Image: Ball Drop In Times Square
Brian Harkin  /  Getty Images
Revelers celebrate the ball drop in Times Square on January 1, 2010, in New York City.
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updated 12/30/2010 10:14:29 AM ET 2010-12-30T15:14:29

As a former flight attendant, Beth Blair had been to Las Vegas countless times. A few years ago, she decided it would be a great place to spend New Year’s Eve: bright lights, cocktails, and an all-night party.

But it wasn’t what she’d hoped. “On the last day of the year, Las Vegas turns into a disrupted anthill — too chaotic and wild for me,” says Blair, now a travel blogger based in Minneapolis. “I was surprised Las Vegas could get any more amped up. It just brings out the wildest of the wild.”

Slideshow: America's best cities for New Year's Eve

Of course, that anthill level of excitement doesn’t scare everyone away. In the latest Travel + Leisure survey, Sin City ranked No. 5 out of 35 as the best American city for New Year’s Eve.

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The best place to spend New Year’s Eve was just one part of the America’s Favorite Cities survey, where Travel + Leisure readers ranked 35 U.S. cities in 54 categories, such as the best luxury shopping, the best live music, and even the best coffee bars.

Vote: How will you ring in the new year?

Finding a great place to celebrate New Year’s Eve is important. While many of us keep a standing New Year’s date with the TV and a pair of fuzzy slippers, more than 1 in 4 Americans plan to travel this year to welcome in 2011, according to a survey from LowFares.com.

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Like Blair, not everyone who travels for New Year’s wants a raucous time. When we looked at the Top 25 for New Year’s in the AFC survey, a mix of great live music, good bars, and wild weekend potential helped bolster many cities’ rankings. But warm weather also seemed to play a huge role. Two of the Top 10 cities are on islands, two are in the desert, and one — San Diego — is the AFC voters’ winner in the climate category.

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Many people also just have different definitions of what constitutes a good party. Memphis, for all its great music and good food, still came in at No. 25 for New Year’s Eve — perhaps because AFC voters found other things about staying in Memphis that dampened their spirits. Meanwhile, southern city Savannah — new to the AFC survey — shot to No. 4, even besting Vegas, proving that some folks would rather err on the side of charming for December 31.

Interactive: Top travel stories of 2010 (on this page)

And what about New York City, arguably the epicenter of New Year’s Eve? It made a mediocre No. 13 showing, perhaps due to cold temps, big crowds, and high prices. Shari Lynn Rothstein-Kramer, a native New Yorker, admits that she has spent more New Year’s Eves than she can count in Times Square. “Every year I swore I wouldn’t do it again,” she said, “but then a friend would come into town, or it wouldn’t seem so cold—but it was never really fun.”

Copyright © 2012 American Express Publishing Corporation

Vote: How will you ring in 2011?

Timeline: Top travel stories of 2010

From a volcano that disrupted air travel across Europe to Steve Slater's infamous exit on a JetBlue emergency chute, here's a look at the top travel stories of the year.