A new year is almost upon us. Time to celebrate! But why settle with the old ball drop on TV when you can embrace some wonderfully South Carolinian ways to celebrate?
Snyder Grand Ball
What better time is there to dress up than New Year's Eve? To pull out your fanciest dress and the jewelry you never get to wear and to dust off that tuxedo from college? And what better place to embrace your glamorous side than Charleston? Snyder Grand Ball at the South Carolina Aquarium is your chance to go all out for a fancy party, complete with live entertainment, DJs, heavy hors d'oeuvres, formal dresses, black ties, fancy drinks and sharks swimming around you while you dance the night away. From 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the aquarium. Black-tie optional. $135/ticket. 21 and older only.
Ever thought that a massive old battleship would be the perfect place for an enormous dance party? Well, here's your chance to find out. The USS Yorktown in Mount Pleasant is transformed into the huge party for New Year's Eve, with more than 1,000 guests dancing to bands and DJs on three stages. Enjoy light hors d'oeuvres, top-shelf drinks and a half dozen entertainers, all with gorgeous views of downtown Charleston. 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Two ticket levels are available. 21 and older only.
Happy New Year Charleston
Not all New Year's Eve parties are for grown-ups only. Happy New Year Charleston is a free, all-ages party for the whole family with kids' activities, lots of different types of music and dancing for everyone. In Marion Square at King and Calhoun streets. 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. All ages. Free.
Ripley's Aquarium New Year's Eve Sleepover
Kids get their own bash with this kids-only party at Ripley's Aquarium in Myrtle Beach. And this kids' sleepover means that mom and dad get the whole night to themselves to celebrate. There will be karaoke, dancing, movies and pizza. 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Ages 6-14. $49.99/child.
There's really nothing that feels as completely invigorating and enlivening as running into the Atlantic Ocean on New Year's Day. Really - you won't be able to feel your legs as you run out of the water, but you'll feel as alive and fantastic as you've ever felt the whole rest of the day. And when you join in the Polar Plunge on Sullivan's Island, now in its 20th year and run by Dunleavy's Pub, you'll also know that you've done something good for someone else. Dunleavy's Polar Plunge is a fundraiser for Special Olympics South Carolina. Thousands of people will run into the water with you at 2 p.m. sharp. Dunleavy's Pub is at 2213 Middle St., Sullivan's Island. If you donate at least $35, you'll get a T-shirt to prove to the world that you did it.
Up the coast, you can join hundreds of brave souls running into the Atlantic on New Year's Eve at the 14th annual Polar Bear Plunge at Ocean Lakes Family Campground in Myrtle Beach. This popular tradition is a fundraiser to benefit local food pantries. Two cans of food and $6 get you admission, a T-shirt and bragging rights for a whole year. 3 p.m. New Year's Eve.
First Day Hikes
What better way to make a new start in the new year than going for a long walk in one of South Carolina's magnificent state parks? Several parks are sponsoring First Day Hikes, with park rangers guiding you on hikes to some of the most beautiful places in the state on New Year's Day. Some are rigorous, like hiking more than 7 miles and 3,000 feet to the top of Table Rock, and some are gentler, like a 1.5-mile walk on a nature trail in Croft State Park. You'll find just the right walk to get you into the new year at the state parks website. Times vary.