Top 15 January Vacation Spots in the United States Beaches, Mountains, and Cities

2023-03-08 01:01:33 - Drany Macley Drany Macley, the senior editor of, brings extensive journalism background and over eight years of experience in travel writing and editing to the site, offering practical insights and first-hand knowledge through articles on innovative hotels, backed by a BA in Journalism from Ithaca College.
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Having a vacation — even if it's just a long weekend — to look forward to is a great way to combat the blues, whether you prefer to spend your time basking in the sun or snuggling up against the snow.

This list of the best places to visit in the United States in January includes destinations as diverse as Maine and Florida, Washington and Texas.

Still trying to decide between a trip in January and one in February? Also, we have a guide to romantic places in the United States.

Top USA Warm Destinations for January

January in San Antonio: A Time for Reflection, Competition, and Coffee

San Antonio, Texas is a hotspot at any time of year, but at the beginning of the year, it's especially exciting.

Spend your vacation in San Antonio, Texas, eating your weight in tacos, learning about the city's history, and watching future NFL stars as the temperature hovers around 60 degrees.

Activities in San Antonio, Texas

  • A must-see for football fans is the All-American Bowl, a high school football all-star game that regularly features future NFL stars. January 1st or thereabouts
  • The San Antonio Coffee Festival is a great way to kick off the new year with a jolt of caffeine, as roasters bring dozens of options for attendees to try. There are also vendors selling food and merchandise, and bands performing. (Prior to the Second Week of January)
  • All the best San Antonio restaurants are participating in Restaurant Week, but there's just no way to try them all on a reasonable budget. We have the solution for you: Restaurant Week Lunches will be offered for $20 and $30, and dinners for $35, $45, and $55. All three courses will be reasonably priced. Late January/early February
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is the inspiration for Dream Week, a celebration that lasts for 16 days and features a variety of events S. Martin Luther King, Jr. is to "encourage dialogue about important topics in a setting optimized for productive public participation," as taught by the organization. During the " (middle to late) January
  • Get your tickets for the UNESCO World Heritage Missions Tour, which will take you to San Antonio's Missions San José, Concepción, San Francisco de Espada, and San Juan, among others, and teach you about the city's rich Spanish history.

Planning to spend more time in the Lone Star State Read this guide for information on how to plan a fantastic road trip through the Lone Star State.

Colorful umbrellas of restaurants along the San Antonio Riverwalk in Texas

Sun, Sand, and Seafood Festival in Key West, January

Key West, Florida, is one of the most popular warm places to visit in January in the United States, and it's not hard to see why: the weather is mild (in the low 70s) and sunny nearly every day of the year.

Furthermore, Key West is the place to be this time of year because it hosts a plethora of events and festivals that are perfect for anyone looking to relax in the sun, blend in with the locals, or do a little of both.

Fun Activities in Key West

  • Attendees of all ages will find the Florida Keys Seafood Festival to be 48 hours of seafood paradise. Not only can you buy the day's freshest catches at reasonable prices, but you can also peruse vendor booths selling arts and crafts depicting local fishermen and marine life. (About Now, in the Middle of January)
  • If getting in shape is one of your New Year's resolutions, what better place to start than at the Key West Half Marathon and 5K? (Approximately the Middle of January)
  • At the Key West Craft Show, locals and visitors alike can peruse dozens of booths selling handmade goods such as jewelry, ceramics, and other works of art.  
  • Come hungry (and thirsty) to the Key West Food and Wine Festival, which features over 20 separate events spanning brunch, lunch, dinner, and beyond. to the Key West Food & Wine Festival (January)
  • Breakfast and mimosas await you after a morning of snorkeling among the world's third-longest coral reef; purchase your tickets here.

If you want to make the most of your time in the Sunshine State, check out this list of must-do activities.

Aerial photo Sunset Pier Zero Duval Street Key West Florida USA

On the list of warmest January US destinations, San Diego comes in at No. 3.

You can enjoy mild temperatures (around 60 degrees) and a wide variety of tourist destinations and activities by taking a trip to California.

It's not often that a fitness buff, a dinosaur fanatic, and a golfer can all have their ideal vacation at the same time.  

San Diego Attractions

  • Volunteering and other exciting opportunities are available at the Farmers Insurance Open, a PGA tournament that golf fans will enjoy attending. Late January
  • Over one hundred life-size and realistic dinosaurs await you at Jurassic Quest, along with a variety of exhibits and events that will satisfy the inner child in even the most jaded adult. In the waning days of January
  • What's not to love about the San Diego Brew Fest? There are more than 70 breweries, 200 beers, 10 of San Diego's best food trucks, cover bands, and lawn games. (Present day January)
  • The Carlsbad Full & Half Marathon & 5K is a great way for the whole family to get a jump on the day while taking in breathtaking vistas of the Pacific Ocean. There are races for runners of all abilities, including a one-miler for the little ones. (Middle of January)
  • Reserve your spot on the Sunset Sail, and keep an eye out for migrating grey whales as the sun goes down.

Seeing as California is the third largest state, it's easy to lose track of time and miss out on some of the best attractions.

Mission Bay & Beaches in San Diego, California

The Desert, Outdoor Activities, and Art Scene in Phoenix, January 4

In January, Phoenix, Arizona, is likely to become your winter oasis, so if you'd like to trade the snowy mountains for the deserts of sand, this destination should be high on your list.

Even though it's not the warmest, an average of 50 degrees Fahrenheit means you can break out your winter coat.  

If you want to travel around the United States in January and experience a wide range of activities, these locations are ideal.

Plus, the pleasant Tempe region of Arizona is highlighted in many of our guides, such as the top ten warm winter getaways in the United States.

Attractions and Activities in the Valley of the Sun

  • At the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, participants can run a full or half marathon, as well as a 10K or a 5K, while taking in the sights of some of the city's most recognizable landmarks. In the midst of January
  • The CitySkate is Phoenix's only outdoor ice skating rink, and admission includes skate rental and 90 minutes of skating time under the glimmering lights. ("Early January")
  • The Arizona Fine Art Expo is a must-see for art lovers of all stripes, with exhibits spanning the mediums from bronze and stone carving to southwest art and mid-century modern. (Late January or later)
  • The Arizona Musicfest, held in nearby Scottsdale, is a great place to hear a wide variety of musical acts. (The Entire Month of January)
  • Here you can purchase tickets for a hot air balloon ride over the Arizona desert, where you can float for a few hours and see the landscape from a whole new perspective.
Phoenix Arizon skyline at dusk - trees, buildings and mountains

Five Reasons to Visit Atlanta This January: Sommeliers, Museums, and Other Holiday Traditions

If you're looking to get away from the cold this January, the winds may blow you to Atlanta, Georgia, where temperatures won't drop below 50 degrees.  

You'll be able to participate in traditional winter activities like ice skating, while also experiencing cultural events that center on Dr. King, Martin Luther, Jr.

To top it all off, what kind of vacation requires a glass of wine?

If you're looking for a great place to visit in the United States in January, Atlanta should be at the top of your list.

Many of our itineraries, such as those for the most festive cities and the most romantic getaways in the United States, feature Atlanta because of its widespread appeal.

January Activities in Atlanta

Midtown Atlanta skyline from the park in USA

Exploring National Parks in Death Valley in January 6

In the summer, when temperatures regularly top 100 degrees Fahrenheit, Death Valley lives up to its ominous moniker.

However, January is a great time to visit because the temperature is typically in the pleasant 70s.  

The vast majority of visitors camp in Death Valley, but there are also three lodges and a hotel within the park boundaries for those who prefer a bit more comfort.

You won't be able to see everything in Death Valley in a single visit, but that just means you'll have to come back again and again!

You might find our breakdown of the finest national parks, treks, and camping techniques useful in planning your own backpacking trip.

After being designated a national monument in 1933, Death Valley was given federal protection in 1994.

The Timbisha Shoshone, however, inhabited Death Valley long before it was designated a national monument.

Recreation in California's Death Valley

  • The highest point in Death Valley is Telescope Peak, at over 11,000 feet. Due to its elevation, snow is common here, so bring snowshoes and see how far you can get.
  • Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are a great place to watch the sun go down or the stars come out, but they are more challenging to climb than they appear.
  • While you may not want to hit a ball on the Devil's Golf Course, you can get breathtaking views of the jagged shards that once formed the lakebed.
  • Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America and the most visited place there. It is a large, shallow body of water surrounded by salt flats that stretch as far as the eye can see.  
  • Darwin Falls: It may be a desert, but that doesn't mean you can't go in search of a waterfall. The Darwin Falls are a lush oasis in the middle of a desert landscape. Seeing this will be a pleasant surprise.
  • Get Out of Town for a Day — If you're in Las Vegas in the month of January, you can purchase tickets for a full-day small-group tour that will pick you up from your hotel and return you there at the end of the day.
Woman standing in Death Valley desert with water bottl

Where to Go in the U.S. in January for the Best Snow

Destination Seven: Salt Lake City, Utah, for Exciting Winter Attractions

Salt Lake City, Utah, is a great destination if you'd rather spend your January vacation in the snow than basking in the sun on a beach.

You can participate in any type of winter sport imaginable, then warm up in the natural hot springs if you start to feel chilly. One of the best times to visit the United States is January, when the city hosts one of the largest film festivals in the world.

Salt Lake City skyline with snowy mountains.

Calendar of Events for January in Salt Lake City

  • Sundance Film Festival: The place to be if you want to see the future of cinema, both domestically and abroad In the waning days of January
  • Winter sports - Skiing, sledding, snowmobiling, ice skating, snowshoeing, and many more can all be enjoyed during the colder months.
  • The Homestead Crater, in Midway, Utah, is a geothermal spring naturally heated by the earth's core and is about 45 minutes east of Salt Lake City.
  • There are ice castles just an hour east of Salt Lake City, where you can explore slides, mazes, tunnels, caverns, and more (all made of ice) and live out your Frozen fantasies in a way that would put Elsa to shame.
  • Purchase your tickets here for a guided tour and tasting of four local breweries, tailored to your party's tastes in beer. Learn about the history of craft beer in the city while sampling a variety of tasty beverages.
Salt Lake City Utah at dusk with green trees and mountain

Aspen, Colorado, in January: The Best Time for Skiing and Snowboarding

Aspen, Colorado, is a classic destination for a winter vacation in January because it is home to some of the best skiing in the country.

Even if skiing isn't your thing, there are plenty of other winter activities and attractions to enjoy (not that the après-ski scene isn't reason enough). ) and bask in the warm sunshine despite the high 20sF temperature

This is one of the best ski resorts in the United States to visit in the month of January if you're a fan of the sport.

Aspen Activities for the Cold Month of January

  • The Alpine Coaster is a thrilling ride through the snow, reaching speeds of up to 28 miles per hour on its elevated track.
  • Take some snowbike lessons (suitable for all ages) and experience the slopes from a whole new perspective if you can't decide between skiing and biking.
  • Celebrations of the Norse God of Snow, Ullr, include bonfires, s'mores, gondola rides, and more on select nights throughout the month.
  • A snowcat is the only way to get to Snowmass's Lynn Britt Cabin and Aspen Highlands' Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, so why not treat yourself to dinner there?
  • Even if you're not going skiing, you can still enjoy the Aspen Chamber's après-ski scene and crack open a bottle of champagne for two.  

How about Aspen for a bachelor party destination? Included in our list of the top 10 places for a bachelorette party.

In January, visit Minneapolis for a winter wonderland vacation spot.

There's no denying it: the weather in Minneapolis, Minnesota in January is chilly, with average highs in the low to mid teens.

Thankfully, there are plenty of entertaining diversions available; if all else fails, you can always spend your entire vacation at one of the top 10 largest shopping malls in the world.

The Minneapolis Free Attractions Guide is another resource we recommend.

Colorful mural on side of building at Downtown Minneapolis

January Activities in Minneapolis

  • Throughout the city, there are places called "Adventure Hubs" that anyone can use for free to borrow gear for exploring the city's parks and having fun with their kids.
  • Don't let the freezing temperatures keep you inside; ice fishing is in abundance in this area.
  • St St. Paul Winter Carnival - The Winter Carnival is a winter celebration that features ice carving contests, ice fishing tournaments, and other fun events for the whole family. In the waning days of January
  • One of the oldest and most popular parks in the city, Minnehaha Falls – Minnehaha Regional Park, is home to a stunning 53-foot waterfall that freezes over in the winter, much to the delight of parkgoers.  
  • The Mall of America is a great place to get out of the cold because there is truly something for everyone there. If you're traveling with young children, I highly recommend the Crayola Experience.

The Minnesota Renaissance Festival is a must-see if you enjoy attending unique celebrations.   occurs during the month of August

Blue skies over Stone Arch Bridge and Flour Mill Ruins Park

Moosehead Lake, Maine: No. 10 for a Relaxing Getaway

Time to start wrapping up loose ends Do not come underdressed; temperatures average around 10 degrees.

Most people visit Greenville to spend time on Moosehead Lake, the largest lake in Maine. Despite the fact that most people associate lake activities with warmer weather, there is plenty to do on the lake all year round.

Moosehead, Maine, in the month of January is an absolute must-see for any winter sports fan.

  • Ice fishing is just as popular among residents and tourists alike as regular fishing, and here's a pro tip: cast your line behind Mount Rainier. Kineo in stormy conditions
  • Fortunately, when the temperature drops, it's time to break out the snowshoes, skis, and snowmobiles.  
  • Visit the Spotted Cat Winery, where they focus on producing natural, hand-crafted wines to help you stay warm on those cold winter nights.  
  • Take a break from the cold and explore the Moosehead Historical Society to find out more about the history of the lake and its inhabitants.  

Grand Rapids, Michigan, in January, for Beer and Winter Sports

Where else can you find nearly a hundred breweries, every imaginable winter sport, and a gorgeous garden/sculpture park all in one place?

There aren't a ton of things to do in Grand Rapids, Michigan in January, but those that there are are all worth your time.

Mid-twenties temperatures and consistent snowfall will make it feel as cold as it looks, but with all the exciting events we have planned, we don't think you'll mind the chill for a second.

Fun Things to Do in Grand Rapids, Michigan in the Month of January

  • Silent disco, art exhibits, live music, delicious food, and more can all be found at the World of Winter Festival. (Towards the latter portion of January's first week)
  • Snowboarding, sledding, skiing, tubing, and other winter sports are just waiting to be explored in this city.
  • With over 80 breweries to visit and explore, the Beer City Ale Trail is a full-fledged vacation destination.  
  • Even in the dead of winter, a trip to the stunning Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is well worth it. A lot of exhibits are only open during the winter and can't be seen at any other time of year.  
  • Almost every day in January, you can catch a game featuring the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League.

The Twelve Best Things to Do in Big Sky in January

Prepare for low 20s temperatures, because this is paradise for all you winter sports fanatics.

On your trip to Big Sky, Montana, in the middle of January, you can expect to do a lot of outdoor activities and see some of the most breathtaking scenery in the country.

Activities in Big Sky, Montana, in the Month of January

  • Explore a Frozen Waterfall Ouzel Falls is a fantastic destination for a quick and easy hike that is appropriate for the whole family, and the frozen waterfalls that you will see at the end are an incredible sight to behold.
  • Big Sky Resort offers a wide variety of winter activities, including cross-country skiing, adventure zip lines, a magical forest, snowshoe tours, and snowmobile tours.
  • When it comes to Yellowstone National Park, the season never ends, even in the dead of winter. The temperatures are colder, the geysers are more impressive, and there are more opportunities for winter sports like skiing and snowshoeing.
  • Bozeman Hot Springs, Norris Hot Springs, Chico Hot Springs, and White Sulphur Hot Springs are just some of the hot springs you can visit near Big Sky for a relaxing soak on a cold day.
  • Take a full day guided ice fishing trip on The Gallatin, and your guide will show you where to fish and how to catch the fish that live there.

Recommended Cities to Visit in the United States in January for a Variety of Temperatures

13 Visit New York in the Month of January for Cheaper Hotel Rates and Fewer Tourists

Even though a trip to New York in January may not sound appealing, the snow and cold (low 30s) temperatures tend to scare away most tourists, leaving you with the city to yourself at a fraction of the usual cost.

Many hotels, restaurants, and attractions offer unbeatable deals in the beginning of the year, despite the fact that their prices skyrocket during peak travel seasons.

In January, New York City is one of the best places to visit in the United States if you want to experience the big city without breaking the bank.

Manhattan NYC buildings lit up at night

Activities in New York City during the Month of January

  • Seeing a Broadway show is a must on any visit to New York City, but tickets can be pricey and it can be difficult to decide between multiple shows. During NYC Broadway Week, visitors can save money by purchasing two tickets for the price of one to a selection of shows. (Late January or later)
  • For over 15 years, the New York City Winter Jazzfest has been the premier event for fans of all types of jazz. (Later in January or in the middle of February)
  • Every foodie's dream comes true during New York Restaurant Week, when some of the city's best restaurants offer incredible prix-fixe menus for lunch, dinner, or both days of the event. (Towards the end of the first month)
  • Rooftop restaurants and bars are abundant in New York City. Mr. Purple on the Lower East Side, for example, transforms into a ski lodge complete with a gigantic "igloo" where you can enjoy a meal while sipping cocktails.
  • If you're sick of the cold, buy your ticket to one of New York's most popular attractions, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).

The below photo was taken in NYC in January.

Yellow taxi Central Park New York

Seattle in January: A Gastronomic and Cultural Extravaganza

In spite of its reputation as the home of Starbucks and a deluge of rain, Seattle, Washington is well worth a visit year-round thanks to its mild climate (average highs are in the 40s) and lack of snow.

You'll get to see so much more of the city than just coffee shops and umbrella stands on your January vacation, including fascinating museums, beautiful nighttime walking tours, fun ice skating, and more.

Pike Place Market sign at night

Fun Things to Do in Seattle in the Month of January

  • Fans of all things pop culture will enjoy the Museum of Pop Culture, which features displays on topics as diverse as Disney animation, rock bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, and science fiction and fantasy.  
  • Chihuly Garden and Glass is an outdoor art museum in Washington, D.C., featuring the work of local artist Dale Chihuly. The museum consists of eight galleries, a centerpiece Glasshouse, and breathtaking gardens.
  • Seattle's iconic Space Needle is less crowded and offers better visibility in January, making it the ideal time to visit the city.
  • Tacoma Light Trail - Stroll along a path illuminated by art and sound while listening to live music. (Roughly January 1)
  • Skating on more than 9,000 square feet of ice at the region's largest seasonal rink can be found in the nearby city of Bellevue. (Present Day) January
  • A trip to Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, for food and drink is a must for any first-time visitor to the city.
  • Near the food court and the market is the infamous chewing gum wall.

Our one-day Seattle itinerary and Washington state travel tips may also be of interest to you.

Beechers Homemade Cheese on a board at Pike Place Market Seattle

15. January in Portland: Live Music, Craft Beer, and Good Reads

If you're single and looking for love in January, here's hoping a chance encounter in a huge bookstore is in the forecast for you.

Visit Portland, Oregon this season, and you might see that.

If not, there's always a sad movie to watch with a cold one from Portland's thriving craft beer scene, or the soothing sounds of yesteryear to help you forget your troubles for a while.

Even though the temperature is only in the forties, outdoor activities such as sightseeing walks are still possible.

Portland Sign lit up at dusk

January activities in Portland

  • Traditional old-time Appalachian-style stringband musicians are honored at the annual Portland Old-Time Music Gathering, a grass-roots festival. Midway through the month of January
  • Portland's Fertile Ground Festival is a great way to kick off the new year by showcasing creative works. As of late January
  • Brew-N-View - Brew N View theaters are extremely common because patrons can enjoy their film with a pizza or other concessions in one hand and a beer or wine in the other.
  • Powell's Books, the largest independent bookstore in the world, is a wondrous nirvana of new, used, and rare books.  
  • Purchase your tickets here for a 2-mile stroll through the city's craft breweries.
  • Visit Multnomah Falls, where you can see snowy rocks and icy waterfalls, if you have the time. To the Portlanders, nature is just as important as maintaining the city's eccentric character.

See also: Christmastime in Portland and our suggested itinerary!

Multnomah Falls frozen with snow on stones

Final Reflections

Take a week or two off in January and visit one of these destinations to get your new year off to a great start.

We can't afford to take any time off right now. The next month is always an option. This article will provide you with information on the top places to visit in February.

Nicole, a free-lance writer, has a wide range of interests, from small coastal villages to big, bright metropolises. Though she spent her formative years in Delaware, she has always considered herself a true New Yorker.

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