French Quarter-Style Dinner, Second Home Kitchen + Bar

If we had to pick just one thing to love about New Orleans, it’d be the food. Thankfully, you don’t have to wait ’til Mardi Gras to enjoy Louisiana-style grub: Grab your most elaborate mask and a colorful array of beads and head to Cherry Creek for a French Quarter-inspired dinner of Colorado lamb and Veuve Clicquot champagne. Did we mention the romantic 15-foot-long fire pit?

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Skate the Lake Winter Festival, Evergreen Lake House

For a hangover-less New Year’s Day, head to the hills. Your destination: Evergreen Lake—recently lauded as having one of the top 10 ice skating rinks in the country by Sunset magazine. The entire family can enjoy sleigh rides, face painting, pick-up hockey games, music, bonfires, ice skating, and two fireworks shows (one at 8 p.m. for the early birds and another at midnight to officially ring in the new year). Tip: Make it a whole-day outing with our guide to Evergreen.

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Decadence New Year’s Eve, Colorado Convention Center

Dance your way into January at this inaugural party. From the organizers of the annual Global Dance Festival at Red Rocks, the lineup includes 19 musical acts, including drum and bass legend Dieselboy and dubstep producer Flux Pavilion. Enjoy laser light shows, professional dancers, and the best sound system around.

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Extra: Catch Pretty Lights at 1stBANK Center on December 30 and 31 (both at 8:30 p.m.).

Penthouse Party, Grand Hyatt Hotel

The best spot in town to catch the downtown fireworks is two floors of penthouse ballrooms (that’s 10,000 square feet of dancing space) with 360-degree views of the Mile High City. Seven hundred guests will enjoy music by Denver’s DJ Ktone, Future Jazz Project, and DJ Low Key, as well as reserved lounge seating and multiple bars. Hint: Spring for a VIP ticket—only 200 are up for grabs—to access a complimentary menu of top-notch eats.

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Black +/- White, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

Ring in the New Year surrounded by art and style at this upscale soiree in Boulder. Guests will enjoy drinks, dessert, music, dancing, and tarot card readings (don’t you want to know what 2012 has in store?). There’ll be a comfy lounge area and the requisite champagne toast. Don’t forget to wear your spiffiest black and/or white duds.

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Bonus: Looking for something really different? Start the New Year’s celebrations early with the Extreme Rodeo Challenge at Loveland’s Budweiser Events Center.

Photo courtesy of VISIT DENVER