The lighted number 13 for "2013" arrived at Times Square last… (Ben Gabbe/Getty Images )
New York City is one of the top destinations for New Year's Eve travelers (no surprise), and Times Square is the place to be during the outdoor tradition that dates to 1904. It's the ultimate party time -- and it's free.
The deal: More than a million people pack Times Square each year to watch the ball drop (a Waterford crystal ball at that). This year starting around 7 p.m. EST, Carson Daly, Anderson Cooper and others will lead the hourly countdown to midnight.
Taylor Swift, Train, Psy doing "Gangnam Style" and others will perform during the evening before the highly televised 60-second countdown to 2013. (Here's the evening's full lineup.)
When: Monday evening only.
Details: If it's free, how do those lucky folks you see on TV get a spot? Planning, planning, planning, according to the city's tourism website NYCgo.com.
-- Best time to go to get a spot is before 3 p.m. when the streets around Times Square begin to close. Best way to get there is by subway and getting off at an earlier stop than Times Square/42nd Street (which will be monumentally crowded) and walking down.
-- Best viewing spots to see the ball are on Broadway between West 43rd and West 50th streets and on Seventh Avenue up to West 59th Street.
-- Best tips for the evening are to dress warmly (a high of 34 degrees and a low of 25 degrees are forecast for Monday), wear comfy shoes and don't take anything with you. If you have a bag, police will turn you away.
-- Best to eat something before you go; if you leave the square to grab a bite, you won't get back in.
Alternatives: Not all the parties are outside in the cold. You can buy a 2013 Times Square Party Pass that allows you to hop around to 11 party stops in the area, from Chevy's Fresh Mex to Utsav Indian restaurant and TSQ Tavern. You can warm up, enjoy DJs, open bars and hors d'oeuvres with the pass. Price is $235 to $295 per person.
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