As January arrives it’s time to banish the post-Christmas blues with a well-earned break. The tourist crowds disperse after the busy Christmas and New Year rush – and January is always a good time to pick up a bargain.
We’ve picked out some of the best places to visit in January whether you want hot sun and swaying palms or a snow-sure ski resort.
While America’s biggest city (New York) is battling winter blizzards, its southeasternmost state is still soaking up the sun. It’s no surprise that the Sunshine State should be sunny in January, and although it’s the coolest month in Florida, temperatures can still reach highs in the 70s.
The seas that surround Florida are much warmer than the air at this time of year, which is why the state is such a popular winter beach destination. It’s also one of the driest months, too, so you won’t need to worry about getting soaked at the theme parks or having your sunbathing plans hampered by rain.
A typical January day has around 7 hours of sunshine which may be the annual minimum, but it’s still far more than you’re likely to find anywhere in Europe. It’s likely to get hotter the further south you head, so if you want to top up your tan, consider destinations like Naples and Marco Island in the southwest or Miami and Fort Lauderdale in southeast.
Nicknamed the ‘Theme Park Capital of the World’, Orlando is another top choice if you’re looking for the best places to visit in January. The city stays pleasantly warm throughout the month, and the theme parks are quieter than usual, especially if you avoid the first week of the month which may still be busy from the Christmas holidays.
You can take advantage of the great weather and shorter queues at Disney World and Universal Studios (our crowd calendar has more on the best time to go). Or you can join in the festivities for Martin Luther King, Jr Day on January 16. There are numerous outlet shopping malls in Orlando so you can save a bundle on designer discounts. And if you like dining out there are more than 4,000 restaurants in Orlando to choose from.
In terms of nightlife there are plenty of pubs, bars and clubs in the city. While if it’s golf you’re after, there are more than 170 golf courses in Orlando, designed by some of golf’s greatest legends including Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Arnold Palmer.
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January is by far one of the best times to visit the US ski resort of Aspen. The town sparkles under fresh champagne powder, and the 4 Aspen ski areas are ready to be taken by storm. Be aware that January is also one of the most popular times to visit, so prices are likely to be higher, and snow sports aficionados from all over the world are likely to be in town.
The skiing in Aspen is renowned for being breathtakingly good. Spread across a sprawling terrain, there’s a vast array of choice for skiers and boarders of all abilities, and the sheer beauty of the region is sublime.
Aspen town itself is a former mining town dating back to the 19th century, and has more historic charm than many of its European counterparts. The streets are lined with pretty red brick buildings with wrought-iron verandas, and it is perfectly balanced with trendy boutiques, upmarket eateries and buzzing apres-ski venues.
On the mountain there are pit stops with water fountains where you can pick up free suncream and snack bars. And there are numerous cafeterias where you can order pizzas, burgers and beers. Off the mountain, the eating options are outstanding, with a seemingly endless amount of top-notch restaurants, and around a dozen different cuisines to choose from.
At more than 7,500 ft, Aspen is considerably higher than many European resorts so be sure to keep hydrated to help yourself acclimatize. Also don’t dismiss Aspen as all glamour and no culture – it has more art galleries than any other ski resort in the world!
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Koh Samui, Thailand
Small but perfectly formed, Koh Samui is the place to head for a relaxed tropical island vibe. A great place to visit in January, there are few more reliable destinations for a sunny escape from the European winter than Koh Samui. The island sees highs of around 80F throughout the month, plus it’s also one of the driest times of the year.
You can spend your days chilling out on the beach, being pampered in lavish spas or teeing off at the scenic Santiburi Golf Club. For livlier vibe, head to Chaweng, a lively resort town set along a 5 km stretch of golden sand. It’s the main hub for shopping, dining and nightlife; it’s also a popular spot for water sports like jet skiing and parasailing.
For a taste of traditional island life you can spend the day temple hopping, or visiting Koh Samui’s quaint fishing villages and quiet bays. A great way to explore is to take a sightseeing tour off the beaten track through the jungle and around natural attractions like the Na Muang Waterfall, the legendary Hin Ta rocks, or over to the scenic Ang Thong Marine Park.
Another don’t-miss on your vacation list should be a trip to the Fisherman’s Village in Bophut. One of the best places to visit in Koh Samui, the area is comprised of converted Chinese shophouses, and is home to exotic spas, upscale boutiques and a good selection of bars serving signature cocktails. On Friday night the area transforms into a buzzing walking street with an abundance of market stalls, street food and late-night bars and restaurants.
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The largest US state by population, and the third largest by area, California really does offer something for everyone. The temperatures in January are some of the mildest the state sees all year, however they offer a welcome respite from the oppressive heat of the summer.
California is one of the best places to visit in January if you want perfect conditions for exploring the state’s endless wonders. From the wild redwood forests and snow-capped mountains in the north, to the balmy beaches of southern California, there are so many magical landscapes. Unless you’ve got months to spare you won’t be able to cover them all, so it’s best to pick where you want to stay and make the most of the surrounding areas.
If you base yourself in the exciting city of Los Angeles, there’s loads to do, and it’s still easy to reach the coast. Dubbed the ‘City of 88 Cities’, LA is a huge metropolis of world-famous districts, with beautiful beaches and entertainment for everyone. Hang out at Disneyland in nearby Anaheim, or tee off at one of the region’s many golf courses. Check out famous attractions like the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Rodeo Drive, or spot A-list stars at LA’s trendy restaurants and nightclubs.
For a beach-based vacation head to the Pacific Coast city of San Diego, famed for its beautiful beaches and parks. The region is home to to more than 90 golf courses in every imaginable setting. It also has great shopping, dining and nightlife, and top attractions like Seaworld, Legoland and the San Diego Zoo.
For a different vibe altogether why not head to a hip city in the desert? Located along the Coachella Valley in the Colorado Desert, Palm Springs is known for its stylish spa resorts, its immaculate golf courses and its world-famous festivals. There are some great shopping spots in Palm Springs, plus there are plenty of activities in the surrounding valley. When the sun sets you can mingle with the locals at Canyon Drive’s cocktail bars, clubs and restaurants.
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Turks and Caicos
The sun shines all year round in Turks and Cacios so it’s no wonder the country tops the list of best places to visit in January. The start of the year is the high season in the Caribbean, so you can expect fantastic weather with warm sunny days and gorgeously warm seas. Better still, the rainy days of the wet season have passed, so you’re unlikely to have your vacation plans hampered by rain.
There’s a shed load of things to do in Turks and Caicos, with its excellent offering of beaches, restaurants, shops and attractions. Daytime temperatures are hot enough for sunbathing and swimming, and things stay nice and warm in the evenings too, so you’re not confined to staying indoors.
If you want to explore the different islands, January is an ideal time for sightseeing with around 7 hours of sunshine a day. If it gets too hot you can take a break to go duty-free shopping in Providenciales, or explore indoor attractions like the Caicos Conch Farm and the Middle Caicos Caves.
For golf, the island has some great courses like those at the Provo Golf and Country Club. It’s also one of the best places to visit in January for water sports whether you want to go kayaking through mangroves, SUP boarding through a nature reserve or island hopping by sail boat.
Diving enthusiasts will love the diverse array of diving and snorkeling options. You can find some of the best wall diving in the world in west Caicos, some great wreck diving in the Grace Bay area, or you can try out quirky diving styles like snuba diving, power snorkeling and freediving.
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Cape Town, South Africa
The most cosmopolitan city in South Africa, you can’t overstate the case for visting Cape Town, especially in January. Peak season falls between mid-December and early January in this corner of the world, so you’ll get balmy temperatures and little to no rain. You might still be in time to watch the southern right whales migrate, and if you are, you’ll enjoy some of the best land-based whale watching in the world.
The New Year starts with a bang in Cape Town with an abundance of events going on during the month. You’ll find everything from music festivals and outdoor movie screenings, to horse races, art events and dinner shows.
The downtown area boasts a hip urban edge, with trendy bars, top art galleries, world-class restaurants and design-savvy shops. While the surrounding area is defined by pristine white beaches, craggy mountain ranges, dappled forests and wild animals wherever you roam.
If you’re visiting Cape Town in January, be aware that temperatures can soar into the 90s so be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen. There are around 11 hours of sunshine a day so you’ll be able to enjoy hours of sunbathing and sightseeing, although evenings tend to be pretty cool so you’ll want to bring a light jacket for nights out.
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If you’re looking for the best places to visit in January you need advice on where to stay then contact us today. Additionally, our dedicated concierge team can arrange any added extras you need such as great value car hire and attraction tickets.