15 Best Places To Visit In January USA (2024)


There is no better place to spend your bleary January than in the USA. The country is full top-to-tail of incredible winter destinations, whether you want warm temperatures or fun winter activities in the snow. January travel is also tactical, being outside peak season for most destinations, meaning fewer crowds and better access to incredible attractions. A great example is the national parks, where hiking trails become almost empty. January in the USA is fabulous – you just need to know which places to visit.

To help you get the most out of the year’s first month, we’ve compiled a list of the best places to visit in January in the US. These destinations are spread across the entire country – some snowy and wintery with classic activities like cross-country skiing, some mild with better access to hiking trails and attractions, and others hot, with beautiful beaches. Are you ready to plan your January vacation? Here is where you’ll meet your match.

 1. South Padre Island

South Padre Island is a brilliant place to visit in January if you want sunny weather and a glorious vacation on a barrier island. In January, temperatures drop marginally, but you can still enjoy plenty of outdoor activities and beach days. There are just so many things to do in South Padre Island: birding, horseback riding, snorkeling, and more. It has 34 miles of coastline, bright white sands, and famously emerald waters. It truly is a gem of Texas, as it is the only tropical barrier island and has an impressive total of over 300 days of sunshine a year.

South Padre Island is ideal if you want to experience coastal living in Texas. When you visit in January, you’ll have barely any crowds. In March, all the spring break crowds descend on the town, and the small town gets seriously busy.

2. Key West

Who doesn’t love Key West? This stunning island city marks the end point of the beloved Florida Keys, a chain of barrier islands located on the southernmost point of Florida. Only 90 miles north of Cuba, Key West gets tropical temperatures all year round – so wave goodbye to cold weather and hello to sandy beaches. Key West has pastel-colored houses and is connected to mainland Florida by the famed Overseas Highway, which connects all the keys. It is known as a hub for diving and snorkeling, and if you are part of a niche group that likes to be underwater rather than on the beach, this is one of the best places to visit in January.

3. Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park is one of January’s most iconic and best places to visit. There are so many things to do in Death Valley, and we can guarantee that they are much more enjoyable in the 30s to 60s than in the sky-high mid-summer temperatures that Death Valley sees. The summer temperatures in Death Valley National Park get so high that there is a frequent danger-to-life warnings. So it is easily one of the best places to visit in January when warm weather is no barrier to enjoying all the park offers.

Death Valley is the hottest, driest, and lowest national park in the USA. You can visit Badwater Basin, Dante’s View, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, and Racetrack Playa. The last one is the most mysterious, with rocks that mysteriously move themselves.

4. Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake is another best place to visit in January to beat the holiday crowds. This Oregon beauty is one of the best US national parks, with its most famous money shot being the namesake crater lake that was dramatically formed by the ancient volcano Mount Mazama – which collapsed to leave Crater Lake behind. The park is centered around this lake, with a beautiful Rim Drive with viewpoints over volcanic formations. Many little islands are also on the lake, like Phantom Ship and Wizard Island. Crater Lake National Park is one of the best weekend destinations in January.

Crater Lake National Park is undoubtedly most famed for its bright blue waters and serene atmosphere. It is hard to believe that Crater Lake National Park was once home to a raging volcano. Of course, Crater Lake is also the deepest lake in the USA, another exciting reason to visit. It averages a staggering 31 meters deep and is one of the top 10 deepest lakes in the world.

5. San Diego

The vibrant city of San Diego does not get enough love for our liking. We’ve frequently covered the city, from the best beaches in San Diego to a tell-all guide on where to stay in San Diego. Los Angeles can step aside for a bit – it’s time to give San Diego its well-deserved recognition, especially as one of the best places to visit in January. San Diego’s winning factor is its gorgeous year-round climate, which makes it one of the best places to visit in winter. And when you couple that with over 70 miles of beautiful beaches, it is easy to see why it is such a sought-after place to visit in January. San Diego is a city break meets beach destination.

San Diego has attractions like the Hotel de Coronado, Balboa Park, and the USS Midway Museum. There’s also the beautiful Torrey Pines State National Reserve and plenty of opportunities to spot sea lions.

6. Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park has a beautiful 2.2 million-acre collection and is a designated national elk refuge. It holds the grand title of the world’s first-ever national park and was established in 1872. Yellowstone National Park quickly grew a reputation for its hydrothermal and geological attractions, including Old Faithful – a massive geyser. And its park boundaries actually contain around half of the world’s active geysers. Yellowstone has a wow factor for history and nature lovers alike. Yellowstone National Park is best explored by car, where you can stop to admire and embark on its best Yellowstone hikes.

So, why visit in the off-season? What makes Yellowstone so great to see in January? In short, you skip the crowds. Yellowstone is one of the most visited national parks in the USA. This means that it gets hectic in peak season. In winter, you will have road closures to contend with, and you are best using a 4WD vehicle. However, the main road between the north and northeast entrances remains open, and you can still visit the park’s highlights. Just carefully research where to stay in Yellowstone and see which attractions are most accessible. Yellowstone National Park is definitely an adventure in winter.

7. Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park is one of the best places to visit in early January. This national park is home to the most enormous cacti in the USA, and the saguaro plant has quickly become a symbol of America’s ancient Wild West era. Party because of this, Saguaro National Park has become a bucket list national park for people to visit in the USA. The cacti live up to 250 years old and grow to the size of trees – pretty cool, right?

Winter months are the best time to visit this park, as it means you can enjoy the hikes and cacti views without collapsing with heat exhaustion (which is a genuine risk). It is located just outside Tucson, and you don’t need a car if you are nifty on a pedal bike or a good hiker. Saguaro National Park is one of the most accessible parks in the USA.

 8. Lake Tahoe

Nowhere quite beats Lake Tahoe in the winter months, and it is easily one of the top places to visit in January if you like ski resorts and outdoor winter activities. Lake Tahoe is renowned for world-class skiing and transforms annually into a winter wonderland. You can hit the slopes or enjoy cross-country skiing; winter sports are some of the best things to do in the area. Lake Tahoe is a stunning freshwater lake that straddles the California and Nevada borders. While in the summer, the lake’s beaches attract swimmers and sunbathers, by mid-January, the winter weather turns it into a haven for winter fun with snow sports and ski resorts galore.

Lake Tahoe is an ideal short getaway in January. It has also been used in hundreds of TV shows and movies, thanks to its pristine blue waters and classic backdrop of alpine scenery. As we said, beating Lake Tahoe is hard when you want a ski vacation in the USA. It’s one of the country’s best cold-weather destinations.

9. Zion National Park

Zion National Park might not have warm weather in January, with temperatures dropping below 40 F. However, since the park becomes almost unbearably busy and hot in the summer season, January is about as off-peak and quiet as possible. If you dress for the cold, you can still tackle some of the best hikes in Zion, and you are almost guaranteed to have them to yourself. Zion National Park has some stunning attractions, including the Emerald Pools, Canyon Overlook Trail, and even the Narrows are accessible in January if you have suitable equipment.

Zion National Park sees around 4.5 million annual visitors, and by visiting in January, you can skirt most of these. It means quieter trails and better accommodation, with more spaces and cheaper rates. You can find out where to stay in Zion in advance and snag the best deals.

10. Hunting Island State Park

Hunting Island State Park is the most popular state park in South Carolina. It rose to sharp fame after being used for most of the Vietnam War scenes in Forrest Gump and is now loved for its 5 miles of stunning white sand beaches and characteristic lighthouse. It sees over a million visitors annually and is easily one of the best places to visit in January. You can hike through boardwalks on thousands of acres of marshlands and even climb Hunting Island Lighthouse.

In January, temperatures drop, but if you dress for the weather, you can still enjoy many outdoor activities – just without the crowds. Things like horseback riding on the beach, kayaking, and fossil hunting are all ten times more enjoyable in winter when you have the scenery practically to yourself.

11. White Sands National Park

White Sands National Park is one of the most beautiful places to visit during the holiday season. For a winter break, White Sands National Park is perfect. It is bright white as the world’s largest gypsum dune field – acres upon acres of white crystals. And with its New Mexico location, it is one of the leading warm-weather destinations to pick. Think of it as a hot version of a snow day. It has year-round warm temperatures, and you can go sand sledding, horseback, riding, or on 4WD experiences.

White Sands National Park is also home to the world’s most giant fossilized footprints that date back to the Ice Age, providing more than 20,000 years of humanity in this region. You can stay near Las Cruces or Tularosa or head to El Paso.

 12. Big Sky

Montana is beautiful all year round, but January really takes the biscuit. And Big Sky is the state’s highlight. It is renowned as one of the USA’s leading resorts for skiing, and you can spot elk, big horn sheep, and more when you aren’t zipping down slopes at full blast. It is a little luxurious, but we recommend a visit if you fancy a high-end January getaway.

Big Sky is the best place for a ski getaway, and you can also combine it with a visit to Yellowstone National Park. What a win.

13. Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Island is part of the beautiful South Carolina Lowcountry. It has 12 miles of stunning beaches, a traditional coastline, a classic red and white Harbor Town Lighthouse, and a scenic golf course. Hilton Head Island is somewhere you can escape the hecticness of US cities and embrace a slower pace of life. And it has the bonus of being much less mainstream and quieter in the way of tourists – especially in its January low season.

Temperatures hover at around 60 F on Hilton Head Island, perfect for beach walks so long as you have a couple of layers. Hilton Head Island is the ideal quirky getaway in January if you don’t want intense sun and heat but love coastal scenery. You can even see dolphins.

 14. Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Lakes is a Californian town in the sought-after Sierra Nevada mountains. It is a hotspot for multi-day hiking and stunning alpine views in spring and summer. While in winter, it transforms into a leading getaway for winter snow sports like skiing and snowboarding. From Mammoth Lakes, you can visit the Devil’s Postpile National Monument and see the limestone towers at Mono Lake. Mammoth Lakes isn’t far from Yosemite National Park either, making it an excellent base for a more extended period.

If you fancy a Californian ski break – a phrase you rarely hear – then Mammoth Lakes is your best bet. It is also ideal for exploring eastern California’s attractions that are a little ambitious for fulfilling day trips from LA or San Francisco. Mammoth Lakes is snow sports heaven and an excellent base for day trips.

15. Payette National Forest

Payette National Forest is a 2.3 million-acre forest in Idaho and a beautiful place to hike, camp, and come face-to-face (or as close as comfortable) with hundreds of classic American animals. You can spot deer, elk, mountain lions, bears, coyotes, and cute, small animals like river otters and snowshoe hares. It also creates ‘open play areas’, where suitable vehicles can tackle winter snow tracks. You can just check out the Payette Winter Travel Map for road guidance.

If you want a winter forest getaway in January, snowy Payette National Forest is a brilliant option. It has really accessible forest roads if you have a 4WD with suitable adjustments, and it is really geared up for winter guests with its Winter Travel Map. You can enjoy cross-country skiing and different snow activities as well.



← Back to list

Last news

02.02.2024 The tallest skyscraper in the United States will be built in Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City surprises with plans for the tallest building in the US. A symbol of growth, it will offer unique attractions for visitors. Read more...

17.01.2024 Israeli chef opens first kosher restaurant in New York

New restaurant Malka named after Tel Aviv eatery, trying to bring more Israeli and Jewish food and atmosphere to New York with kosher food. The reservation list is already full. As for the prices, it depends on who's asking Read more...

28.12.2023 New Year's Eve party tickets in Times Square range from $450 to $12,500

Some New Year's Eve revelers say you can't put a price on the experience of watching the Times Square ball drop live and in-person on December 31 Read more...

25.12.2023 How to Find a Good Dentist in New York

Looks like it's all a lie Or not? Where is the real master of his craft? Read more...

21.12.2023 Honda recalls 2.5 million cars. What models are on the list

Honda is recalling more than 2.5 million cars because the fuel pump inside the fuel tank may fail, causing the vehicles to stall while driving and increasing the risk of a crash, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Read more...

19.12.2023 Minimum wage will be raised in 25 US states in 2024

Millions of workers nationwide could be in line for a pay hike next year, with half of U.S. states planning to boost their minimum wages in 2024 Read more...

19.12.2023 Texas governor signs state's toughest immigration law yet

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas on Monday signed one of the harshest state immigration laws in modern U.S. history, authorizing state officials to arrest and seek the deportation of migrants suspected of crossing the border with Mexico illegally Read more...