Worth the Drive
Our daily look at nearby getaways

New Year's Eve at Casa del Mar

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THE PACIFIC, DINNER, MIDNIGHT: Some years we want to be up on a table drinking bubbly out of a shoe, Auntie Mame-style; others we'll hole up and watch the Times Square party on television. But every year is a good year to do a nice dinner on New Year's Eve. A fine meal out combines the fancy-pants fabulousness of a splashy party with some of the low-key-ness of staying in. So, in Goldilocks-style, it is just right. But there the Goldilocksian comparisons will stop, because the dinner we're about to describe is in no way serving porridge. Rather, the Casa del Mar New Year's Eve meal is swankified, all the way.

MENU: Filet Mignon, Sea Bass, and Maine Lobster are snug in the main courses category; for dessert, there's a Meyer Lemon Tart. The first seating at the Pacific-close spot is priced a bit lower at $85, and is three courses, note; the second seating, which is $170, will have party favors and "midnight champagne." Wish the words "midnight champagne" played a bigger role in our lives, but they certainly can come Dec. 31. Find out more at the hotel's web site.

POST-SUPPER SNOOZE: If the lure of being so close to the water enchants -- and the lure of not driving home equally enchants -- check out room packages and rates.

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