Fireworks, yes; crowds, no

You can always schlep down to the (now-fenced-in) Inner Harbor, but we asked savvy Baltimoreans about other venues for seeing the fireworks on New Year's Eve. Here are a few alternatives to downtown crowds.

•Residents of Federal Hill have been known to make dinner reservations at any of the many hip restaurants in the neighborhood before heading near the parking lot of the Wine Market on Fort Ave. (Those at the 10 p.m. dinner seating at the Wine Market will have a great view as well.)

•In Fells Point, many residents head for their decks or upper-floor windows for a spectacular view. But visitors can bar-crawl and then pop out for a refreshing view.

•Over in Barre Circle, neighbors pull out their summer lawn chairs — along with any New Year's-appropriate provisions — and park themselves in the middle of McHenry Street for the show.

•Across from the World Trade Center, those in the know say that the absolute best place is the area around the Ritz Carlton residences on the water. For unknown reasons, this is a reasonably well-kept secret: no crowds, and there are no traffic snarl-ups.

Mary Medland

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