25 BEST Places to Visit in January in the USA

Looking to go somewhere new for the new year? Some of the best places to visit in January in the US 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 are back in school after the holidays, and 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

1. New York City – New York

New York City – New York (Best Places to Visit in January)
NYC in Winter / Places to Visit in January in the USA

It’s quite cold and snowy in New York in January but it’s also magical. It’s possible to recreate those scenes you see in the movies where giant snowflakes fall to the sidewalk as the characters walk down beautifully-lit streets between towering skyscrapers or through the winter wonderland that is Central Park.

What you won’t see are large crowds as you pass by the remnants of Christmas displays that have yet to be taken down, as it’s far from the most popular time to visit New York. When it gets too cold to walk the city streets, duck into one of the cozy pubs to enjoy a cocktail, check out some live music, or enjoy a hot meal. One of the most romantic things to do in NYC at this time is head to the Lincoln Center and enjoy the opera or ballet.

Even in the dead of winter, there’s always something going on in New York whether it’s a world-class Broadway show or wintery activities in Central Park.

2. White Sands National Monument – New Mexico 

White Sands National Monument - New Mexico (Best Places to Visit in January in the usa)
White Sands / Places to Visit in January in the USA

Easily one of the best places to visit in January in the USA! When it comes to 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 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

Cannon Beach – Oregon (Best Places to Visit in January in the USA)

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 – 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 

Palm Desert - California (Best Places to Visit in January in the USA)

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

new orleans (Best places to visit in the US in January)

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 

Jackson -Wyoming  (Best Places to Visit in January in the USA)
The Tetons / Best Places to Visit in January in the USA

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

Charleston - South Carolina Best places to visit in the US in January

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

Best places to visit in the US in January

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

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 

aspen is one of Best places to visit in the US in January

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 – 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, take a seat in one of the seaside restaurants and enjoy a plate of those fish tacos the city is renowned for. 

14. Big Sky – Montana 

big sky ( (best places to visit in the US in January)
Snowboarding at Big Sky / Best places to visit in the US in January

Besides Whitefish, Big Sky is one of the best ski areas in Montana! 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 Museum of the Rockies. 

15. Phoenix – Arizona

phoenix  (best places to visit in the US in January)
Phoenix / Best Places to Travel in January in the USA

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

Fairbanks, Alaska  (best places to visit in the US in January)

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 Island – Georgia  (best places to visit in the US in January)

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 – Massachusetts  (best places to visit in the US in January)

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 

tucson  (best places to visit in the US in January)

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

 (best places to visit in the US in January)

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 

Moosehead Lake - Maine 

Imagine a pristine, frozen lake surrounded by mountains and forest. 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

 Everglades National Park – Florida  (best places to visit in the US in January)

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 

Miami - Florida   (best places to visit in the US in January)

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.

If you want to extend your trip travel to Key Largo and enjoy a Florida Keys road trip by driving all the way down to Key West!   

24. South Padre Island – Texas

South Padre Island – Texas  (best places to visit in the US in January)

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

Haleakalā National Park - Hawaii (best places to visit in the US in January)

Planning a trip to Hawaii is never a bad idea. Hawaii is far from the mainland but nothing says tropical escape from the wintery cold than a getaway to the country’s Hawaiian Islands!

In January, there are fewer crowds on the island of Maui and Haleakala National Park. With temperatures averaging 75°F, this is one of the best times of year to visit this incredible place. 

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. 

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About Natasha

Natasha is the co-founder of The World Pursuit. She is an expert in travel, budgeting, and finding unique experiences. She loves to be outside, hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow on her snowboard, and biking. She has been traveling for over 10 years, across 7 continents, experiencing unique cultures, new food, and meeting fantastic people. She strives to make travel planning and traveling easier for all. Her advice about international travel, outdoor sports, and African safari has been featured on Lonely Planet, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest.

Learn more about Natasha Alden on The World Pursuit About Us Page.