12 Best Places to Visit in January Around the World

Gwen Kleist Avatar
A Hawaiian sunset is a January vacation treat to enjoy.

Taking a vacation in January is the best way to start off the New Year! Escaping for a getaway in January means you’ll find great deals on airfare and hotels, and of course lighter crowds anywhere you go. Whether you’re looking for January’s hot spots for warm weather and sunshine to hit the beach or a winter wonderland to hit the slopes, there is no shortage of great destinations to visit in January. Start with our list of the best places to visit in January around the world when you need to beat the winter blues.

Welcome sign at Universal Studios Orlando
Universal Orlando Resort welcome sign. Photo credit: Cindy Richards

1. Los Angeles

California is home to some of the best places to visit in January. And that’s not surprising, considering the state is known for its beautiful climate, stunning sandy beaches, varied topography and a number of fantastic cities waiting to be explored.

Let’s start with California’s biggest city: Los Angeles. Known as the City of Angels, L.A. is packed with fun things to do. While there may be rain and chilly days in January, you can still enjoy the miles of coastline and go to the beach. There are a number of fantastic museums and cultural sites in Los Angeles.

Fun Things to Do in Los Angeles in January

  • Visit Griffith Park Observatory, a mountaintop science center, to see stars — the ones in the sky, not the ones on your screens — up close.
  • Take a ride on the carousel at the L.A. Zoo.
  • Head to Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier to learn about sea life at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.
  • Take a hike, bike or rollerblade down the boardwalk.
  • Ride some rides at a theme park, where the weather will be welcoming and the crowds will be small. The Los Angeles metro area is home to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, and—if you are traveling with older kids—Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia.
SeaWorld San Diego Shark Encounter
Shark Encounter is one of SeaWorld’s most popular walk-through attractions! Photo credit: SeaWorld San Diego

2. San Diego

San Diego is another fantastic destination in California to visit in January. The average temperature remains in the high 60s, making it nice to explore the city without getting too hot or too cold.

With its clear skies, ocean views and warm sunny days, San Diego one of the best places to travel for a relaxing winter getaway.

We love to stay near the water when we visit San Diego. For a great resort on Mission Bay and walking distance to the beach, check out Bahia Resort. If you prefer to stay downtown, the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina is a waterfront hotel with an ideal location adjacent to Seaport Village and right across the bay from Coronado Island.

Fun Things to Do in San Diego in January

  • Visit SeaWorld San Diego
  • Explore the shops and restaurants or ride the carousel at Seaport Village
  • Take the ferry to Coronado Island
  • Check out the world-famous San Diego Zoo
  • Spend the day on one of the many beaches along the coast.

3.   Florida Keys

The Florida Keys, the southernmost spot in the United States, are famous for their warm climate, sandy beaches, and legendary nightly sunset celebrations in Key West.

The Florida Keys are a collection of laid back islands, located just south of Miami and can be reached by car. Traveling to the Florida Keys is budget friendly, as you’ll get to experience an island beach destination without having to pay for airfare.

January is an ideal time to visit because the temperature is typically in the 70s, perfect for the islands’ many outdoor activities.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Check out this list of the best all-inclusive resorts in Key West.

Fun Things to Do in the Florida Keys in January

  • Get out on the water to go fishing, sailing, kayaking and snorkeling.
  • Visit the Key West Aquarium
  • Take a ghost tour
  • Check out the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
  • Join the evening sunset celebration.
Dry Tortugas National Park
An aerial view of Dry Tortugas National Park. Photo credit: Florida Keys News Bureau.

4. Dry Tortugas National Park

Located in Florida, about 70 miles west of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico is a cluster of seven islands composed of coral reefs and sand called the Dry Tortugas. The area is known for bird and marine life, as well as a number of shipwrecks. Fort Jefferson, its central feature, is one of the nation’s largest 1800s masonry forts.

One of the seven islands, Bush Key, closes every year from February to September, when up to 80,000 sooty terns and 4,500 brown noddies make nests and raise their young on the island. These are the only significant breeding colonies of sooty terns and brown noddies in the US. So if you want to visit this spot in Dry Tortugas National Park, January is the ideal time to go.

As its name suggests, the Dry Tortugas enjoy a dry winter season (November-March) with little or no rainfall, making January a great time to visit.

There are no hotels in the Dry Tortugas, but you can camp there or visit on a day trip from Key West.

Fun Things to Do in Dry Tortugas in January

  • The dry, warm weather is perfect for snorkeling, lounging and enjoying water sports such as kayaking, and boating.
  • Hike around the islands and view wildlife
  • Getting to Dry Tortugas National Park is half the fun. You can take a ferry, seaplane or private boat. Ferry is the most budget-friendly option. Ferry tickets include the entrance fee to Dry Tortugas National Park and Fort Jefferson.
beautiful scenery for ski trips 2021 - 2022
There’s something freeing about breathing fresh air on top of a snowy mountain. Photo courtesy Aspen Snowmass/ Hal Williams.

5. Colorado

If winter sports are your thing, consider a trip to Colorado. There are many wonderful ski destinations in Colorado known for their ski resorts and beautiful locales, including Aspen, Breckenridge, Vail and Steamboat Springs.

While January is very cold, Colorado experiences beautiful sunny days in January, making the weather perfect for experiencing outdoor winter activities.

Fun Things to Do in Colorado in January

  • Skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Snowmobiling
  • Snowshoeing
  • Dog sledding
  • Exploring Colorado’s small towns, shops, restaurants and nightlife
  • Hanging out in the hot tub while the snow falls
Skiing in Park City, Utah.
Skiing in Park City, Utah. Photo credit: Utah.com

6. Park City, Utah

Park City is a beautiful year-round destination, but during the wintertime it becomes one of the most popular skiing and snowboarding travel destinations in the United States.

During the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, many of the major skiing and snowboarding events were held in Park City.

Park City is also famous for its cross-country skiing trails. Park City offers a wide variety of options from groomed trails, complete with classic tracks, or more rustic touring trails, many overlooking the majestic Rocky Mountains.

And if you need a break from the snow, no problem! Park City is filled with museums, cafes, spas and concerts so you can enjoy being indoors, too.

Fun Things to Do in Park City in January

  • Snow biking
  • Snow tubing
  • Dog sledding
  • Ice skating
  • Riding snowmobiles

7. White Sands National Monument

Located in New Mexico, White Sands National Park is a unique spot to explore in January. The park gets its name from the giant wave-like dunes of white gypsum sand that have engulfed 275 square miles of desert, creating the world’s largest gypsum dunefield. White Sands National Park preserves a major portion of this unique dunefield, along with the plants and animals that live here.

As with most desert climates, the summer is too hot to really enjoy your visit, so January is a great time to go.

White Sands National Park is located in southern New Mexico, about three and half hours away from Albuquerque and one hour from Los Cruses. You probably don’t need more than a day, so consider White Sands National Park if visiting the area or as a unique stop if planning a road trip across the southern USA.

Fun Things to Do in White Sands in January

  • Hike through the dunes on one of the five main trails
  • Go camping
  • Take photographs of the dunes
Thailand is one of many fun countries to visit with kids.
Excursion to Phi Phi Island from Phuket, Thailand. Photo credit: Karen Akpan

8. Thailand

Thailand is located in Southeast Asia and is known for tropical beaches, opulent royal palaces, ancient ruins and ornate temples displaying figures of Buddha. You are probably familiar with its capital city Bangkok, but the place to visit this time of year is Phuket.

Phuket is said to be among the world’s most beautiful beach destinations. It is large, so there are many hotel and activity options depending on your family’s tastes and budget. Phuket is also known for its nightlife and foodie cuisine.

Thailand is a great year-round destination, but January offers some of the best weather. Situated off the west coast of Thailand, temperatures in Phuket are warm. November through April is considered the dry season and typically sunny, while May through October see lots of rain.

Another great perk to visiting Thailand in January is the Chinese New Year often falls in January, bringing delightful festivities to the region.

Fun Things to Do in Thailand in January

  • Spend time at the beach in Phuket
  • Visit the Grand Palace in Bangkok
  • See the waterfalls at Visit Khao Yai National Park
  • Try some Thai street food
  • Have an authentic Thai Massage
  • Visit the City of Ayutthaya, A UNESCO World Heritage Site
Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House is Australia’s most iconic landmark. Photo credit: Sydney Opera House

9. Sydney, Australia

When it’s winter in North America, Sydney, Australia is experiencing summer. So January is the best month of the year to visit—it is late spring/early summer and the weather is perfect.

From its famous beaches to the even more famous Sydney Opera House, Sydney has many great things to do.

Fun Things to Do in Sydney in January

  • Visit Bondi Beach
  • Take a tour of the Sydney Opera House
  • Go up on the Sydney Tower Eye
  • Check out the animals at Taronga Zoo
  • Spend time exploring Sydney’s many museums, tours and galleries
  • Take a hike
  • Kayak in the Sydney Harbour
the stockyard in Forth Worth, Texas
Fort Worth Stockyards Photo credit: Visionbyatlee by Getty Images Pro

10. Texas

As the largest state in the continental US, Texas has so many amazing travel destinations. And while the state tends to get very hot in the summertime, January is an ideal time to visit.

Looking to get an authentic taste of the American West? Grab your cowboy hat and head to the Fort Worth Stockyards! Located in Fort Worth’s National Historic District and loaded with fun activities, the Fort Worth Stockyards offers a fun, if a little kitschy, Old West experience.

Catch the annual Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, which runs from January to February every year. There are great restaurants, shops, entertainment and some quaint old-fashioned hotels.

San Antonio is another great spot to visit in Texas, with its world-famous San Antonio River Walk, the Alamo and SeaWorld San Antonio.

For ocean views, sugar sand beaches, and Caribbean style resorts, plan a getaway to South Padre Island. Although this Texas beach town gets a little crazy during Spring Beach, January is a great month of the year to experience it with fewer crowds and a more relaxed atmosphere.

Fun Things to Do in Texas in January

  • Go to the beach on South Padre Island
  • Stroll along the San Antonio River Walk
  • Visit Space Center Houston
  • Remember the Alamo
  • Ride rollercoasters at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington
  • Add some paint at Cadillac Ranch, a unique art installation along Route 66
northern lights
View the Northern Lights in Fairbanks Alaska. Photo credit: Explore Fairbanks

11. Fairbanks, Alaska

Yes, it’s going to be cold in January. But Fairbanks, Alaska is one of the best places to travel in North America if you want to see the northern lights.

Fairbanks is situated at a latitude that makes it perfect to witness the aurora borealis and midnight sun. If you’re looking to chase the northern lights, January is the ideal time to visit because your chances of seeing the lights are high, but there are no crowds in town because of the cold weather.

Not only will you have a chance to see the northern lights, but you’ll also score a great deal on a hotel. Since few tourists visit Alaska in the wintertime, hotel rates and airline ticket prices are both lower in January.

Fun Things to Do in Fairbanks in January

  • View the Northern Lights
  • Go on a dog sledding ride
  • Find stunning views at Chena River State Recreation Area
  • Visit the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center
  • Grab a beer at the HooDoo Brewing Company
  • See the Golden Heart Revue at the Palace Theater
Waterfall in Hawaii
Waterfall on private land accessed on a Hawaii forest and trail waterfall tour. Photo credit: Liana Moore

12. The Big Island, Hawaii

The Island of Hawaii, also known as the Big Island, is a beautiful destination for escaping the cold of winter. In January, the Big Island enjoys warm weather and wonderful sunny days.

Hawaii is the third most visited island Hawaiian island and offers accommodation for all budgets. It tends to be cheaper and less crowded than Maui or Oahu.

What makes this destination special is that it has two very different sides: Kona (west side) and Hilo (east side), so you can have a multitude of experiences ranging from hiking along tropical waterfalls to lounging on the beach. Kona is definitely where you want to stay if you’re looking to soak up some sunshine and enjoy everything its beaches have to offer.

Fun Things to Do on Hawaii’s Big Island in January

  • Explore the region’s famous Kona coffee farms, historic landmarks, farmers markets and wonderful beach towns.
  • Take a whale watching tour, as pods of humpback whales travel past on their way to find solace in the warm waters of the South Pacific in January
  • Try some Kona coffee
  • Go to the beach
  • Take a hike at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
  • Visit the Captain Cook Memorial and Kealakekua Bay
  • Take a scenic helicopter tour
Gwen Kleist is an award-winning travel writer and author based in Southern California. She is the mother of one very active son who shares her love of travel and adventure. She is the owner and publisher of CaliforniaFamilyTravel.com, a family travel blog dedicated to sharing the best destinations and experiences in California and beyond! Her articles have also appeared in San Diego Family Magazine, Sunset Magazine, Cat Fancy, Huntington Beach Magazine, and she was a contributing author to Explorer Publishing’s guidebook, Los Angeles: The Complete Resident’s Guide.
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