January is one of the best months to travel in the U.S. Booking after the November and December holiday months allows for some impressive deals. Whether you want sun or snow, we’ve put together the best places to visit in January in the USA. And the best time to start thinking about it is in the summer!
1. Fairbanks, Alaska
I know, I know, you may be looking to get away from the cold. But for many, seeing the Northern Lights is a bucket list experience. And there aren’t many places within the U.S. where you’re likely to catch a glimpse. Alaska will give you the best shot at it. And sightings are most common between December and March when the skies are clearer. With that, you’ll also experience fewer daylight hours. But for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, this is your chance to experience all the winter activities Alaska has to offer.
Peak season in Alaska runs during the summer months, so this is a great opportunity to score an excellent deal.
- Find the Northern Lights
- Go on a dog sled ride
- Warm up with a dip in the Chena Hot Springs
- Tour an ice museum
Where to stay: Pike’s Waterfront Lodge
2. New Orleans, Louisiana
A trip to New Orleans in January will generally bring you mild temperatures (highs in the 60s, lows in the 40s). It’s a great time to visit because you’ll experience fewer crowds and better prices, but still get the nice weather.
January is also the official start to Carnival season, which comes with a lot of eating, drinking, parades, and celebration. Carnival season leads up to Mardi Gras. So if you want the celebration and festivity of New Orleans without the prices and chaos of Mardi Gras, visit in January during Carnival.
- Order a king cake from Antoine’s (or if you prefer your king cake as a beverage, indulge in a king cake bevvy at Bourbon House)
- Stroll around the French Quarter and grab a daiquiri and some fried chicken at Willie’s Chicken Shack
- Partake in an oyster happy hour at Luke (how can you turn down $1 oysters?!)
- It may be king cake season, but you have to visit the famous Cafe Du Monde for beignets and a cup of the traditional chicory coffee.
Where to stay: Omni Riverfront New Orleans
3. Miami, Florida
If you’re looking for a break from the cold, Miami might be the spot. You’re looking at average high temperatures around 76°F. That means it’s perfect weather for strolling the beach. Or hanging out at your hotel pool. Hotels in Miami are much lower in price this time of year, so chances are you’ll score an awesome deal. Of course, you can’t visit Miami without trying some of their notable cuisine. And we can 100% recommend Puerto Sagua. It has some of the best authentic Cuban food and an ideal location in South Beach.
- Take a walk along the famed South Beach
- Check out the wonderfully lit up Night Garden (especially great for kids)
- Experience the iconic Cubano sandwich
- Get up close and personal at the Monkey Jungle
4. Austin, Texas
There is nothing quite like sitting outside on a patio in the middle of January and indulging in a beer or some chips and queso. And that’s exactly what you’ll get in Austin. Temperatures are mild with highs around 62°F. And it beats the scorching 100 degree weather you’ll often find in the summer. Austin if full of activity for every taste. Hiking trails and kayaking for the outdoor folk. Live music and delicious BBQ. There’s always something going on, which is part of Austin’s appeal.
- Get your BBQ at a gas station
- Talk a walk around Zilker Park (or ride the mini train)
- Listen to some live music on 6th Street (go early if you’re bringing kids – it gets rowdy at night!)
- Spend the day exploring food trucks (Torchy’s for tacos and Gourdough’s is a must for dessert)
5. Anaheim, California
December is a magical time to visit Disney, but it can also be pretty expensive. Instead, look a visiting Disneyland in January. You’ll be rewarded with more affordable prices and mild weather. Anaheim in January reaches highs around 71°F. Disneyland is the major draw for this area, but you’re also very close to many of Orange County’s scenic beaches. The best for both worlds! Anaheim and the surrounding Orange County is one of the best places to visit in January when you want to stay in the U.S.
- Stay at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel where you’ll be closely located to Disneyland
- Take a break from the theme parks and head to nearby Huntington Beach
- Head to the newly renovated CTRCity for shopping and some delicious eats
- Brave the Disney Store in Downtown Disney
- Bonus: If you have older kids, don’t miss Flightdeck for a unique experience
6. Kona, Hawaii
Hawaii isn’t exactly the most affordable destination on the list, but January is a great time to score a deal. You’ll likely hear Oahu as being one of the “budget” spots (as budget as you can get in Hawaii). But we actually like Kona when you’re looking for something a bit different. Kona is less crowded than Oahu and packs a lot of beautiful scenery. You’ll also have plenty of lower cost hotel options than you’d find in Maui or Kauai. Also, it’s hard to beat highs in the 80s.
- Go for a coffee tasting and follow it up with a chocolate farm visit for the kids (did you know Hawaii is the only state where chocolate is made from 100% locally produced ingredients?)
- Embark on a family friendly snorkel tour (or if you’re brave, take a night dive)
- Kikaua Point Beach Park has everything you could want in a beach (restrooms, lava rocks, sea turtles, and a cove perfect for beginners learning to swim and snorkel)
- Don’t miss the famous Hawaiian shaved ice made with real fruit
7. Nashville, Tennessee
There is plenty to do in Nashville in January. And ok, it’s not the warmest with highs around 62°F. But that’s why we recommend staying at the Gaylord Opryland hotel. It’s basically a destination – an upscale indoor waterpark, shops, restaurants, and shoot, even ice tubing. So you can experience everything Opryland has to offer. And then head in to Nashville for some live entertainment and one of the most delicious Nashville Hot Chicken sandwiches you’ll ever eat.
- Stay at the Gaylord Opryland which hosts its annual Winterfest in January
- Go ice tubing, ice skating, and even partake in ice bumper cars
- See how much heat you can handle at Party Fowl (the hot chicken poutine is not to be missed)
- Watch a show at the famous Grand Ole Opry
8. New York City, NY
You’ll find smaller crowds for your trip to America’s largest city when you visit in January. You’ll need to brave the cold (average temps are in the 20s and 30s), but you’ll find plenty of winter activities inside and out. Of course NYC is known for some of the country’s best restaurants. You’ll have your pick of museums and broadway shows. And for some fresh air, Central Park is a must.
- Go ice skating in Central Park at Wollman Rink
- Choose from a variety of broadway shows
- Find out how New York style pizza stacks up at Joe’s or sip some iconic hot chocolate at Serendipity 3
- Go on a tour of all the best museums
9. Park City, Utah
For that dream ski vacation, head to Park City. The Utah Olympic Park was built in 2002 just outside Park City for the Winter Olympics. And they accept visitors! Of course the city in flowing with all manner of winter activities: skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, sleigh riding. And after a day of outdoor activity, warm up inside one of the many beautiful mountain lodges.
- Try out a different winter activity like dog sledding, tubing, or even snow biking
- Pay a visit to the Utah Olympic Park and even try out the bobsled experience
- For ski in, ski out access, stay at the Hyatt Centric Park City
- Stroll down Park City Main Street Historic District and check out the array of shops and restaurants
10. Las Vegas, Nevada
You can visit Las Vegas pretty much any month throughout the year and have an excellent trip. In the warmer months and over spring break, the city gets rowdier and more crowded. In January you’ll have a little more wiggle room. Prices tend to be lower, so your money goes further. And the weather is still pretty nice. Highs are typically around 55-60°F. And if that doesn’t sound like pool weather to you, most hotels keep at least one pool heated throughout the winter months, plus you can go wrong with a dip in the hot tub.
- Upgrade to the gorgeous Grande Suite at Nomad Hotel for a luxury stay
- Have a spa day at the famed Spa at Aria
- Get your sugar rush at the M&M store
- Eat one of the best meals of your life at Best Friend
11. Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Indoor water parks are a popular option during the colder months when water activities aren’t easy to come by. And Wisconsin Dells is the leader of the pack. Known as the water park capital of the world, Wisconsin Dells is home to over 20 different water parks. With that many options, you’ll have your pick of resorts! If you’ve never tried a Great Wolf Lodge, now is your chance to see what they’re all about. Or book a couple different resorts to switch up your experience.
- Book a wolf den room at Great Wold Lodge
- Do some snow tubing on Cascade Mountain
- Keep the fun going at Knuckleheads Trampoline Park
- Pick up all the Wisconsin cheese you can handle at Carr Valley Cheese
12. San Juan, Puerto Rico
If you’re looking for that caribbean feel without the need for a passport, Puerto Rico is a great option in the winter months. You’ll have the tropical vibes, great beaches, and a lot of culture all in one trip. Old San Juan is filled with many historic sites. And after a warm day at the beach, take in everything Puerto Rican cuisine has to offer. And don’t forget the Piña Colada.
- Grab a plate of Arroz con gandules, Puerto Rico’s national dish
- Visit Castillo San Felipe del Morro for a taste of Puerto Rican history
- Spend a day in the sun at Condado Beach
- Take a day trip to El Yunque to visit the rainforest
13. Orlando, Florida
A popular choice any month of the year, January stands out due to the lower crowds and cheaper prices. Many travelers choose to visit during the holidays in November and December, so prices tend to drop a bit in January. High temperatures average around 70°F this time of year, so you’ll get a nice break from the cold. And of course, you’ll have your pick of theme parks.
- Walt Disney World is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year
- Book your stay at the new Star Wars hotel
- Elevate your mini gold experience at Hollywood Drive-In Golf at Universal CityWalk Orlando
- Embrace your inner astronaut at the Kennedy Space Center
14. Hershey, Pennsylvania
For an indulgent getaway, head to Hershey, Pennsylvania. Stay on property at one of Hershey’s luxury properties. And enjoy plenty of chocolatey fun at Chocolate World and The Hershey Story Museum. You can also stroll through the Hershey Gardens and see all the winter animals at ZooAmerica. Plus, no trip is complete without a dining experience topped off with a chocolate-filled dessert.
- Stay at The Hershey Lodge and splash around at Water Works (and indoor pool complex)
- Learn how chocolate is made at the free Hershey’s Chocolate World tour ride
- Interact with butterflies at the Hershey Gardens
- Discover how chocolate gets incorporated into food at The Chocolatier Restaurant