Traveling in the USA during January is entirely underrated, mainly because you’ll often experience a destination with way fewer people. But, the best places to visit in January in the USA are also bucket list places!
This post of the best places to visit in the USA in January truly has it all from the northeast to the southwest.
No matter what type of January vacation you’re looking for, you’ll be able to find a place that suits you as a traveler.
In addition to there being way fewer tourists in these places in January, you’ll also often experience lower accommodation and flight prices as well as better weather, especially if you’re visiting a traditionally hot site.
In short, an excellent January vacation in the USA is possible with every place on this list! Let’s get to them!
31 Best Destinations in the United States to Visit in January
Here are our favorite places to visit in January in the USA in no particular order because they are all mind-blowing! Enjoy!
1. New York City, New York
New York City is one of the best places to visit in January in the US because so many people will visit in December.
By the time January rolls around, the holiday crowds have mostly died down, making a trip there much more authentic and less busy.
Plus, January is known for being one of the cheapest months to visit New York City, making it perfect if you’re on a budget.
While there, don’t forget to see a Broadway show and check out the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, which is usually up until mid-January, and to go for a stroll around Central Park if it’s not too frigid outside.
Where to Stay in New York
Click here to find accommodation in New York.
2. Beaver Creek, Colorado
Sometimes the best places to visit in January in the USA are underrated year-round, which is why Beaver Creek, Colorado, made this list.
This small town by Avon is often overlooked for other ski destinations in the state like Aspen and Telluride, making it a great place to visit in the new year.
With three different villages, you really can’t go wrong in Beaver Creek. The most popular village is Beaver Creek Village, but you can also check out Arrowhead or Bachelor Gulch for even fewer crowds.
Accommodation prices tend to drop after the holidays, so this is an excellent spot for a January vacation in the USA.
Where to Stay in Beaver Creek
Click here to find accommodation in Beaver Creek.
Read next: Best Places to Visit in the USA
3. Austin, Texas
A beautiful city exceptionally well known for its live music scene, Austin, TX is easily one of the best places to visit in the USA in January.
By visiting in January, not only will you miss the peak summer season when everyone visits, but you’ll also be able to experience cooler weather.
During this winter vacation, you can enjoy visiting museums, having strong drinks on warm patios at local restaurants, and even going ice skating.
Plus, because Austin is a southern destination, you can even still enjoy outdoor adventures like hiking in January.
Where to Stay in Austin
Check out where to stay in Austin.
4. New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is well known for hosting Mardi Gras, a celebration that takes place in March.
Because most people visit during the celebration, New Orleans is one of the best places to visit in January in the USA so that you can beat the crowds and the heat!
One of the best things to do in January in New Orleans is attending the Twelfth Night celebration, which marks the beginning of the Carnival season.
It’s usually primarily locals that attend this event, so it will feel a lot more authentic versus visiting during Mardi Gras. Be sure to catch the parade after or even Krewe de Joan d’Arc.
In short, New Orleans is one of the best places to visit in the south, USA!
Where to Stay in New Orleans
Click here to find the best places to stay in New Orleans.
5. Washington D.C.
Washington D.C. is one of the most overlooked best places to visit in January in the US.
Often looked at as a spring or summer destination, Washington D.C. is usually cool in January and features little to no tourism, which means almost no lines at top museums.
If you’re lucky enough to visit Washington D.C. in January, try to plan your trip around Martin Luther King Day.
They host a wide range of celebrations and also have community clean-ups so you can help the locals take care of the city.
In addition, don’t forget to visit all of the top historical sites, like Ford’s Theater, the Smithsonian Museums, and the Arlington National Cemetery, which have barely any visitors in January.
Where to Stay in Washington D.C.
Click here to find accommodation in Washington D.C.
6. Chicago, Illinois
For the least amount of tourists crowds, visit Chicago in January.
Most hotels drop their prices during this time because it’s the slower season, and many people overlook Chicago during the winter because of its cold and wet weather. Just pack a warm coat, and you’ll be fine!
One of the things that make Chicago one of the best places to visit in January in the USA is that there are tons of festivals.
There’s usually a whiskey festival that takes place in January, as well as many other significant events, so you truly won’t be at a loss when it comes to what to do during your trip.
Where to Stay in Chicago
Click here to find accommodation in Chicago.
7. Miami, Florida
Miami is popularly known as one of the best places for spring break in the USA but is often forgotten in January.
In winter, Miami still experiences warm weather, but it tends to be in the 60s, which happens to be the coldest it gets all year.
While the sandy beaches are often cooler in January due to the weather, other popular attractions like museums are great options to add to your Miami in January itinerary.
Crowds tend to be minimal, and hotel prices also drop significantly, which is why Miami is one of the best places to visit in January in the USA.
Where to Stay in Miami
Click here to find accommodation in Miami.
8. Breckenridge, Colorado
If you’re a ski lover, then you can’t miss Breckenridge, Colorado, in January. Like Beaver Creek, Breckenridge is often less visited than Vail, Telluride, and Aspen, which is why it’s such a great spot to visit in the winter.
With fantastic weather and lots of snow, Breckenridge is a ski and snowboard paradise.
The ski resorts have been open for a while by January, so skiers tend to die down around this time, especially right after the holidays.
Prices may still be a little expensive for accommodation during this time but are cheaper than in December.
Fun fact: Breckenridge boasts North America’s highest lift!
Where to Stay in Breckenridge
Click here to find accommodation in Breckenridge.
9. Zion National Park, Utah
Believe it or not, but Zion National Park is one of the best places to visit in January in the USA.
As one of the most visited US national parks, Zion is always overcrowded, except in January!
Plus, Zion does get some snow, and it truly creates a beautiful landscape when the white snow is sitting in the canyon of orange and green.
Temperatures during this time of year in Zion are also a lot lower, averaging in the 50s.
If you plan on doing a hike in January, make sure you’re well equipped and come with shoe spikes and possibly even poles. The Narrows would be especially cold this time of year.
Where to Stay in Zion National Park
Click here to find accommodation in Zion National Park.
Read next: America the Beautiful Pass Review
10. Death Valley National Park, California
Visit Death Valley in January to not only avoid the crowds but to have temperatures that aren’t as scorching as they are during peak season.
January is the coolest time to visit Death Valley, and during this time of year, the area even gets some rain.
When visiting Death Valley National Park, be sure to stargaze, go to many viewpoints (like Dante’s View) and go hiking.
Crowds are a lot less dense during this time of year, and you may even luck out and find parts of the park just for yourself if you plan wisely and get up early.
Where to Stay in Death Valley
Click here to find accommodation in Death Valley.
11. Brunswick, Georgia
Brunswick, Georgia, is one of the best places to visit in January in the US because temperatures are cool!
During the summer, Georgia experiences high temperatures, while January sees temperatures never really reaching above 60°F.
Because there are fewer crowds in January, you’ll be able to have a lot more of a local experience during your visit to Brunswick in January.
Don’t miss out on Blythe Island Regional Park; though it will be too cool for swimming, you can fish, camp, and even hike in January.
If you’re a history buff, one of the best places to visit in January is the Fort Frederica National Monument on St. Simons Island. You’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time.
Where to Stay in Brunswick
Click here to find accommodation in Brunswick.
12. Mount Baker, Washington
Mount Baker is one of the most well-known mountains in Washington, right behind Mount Rainier.
It truly looks even more beautiful in January than it does during the rest of the year, as it gets covered in a blanket of snow, making it look genuinely like a winter wonderland.
Many people head to Mount Baker Ski Area in December to hit the slopes around the holidays, and there are a lot fewer people come January.
Plus, accommodations can typically be found cheaper during the winter months too. Just keep in mind that it may be harder to hike Mount Baker in January if that’s something you want to do!
Where to Stay near Mount Baker
Click here to find accommodation near Mount Baker.
13. South Padre Island, Texas
January in South Padre Island is unbeatable, with temperatures never really going above 70°F.
The weather is still pretty warm on this tropical island in the Gulf Coast but nowhere near as hot as it is during the rest of the year, making it one of the best places to visit in January in the USA.
If you’re wondering what to do in South Padre Island, be sure to stop by Gravity Park, South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, and the Port Isabel Lighthouse State Historic Site.
You can enjoy all of these with lower accommodation prices since you’ll be visiting South Padre Island in January!
Where to Stay on South Padre Island
Click here to find accommodation on South Padre Island.
14. Tucson, Arizona
A southwest getaway to Tucson in winter is fantastic because it’s one of the best places to visit in January in the USA!
Arizona is notoriously known for its terrible temperatures, but in January, you can enjoy temperatures that don’t go higher than around 75°F, making it perfect for vacation.
In January, the Tucson weather is perfect for all types of outdoor activities, like hiking to the Seven Falls, horseback riding through the desert, or even visiting Saguaro National Park.
Plus, just like every other place on this list, Tucson’s hotel rates drop significantly during January, so you can save money by visiting during this time.
Where to Stay in Tucson
Click here to find accommodation in Tucson.
15. Fairbanks, Alaska
Fairbanks in January may be chilly, but it’s terrific for a winter visit.
Not only can you still have the chance of possibly catching the Northern Lights, but you’ll also be able to have clearer skies. Definitely dress appropriately, though, as temperatures don’t tend to go higher than 25°F.
As one of the best places to visit in January in the USA, Fairbanks is filled with many fun things to do.
The city tends to host lots of public events in January, including concerts. Because this is the coldest time of year in Alaska, travelers can also expect little to know crowds if they plan wisely.
Where to Stay in Fairbanks
Click here to find accommodation in Fairbanks.
16. San Diego, California
San Diego (and California in general) is usually considered a spring break or summer vacation destination, but it’s stunning in January.
The weather stays in the 60s most of the time, making it too cool to go swimming, but every other activity is still on the table.
San Diego in Southern California has tons of fun activities in winter, from going on walks along the waterfront to participating in yoga on the beach.
One of the best things to do in winter in San Diego is to head to the beach and catch the sunset.
You’ll mostly be among locals at the beach too because most people visit in the dead of summer.
Oh, and Balboa Park is a flowering garden perfect for fighting the winter blues.
Where to Stay in San Diego
Click here to find accommodation in San Diego.
Read next: One Day in San Diego
17. Payette National Forest, Idaho
National Forests, in general, are often underrated by travelers, so head to Payette National Forest in January for a good time.
Because not many people visit in January, the trails are a lot more empty, and you’ll almost feel alone in the wilderness.
Payette National Forest is anything but short of fun winter activities. There are two ski resorts within the forest, and there are also tons of snowmobile and snowshoe trails to enjoy the winter wonderland while being active.
Many rental places are nearby, so travelers don’t even have to worry about bringing their own gear.
Where to Stay near Payette National Forest
Click here to find accommodation near Payette National Forest.
18. Key West, Florida
Key West experiences its off-season in winter, which is why it’s one of the best places to visit in January in the USA.
It’s the coldest month of the entire year for Key West in January, but the daily temperature is still around 70°F.
The humidity is also not bad this time of year, but many people don’t know that and opt to visit during the summer instead.
In January, prices for hotels and resorts drop because of the lack of tourists, so travelers can truly snag a deal if they book in advance.
Plus, because Key West is warmer than some other places in Florida on this list, water activities are still a go! Plan on swimming, boating, and even fishing. Key West is definitely one of the best warm places to visit in January in the US.
Where to Stay in Key West
Click here to find accommodation in Key West.
19. Mount Hood, Oregon
Mount Hood in January is simply a fantastic winter getaway. The mountain will become covered in snow and will look like something out of a Christmas movie!
Despite that, hiking is still completely possible in winter if hikers get spikes for their boots.
Other fun winter activities include skiing at one of the five ski resorts, snowshoeing, sledding, snowmobiling, and more.
Mount Hood can get quite busy in January, but it’s nowhere near as bad as in the summer.
Plus, there’s no better time to witness Mount Hood’s beauty than when it’s covered in snow.
Where to Stay near Mount Hood
Click here to find accommodation near Mount Hood.
20. Mammoth Lakes, California
Mammoth Lakes is one of the places within the state of California that does get snow in January!
Temperatures tend to be cool, and because California is traditionally a summer destination, it doesn’t get as busy as you’d expect.
In January, Mammoth Lakes is bustling with fun activities like group tours through the snow, skiing, snowmobiling, sledding, snowboarding, and snowshoeing.
Head away from the popular ski resort to escape the crowds, or wake up early to snowboard without as many people on the slopes.
Where to Stay in Mammoth Lakes
Click here to find accommodation in Mammoth Lakes.
21. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Believe it or not, but Yellowstone National Park in winter is truly a hidden gem location.
In particular, winter in general at this national park means way fewer crowds than the rest of the year, which says a lot because it’s one of the country’s most popular parks.
Weather can be a bit cooler, and sometimes the best way to experience anything in Yellowstone in winter is to book something with a tour guide.
One of the most popular things to do in January is to go snowshoeing through the park, but just know that Yellowstone is known to get pretty icy in the winter.
Where to Stay in Yellowstone National Park
Click here to find accommodation in Yellowstone National Park.
22. Oahu, Hawaii
Head to the tropical paradise of Oahu in January for a true getaway, especially if you’re from an area that’s cold in winter!
Oahu is a delightful warm winter vacation, as the average temperatures still reach around 80°F each day in January, but you can always cool off in the ocean.
There are many things to do in Oahu in January, all while enjoying fewer crowds and cheaper accommodation options.
Head to the luau, learn about the culture, go hiking, and don’t forget to visit Pearl Harbor. Waikiki Beach, one of the best beaches in Hawaii, is pleasant this time of year with way fewer crowds.
Whether you’re spending a week or 3 days in Oahu, you’re sure to have lots of fun and fight off the winter blues!
Where to Stay in Oahu
Click here to find accommodation in Oahu.
Read next: Most Romantic Getaways in the USA
23. Heavenly, California and Nevada
Heavenly is famously known for its fantastic ski resorts right near Lake Tahoe.
Because it’s excellent for skiing, it’s easily a top place to visit in the USA during January, and you won’t want to miss it. Plus, it’s one of the biggest ski resorts worldwide.
Even though winter is particularly busy for Heavenly, visiting in January is a must-do. Experience all that Heavenly Ski Resort has to offer but be sure to book well in advance.
If skiing isn’t your thing, head to Lakeside Beach, relax at Serenity Spa, or go ice skating to get outside still and enjoy the fresh, crisp air.
Where to Stay in Heavenly
Click here to find accommodation in Heavenly.
24. Aspen, Colorado
Aspen is one of the most well-known outdoor winter sports destinations in the USA, and for a good reason.
While it’s a bit more costly than Breckenridge or Beever Creek, it’s still absolutely magical in January. The crowds are significantly smaller this month than in December, and the snow is well packed by then.
Get away from the many ski resorts in the area by heading to Snowmass Village to shop or check out the local stores in downtown Aspen.
Be sure to book a reservation to visit the nearby Maroon Bells, which is spectacularly covered in snow.
Where to Stay in Aspen
Click here to find accommodation in Aspen.
25. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Gatlinburg is an excellent outdoor getaway near Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the USA.
It serves as a famous gateway town to those who plan to visit the park in Tennessee and is filled with tons of fun activities.
In January, you can also visit the state’s only ski resort called Ober Ski Mountain.
Be sure to enjoy the Gatlinburg Winter Magic Festival, where you can see many great lights downtown.
During this time of year, crowds are also light, so you can enjoy them without many tourists and be just among the locals.
Where to Stay in Gatlinburg
Click here to find accommodation in Gatlinburg.
26. Leavenworth, Washington
Pretend that you’re in Germany by visiting Leavenworth, Washington, in January! This town looks just like it was pulled out of Bavaria and placed into the United States.
All of the buildings have traditional German architecture and are filled with fun restaurants and souvenir shops alike.
January is truly when Leavenworth comes alive with tons of lights and festive activities like snowmobiling and ice skating. Leavenworth does receive a bit of snow in January too.
Head to the nearby ski resorts to enjoy the great outdoors during a trip to Leavenworth, but note that the resorts tend to be bustling this time of year.
Where to Stay in Leavenworth
Click here to find accommodation in Leavenworth.
27. Madison, Wisconsin
Madison is Wisconsin’s capital and is located near Milwaukee and boasts a great food and festival scene.
It’s genuinely a lesser-known winter destination on this list, which is why it’s one of the best places to visit in January in the US.
With temperatures around 30°F, this is a cooler place to visit, but accommodation rates tend to decrease during this time of year if you can get over the cold weather.
In winter, ski at University Ridge, enjoy the winter views at Elver Park, and go ice skating at one of the many local public outdoor rinks.
Where to Stay in Madison
Click here to find accommodation in Madison.
28. St Paul, Minnesota
St. Paul, one of Minnesota’s twin cities, is the perfect spot for a vacation in the USA in January.
During the winter, St. Paul can get quite chilly, but not many people visit because of that. It’s a great time to enjoy St. Paul and live more like a local rather than a tourist.
Enjoy St. Paul’s most popular January event, the Winter Carnival. During the Winter Carnival, many different events are hosted, like puzzle contests, bingo nights with drag queens, and even scavenger hunts around the city.
The schedule for Winter Carnival changes each year, but you can check it out on their website.
Where to Stay in St Paul
Click here to find accommodation in St Paul.
29. Whitefish, Montana
Whitefish, Montana is a great place to go right along the Rocky Mountains, and it’s also located near Glacier National Park.
Glacier National Park is an absolute must-visit in the off-season due to the lack of crowds and the amazing views.
The town of Whitefish is also fun to explore, with tons of small local shops and restaurants, great parks, and even a nearby ski resort.
The entire town usually gets blanketed with fresh snow in the winter, and it looks like something straight out of a Christmas movie. Whitefish also hosts its own Winter carnival similar to St. Paul.
Where to Stay in Whitefish
30. Nashville, Indiana
Nashville, Indiana, is the perfect place to go for a small town USA destination in January. It has a vast art and culture scene and is filled with tons of history.
Plus, it’s not that far from Indianapolis, making it a great place to visit if you’re out of state because you can fly.
This town doesn’t get tons of visitors year-round, so it’s perfect for visiting in the winter.
The most popular thing to do in Nashville during January is to go hiking in nearby parks like Millrace Park or even Brown County State Park. There are also many indoor activities like shopping locally or learning at museums.
Where to Stay in Nashville
Click here to find accommodation in Nashville.
31. Hanover, New Hampshire
Last but not least is Hanover, New Hampshire. Any place in New England is spectacular during the winter months, but especially Hanover in January.
It’s a traditional small town that’s most well known for being home to Dartmouth College.
Many of those who live/visit Hanover tend to be college students, and because most students are on break in January, the town quiets down during this month.
Because it’s in the northeast, it gets pretty cold, but many places to visit like local restaurants, the Hood Museum of Art, and Vins Nature Center make bearing the cold well worth it.
Where to Stay in Hanover
Click here to find accommodation in Hanover.
Wrapping Up on the Best January Vacations in the US
If you’re planning your USA travel in January, we hope this article gave you some excellent ideas of places to go in January.
After all, the US offers a wide range of sceneries and cities to enjoy the magic of the season.
You can either opt for a quintessential winter complete with snow fights and hot chocolate in a new city or go on an outdoor adventure and bask in the warm weather.
Whichever option you choose, be sure to have a fantastic winter season in the USA.
If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out our blog posts below:
- Best Places to Visit in February
- Best Places to Visit in March
- Best Places to Visit in April
- Best Places to Visit in May
- Best Places to Visit in June
- Best Places to Visit in November
- Best Places to Visit in December
- Best Places to Visit During Christmas
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