Being sober for New Years can be tough for anyone, but being sober for New Years in a city like Las Vegas? That can feel like a cruel joke, particularly for those new to recovery. But just because Vegas is ground zero for drunken tourist shenanigans doesn’t mean you need to resign yourself to a depressing night at home in front of the TV. There are plenty of sober things to do in Vegas, many of which are available throughout the holidays. So grab your sparkling water and dig into our list of 7 (non-boring) booze-free activities happening in and around Sin City on New Years Eve.
1. Go “Braving” with friends (Breakfast Raving)
6:30am “sober raves” have become a trend in New York City (where people do yoga, get massages, drink tea and juice, meditate and even dance). Although sober raves haven’t made their way to Las Vegas (yet!), you can host your own or gather a group of friends together and go out to a dawn breakfast. The Egg & I and Black Bear Diner (both located off the Strip) open at 6am.
2. Go for a pre-dawn hike and watch the first sunrise of the year
What better way to celebrate the start of a new year then watching one of Vegas’s spectacular sunrises? It’ll provide an opportunity for some quiet self reflection and contemplation, plus, research has shown that Nevada is the fourth popular place to go for killer sunrise and sunset photos. It’ll likely be chilly up on the top of one of Las Vegas’s many mountains, so we recommend you wear layers, bring a thermos of hot cocoa and a thick blanket. One of the best places to view the sunrise (with views of the Vegas skyline) is located behind Las Vegas Recovery Center, on Lone Mountain hilltop. It’s a quick hike (just 15 – 20 minutes from the parking lot), but its convenient location right off of the 215 makes it ideal for those not keen on going for long hikes in the dark. Don’t have anyone to go with you? Join one of Las Vegas many hiking Meetups. It’s likely they’ll have one planned, or if they don’t, you can plan one yourself!
3. Drive out into the desert and release “flying wish lanterns”
In China and other parts of Asia, people write wishes onto paper lanterns and then release them into the sky for good luck. Because Las Vegas is surrounded by stretches of empty desert, it’s an ideal location to host your own wish lantern festival. A good place to go is the dry lake bed near Boulder City, where you’re also allowed to camp and have a bon fire. While wish lanterns can be purchased, if you’re feeling crafty, you can also make them yourself.
4. Go to a game night at a cafe (or host your own!)
For those looking for something more low-key than a lantern festival, a sober game night with close friends can be surprisingly fun. Board games have become trendy and have evolved beyond Monopoly or Yahtzee to include adult-themed games like Cards Against Humanity or adult versions of classics like Taboo or Pictionary. Don’t want to stay home? Meepleville Board Game Café (located on West Sahara) has seating for up to 75 people and for just $5, you can hang out and play board games for as long as you’d like. Employees at Meepleville offer tutorials on the latest games and if you don’t have your own games, they have a wide selection for sale in their retail area. The café is open until 1am and serves food and non-alcoholic beverages.
5. Attend an Alcathon or Narcathon
An “Alcathon” (for Alcoholics Anonymous) or a “Narcathon” (for Narcotics Anonymous) are events held during the holidays (like Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve or New Years Eve) that are designed to provide a space for people in recovery to go in order to avoid temptation and stay clean and sober. “Alcathon” or “Narcathon” are just 12-step terms for a 24-hour meeting marathon. People in need of some support staying sober can come and go as they please and in addition to the round-the-clock meetings, there’s usually a potluck. Call the local AA hotline or local NA hotline for a meeting schedule.
6. Go to a “Bowling Bash”
Several bowling alleys around the Vegas Valley will be hosting New Year’s Eve “Bowling Bashses”, which are ideal for families and kids. The parties include pizza and soda, glow sticks, door prizes, party favors and, of course, bowling. Compared with other NYE festivities, they’re relatively inexpensive, starting at just $30 for an entire evening of entertainment.
7. Go to a show at The Smith Center
Not everyone will be in the mood for high culture on New Years Eve, but for those who are, The Smith Center is the place to go. Every year they host a NYE musical extravaganza that showcases Broadway hits from special guest performers and “endless musical firework”. The show kicks off at 7pm. Got a suggestion for a fun sober activity or event? Leave a comment and let us know! We’ll add it to our list.
About LVRC: Las Vegas Recovery Center (LVRC) offers drug and alcohol treatment programs at its main campus in northwest Las Vegas. Our program includes detox, inpatient and outpatient services and a family and alumni program. Contact us to learn more.