January can be a tough month. The holiday season is over, and depending on where you live, once winter sets in it might mean the sun doesn’t make many more appearances until spring. The January blues hit a lot of folks pretty hard each year, but sometimes all it takes to lift that foggy veil of depression is a vacation, whether it’s for the whole month or just the weekend. January is a great time to travel, and visitors who take advantage of this month will find cheaper plane tickets, discounted attractions, and fewer crowds. These destinations offer everything from the sunshine and beaches of the Caribbean Islands to the adrenaline pumping slopes of the ski resorts in the Rocky Mountains.
More ideas: Best Beaches, Best Weekend Getaways, Best Day Trips
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January is the coldest month of the year in Florida, but down in the Keys, “cold” means a comfortable 75°F, perfect for boating, fishing, relaxing, and sightseeing. The Florida Keys are a collection of over 100 islands off the coast of the mainland state of Florida, and they are a well-known destination for fishing enthusiasts as well as visitors looking for snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities. Key West, the southernmost point of the United States, is a fun and thriving little town with lots of bars and parties as well as the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum.
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Kauai, Hawaii, is a beautiful destination for escaping the cold of winter. In January, Kauai becomes very popular with surfers, who flock to the island’s northern shores where the pleasantly warm water is rife with massive waves. Hawaiian restaurants are full of delicious seasonal winter food, such as avocados, tangerines, mangosteen, and starfruit, and visitors will enjoy all the creative ways that chefs incorporate these seasonal ingredients into their dishes. Winter in Hawaii is also a great time to go whale watching, as pods of humpback whales travel past on their way to find solace in the warm waters of the South Pacific.
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Aspen, Colorado, is a destination known internationally for winter sports. Home to world-class ski resorts like Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, and Buttermilk, visitors flock like birds each winter to Aspen so they can enjoy the amazing powder on the slopes. Colorado’s sunny weather makes skiing or snowboarding at these resorts incredibly pleasant, and visitors to Aspen during the month of January will also have the added bonus of being there during the annual X Games, which are hosted each year at Buttermilk Ski Area. Visitors in Aspen can watch some of the best athletes in the world at the X Games before heading to a resort to try out some of those moves for themselves.
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Especially when “home” means someplace cold or snowy, a trip down south might be just what the doctor ordered for the month of January. Baja, Mexico, offers sunny, warm weather in January, which is one of the driest months of the year, so visitors can travel assured that their days will be spent exploring the area in dry, sunny conditions. The Baja Peninsula features pristine, sandy beaches and impossibly blue ocean waters as well as mountainous roads above which condors circle gracefully in flight. Visitors can explore the landscape or hunker down anywhere from Los Cabos to Tijuana for some amazing food, a cold cerveza, or a refreshing margarita.
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Bangkok is the capital of Thailand, and this vibrant city offers its guests a fun and exciting vacation. The elaborately beautiful shrines that are located everywhere throughout the city make for lovely photo ops as well as fascinating culture and history lessons, and the street food in Bangkok is absolutely legendary. The Thai people are friendly with a unique sense of humor, and visitors can explore their city via a guided boat tour or on foot. There is something for everyone in Bangkok, which has such a diversity of styles that people can eat noodles on the street for lunch and then enjoy a five-star dinner on the roof of a skyscraper at night.
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6.Caye Caulker, Belize
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The small Caribbean island of Caye Caulker is located just east of Belize. This paradisiacal island is actually divided into two parts, the northern half and the southern half, which are separated by a stretch of shallow water and sand called The Split. One of the most unique parts of Caye Caulker is the Lazy Lizard, a bar located right on the water of the Split where guests can drink and relax in the shallow waters surrounding the establishment. Snorkeling and diving to see the Belize Barrier Reef, exploring the northern half of the island to find thick, beautiful forests, and relaxing on the many beaches of this tropical island are just a few of the ways visitors will find to unwind on their vacation.
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Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is a major skiing destination in the French Alps. Mont Blanc, the tallest peak in the Alps, is a mecca for winter sports enthusiasts, and there are cable cars that take guests up the side of the mountain both for skiing and for sightseeing, because the views from up there are simply stunning. Visitors to Chamonix can practice their skiing or snowboarding, but there are a number of other fun activities to do on the slopes as well, such as handi-skiing/sit-skiing, ice climbing, heli-skiing, or dog sledding. And of course, at the end of a long day out in the snow, visitors can enjoy a hot cup of chocolat chaud.
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Located in northern Texas, the city of Dallas is a fun destination that is sure to banish those winter blues with its lively, exciting culture. The city hosts a variety of community events throughout the year, and January is no exception, with festivals, special exhibits at museums, and free activities for families. History buffs will want to visit Dealey Plaza to see museum exhibits about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas in 1963, while art enthusiasts will love wandering the halls of both Dallas Museum of Art as well as the Crow Collection of Asian Art.
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The tropical Caribbean islands are a popular destination for people looking to escape the cold of winter, and the Dominican Republic is no exception. Average high temperatures in January hover around 82°F, so there will be plenty of opportunity to lay out on the beach or enjoy the waters of the Caribbean. All-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana, La Romana, and Puerta Plata provide an easy way to relax, with all drinks and activities included in the price of a stay. Visiting other parts of the Dominican Republic, such as the capital city Santo Domingo, will provide a more historical and cultural look at the country, from its 500-year-old Gothic cathedral to the beautiful rainforests found inland.
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10.Las Vegas, USA
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Sin City is open year round for gaming enthusiasts, who flock to Las Vegas, Nevada, at all times of the year to play in the many casinos in the city. Visitors to Vegas can stay in a world-class hotel, play blackjack, poker, or slots at one of the many brightly lit and festive casinos, and even see a world-class show or performance from Cirque du Soleil, the Blue Man Group, or one of the many internationally known artists who have a Las Vegas residency. There is also a huge number of other attractions in Las Vegas, such as museums, aquariums, a roller coaster above The Strip, and the Red Rocks Canyon Natural Conservation Area.
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Locals in Miami might think it’s chilly in January, but for northerners, the pleasant and summerlike weather is a wonderful reason to escape the cold. Miami is home to Miami Beach, where visitors can dip their toes in the 70°F waters of the Atlantic Ocean or lay out and enjoy the sunshine while reading a book on the sand. The city is full of great shopping options, and it is also a great place for nightlife, and couples or groups of friends will enjoy the wide variety of exciting bars, restaurants, and clubs in Miami.
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January in Mumbai means mild and pleasant weather with temperature lows that average around 64°F. In January, the warm days of Mumbai are in direct contrast with the cooler evenings, so visitors should be sure to pack a cardigan or light jacket for the duration of their stay. The lively city of Mumbai is the largest city in India, and home to the country’s Bollywood industry, so it’s a great place to catch a film. At any time during the year visitors will enjoy exploring the Gateway of India at Mumbai Harbor as well as the ancient temples on Elephanta Island.
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13.Palm Springs, USA
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Palm Springs in California is a beautiful place to visit, and in January guests will find brisk temperatures in the mid 40s and 50s each morning, which rise to a comfortable 70°F during the day. It’s the most pleasant time of year to visit the region, which can get quite hot during the summer months, and visitors will love lounging by the pool with a good book, having a massage or spa treatment at one of the many spas in the area, or hiking through palm groves and riding horses along scenic nature trails.
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14.Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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January in Rio de Janeiro is the start of the summer season, though the tropical climate in the region means that the weather is incredibly pleasant year round, with warm seas perfect for swimming and watersports and a hot sun to shine down on visitors as they enjoy the city’s many attractions. The weather in January does include lots of thunderstorms, which are usually over very quickly, so visitors should be prepared when it comes to dressing appropriately. Rio de Janeiro’s attractions include Corcovado, where the Christ the Redeemer statue can be found, as well as its many beaches and fantastic restaurants.
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15.Salt Lake City, USA
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Salt Lake City is a great destination for taking advantage of nature and for enjoying the many activities and attractions made possible by winter weather. This city is known as “Nature’s Playground,” and visitors to Salt Lake can enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing across some beautiful landscapes or hitting the slopes for an exciting day of snowboarding and downhill skiing. There is also plenty of opportunity for ice skating and snowmobiling, and visitors will soon understand just why Salt Lake City has a reputation for getting its visitors outdoors, even in the depths of winter.
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Paying a visit to San Juan is a great way for American travelers to explore one of the most exciting destinations in the Caribbean even if you don’t have a passport. This fortified city has an incredible history that spans for over five centuries, and visitors will enjoy exploring the colorful Spanish colonial buildings of the city as well as La Fortaleza and El Morro, the huge old fortresses that defended the city throughout its history. San Juan is also home to a wide stretch of beach called Isla Verde, which is lined with restaurants, bars, and nightlife that is sure to entertain.
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Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a hub for arts and culture in the region with a large presence of galleries, local artisans, and craft festivals. The nearby Sangre de Cristos mountains make Santa Fe a popular destination during the winter because of the proximity of ski resorts there, and the great skiing conditions in January mean that skiers and snowboarders will find the slopes to their liking. Many Native American Pueblo feast days are celebrated in January as well, making Santa Fe a great spot to engage in some local culture through festivals and traditional dances.
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18.Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
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Daily temperatures hover around the mid-70s in Santa Teresa during the month of January, but at night they drop and can be quite chilly, so it’s recommended that visitors to Costa Rica in January bring with them a cardigan or light jacket for the evenings. This small town, located west of capital city San Jose, is a lovely beach village with waves perfect for surfing and sand perfect for lounging. Many visitors enjoy hopping on horseback and riding on the beach or through the beautiful rainforests of the area. The Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve is great for hiking, and birdwatchers will love spotting some of the 150 species of birds that live there.
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Sydney, Australia, rings in the New Year and the start of summer with a whirlwind of activity, and visitors to Australia will surely want to be part of the fun. Sydney offers many opportunities for its locals and guests alike to enjoy a movie under the stars, with showings every night or on weekends at Belvedere Amphitheatre, North Sydney Oval, and Bondi Beach. Days can be spent kayaking in Sydney Harbour, shopping at the daily markets in the city, checking out amazing art exhibitions, or seeing a show at the famous Sydney Opera House.
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In Japan, New Year’s Eve isn’t as big of a party night as it is in other cultures, but early on January 1st, Japanese people arise at the crack of dawn to watch the sunrise on the first day of the year, and visitors to Tokyo in January can enjoy this tradition for some of the good luck it supposedly brings before jumping right in o the many events and festivals that take place in Tokyo during January. The month also brings the Sumo New Year Basho, a professional Sumo tournament, as well as the Tokyo Auto Salon, a car show that is famous for showing off some amazing technological advancements in the automobile industry. At the annual Wakakusa Yamayaki Festival, visitors can watch a mountain burn in an annual retelling of a centuries-old dispute.
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January is tourist season in Tucson, Arizona, which sees such a huge spike in visitors during the month as they try to escape the cold and snow of their home regions. Saguaro National Park is a popular attraction, with its desert landscapes and petroglyphs left by ancient Native Americans. Afterward, a visit to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum is a great way to learn about those landscapes, with its open-air setting that depicts and educates about plants and animals native to the area. In the city, visitors should check out the San Xavier del Bac, a beautifully ornate mission and church.
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22.Whistler, BC, Canada
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Whistler is a beautiful mountain town in British Columbia that is home to one of the most famous ski resorts in the region. Whistler Blackcomb is one of the largest resorts in all of North America, and besides the usual skiing and snowboarding it offers, visitors can also indulge in snowshoeing, ski jumping, and tobogganing at a world-class facility that was used for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Amazing outdoor parks like Garibaldi Provincial Park, Shannon Falls Provincial Park, and Nairn Falls Provincial Park are some amazing destinations as well, and after a long day exploring the great outdoors, visitors can settle in at a cozy pub or restaurant for a beer or a cup of hot cocoa.
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There are three main regions of Nicaragua, the Pacific, Central, and Caribbean regions, and each one of them is a great destination for a winter holiday. Aptly nicknamed the “Land of Lakes and Volcanoes,” Nicaragua is a great place for nature enthusiasts, who will enjoy the plethora of hiking and outdoor activities at their disposal in Nicaragua as they explore rivers, rainforests, and volcanoes. Nicaragua is also a great destination for coffee lovers, who can follow the Coffee Route in the country’s northern region to tour coffee farms and taste some of their delicious products.
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24.Cape Town, South Africa
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There’s no better way to escape winter than by traveling to the other side of the world, where January is the height of summer. In Cape Town, South Africa, visitors can enjoy a diverse and vibrant city full of history, activity, great food, and friendly people. Just offshore from the city is Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was once held in prison, and on the other side of the city is Table Mountain, an iconic flat-topped peak that towers over Cape Town. Visitors can take a cable car up to the top of the mountain for some amazing views or spend a day exploring vast and gorgeous Table Mountain National Park.
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25 Best Places to Visit in January
- Florida Keys, Photo: Courtesy of Simon Dannhauer - Fotolia.com
- Kauai, USA, Photo: Courtesy of SergiyN - Fotolia.com
- Aspen, Photo: Courtesy of aiisha - Fotolia.com
- Baja, Photo: Courtesy of Galyna Andrushko - Fotolia.com
- Bangkok, Photo: Courtesy of suphaporn - Fotolia.com
- Caye Caulker, Belize, Photo: Courtesy of Simon Velazquez - Fotolia.com
- Chamonix, France, Photo: Courtesy of Arseniy Krasnevsky - Fotolia.com
- Dallas, Photo: Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto - Fotolia.com
- Dominican Republic, Photo: Courtesy of azureus70 - Fotolia.com
- Las Vegas, USA, Photo: Courtesy of littlestocker - Fotolia.com
- Miami, USA, Photo: Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto - Fotolia.com
- Mumbai, India, Photo: Courtesy of rainbowgiraffe - Fotolia.com
- Palm Springs, USA, Photo: Courtesy of Byron Moore - Fotolia.com
- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Photo: Courtesy of sfmthd - Fotolia.com
- Salt Lake City, USA, Photo: Courtesy of Byelikova Oksana - Fotolia.com
- San Juan, Photo: Courtesy of solraknauj - Fotolia.com
- Santa Fe, Photo: Courtesy of Gary Saxe - Fotolia.com
- Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, Photo: Courtesy of Colin - Fotolia.com
- Sydney, Australia, Photo: Courtesy of ingusk - Fotolia.com
- Tokyo, Japan, Photo: Courtesy of orpheus26 - Fotolia.com
- Tucson, USA, Photo: Courtesy of jayyuan - Fotolia.com
- Whistler, BC, Canada, Photo: Courtesy of Jenny Thompson - Fotolia.com
- Nicaragua, Photo: Courtesy of Simon Dannhauer - Fotolia.com
- Cape Town, South Africa, Photo: Courtesy of Jacob Lund - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of eyetronic - Fotolia.com