tourism marketing organization for the City and County of San Francisco. For information on reservations, packages, activities and more, visit www.sanfrancisco.travel or call 415-391-2000. The Visitor Information Center is located at 900 Market St. in Hallidie Plaza, lower level, near the Powell Street cable car turnaround.

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