Traveling the United States during the first month of the year is totally underrated, primarily as you will often experience these destinations with much fewer people there.
One of the best things about traveling at this time of year is also that the best places to travel during January are also often bucket list locations!
Whether you fancy going to the places that emphasize the season, allowing you to enjoy the winter coldness, and seasonal activities, or if you want to go to somewhere that will make you feel more summery, and enjoy beaches, warmer weather, and some sightseeing, January has all the options!
This is why it is our favorite month of the year! January in the United States has everything!
Of course, there is the bonus of there being fewer tourists as well. Fewer travelers so there will be cheaper prices for accommodation and flights.
There is a stellar January vacation for everyone, no matter what it is that you are looking for in your vacation, it is possible at any place on our list, and there is a place for everyone!
So, let’s get digging deep into this list and the places that you should be considering now! It may not be the high season, but you want to book sooner rather than later to snag yourself a good deal!
Here are the top 31 places you should think about visiting in January. We have not put them in order because, which is best is totally up to you!
New York City, New York
New York City is obviously one of the first choices for most to visit in January. So many people will visit in December, as the holiday spirit in this glamorous city is outstanding, but most of us want to avoid the crowds.
When January comes around, the holiday crowds are mostly gone, and therefore the trip there will be more authentic, less busy, and more places will not be as busy.
January is also one of the cheapest times to visit New York City, so it is ideal when you are on a budget, but you still get that traditional holiday season vibe.
Do not forget that while you are there, you should visit the Rockefeller Center for the Christmas tree, and check out a Broadway show.
The Christmas tree will usually be up until mid-January, and therefore you want to go there early January if you want to see it.
Go for a stroll around Central Park if it is not too chilly, and also go up the Empire State Building but make sure that you wrap up warm.
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is well known for Mardi Gras, which is a celebration you can experience in March, but New Orleans is a must see for a majority of people.
Most people will visit during the celebration of Mardi Gras, New Oreleans is one of the best places to visit, but in January you get to beat the crowds and beat the heat too!
One of the best things that you should do in January when you are in New Orleans is to attend the Twelfth Night celebration, which is the very beginning of the Carnival season.
It is usually the locals only who will attend this event, but it will make it all feel more authentic in comparison to visiting during Mardi Gras. Just try to catch the parade around the time of Krewe de Joan d’Arc.
Beaver Creek, Colorado
Some of the best places to visit in January in America, are usually underrated all year around. This is where Beaver Creek, Colorado comes in.
Beaver Creek is a small town in Avon, which is typically overlooked when it comes to skiing destinations, especially when Aspen and Telluride are there. But it is a great place to visit throughout the year, and even more so in January.
There are three villages you can choose from, but Beaver Creek is our favorite choice, but Bachelor Gulch and Arrowhead are also good choices, especially if you want to avoid the crowds even more.
The prices of accommodation will also usually drop just after the holidays, so in January you will get even better vacation prices than for most of the rest of the year.
Washington D.C is probably one of the more overlooked locations for vacationing in January in the United States.
It is often viewed as a spring and summer destination, Washington D.C. is brisk and fresh in January and with little tourism, so there will be no queues at the typical tourist spots, such as museums.
If you do end up being lucky enough to visit D.C at the height of January you want to plan your trip around Martin Luther King Day.
There are a very wide range of celebrations and there are some community clean-ups as well, you can help the locals to take good care of the city.
As well as this, you want to ensure you visit the typical historical sites, the Smithsonian, Ford’s Theatre, and Arlington National Cemetery, as these will have plenty of visitors in January.
Austin is a beautiful city that most people end up forgetting about, but it is very highly regarded for the live music scene.
It is one of the nicest places to go in January. You miss out on the very hot summer season when everyone usually ends up visiting.
There is a lot of cooler weather. During a winter vacation you can enjoy visiting the museums, with nice drinks on a warm patio at a local restaurant, perhaps even hit up an ice rink.
Austin is also a southern destination, so you can enjoy outdoor adventures in January in Austin, which is a bonus you cannot always get in other places.
Another gorgeous skiing location, if you love snow and skiing then Breckenridge in Colorado in January is the place for you.
Beaver Creek and Breckenridge are both alike in how they are less visited than Telluride and Aspen, which make them great locations as they are quieter to visit.
Breckenridge is just a great place to visit thanks to great weather, lots of snow, and snowboarding and skiing experiences with fewer people.
As January comes around, skiing resorts will have been open for quite some time, and the activity usually dies down, especially in the New Year.
Some prices may still be a little hefty, but it will certainly be cheaper than a month prior! Well worth it!
Want to go to Chicago but do not want to cope with the huge crowds and chaos of the big city? Go in January! You will also be more likely to score yourself a cheap hotel around this time too as a majority of hotels will drop their prices down in the beginning of the new year.
It is a slower season, and Chicago will often be overlooked due to its notorious wet and cold weather. If you have some warm clothing, and a cozy coat, you will be fine though!
Chicago is also a great place to visit this time of year due to the oodles of festivals. There is also usually a whiskey festival that will take place in January, as well as a great deal of other events, so you will not be lost for ideas of what to do during your trip.
Mount Baker, Washington
Mount Baker is one of the well-known mountains in Washington, and the United States, just being Mount Rainier.
It legitimately is one of the most beautiful places to go in January. It is at its most gorgeous in January, it looks like a winter wonderland.
A majority of people will head up to Mount Baker’s Ski Area in the months prior, and especially December, wanting to hit the slopes around the holidays. So, you will find many fewer people actually visiting in January.
Also, the accommodations are also a bit cheaper during the winter as well. However, it can be harder to hike Mount Baker at this time of the year if this is something that you plan on doing. So, be aware!
If you are all psyched up for a wintry vacation, Fairbanks, Alaska is just what you need, sure it will be very chilly, but it makes for that perfect winter season aesthetic.
Of course, you will surely catch the Northern Lights here, but you will have much clearer skies to see them too.
Be aware that you should be dressing appropriately though, temperatures here will be very unlikely to head higher than 25 degrees.
But, if you can bear the cold, there is much you can do. You can even attend concerts around this time of year.
Also, since it is the coldest time of year, you will be blessed with few crowds if you plan ahead too!
Zion National Park, Utah
Most people would not think of going to Zion National Park in Utah for a winter break, but it is actually one of the nicest places to go to in January.
It is one of the most visited National Parks in the United States. It is always overcrowded, except in January.
Zion does get a bit of snow, and it will create a wonderful landscape, especially when the snow sits at a beautiful canyon of green and orange.
Temperatures around this time of year will also be a lot lower, as it will average around the 50s instead.
Zion is also well known for hiking, and if you fancy doing this, ensure you are well equipped and ready, shoe spikes are ideal, and poles are needed.
If you do go to Zion, do remember the Narrows will be especially cold if you visit at this time of the year.
Maybe the winter just is not for you, and you want to be somewhere a little warmer.
If so, Miami could be just the ticket for you, it is a popular vacation location for spring break, but it is often at the back of our minds in January.
Miami still sees warm weather in the winter, it is usually around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the coldest it will ever get. Sure, their sandy beaches may be cooler in January, but there is plenty to do still!
They have plenty of fun places to visit, and they have loads of museums which are fantastic to add on to your itinerary in January.
Crowds will usually be minimal, and hotel prices will also be much lower, and this is why Miami is one of the most ideal locations to visit in January in the United States. Especially if you are not a winter person!
Payette National Forest, Idaho
National forests are often underrated, most travelers will usually hit up the cliché tourist attractions, architecture, museums, National Parks, but National Forests often go forgotten.
Payette National Forest is worth a January visit if you really want to enjoy some beauty and solitude in the heart of winter.
Since few people will visit here in January, trails will be mostly empty, and you and the wilderness will have some alone time.
It is full of fun for winter activity, there are snowmobile and snowshoe trails, as well as 2 skiing resorts all hidden in this forest. You can enjoy this gorgeous winter wonderland so much and get in a bit of exercise all at once.
You do not even need to worry about taking your own gear with you, most of the rental places are close by, so you can gear up in close range to all your activities!
Mount Hood, Oreon
Mount Hood back in January is a beautiful and glamorous winter getaway if you are a winter lover. The mountain is beautifully coated in snow, and it ends up looking like something out of a Christmas movie.
In spite of this, hiking is still totally possible in the winter, but you will need spikes for their boots. There are also plenty of other fun winter activities including skiing at the five skiing resorts, sledding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and so on.
It can be a bit busy in January, but it is much busier in the summer. However, there is no better time to truly witness the beauty of this mountain than when it is neatly coated in a blanket of snow.
Death Valley National Park, California
Visiting Death Valley in January can be a great way to skip the crowds, but it is also ideal if you do not want to face those insane temperatures you usually face during the peak season.
January is by far the most temperature tolerable time of year to take a trip to Death Valley. You might even be lucky to see some rain in this area during this season too, as they do sometimes get rain around this time of year!
This is an ideal place to stargaze as well, and visit plenty of beautiful viewpoints or go on a glamorous hike.
Crowds will be a lot thinner in January as well, and you may even find areas of this National Park where you can enjoy just by yourself, especially if you rise early and plan ahead!
Mammoth Lakes, California
The words snow and California do not often mix, but at the Mammoth Lakes they do! It is one of the only places in California where you may see some snow during January.
The temperatures will be cooler, and since California is often a summer destination, it can actually be rather quiet.
You can enjoy plenty of fun activities (see also: Fun Activities To Enjoy In Miami Instead Of Partying!)here, do group tours in the snow, go snowmobiling, snowshoeing, skiing, sledding, and snowboarding.
If you want to escape crowds, head away from the popular resort, or wake up early, take a snowboard and beat the people to the slopes early!
Georgia can get quite hot during the year, but Brunswick in Georgia can be a great location for some cool temperatures in January, so make the most of it! In the summer it can get super hot here, and although January does see some cooler temperatures, with them never going higher than 60 degrees Fahrenheit, winter is much more tolerable.
There are also fewer people here in January, so you do get to experience the area with a more local feeling.
Do not skip over Blythe Island Regional Park while you are here. It will be too cold to go swimming, but you can still hike, fish and camp here enjoyably.
If you are a sucker for a good bit of history, you may want to head down to Fort Frederica National Monument, which you will find on St. Simon’s Island. It is like a trip back in time that you will not regret!
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Yellowstone is mainly known for the bubbling, broiling super volcano that lies beneath it, often depicted as a beast of calamity in the movies, and a geographical source of wonder and fascination. But, the National Park is more than just a volcano.
The National Park is a hidden gem (see also: 17 Breathtaking Rooftop Restaurant- The Hidden Gems Of Dallas)of outstanding beauty during the winter months.
Winter in general here means fewer people, as most people will usually visit during the summer or fall, but in the winter people are less interested, which is saying a lot since it is probably one of the most admired National Parks in the country.
The weather will be cooler in January, and it is often the best way to experience Yellowstone, but we do recommend you book a tour guide for this.
We would also highly recommend Snowshoeing through the park, but do beware, Yellowstone is notorious for being a pretty icy location in the winter.
We have briefly mentioned Aspen already, it is one of the most well-known and popular outdoor sporting destinations for winter sports in the United States, and it is so for a very good reason.
It is much more pricey and popular than Beaver Creek or Breckenridge, it is totally outstanding.
The crowds will still be fewer in January than in December, so it is worthwhile taking advantage of this. The snow will also be more well-packed too.
If you want to avoid the ski resorts and any crowds, head to Snow mass Village to check out the local Aspen stores or do a bit of vacation shopping.
Maroon Bells is also worth a visit, but ensure that you book a reservation. It is certainly worth it as it will be covered in snow in a beautiful fashion.
San Diego, California
California in general is considered to be more of a spring break or summer vacation location, but San Diego can be truly gorgeous in January.
The weather tends to stay in the 60s for the most part, which makes it a bit too cold for a swim, but pretty much every other activity is still totally doable.
San Diego in South California has endless activities in the winter time, you could do beach yoga, or enjoy a stroll along the seafront.
One of the main things that you can do in the winter in San Diego is head down to the beach in evening time and try to catch the glamorous sunset.
If you visit in January you will mostly be among local people as a majority of tourism hits in the summer months.
If you have the winter blues, check out Balboa Park, it is a gorgeous flowering garden which is ideal when you are feeling a bit down in the winter.
South Padre Island, Texas
Want a bit of warmth in January? South Padre Island is a great choice. Temperatures will rarely head above 70 degrees, so you can expect some warmth, but not so much it is uncomfortable.
It is pretty warm when you go here, which is not surprising as the island is situated in the Gulf Coast, however, it is not quite as hot as the rest of the year, but it is still a great place to visit in January.
You almost feel like you are abroad while you are still in the United States!
Want to know what you can do at South Padre Island? Take a stop off at Gravity park, Port Isabel Lighthouse State Historic Site, and South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center.
The Nature Center is a must-visit, and you can do this and more with lower accommodation prices since you are visiting out of season.
Love the summer vibe in the winter, but do not quite fancy the beach? Why not go to Tucson in Arizona. This is a fantastic winter location in January in the USA.
It is often known for having awful temperatures, however in January it tends not to go over 75 degrees, so it is ideal for a comfy vacation.
The weather here is ideal to do plenty of outdoor activities from hiking to the Seven Falls, visiting Saguaro National Park, or doing some horseback riding in the desert.
The hotel rates will plummet around this time of year as well, so if Tucson is on your list of places to visit, go in January and you won’t regret it!
Key West, Florida
Winter is the off-season for Key West in Florida, this is why it is on our list. January is the coldest month all year for Florida, but you will often find temperatures here around 70 degrees still.
The humidity level is also more tolerable, but most people are unaware of this, and so they still go in the summer, but you know it now, so you are one step ahead of the crowds.
Prices for resorts and hotels will drop around this time as well, thanks to a dip in tourist numbers.
Travelers can easily scoop up a deal if they pre-book as well. Key West is also warmer than many other places in Florida, so water activities are still an option.
Go fishing, boating, swimming, have yourself a summer vacation in January!
Heavenly, California & Nevada
Heavenly is best known for having those epic skiing resorts near Lake Tahoe. Since it is a great place to ski it is obviously a top choice location for a January getaway.
This is also one of the biggest skiing resorts in the world as well!
Winter is quite busy in Heavenly, but a January visit is a bucket list time to go, you can experience all that their ski resort offers, just make sure that you book in advance.
But, if skiing is not quite to your tastes, try out Lakeside Beach, check out the spa, or enjoy some ice skating to get some fresh air.
Let’s not forget that Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places in the USA as well!
Gatlinburg is a great place to have a wintertime outdoor adventure near to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is the most visited of all the national parks in the USA(see also: 25 Best Places To Visit In February In The USA).
It is a very infamous getaway for those who wish to visit this park in Tennessee with a tonne of fun activities to do.
When you visit in January you will also want to visit the only ski resort in Tennessee, known as Ober Ski Mountain. (What a great pun!)
Enjoy their Winter magic Festival, where you can enjoy the lights downtown. It is a great place to go, as you can avoid many crowds, and you get to enjoy the festival and the atmosphere with the locals instead of being in a crowd of tourists.
If you fancy a more tropical January head to Hawaii. Oahu in January is a gorgeous tropical getaway, even more so if you are from a colder part of the US.
Oahu is a gorgeous warm winter vacation spot, temperatures will usually sit around 80 degrees around this time of year, but feel free to cool off in the sea.
There is so much to do here, and there will be fewer crowds and accommodation will be more affordable. While you are here, take a trip to Iuau and learn about the culture there, then visit Pearl Harbor, Waikiki beach and take a hike!
If you want to feel like you are in Bavaria in Europe, without having to endure the tedious plane journey, go to Leavenworth in Washington. This place looks like it was taken from Bavaria and just dropped into Washington!
Pretty much all the buildings are German traditional, and there are so many souvenir shops and restaurants.
This is when this town comes to life with festive activities, lights, snowmobiling, ice skating and more! Expect a bit of snowfall while you are there too!
Enjoy the ski resorts there as well if you enjoy some snow based fun, but expect them to be busy.
Madison is not far from Milwaukee, and here you will find some great festivals and food, making it one of the most awesome places to take a trip to in January.
With temperatures hitting about 30 degrees, this is much cooler, and it comes with the benefit of cheaper accommodation.
Of course, to get this cheap accommodation you would need to brave the cold.
You can ski at the University Ridge and enjoy the views at Elver Park, or go ice skating at one of the many rinks!
St Paul, Minnesota
One of Minnesota’s twin cities, St Paul, is the ideal winter vacation destination. In the winter it can be rather cold, but the crowds are also smaller thanks to this. So, it can be a great time to visit if you would rather experience it like a local than a tourist.
Enjoy their Winter Carnival, where many events are hosted such as drag queen bingo nights, puzzles, and city wide scavenger hunts!
Their schedule changes year by year, but you can always check it out on their site!
Hanover, New Hampshire
New England is all pretty great to visit in the winter, however, Hanover is amazing in January. It is a beautiful, traditional small town that is very well known for being the location of Dartmouth College.
Most of those who come here are often college students for this reason, and as the majority of students are on break during this time, the town is a bit quieter around this time.
Since it is in the northeast it can be a bit chilly, but there are plenty of places worthwhile visiting, especially the Museum of Art and the Nature Center.
Whitefish is right by the Rocky Mountains and can be found near Glacier National Park. It is a must-see in the cold winter off-season thanks to minimal crowds and such glorious sights.
It is fun to explore the town’s small shops, parks, restaurants and the odd ski resort too.
In the winter the town also usually gets a blanketing of white snow as well, so it looks like it has come right out of a Christmas film!
This is a great place to visit in January with a vast culture and art scene and an epic amount of history. Not too far from Indianapolis, it is a great place to visit if you fancy a plane trip, but only a short one.
It is not a hugely touristy location, but is even better in the winter. The most popular activity to do here is to go hiking in their parks such as Brown County State Park and Millrace Park.
They also have some decent museums worth checking out.
Visiting US Locations In January – Overview
We cannot tell you where to visit, it is up to you. It also depends on the kind of experience you want. If you want an experience of traditional winter vibes then you will want to head further North, perhaps New York, Minnesota, or Colorado.
However, if you want to soak up the sun during January, then Hawaii, Florida, Texas and Arizona are all good places to look, and let’s not forget California as well.
The choice is yours. We have given you 31 awesome ideas to choose from here, pick your top choice and let us know how your January vacation went!
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