Last Updated on April 9, 2023 by Nicole
January is a great time to get away. The craziness of Christmas has passed and extended family has gone home. In addition, airfares and hotel costs have returned to reasonable prices. If you are looking for warm weather, you have exciting cities, wonderful beaches and beautiful national parks from which to choose in Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas, California and Hawaii. For those craving winter wonderlands, ski resorts and cross-country skiing, you also have lots of destinations from which to choose, especially in the northern United States. However, which are the best places for a winter vacation? According to industry experts and travel bloggers, here are 23 of the best places to visit in the USA in January.
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If you are only looking for winter destinations in the United States, please see:
- 24 Best Snowy Winter Wonderlands In the USA;
- 24 Best Places To Visit In USA In January;
- 26 Best Places To Visit In The USA In March; and
- 23 Best Places To Visit In The USA For Christmas.
On the other hand, if you are only looking for a warm winter getaways, take a look at
- 50 Best US Beach Destinations For A Warm Winter Getaway;
- 20 Best Cheap Warm Winter Vacations In USA; and
- 21 Best Cheap Warm Winter Vacations Near USA.
For those who love chasing a beautiful sunset, check out 24 Best Places In USA For Most Beautiful Sunsets.
For those of you open to travel in Europe in January, please take a look at 24 Best Places To Visit In Europe In January.
If you are not sure when you might travel and only looking for city escapes, please see 20 Best Cities To Visit In The USA.
Best Places To Visit In The United States In January
Here are 23 of the best places to visit in January in America. Many are beautiful places that offer lovely warm weather to escape the cold. However, for those who love to bundle up and enjoy the snow, there are plenty of wonderful options highlighted below. For each destination, the best things to do are discussed, how to get there, and weather expectations so you know how to pack for your winter visit. If there is outstanding accommodation, that is also set out. Finally, if there are special annual events or festivals held in January, those will be featured with the hope that you could coordinate your dates to enjoy those celebrations.
San Diego, California
By Maria from San Diego Explorer
Are you looking for a fun and warm winter destination in Southern California? Then San Diego fits the bill perfectly. Not only is the weather perfect in January, but there are many things to do. It is one of the best places to visit in January in the United States.
If you love wildlife, you should definitely put Whale Watching on your itinerary. January is the best time to see the grey whales as they migrate south and you are (almost) guaranteed to see whales on a boat excursion.
For more animal encounters, add the world-famous San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park to your itinerary. The Zoo has won many awards and was named “Best Zoo in the World” several times. Wild Animal Park lets you experience the animals almost as if you are on safari.
Ship lovers should visit the USS Midway and the San Diego Maritime Museum. Both are located right in downtown along the San Diego Bay.
San Diego offers fantastic beaches that you can enjoy throughout winter. If you get to San Diego on New Years Day, and if you are brave enough, you can participate in the Polar Plunge in La Jolla and jump into the cold waves of the Pacific.
Weather And Directions
San Diego is perfect for anyone who wants to escape to spring like temperatures (average temps in January are 60-70 ºF during the day and mostly sunny).
Getting there is so easy, as the international airport has many domestic and international connections. It is also located right in downtown, which makes it fast and easy to reach.
Maria says, “As a San Diego local, I often get asked for hotel recommendations. In downtown, I really like the Pendry Hotel. The design is so chic and the rooftop pool is dreamy. For a beachfront property, nothing beats the iconic Hotel Del Coronado.”
San Juan, Puerto Rico
By Lisa from Waves And Cobblestones
If you’re looking for a great place in the United States to visit in January, Puerto Rico should be at the top of your list. Puerto Rico is a US territory in the Caribbean, so you can enjoy gorgeous tropical weather year-round.
There are many terrific things to do in Old San Juan, so plan to stay in this area to immerse yourself in Puerto Rico’s historic charm. There is something so delightful about strolling the iconic blue-cobbled lanes of Old San Juan. They are lined with a jumble of shops, restaurants, and hotels in all the colors of the rainbow.
Be sure to walk along El Paseo del Morro National Recreational Trail, an oceanside walkway following the imposing fortified city walls of Old San Juan. This will lead you to one of Puerto Rico’s historic defensive forts, Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Even if you’re not a fan of military history, the stunning views from Puerto Rico’s forts are not to be missed.
Keep your eyes open and you’ll discover many fantastic examples of street art, from intricate mosaics embedded in sidewalks and stairways, to fantastic murals covering parking structures.
Visitors to Puerto Rico in January will get to enjoy the tail end of the island’s holiday festivities. January 6th is the celebration of El Día de Reyes (Epiphany), and holiday celebrations continue for eight more days through Las Octavitas. The festivities conclude with Puerto Rico’s vibrant festival, las Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián, a multi-day celebration which fills Old San Juan with music, artists, and performers.
Weather And Directions
In January, the average high temperature is in the low- to mid-eighties.
Most visitors arrive in Puerto Rico through the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, located in the capital city of San Juan. San Juan is about a 2.5-hour flight from Miami. From the airport, it’s only a fifteen-minute drive to get to Old San Juan, the historic center.
Lisa says, “Splurge on a stay at the landmark Hotel El Convento, which is housed in a former Carmelite convent. It is located just across the street from Catedral Basilica Menor de San Juan Bautista.”
Everglades National Park, Florida
By Anna from Stuck On The Go
In Southern Florida, you’ll find Everglades National Park which protects an ecosystem unlike any other. You can visit nine different habitats at the Park, including mangroves, freshwater sloughs, and pinelands. It is one of the best national parks to visit in the USA in January.
Not to mention all the wildlife you’ll encounter! Birds are the most prominent animals that you’ll likely see and of course, alligators. You can also find turtles, crocodiles, manatees, and even the endangered Florida panther.
Hiking in the Everglades is a must and popular trails include the Anhinga Trail, Pahayokee Overlook, and the Mahogany Hammock Trail. These trails will take you through many different habitats even though they aren’t that far apart.
An airboat tour is also one of the iconic things to do in Everglades National Park. The guide will give you more information about the plants and animals that inhabit this area and the ride is incredibly fun.
If you have more time in the Everglades then you should take another boat tour that leaves out of the Flamingo Visitor Center. On this one, you may spot some manatees. A bike ride through Shark Valley is also a fun way to spend the day.
There are two seasons here – a dry season and wet season. Dry season lasts from December through April and wet season lasts from May to November.
Dry season brings more wildlife, fewer mosquitos, and less rain which means January is the perfect time to visit!
Weather And Directions
January is a great time to visit. The average high temperature is 76 degrees with a low of 56 degrees. There is only 4 days of rain. Generally, it’s sunny so don’t forget your sunscreen.
The Miami International Airport is the closest airport to the park but you can also fly into Fort Lauderdale. You’ll just have to drive a bit further.
There are three different entrances to the Everglades and each one offers distinct things to do. The Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center is the entrance to the Flamingo area and it’s about an hour from the Miami Airport. The Shark Valley entrance is just under an hour as well. The Gulf Coast Visitor Center is about an hour and a half away.
Anna says, “The Hampton Inn Miami-South/Homestead hotel is a great base for exploring the Everglades – especially the Flamingo area.”
New York City, New York
By Kelly from Travel New York Now
If you want to experience one of the best cities to visit in the USA in January, then New York City is the perfect place. After all, it’s a vibrant metropolis that is filled with tons of exciting things to do.
January is one of the best times to visit NYC since the holidays are over, the crowds are gone, and the prices for hotels and flights are much cheaper.
Yes, the weather can be rough since it is the coldest month of the year. However, while the weather can be problematic, you can still enjoy amazing outdoor activities like ice skating in Central Park. restaurant week. It’s an incredible bi-annual event where you can enjoy deep discounts on pre-fixe menus at top restaurants throughout the city. This event typically runs from January 18th through February 13th. It requires advance reservations since everyone loves a multi-course pre-fix meal for $21, $39, and $125 respectively.
Also, if attending a Broadway show is on your New York City bucket list then you’ll love Broadway Week. It’s held around the same time as Restaurant Week and allows visitors to New York City to save money by purchasing discounted 2 for 1 tickets to some of the area’s best shows.
Otherwise, you can always time your visit earlier in the month so that you can enjoy the last of the Christmas holiday decorations at Saks Fifth Avenue and Rockefeller Center.
Weather And Directions
Expect average highs of 38F and daily lows of 27F. It also snows or rains about half of the month, so be sure to pack warm layers and an umbrella.
Now, in terms of arrival, you have three different airports to choose from: Newark, JFK, and LaGuardia. Typically, Laguardia handles most domestic flights and is the closest airport to Manhattan. Just take the Q70 bus from LaGuardia to Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue and connect to the subway.
Alternatively, if you’re arriving internationally from JFK, you can use the AirTrain to get to Jamaica Station and then catch the E,J, or Z subway lines into Manhattan.
Finally from Newark, take the Amtrak or NJ transit train to Penn Station and then catch the subway.
Kelly says, “Once in the city, check into your room at La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Times Square. It’s a clean, comfortable, well-located hotel that provides you with easy access to some of the city’s top attractions.”
By David from The World Travel Guy
Even though the island of Oahu is the most populated island in Hawaii, it’s still one of the most beautiful places in the Hawaiian islands. It is also a great vacation getaway to spend time in January.
Some of the best things to do in Oahu include hanging out at the beach. There are nice white sand beaches all over the island. Two of the very best are Lanikai Beach (on the windward side) and Sunset Beach (on the north shore).
There are loads of nice hiking trails in Oahu, including beginner and family friendly hikes like the Diamond Head overlook near Waikiki, or the Lanikai pillbox hike near Kailua. The best hikes in Oahu usually feature green mountains, white sand beaches, flowing waterfalls, and other stunning scenery.
In January, you can often spot whales, Hawaiian monk seals, or sea turtles! The whale watching season in Oahu generally runs from December to end of April, as this is when the whales like to come to the warm waters of Hawaii to give birth. You can often see whales from shore, or you can take a whale watching tour or charter a boat for better views.
There are lots of hotels, restaurants, and shopping to choose from in Waikiki and Honolulu, which are the main tourist areas. As such, Waikiki is the perfect destination for a milestone birthday.
If you want to get out of the city, check out the North Shore or Kailua. These areas are extremely beautiful, undeveloped and very laidback, while still having nice beaches, restaurants, and hikes to enjoy.
Weather And Directions
It’s generally sunny, and the average temperature in January ranges from a high of 80 F (26 C) to a low of 70 F (21 C), so it’s almost never too hot or cold for anyone’s liking.
Honolulu international airport (HNL) is only a 25 minute drive from Honolulu and Waikiki. You can easily take public transit or pick up an Uber or Lyft.
David says, “A good hotel to check out is the Imperial Hawaii Resort which is located on the beachfront in Waikiki.”
South Padre Island, Texas
By Ketki from Enchanting Texas
If you hate the cold and are looking for an affordable island getaway in the Gulf of Mexico, then add South Padre Island to your list of the best destinations to visit in January in the USA. January is also low season so rentals are widely available and offered at deeply discounted prices.
Located off the southern coast of Texas, this enchanting place sits on a barrier island and is known for its tranquil waters, stunning views, great prices, and pristine stretches of sand that make for some of the best beaches in Texas.
It’s an awesome, well-maintained national seashore that features 65 miles of untouched coastline, making in the largest undeveloped barrier island on the globe. It’s also known for having some of the most private beaches in the areas, including Bird Island Basin Beach and Malaquite Beach.
Head to the Dolphin Research and Sealife Nature Center so that you can learn all about these amazing animals before exploring the historic Port Isabel Lighthouse. It dates back to 1852 and is a fantastic stop before heading to the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. Climb to the top of a 5-story watchtower and enjoy sweeping panoramas of the area and its wealth of migratory birds.
Weather And Directions
Enjoy beautiful weather at one of the best national parks the USA. Daily highs are 69F, daily lows are 55F, with just three rainy days all month long.
Fly into either Valley international Airport, McAllen International Airport, or Brownsville International Airport. If you can, catch a flight to Brownsville since it is the closest airport to the island. It has a free Valley Metro shuttle service that will take you to your final destination in 35 minutes.
Ketki says, “Check into a room at the Hilton Garden Inn South Padre Island beachfront hotel before exploring area highlights like the Padre Island National Seashore.”
Palm Springs, California
By Alisha from Travel Today Work Tomorrow
Palm Springs, California, is famously known as a luxury resort town in the middle of a desert oasis. Its warm weather and proximity to Los Angeles make it a popular location to escape from the city for a slice of desert splendor. In January, it is one of the best destinations to travel to in the USA.
Besides spending a relaxing day at the pool or spa, Palm Springs has so much more to offer. You can take a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the largest rotating aerial tramway in the world! The aerial tram lifts you to the top of San Jacinto Peak, where you can find stunning views of Coachella Valley and numerous hiking trails.
Also, a must-visit is Joshua Tree National Park. The National Park is an hour’s drive from Palm Springs. Joshua Tree offers miles and miles of hikes, rock climbing, and gorgeous views of the valley. Alternatively, visit and experience the National Park at night and go stargazing.
A trip to Palm Springs is not complete without a walk down Palm Canyon Drive. Downtown is the heart of Palm Springs. It is a lively area bursting with restaurants, shopping, coffee shops, museums, and more.
If you are looking for a destination to relax, partake in outdoor activities, have warm weather, and be surrounded by stunning vistas the entire time, then Palm Springs is the destination for you!
Weather And Directions
Since Palm Springs is in the desert, one of the best times to visit is the month of January. The weather is absolutely perfect this time of year. On most days the average temperature is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Perfect for hiking, sitting by the pool, and enjoying the beautiful outdoors.
Palm Springs is an easy to get to destination. There is a small international airport outside of downtown. Or your other option is to fly into LAX in Los Angeles, and drive about a two-hours (without traffic).
Alisha says, “During your stay in Palm Springs, there are numerous luxury hotels to choose from. Talavera Palm Springs is a boutique hotel located only steps away from downtown. The small hotel provides an intimate and relaxing stay. Each suite has a private patio with an outdoor jacuzzi.”
Acadia National Park, Maine
By Emily from Emily Embarks
While thousands of tourists flock to the small town of Bar Harbor outside the borders of the famous Acadia National Park in the summer months, there is truly something special to be experienced come wintertime.
Winters in Maine are notorious for unforgiving temperatures and harsh weather patterns. However, they are also recognized for their ability to transform the local forests into a winter wonderland. While some people may find this to be a reason to plan their visit for summer, many choose to visit Acadia in January in order to participate in amazing winter activities.
With over 45 miles of carriage roads throughout the Park, you could spend several days snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Also, owing to the consistently cold weather, Eagle Lake and Jordan Pond completely freeze over so you can walk right across them! Many of the locals take advantage of this winter feature by ice fishing and snowmobiling over the lakes.
You can also opt to set out on the hiking trails which are normally elbow to elbow with tourists in the springtime. Then, there are also frozen lake barbecues, cozy cabins, and sledding adventures to enjoy.
If you have the option to choose between visiting Acadia National Park in the summer or winter, come in the winter. From the endless winter sports like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing to the tranquility and peace of having a national park practically to yourself, there’s really no reason to face the tourist craziness that accompanies the summer months. It also makes for a fantastic addition to any trip to Canada. Just to be sure to brush up on some of your French language skills before you get there!
Weather And Directions
At under two hours from the Canadian border, Acadia National Park averages between 10 and 29 degrees Fahrenheit. It gets about 9 days of snowfall in January typically averaging about 13 inches in total.
Acadia National Park is easily one of the best U.S. national parks to visit in January, so if you’re trying to plan your winter vacation, consider looking into direct flights into Logan International Airport in Boston. From here, it’s just under a five-hour drive. However, you’ll typically save a considerable amount of money than if you were to fly to Portland, Maine.
Emily says, “There are limited places to stay since many of the local seaside cottages are seasonal. But, there are some great hotels in the center of Bar Harbor like the Ivy Manor Inn if you’re seeking romantic luxury. Alternatively, if you’re bringing your dog, then the Quimby House Inn is highly recommended.”
Las Vegas, Nevada
By Daria from The Discovery Nut
Located in the middle of the Nevada desert, Las Vegas is one of the best cities in the United States to visit in January. The weather is mild and it’s low season when you can save on hotels, tours and other things.
Contrary to popular belief, Las Vegas is more than just a capital of entertainment. There are tons of things to do in Las Vegas besides gambling and partying.
You can spend lots of time outdoors. Hiking is one of the best activities in Las Vegas for adventure lovers during the winter months since there is plenty of sunshine, clear skies, and no snow.
Some of the most popular places for hiking are Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Valley of Fire State Park, and Death Valley National Park. These places offer a great selection of scenery and are perfect to visit if you have a rental car. Alternatively, you can also take one of the guided day trips from Las Vegas.
Another great activity during winter is visiting museums. Some of them are located outdoors and you can avoid the scorching summer heat if you visit in January. In addition, the Neon Museum, the Mob Museum and the Old Mormon Fort are some of the most popular museums located near Downtown Las Vegas.
Weather And Directions
January temperatures are lovely and stay mostly in the 60s.
Las Vegas International Airport is the main airport that services the area. It only takes 10-15 minutes to get to the Las Vegas Strip by car.
Daria says, “There are many hotels in Las Vegas for all tastes and budgets, and choosing one can be tough. If you want a combination of great prices with a good location, consider the Excalibur.”
Key West, Florida
By Kat from Biker Girl Life
There’s a reason Key West is popular during winter. In January, it’s almost guaranteed to be one of the warmest places in the USA and a fantastic winter getaway.
The Florida Keys stretch for many miles and are a great place to explore, but Key West is definitely the hub. This is where you’ll find plenty of bars, restaurants and things to do during the day. Much of the activities revolve around the water. One of the most popular is parasailing. The views over the Keys are spectacular.
You can also hire boats and gear for sailing, canoeing, paddleboarding and jet skis. Treasure hunting is very popular- don’t miss the treasure hunting museum in the middle of Key West.
Another thing popular in the Florida Keys is motorcycle touring. It’s possible to hire bikes at several locations and tour the islands. There is nothing quite like the wind in your hair and the sun on your face as you ride in a t-shirt in January.
If motorcycles aren’t for you, there are plenty of bicycle hire companies too so you can still explore Key West on two wheels. Don’t miss a photo at the Mile 0 marker of Route 1. Of course, you must get a photo of the marker of the most southernmost point on continental USA.
Weather And Directions
The weather is generally great in January. Average is 74 degrees Fahrenheit and there are only around 4 days of rain in the month. Winds can be strong, but overall the weather is fabulous.
The closest international airport is Miami and then it’s about a 4 hour drive (160 miles).
Kat says, “If you want to treat yourself, stay right in the centre of Key West, with easy walking distance to all the main attractions and restaurants. Ocean Key Resort is fabulous and you can enjoy incredible sunsets.”
By Meg from Fox In The Forest
Aspen, Colorado is easily one of the best places to visit in the United States in January. After all, it’s one of the best mountain towns in Colorado, known for offering a luxury experience that includes many designer boutiques and swanky restaurants. However, you’ll probably spend most of your time outside enjoying the snow.
Take part in a wide variety of winter activities that include downhill skiing at ski resorts such as Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands, Aspen Mountain, and Aspen Snowmass. Of all of them, Aspen Snowmass is the best. It is home to 3,339 acres of terrain and is known for having the second largest vertical drop in the USA. It’s an insane 4,406 feet.
Next, experience what it’s like to ride on a real life luge at the Breathtaker Alpine Coaster. It reaches speeds of up to 24 miles per hour. It is even more exciting when done in the evening.
Finally, explore the famous Maroon Bells area at Maroon Lake. Feel free to cross country ski, hike (with crampons), snowshoe, or snow bike to this natural wonderland. Then, take in the majesty of nearby Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak. These are two of Colorado’s most well-known 14ers (mountain peaks in Colorado that are over 14,000 feet tall).
In the evening, sip on a well-earned drink at The Silver City Mountain Saloon before chowing down on delicious empanadas at Francesca’s Pasta Market.
Weather And Directions
The weather in January includes eight days of snow and daily highs of 36F and daily lows of 10F.
After arriving at Denver International Airport, you can rent a car and drive for 3.5 hours (around 198 miles) to Aspen. Alternatively, you could use the Epic Mountain Express shuttle which takes around 4 hours and costs $92 per person.
Meg says, “Spend the night inside a swank room at the Limelight Hotel Aspen.”
By Kaidon from Planes Trains And Karcz
Phoenix, Arizona is a thriving hub on the edge of the Sonoran Desert, with beautiful desert flora and bright red mountain ranges that sprawl for miles in all directions. It is a popular “snowbird” location and a great location for a holiday in the USA in January. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people travel to Phoenix and the surrounding East Valley to escape the colder weather found in northern North America.
Once you arrive, it’s time to enjoy the sunshine! Phoenix and the surrounding area are beautiful places and a hiker’s paradise. Try your hand at the challenging Camelback Mountain Trail, view a striking sunset at Hole In The Rock, or climb through the hidden tunnel in South Mountain Park and Preserve. If you venture out of the city towards Sedona, you can experience why Cathedral Rock Trail is the most popular hike in the state!
Kayaking through Lower Salt River or Saguaro Lake are popular for those who want to experience the landscape from a different angle. Get close to the water on a hot day (yes, even in January!), and paddle your way in between the majestic red mountains.
At the end of the day, check out Oregano’s. If you like Italian food – which, who doesn’t?! – this is a fun little bistro-feeling restaurant with phenomenal pizza and generously-portioned pasta dishes to fuel you up for your next big adventure. Oregano’s has a few locations and all are located exclusively in Arizona so don’t miss it!
Weather And Directions
In the heart of the desert, Phoenix remains relatively balmy in January with an average daily high of 68º F / 20º C. The desert gets very little rain. Since the mercury seldom drops below freezing, snow and frost are pleasantly scarce at this time of year when most people are aching for a taste of summer.
Those who fly into Phoenix will likely arrive at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), a large airport located in the centre of the city. You may also fly into the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, located in the town of Mesa, roughly 40 minutes from downtown Phoenix.
Kaidon says, “Consider staying at Adventure Home Rentals, a homey rent-a-room operation with very friendly and helpful owners. Rooms and beds are comfortable, and the home is located in a safe area of Phoenix. The shared kitchen and lounging area means you’ll have all the comforts of home without the expense of renting a hotel room with the same amenities.”
Canyonlands National Park, Utah
By Jamie from Photo Jeepers
This winter, head to Canyonlands National Park and experience one of the best national parks to visit in the United States in the winter months. It was first established in 1964, across 527 square miles of desert in southeastern Utah, and sits just outside of Moab. Once here, enjoy visiting Canyonlands in January when you’ll enjoy cheaper prices, stunning snow-capped scenery, and fewer crowds.
Take in the tranquil solitude of a dramatic desert landscape that is divided by the Colorado River. Be sure to hike to Mesa Arch, see the sweeping views of Monument Basin from Grand View Point Overlook, and trek along the White Rim Overlook trail. You can also explore the remote canyons of the Maze and stand in awe of amazing Native American rock paintings at Horseshoe Canyon.
If you have experience driving a four-wheel-drive vehicle, take some local dirt roads out to Shafer Canyon and take in the beautiful views of the incredible natural landscape.
Because the Needles and Island of the Sky sections of the Park sit between 5,920 feet and 6,100 feet above sea level, pack plenty of water since its easy to get dehydrated fast at such high elevations. You’ll also have to be a bit more self-sufficient since visitor services are limited. Therefore, bring hiking poles and traction devices to traverse popular trails that may be covered in snow in January.
Weather And Directions
Be sure to bundle up because daily highs are only around 42 (F) while daily lows are around 17 (F).
Expect it to be dry since there is an average of 2 days of precipitation throughout the month.
Fly into Salt Lake City International Airport and then drive 3 hours and 45 minutes (or 233 miles) to Moab. Alternatively, you could choose a 7-hour train ride from Salt Lake City Amtrak Station to Green River Amtrak for around $54 per person.
Jamie says, “Finally, when you’re ready to call it a night, head back to Moab and spend the night at Purple Sage. It’s well located to Moab shopping areas and features a full kitchen too.”
Amelia Island, Florida
By Carrie Ann from Should Be Cruising
Located just off Florida’s northeast coast, beautiful Amelia Island is one of the best vacation destinations in January in the United States.
January is the off-season for the island, but its mild winter temperatures and fewer crowds (plus lower winter rates at the local resorts) make it the perfect getaway for anyone wanting to escape the cold.
Amelia Island offers thirteen miles of gorgeous beaches, perfect for a long stroll in search of the island’s famous shark’s teeth that wash ashore. Although it’s too cold to swim, January is the perfect time to enjoy the beauty of these pristine beaches without the summer’s swarm of tourists.
History lovers, nature enthusiasts, and hikers flock to Fort Clinch State Park on the island’s northern tip. There you’ll find miles of hiking and biking trails, abundant wildlife, and two year-round campgrounds. The park’s Civil War-era military fort overlooks the Cumberland Sound and features a museum and living-history interpreters.
Foodies will love visiting the island in January for the annual Amelia Island Restaurant Week. The ten-day-long event features prix-fixe menus for lunch and dinner at many of the island’s most prestigious restaurants.
Sip & Shop is another popular Amelia Island event that takes place each January. Visitors can support local Fernandina Beach businesses while enjoying wine at each location.
Weather And Directions
January on Amelia Island sees average high temperatures around 65°F during the day, with lows of 43°F at night. Although it’s well past hurricane season, January tends to be a bit rainy. A rain jacket and layers for the evening are a must.
Jacksonville International is the closest airport to Amelia Island, and it’s only 36 miles away (about a 48-minute drive). The island is easy to reach from the mainland via one of two bridges.
Carrie Ann says, “The Omni Amelia Island Resort is one of the best places to stay on the island, offering over three miles of private beach, heated pools, and hot tubs. January visitors will appreciate the resort’s large propane fire pits, perfect for keeping toasty while enjoying the ocean view.”
North Conway, New Hampshire
By Kate from Adventurous Kate
Wise New Englanders know that New Hampshire is a four-season destination — especially in the White Mountains. For the ultimate New Hampshire winter vacation, head to North Conway, a small mountain town overflowing with character.
North Conway is a beautiful small town year-round, but there’s extra magic in January. This is one of the quieter months for winter travel, especially early in the month, and you can enjoy winter activities with smaller crowds.
There are so many good things to do in New Hampshire in the winter — and not just skiing! In the North Conway area, you can enjoy a sleigh ride and ice skating at Nestlenook Farm in nearby Jackson. Alternatively, drive to Jefferson for a dog sledding experience at Muddy Paw.
Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast, is a short drive from North Conway. While you can’t drive up in the winter, you can take the Snow Coach, a vehicle that runs on treads, halfway up the peak. You can also take the historic Mount Washington Cog Railway partway up the mountain.
Weather And Directions
January is the coldest month of the year in North Conway, with temperatures averaging 11-25 F. It’s common to have several light to heavy snowstorms. But don’t let that stop you! Wear the right winter gear and you’ll be cozy and warm.
You’ll need a car both to get to North Conway and to get around the White Mountains. North Conway is a 1.5-hour drive from Portland, Maine; a two-hour drive from Manchester, New Hampshire; and a 2.5-hour drive from Boston. Each of these cities has international airports.
Kate says, “In North Conway I recommend staying in a bed & breakfast, and there are plenty to choose from. Two excellent options are the Cranmore Inn and the Kearsarge Inn.”
San Fransisco, California
By Trijit from Budget Travel Buff
You must visit San Francisco if you are looking for one of the best places to visit in America in January. San Francisco is not a cheap place in the Bay Area but January is the month when you can get some amazing hotel and flight deals.
Located on the West Coast of the United States, San Francisco is a bucket list destination that offers plenty of activities and attractions for all ages.
Chinese New Year is celebrated throughout the city in January or February (depending upon the date of the Lunar holiday). You can visit the Flower Market Fair in Chinatown to buy flowers, fruits, and candies and enjoy the performance of Chinese magicians and folk dancers.
If you are a fan of basketball, you will definitely love to watch your favorite team playing in San Francisco. Many basketball and hockey events happen in January.
This is the ideal season for gray whale watching. Oceanic Society offers different types of whale-watching tours throughout the year.
Fisherman’s Wharf is one of the main highlights of San Francisco. It is a popular tourist hotspot filled with museums, souvenir shops, and restaurants. Don’t forget to see the sea lions lounging on the dock.
The Golden Gate Bridge is an icon of San Francisco and one of the most photographed bridges in the world. Admire the surrounding view of the bridge. Alternatively, go early and enjoy a beautiful sunrise from the bridge.
Weather And Directions
Rainfall is common in San Francisco in January. It is one of the chilliest months in the city. The average high temperature is around 57 F whereas the average low is 45 F.
San Francisco International Airport is the nearest airport to the city. The airport is just 13 miles away from the city and takes 15 minutes if you drive through US 101.
Trijit says, “The best place to stay would be in Union Square where you will find some of the best affordable accommodation. Handlery Union Square Hotel is just two minutes from Union Square and offers an outdoor pool with all basic amenities at a reasonable price.”
Big Bend National Park, Texas
By Sarah fro Two Outliers
Big Bend is one of the best national parks to visit in the United States in January. Spanning 800,000 acres in west Texas, Big Bend is remote and rugged, featuring diverse landscapes ranging from the Chihuahuan Desert lowlands to the pine tree-covered Chisos Mountains.
Perhaps the most famous landmark in Big Bend National Park is Santa Elena Canyon, a stunning 1500 foot tall canyon carved by the Rio Grande that straddles the U.S. – Mexico border. You can access the mouth of the canyon via an easy 1.4-mile roundtrip hike. Better yet, take a kayaking trip starting at the Santa Elena Trailhead to explore the canyon by water.
The best long hike in Big Bend National Park is the South Rim Trail, a challenging 13-mile loop covering 2,700 feet of elevation gain. The South Rim features beautiful views of the rocky Chisos Mountains and surrounding desert lowlands. You can also tack on a detour to Emory Peak, the tallest point in Big Bend, for an additional 3 miles and 500 feet of elevation gain.
For a relaxing end to a busy day exploring the park, head over to the Rio Grande Hotsprings for a warm soak (up to 105°F) with lovely views right along the shores of the Rio Grande River.
Weather And Directions
January is one of the best times to explore Big Bend for mild temperatures, with average daily highs in the low-60s and lows in the mid-30s. Rainfall is minimal and snow is rare. Note that temperatures vary throughout the park due to the wide range of elevations. This desert climate experiences extreme heat during the summer, so winter is a great time to visit for hiking and outdoor activities.
Due to its remote location, getting to Big Bend National Park requires a bit of effort. The closest international airport is in El Paso, Texas, located about 5 and a half hours from the park entrance.
Sarah & Matt say, “The most convenient place to stay is at the Chisos Basin Lodge or Chisos Basin Campground inside the park. Alternatively, the small towns of Marathon and Terlingua, located just outside of Big Bend, offer a few hotel and lodging options.”
By Kim from Traveling Swansons
Miami, located in the southeast corner of Florida, is a city famous for its culture, glitz and glam, beaches and warm-weather.
Whether you are going to Miami with kids, your significant other, friends, or family, there is plenty to do for all.
Firstly, you should explore South Beach, one of the most beautiful places in Miami. This area is famous for its art-deco buildings, its beaches and its culture. Grab some lunch on Ocean Drive, people watch, shop and admire the beautiful scenery.
Get a taste of Miami’s Cuban culture and head to Little Havana for some amazing Cuban food. Take a walk down Calle Ocho and admire this colorful neighborhood full of beautiful mosaics and artwork.
Another great neighborhood to explore in Miami is Wynwood Walls, an outdoor street art museum. Artists from all over the world come here to make their marks on the walls.
See a different view of Miami from prettty Biscayne Bay. You can go on one of the many tours or rent your own boat.
Weather And Directions
January is a wonderful time to visit Miami and escape the winter blues. The average highs are in the mid-70s, with very low humidity and little chance of rain. It’s the perfect month to explore all Miami has to offer before the extreme heat and humidity of spring and summer comes.
When flying to Miami, you have a choice of two convenient airports, Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Miami International Airport is located about 12 miles and a 25 minute drive to the South Beach area. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is located about 31 miles north of Miami and about an hour drive.
Kim says, “Loews Miami Beach Hotel is a great hotel for couples, families or friends. It’s location is amazing! Its very close to the Collins Avenue shopping area, the Miami Beach Boardwalk and Ocean Drive.”
Lake Placid, New York
By Megan from Bob And Chichi
One of the best places to visit in the USA in January can be found in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. The town of Lake Placid is no stranger to being one of the best winter getaways in North America as it hosted the winter Olympic Games not once, but twice – in 1932 and 1980. To this day, it continues to attract outdoor winter enthusiasts year after year.
Some of the best things to do in Lake Placid in winter include exploring all the attractions downtown from shops, breweries, and restaurants. In addition, there are lots of fun outdoor activities like ice skating, sledding from the village onto frozen Mirror Lake, and taking a casual stroll across the frozen lake.
Don’t miss hitting up all the Olympic attractions. Visit the museum that commemorates the games and their history in the region. Bobsled on the Bobsled and Cliffside Coaster where you can bobsled down the actual track used in the Olympic Games.
For those who want to hit the slopes, you have many ski resorts from which to choose, including the infamous Whiteface Mountain nearby. It prides itself in having some of the best skiing and snowboarding conditions in the region. This is just one of the reasons that this is one of the best winter getaways for couples in the US.
Weather And Directions
During this time of year, you can expect temperatures below freezing, averaging around 26 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. So you’ll want to make sure you pack and dress accordingly. It’s very possible you will get snow on your trip.
The nearest major airport is the Adirondack Regional Airport (SLK / KSLK). However, Montreal is only a 2 hour drive and New York City only 5 hours away.
Megan says, “There are some great cabin rentals and hotel options in and around Lake Placid, New York. If you want to stay in a central location, a great option is the Mirror Lake Inn.”
Death Valley National Park, California
By Rasika from Bae Area And Beyond
Death Valley National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the United States, and it’s easy to see why. Located in eastern California, this beautiful park is filled with badlands, canyons, sand dunes, salt flats, mountains, and more.
Two million people visit Death Valley annually, but because the park is so vast — nearly 3 million acres — you can easily find solitude if you want it. And the best time to go? January! January is one of the safer months to hike in Death Valley when the weather is not as hot as the sweltering temperatures of the summer months. In fact, it’s cooler than most places in California.
This is also a great place for photography – especially at sunrise or sunset (which can produce amazing colors). There are multiple vantage points from which you can photograph the landscape. Winter sunsets are the most beautiful in Death Valley National Park.
The top three things to see in Death Valley National Park are Zabriskie Point, Badwater Basin, and Dante’s View. The Zabriskie Point offers a panoramic view of golden-colored badlands with the Panamint Mountains in the background.
Then, visit Badwater Basin, which is 282 feet below sea level and considered to be the lowest point in North America. Here, you can also walk around the salt flats that spread across 200 miles.
Drive up to Dante’s View which is 5,476 feet high to see the Death Valley basin.
Weather And Directions
The weather is mostly cool but sunny with average highs in the 60s F and average lows in the 40s Fahrenheit. It’s very rare to see snow in January but you might see some quick rain showers.
The closest international airport is the Harry Reid International Airport located in Las Vegas. It takes a little over 2 hours (118 miles) to get to Death Valley National Park from the airport.
Rasika says, “The best place to stay is at The Inn at Death Valley. It’s a beautiful 4-star hotel located centrally in the park and offers great amenities.”
By Amanda from Hey! East Coast USA
Boston is one of the best cities to visit in January, despite the cold winter weather! In fact, because fewer people head to Boston in the winter months, you’re more likely to find good deals on accommodation and flights, as well as enjoy fewer crowds at popular spots.
Cold temperatures are the perfect excuse to cozy up and stay warm, making for a lovely romantic getaway. There are so many romantic things to do in Boston in the winter that you’ll be spoiled for choice!
Consider renting a heated rooftop igloo for nighttime views and drinks at The Lookout Rooftop Bar at the Envoy Hotel. Definitely find yourselves a cozy corner in Boston’s beloved North End for fine Italian dining. Or try to hold each other up while outdoor ice skating on Frog Pond at Boston Common.
If you want to start January off right, get to Boston in time for New Year’s Eve (First Night) so you can wake up on the first of January after a fantastic celebration. In fact, First Night in Boston is the USA’s oldest and largest New Year’s Eve arts festival.
Later in January, the annual Boston Wine & Food Festival begins and continues into March. This is the perfect excuse to indulge in delicious wines from around the world alongside delectable treats. Events include brunches and dinners, as well as plenty of wine tastings, live music, featured artists, and more.
Weather And Directions
January temperature in Boston hovers around freezing, regularly dropping below freezing at night. There’s a good chance you’ll get some snow, but it’s not guaranteed. The average snowfall is actually only around 3 inches in January. Definitely bundle up and do as the locals do: scurry inside and avoid the wind tunnels!
You can fly directly into Boston Logan International Airport and be downtown with just a few minutes’ drive. The Silver Line (public transit) also runs to South Station.
Amanda says, “If you’re seeking a romantic getaway, the Battery Wharf Hotel in the North End is highly recommended.”
By Jessica from The Uprooted Traveler
With its year-round tropical weather and stunning natural beauty, Maui is the perfect place for a January getaway.
January is a particularly fabulous time to visit, given the presence of humpback whales that migrate here in the wintertime to birth and raise their calves. Be sure to book a whale watching tour during your time to see their incredible acrobatic behaviors.
Another fantastic addition to any Maui itinerary is a stop at Haleakala National Park, which features the world’s largest dormant volcano. You can try to snag one of the coveted permits to watch the sunrise at the summit and then hike on any of the 14 trails that provide views of colorful cinder cones and interesting volcanic formations.
No trip to Maui is complete without snorkeling with some of its amazing sea creatures, like the Hawaiian sea turtles. Try booking a tour to the Molokini crater, where you can swim with and observe the staggering array of beautiful wildlife here.
Weather And Directions
Temperatures are usually in the low-to-mid 80s and though you may run into an afternoon rainshower here or there, the weather is usually perfect for enjoying the beach.
Maui, like the rest of the islands of Hawaii, has stunning biodiversity, thanks to its remote location in the middle of the Pacific. However, be prepared for a fairly lengthy flight across the ocean to the Kahului Airport. Once you arrive, be sure to pick up a rental car as you’ll need it to get around the island.
Jessica says, “Consider booking accommodation in Lahaina (like the Honua Kai Resort & Spa) on the western side of the island from where lots of whale watching and snorkeling tours depart.”
Carson Valley, Nevada
By Angela from Fitting In Adventure
Nestled just below the Sierra Nevada ridge sits Carson Valley, Nevada. Not to be confused with Carson City, the valley sits to the south of the state’s capital and holds a wealth of history, wildlife, and beauty.
Your January visit will be shared with the bald eagles who flock to the area to feed on the cattle’s after birth in a true circle of a life moment. The Carson Valley Chamber hosts an event called Eagles & Agriculture in January. But the timing for the eagles really begins in late November lasting into February. You will see photographers pulled to the side of the road with long lenses and cattle. This will be your first indication to look closer into the field and trees. One photographer captured 22 bald eagles in one tree!
After chasing the eagles with a guided tour or on your own, you can book a tour with Carson Valley Tours to see the local wild horses. The owner of Carson Valley Tours, Dwayne, will take you out on the range to view the horses from a safe distance and introduce you to local favorites.
After your wildlife viewing adventure, swing into Nevada’s oldest “thirst parlor” for a drink and a few stories. Look up to the single bra hanging on the ceiling. It’s Raquel Welch’s. Don’t open the safe or you will leave behind your own. Bar rules! Enjoy a drink (they are famous for their Bloody Marys) where the likes of Mark Twain and Teddy Roosevelt sipped drinks. The oil lamps still work (and are lit every New Year’s Eve) and the mirror behind the bar is made of diamond dust. You will instantly be transported back into time.
Lake Tahoe is just a 20 minute (in good weather) drive up the mountain. But you can easily fill a weekend in Carson Valley without the need for any day trips.
Weather And Directions
The average high temperature in January is 47 F.
The nearest airport is Reno, NV. It is about an hour drive from there.
Angela says, “I have stayed at the Carson Valley Inn often. There is also a Holiday Inn Express. They are both nice and priced differently”
White Sands National Park, New Mexico
By Shannon from Adventuring With Shannon
If you are looking for one of the best national parks to visit in the USA in January then you definitely need to add White Sands National Park to your list!
Located in Southern New Mexico, this national park is famous for its beautiful white sand dunes. These dunes are actually made of gypsum which is a white sand-like mineral. What makes White Sands National Park so amazing is that you can sand-board or sand-sled down the dunes which makes for a wonderful exciting day for the whole family. In addition, White Sands National Park is both family and dog friendly, so you can bring your canine friends to enjoy the sand dunes as well.
January is one of the best times to visit the park because it is cool enough to enjoy the dunes without overheating. Snow is rare in this part of New Mexico. You may even have time for an awesome photoshoot on the dunes!
White Sand National Park is also home to a United States missile range. Because the gypsum so easily absorbs the explosions, the area is occasionally used to test weapons. Accordingly, check the national park website before you go to make sure there are no upcoming closures.
Weather And Directions
Average highs in January is 55 degrees Fahrenheit but can drop down to 0 at night so dress appropriately.
To get to White Sands National Park, you can fly into the Albuquerque airport. From there, it is about a three-and-a-half-hour drive.
Shannon says, “The best place to stay near the park is in the city of Alamogordo which has many options for accommodation and restaurants. You can also stay in nearby Las Cruces.”
Anna Maria Island, Florida
By Charles from McCool Travel
Anna Maria Island is a seven mile long barrier island in Florida just southwest of St Pete and northwest of Sarasota. The south end of the island connects to Longboat Key and then Lido Key (leading to Sarasota)
Anna Maria Island has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and is a popular destination for snowbirds (people from the north escaping the cold weather). The seafood is fresh and remarkable. Along with the magnificent winter weather and spectacular beaches, Anna Maria Island restaurants are a big reason for the area’s popularity during the winter months. January is an excellent time to visit Anna Maria Island because the peak season and mad rush really starts in early February.
The seven miles of pristine sugar sand beaches are the most popular natural site to visit—for sunrise walks, remarkable Anna Maria Island sunsets, nighttime stargazing, or any time of the day for sun and fun.
Anna Maria Island beach sand is among the softest, cleanest, and whitest along the entire US Gulf Coast and in the world. Bean Point at the north end of Anna Maria Island features the island’s widest beaches and rugged sand dunes.
Other than the beautiful Florida Gulf Coast waters, the next nearest natural site is Neal Preserve just off island across the Manatee Avenue bridge. Its 120 acres features ancient Indian burial mounds (explored by Smithsonian), oak hammock and mangrove forest habitats, shell and boardwalk walking trails, and an observation tower. Kayakers can view the Neal Preserve mangroves from Palma Sola Bay on the Sarasota Bay/Barrier Islands Paddle Trail.
Across the street, Perico Preserve features Florida scrub hill habitat and coastal wetlands. Both preserves are bird sanctuaries and pets and bicycles are not permitted on most trails.
Weather And Directions
Average temperatures on Anna Maria Island in January are highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s. The January weather is sunny and pleasant.
To visit Anna Maria Island by plane, fly into Sarasota Airport, about 17 miles away. Other options include St. Pete Clearwater Airport (44 miles away), Tampa (53 miles), Southwest Florida-Fort Myers (111 miles), and Orlando (128 miles).
Charles says, “Most visitors to Anna Maria Island choose to stay in vacation rental houses or condos. Some recommended beachfront hotels to consider include Bali Hai, Waterline Marina Resort, Anna Maria Island Inn, and Bungalow Beach Resort.”
January is a month that offers a lot of choice for those looking for a winter vacation in the United States. You have an amazing selection of warm sunny beach or city destinations and an equally tempting array of places that offer exceptional winter activities. For most destinations, it is low season so hotel and flight costs are lower than normal, and there are less crowds to deal with. It is the perfect time of year to seek out some fun and to enjoy everything that America has to offer.