Looking to go somewhere new for the new year? Some of the best places to visit in January in the USA are ones you may not expect. From cold weather destinations where you stand a chance at spotting the northern lights to walking on white sand dunes in the Southern US, there are so many great places to choose for a vacation.
January is also a great time to travel much of the US if you seek fewer crowds and cheaper prices. Children return to school after the holidays; summer is nowhere in sight. What does this mean for you? More people are planning their future summer trips than actually on a trip! From sun-kissed destinations to places where you better bundle up, here are the best places to visit in January in the USA.
Best Places to Visit in January in the USA
New York, New York
New York can get some notoriously blustery cold days in January — even the occasional snow shower. Meanwhile, the mild winters New York has received in recent years mean it’s not the winter wonderland the city once was known for being. However, the city remains the cultural capital of the world and one of our favorite cities.
It’s a great time of year to catch a Broadway show, head to the top of Summit One Vanderbilt, peruse the MoMA, go ice-skating in Central Park, or duck into a hidden speakeasy. As the “City That Never Sleeps” always seems to have a new event, show, store, or restaurant, there’s a nearly infinite number of things to do in the city.
While the city has no shortage of attractions, you won’t see large crowds, as it’s far from the most popular time to visit New York. The great thing about the city is there are so many amazing things to do that don’t involve braving the cold. Couples will have an amazing time in New York as there is no shortage of romantic things to do in NYC.
White Sands National Monument – New Mexico
It may surprise many that out of all the natural wonders of the U.S., they include towering sand dunes. Easily one of the best places to visit in January in the USA! Regarding unique landscapes in the United States, White Sands National Monument certainly stands out! While you may see a little snow in January, you’re more likely to witness the white sand that makes up the giant dunes the park is known for.
The park is also known for having more than 800 species of plants and animals but it’s the dune sledding that draws many adventurous souls! Of course, hiking and camping are popular activities here and the night skies are unforgettable.
3. Crater Lake National Park – Oregon
Crater Lake is known for being the deepest lake in North America and for its stunning natural beauty that’s even more magical in January when freshly fallen snow paints the landscape white. Temperatures in Crater Lake National Park are not very warm this time of year, but the scenery makes up for that!
You’ll enjoy many outdoor activities including cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in an uncrowded winter wonderland. Take a scenic ride along Rim Drive, check out beautiful Toketee Falls, enjoy the views at Pinnacles Overlook and hike Cleetwood Cove Trail. Come evening you may even get lucky and catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
4. Cannon Beach – Oregon
Another one of the best places to travel in January in the US in this stunning West Coast Beach. Cannon Beach is known as one of the most beautiful beaches in Oregon and perhaps even the entire west coast.
What makes it stand out from many other beaches is its ruggedness which includes those giant sea stacks that have made it famous. This wild stretch of sand is stunning any time of year, even in January!
Yes, the weather tends to be cooler but not cool enough to prevent visitors from taking a walk along the coast or hiking in nearby Ecola State Park. You won’t be sunbathing, but the views make up for that. After a day spent exploring, the small town of Cannon Beach has many art galleries, shops and great restaurants nearby.
5. Death Valley National Park – California
Death Valley National Park is one of the hottest places on earth, but that’s not the case in January! The temperatures are tolerable this time of year at a comfortable average of 67°F, but that doesn’t mean more people flock there.
In fact, the opposite is true so you won’t have to brave crowds to enjoy this unique landscape. Start at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center where you’ll learn all about the park before exploring its natural wonders including Badwater Basin, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Zabriskie Point, Eureka Dunes, Artists Palette, Ubehebe Crater and Mosaic Canyon.
6. Palm Desert – California
Hot temperatures, clear skies, plenty of sun and many attractions make Palm Desert an excellent choice for a January getaway for those seeking warmth and sunshine.
The possibilities are endless here. Soaking in hot springs, golfing, dining in gourmet restaurants, lounging by the pool and hiking and biking across the desert landscape are just some of the things visitors enjoy.
A trip on The Aerial Tramway is a must-do and you can also check out The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens and the Palm Springs Air Museum.
7. New Orleans – Louisiana
While partygoers head to New Orleans in February for Mardi Gras, people who want to escape the crowds head there in January to enjoy the pre-Mardi Gras celebrations. The temperatures are comfortable, the beer is cold, the music is lively and the streets are virtually crowd-free as everyone is gearing up for February celebrations.
This means you can explore the famous nooks and crannies such as Bourbon Street, the French Quarter, the Garden District and Jackson Square without dodging rowdy partiers and even score some shoulder season deals on accommodation. If you want a little bit of excitement, some of the Mardi Gras parades take place during the first week in January.
8. Jackson -Wyoming
As if a location only minutes away from Grand Teton National Park isn’t enough, Jackson is an amazing winter getaway for those who want to enjoy the cold and snow rather than escape it. And if you like your winter weather with a large dose of epic powder, that’s exactly what you’ll get here in January!
Jackson is a winter sports haven with skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing. Into snowboarding and skiing, you have to plan a few days at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort – one of the best ski destinations in America!
In town, you’ll find shops, a bookstore, cozy cafes where you can sip a hot beverage after a long day outdoors, and good old fashion country saloons! Other attractions nearby include the National Elk Refuge where daily sleigh rides are available, the National Museum of Wildlife Art and Jackson Hole Playhouse.
9. Charleston – South Carolina
In January, you have the renowned Charleston Festival but there’s so much more to do in this historic city even when the temperatures aren’t hot and muggy. Unlike August, Charleston is one of the best places to visit in the US in January. Enjoy comfortable temperatures around 55°F and fewer crowds as you explore this old city and admire the architecture of the old homes and buildings.
The city’s attractions include the Pineapple Fountain, the Battery and Rainbow Row. The Charleston Boat Show is a highly-anticipated event in January.
10. Las Vegas – Nevada
The Glitz, glamour, and parties never stop in Las Vegas, even in the middle of January! The best part about Vegas this time of year is the lack of crowds and the lack of heat. Strolling The Strip is so much more enjoyable when it’s not 100°F!
If you can’t make it there during Christmas, you can still catch some of the lively displays that are still up in the first week of January. Even though it’s considered the off-season, the show must go on and in Vegas, those fabulous shows are still running on regular schedules.
To escape the neon lights and slot machines, you can take a hike along the White Rock Loop or visit the nearby Red Rock Canyon.
11. St Pete Beach – Florida
January is the least sunny month in St. Pete Beach but it’s still pretty sunny compared to many other destinations around the United States! It’s also still warm enough to walk with your feet in the surf as you stroll along this beautiful, sandy stretch.
Surfing is popular, especially for novices who can easily learn to ride the gentle waves that the beach is known for. Some of the popular attractions in the area include the Shell Key Preserve, The Dali Museum and Gulf Beaches Museum. If you’re in town during the last week of January, this is when the Pinellas Taco Fest takes place.
12. Aspen – Colorado
When most people think of Aspen, they think of world-class ski resorts, ritzy hotels and swanky après-ski gatherings but Aspen is so much more! Yes, skiing is a big part of life here, especially in January, but there’s also the snowshoeing and other winter sports and the spectacular Rocky Mountain scenery that’s made all that much more spectacular with all that freshly fallen snow.
The town itself features a storybook-like downtown full of eateries, shops and attractions including the John Denver Sanctuary and the Aspen Art Museum. If you are seeking a family winter/ski vacation, Aspen is one of the best places to visit in January.
13. San Diego – California
San Diego is a great beach destination all year round, but in January, people head to this coastal city to enjoy off-season prices and fewer crowds. The temperatures aren’t as hot but do reach an average high of 65°F.
You won’t be able to take a dip in the ocean, but you can enjoy a leisurely stroll on the beach. Explore Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and its pristine wilderness, watch sea lions along the coast, kayak the clear waters, or don a wetsuit and brave the waves with a surf lesson. If you love history, you’ll love the Maritime Museum and the USS Midway Museum.
If you’re there in mid-January, you can catch the BIG Salsa Festival. In the evening, sit in one of the seaside restaurants and enjoy a plate of those fish tacos the city is renowned for.
14. Big Sky – Montana
Last time I was wondering where to go in January I ended up on the slopes of Big Sky, Montana. Besides Whitefish, Big Sky is one of the best ski areas in Montana, and one of the best places to visit in January in the USA for a snowy extravaganza. For outdoor winter activities, pristine nature areas and incredible scenery, Big Sky is the perfect destination for snow seekers. Dog sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and downhill skiing and more are all enjoyed here.
There are also many attractions including the Adventure Zipline at the Big Sky Resort, Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center and the Museum of the Rockies.
15. Phoenix – Arizona
One of the best places to visit in the Southwest USA is Arizona’s capital. Phoenix is a top destination in January for people from up north who want to escape the cold and get some sweet Vitamin D on their face. Not only do the temperatures reach 65°F, but the humidity is very low which creates perfect conditions to go hiking in the desert, mountain biking and go soaring high over the area in a hot air balloon.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and the Heard Museum are just some of the noteworthy attractions and The Arizona Wine Festival is a popular event in January.
16. Fairbanks, Alaska
If you don’t like cold temperatures and short days, this may not be one of the best places to visit in January for you.
Just like Hawaii is the ultimate tropical vacation in the United States, Alaska is the ultimate winter destination. After all, it’s the northernmost state and the one that’s guaranteed to have cold temperatures and snow in January. Fairbanks is one of the easier towns to get to during the winter months but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have that remote feel you’re likely seeking in a winter getaway.
It’s one of the best places to relax in a hot spring, go dog sledding and spot the Northern Lights all on the same day. Be sure to check out the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum and the Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center while you’re in town.
17. St. Simons Island – Georgia
St Simons is one of the best beach destinations in the US. St. Simon’s Island is a barrier island off the coast of Georgia known for historic architecture, sandy beaches and golf courses.
It’s known for being a top destination in the US to visit in January due to the warm temperatures and fewer crowds. The island is so laid back that many visitors choose to leave their cars parked and enjoy a quieter, more relaxing ride around the island on a bicycle.
As you explore this pretty little place, you’ll see plantations and scenic coastal areas. St. Simons Island Lighthouse Museum, Fort Frederica National Monument, World War II Home Front Museum and Saint Simons Island Pier are some of the top attractions to check out.
18. Boston – Massachusetts
Boston is another city that’s popular with winter enthusiasts looking for a chilly city escape in the US. This urban winter wonderland is enchanting in January under a freshly-fallen blanket of snow.
Believe it or not, you can ski, snowshoe, snowboard, skate and sled right within the city limits! Head to one of the cozy craft breweries and enjoy a nightcap after a day outside.
19. Saguaro National Park – Arizona
Located in southern Arizona, near Tucson, Saguaro National Park has perfect weather in January to enjoy the great outdoors. Temperatures often reach 66°F and the sun shines bright on most days. Another great thing is the lack of crowds as you hike the trails, check out the fascinating petroglyphs at Signal Hill and cruise the scenic Bajada Loop Drive.
Other attractions include the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, the Old Tucson Theme Park and the International Wildlife Museum. All fantastic destinations to visit in Tucson after having some fantastic Tex Mex at Seis Kitchen.
20. Payette National Forest – Idaho
Payette National Forest hosts two ski resorts that provide some of the best skiing and riding in Idaho. Brundage Mountain Resort and Little Ski Hill are both located within the boundaries of the Payette National Fores and if you like skiing but don’t like the crowds that come with the bigger resorts, Payette National Forest is the perfect alternative.
It’s a little off-the-beaten-track so you can bank on a secluded area surrounded by incredible natural beauty and in January, that landscape is covered by more than 300 inches of snow which equals perfect conditions for many winter activities including snowmobiling on 500 miles of trails.
21. Moosehead Lake – Maine
Wondering where to travel in January away from the crowds? I bet you haven’t thought of Maine! Imagine a pristine, frozen lake surrounded by mountains and forests. Now imagine yourself in a cozy cabin along the shore of this lake and enjoying crisp winter days and clear, starry nights around a fire with only the sound of the wind and water.
Head to Moosehead Lake in January and this is the scene you’ll enjoy. You’ll also enjoy many winter activities such as snowshoeing, snowmobiling and skating. Who knows? You may even spot the Northern Lights!
22. Everglades National Park – Florida
January in Everglades National Park is fairly dry and hot and is a great destination where you can also enjoy a unique nature area like no other. If beaches, resorts and crowds aren’t your thing, this is the perfect escape for you!
As you explore the park, you’ll see many bird and animal species and learn about one of the most intriguing ecosystems on the planet. Big Cypress National Preserve and Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center are just a couple of the top attractions.
23. Miami – Florida
Another popular hot weather, budget-friendly getaway is Miami and this is where you go if you want to be in the middle of it all. Long, sandy beaches, lively beach bars and endless nights are what Miami is known for but in January, it won’t be as crowded.
When the party scene gets old and you want a break from the sun and sand, check out the city’s attractions including Vizcaya Museum, Perez Art Museum and the Night Garden. Art Deco Weekend and the South Beach Jazz Festival take place in January.
24. South Padre Island – Texas
South Padre Island is another popular destination for northerners looking to escape the cold and although you may not have heard of it, I assure you that it’s a place that should be on your radar if you’re looking for somewhere warm to go in January.
If not for the warm weather and the fresh seafood, go for the fantastic bird-watching opportunities, exciting fishing excursions on the Gulf of Mexico and the annual Kite Fest. You can also check out many attractions including Sea Turtle Inc., South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center and the Laguna Madre Nature Trail.
25. Haleakalā National Park – Hawaii
Planning a trip to Hawaii is never a bad idea and Maui is the best place to travel in January if you want some sunshine, warmth, and activity. Hawaii is far from the mainland but nothing says tropical escape from the wintery cold than a getaway to the country’s Hawaiian Islands!
The park’s top attraction is the dormant volcano of Haleakala and the best way to enjoy it is with a hike to the summit where you’ll enjoy spectacular views. Waimoku Falls is another must-see attraction in the park and the four-mile hike is a great way to get up close and personal with local plant life.
26. Vail, Colorado
While Vail during the summer is sunny and green, Vail in January is one of the best places in the US for ski lovers. Vail stands out as one of the United States’ most picturesque mountain towns. It’s celebrated by skiers for its top-notch winter skiing and beautiful resort town that will make you feel just like you have been transported to Bavaria.
With a comprehensive trail system accommodating skiers of all proficiency levels, Vail is a haven for both novices and seasoned experts and has extensive terrain, reliable snow coverage, and fantastic facilities. Even if you’re not a skier and someone else in your family is, there are plenty of other things to do! Go snowmobiling, enjoy the village Apre Ski scene, or just take a ride up the gondola and enjoy the views over the valley.
The Best Places to Visit in January in the USA – FAQ
Warm places to visit in January in the USA
One of the warmest places to visit in January in the US is of course, Florida. In January, the weather in Florida typically sees an average high temperature of 76°F (24°C) and an average low temperature of 57°F (14°C).
Which US states have the best weather in January?
Some of the states with the best weather in January is Hawaii, Florida, California, Arizona, Texas and Louisiana.
What are the best places to visit in January in the US for skiing and snowboarding?
Big Sky, Whitefish, and many resorts in Colorado are great for skiing and snowboarding in January. Another great ski destination is Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Where is the sunniest place in the US in January?
Western Arizona is often said to be one of the sunniest places in the US in January. The desert is unique for experiencing sunlight for over 80 percent of the daylight hours in winter, with clear skies on more than half of the days.
Where is the coldest place in the US in January?
Some of the coldest places mentioned on this list in January are New York City, Jackson (Wyoming), and of course – Alaska!
Travel Around the USA By Month!
As you can see there are plenty of great places to travel in January, these are just a few to give you a starting idea! If you are looking for the best places to in January outside the US, we have you covered. For additional months, see below!
- 25 Best Places To Visit In February In The USA
- 25 Best Places to Visit in March in the USA
- 25 Best Places to Visit in April in the USA
- 25 Best Places to Visit in May in the USA
- 25 Best Places to Visit in June in the USA
- 25 Best Places to Visit in July in the US
- 25 Best Places to Visit in August in the USA
- 25 Best Places to Visit in September in the US
- 26 Best Places to Visit in October in the USA
- 25 Best Places to Visit in November in the US
- 28 Best Places to Visit in December in the USA
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