Las Vegas tops record New Year’s travel destinations Mike Heuer, CDC Gaming Reports · December 27, 2016 at 8:48 am A record number of holiday travelers will make Las Vegas the nation’s top destination for New Year’s and holiday travel, AAA reports. The auto club expects a record 103 million travelers on the roads this year and ranks Las Vegas as the top destination for New Year’s travelers, followed by Orlando, New York City, San Diego and Anaheim. Four of the top locales are warm-weather cities, and three of them noted primarily for tourism. AAA defines this year’s holiday travel season as extending from Dec. 23 through Jan. 2. The 103 million travelers mark only the second time AAA has predicted more than 100 million travelers during the holiday season, and this year’s 103 million represent an increase 1.5 million travelers over last year. AAA says a combination of low gas prices and increased optimism among consumers due to rising incomes and an improved labor market is encouraging nearly a third of all Americans to undertake holiday travel this year. Of the 103 million expected holiday travelers, AAA says about 93.5 million will travel by car and pay an average $2.23 per gallon of gas, up from $2.00 per gallon last year. Most people, though, will pay the second-lowest gas prices on New Year’s Day since 2009, when the national average was $1.62, AAA says. Another 6 million will fly, while trains, buses and cruises account for about 3.5 million more holiday travelers, according to AAA. Nation-wide, AAA says holiday travelers will spend an average of between $128 and $160 per night for lodging. Those staying in Las Vegas for the New Year’s, though, can expect to pay significantly more. Although Las Vegas isn’t noted for its wintertime activities, aside from the annual New year’s Eve fireworks on the Las Vegas Strip, visitors will have ample holiday-themed activities that invoke the spirit of Christmas and winter in general. Through Dec. 30, The LINQ Promenade this year debuted its Winter PARQ, which provides live entertainment nightly, and has more than 2,000 holiday lights synchronized to music and changing colors and intensity. A 35-foot tall Christmas tree decorated with ornaments and lights adorns the Fountain Stage, and snowfall occurs nightly. Nearby at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, a 4,200-square-foot ice rink welcome visitors, who can roast s’mores beside a fire and enjoy light snow showers for seasonal enhancements. The resort’s digital marquee also features two holiday movies on Mondays, which skaters can enjoy while on the rink or roasting s’mores. At the Bellagio Conservatory, a floral display featuring a family of polar bears and a 42-foot-tall Christmas tree decorated by a family of elves. Two 10-foot trains decorated with 1,200 white and red roses and guarded by four animated toy soldiers also provide holiday feel in the Conservatory. The Wynn Las Vegas also has a horticultural display, but one that that encompasses the entire resort with 22 Christmas trees, thousands of ivory and gold poinsettias, and holiday lighting throughout the resort’s public areas. With AAA predicting many motorists will arriving in Las Vegas for the holidays, those who drive might find a short trip to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway worth the short journey. The Speedway features a holiday display comprised of some three million lights along its 2.5-mile course, which will be open through Jan. 7. Another popular destination for holiday lights is the Magical Forest at Opportunity Village, which has put on the highly popular annual holiday lights show for the past 25 years. The holiday lights are placed throughout Opportunity Village’s Magical Forest of pine trees. MGM Resorts International’s The Park is featuring it’s The Weather Outside is Frightful winter display, where visitors can enter via 16-foot-tall holiday ornament tunnels and view a 60-foot-tall Christmas tree decorated with 3,000 ornaments, icicles and 13,000 holiday lights. The nearby Toshiba Plaza has an ice rink for those who prefer ice-skating. Downtown Las Vegas also has holiday attractions for visitors. They include a 50-foot-tall decorated Christmas tree beneath the 12.5 million lights of the Viva Vision canopy. A 20-foot-tall Menorah located near SlotZilla remains on display throughout Hanukkah. Other holiday-themed events and attractions are available in Downtown Summerlin, Tivoli Village, Town Square Las Vegas, and the 3-acre Ethel M. Chocolates Botanical Cactus Garden. Last year, the LVCVA anticipated more than 330,000 visitors to Las Vegas for New Year’s celebrations, with an economic impact of some $228 million. With record numbers of travelers expected, those numbers stand a good chance of improving this year.