Best places to visit in January in USA

Top 20 Awesome Places To Visit In January USA

45 mins read

January is often considered quite a nothing month, but if you’re anything like me you’ll want to liven it up a bit. One of my favorite ways to do this is by heading off and exploring. So you can either embrace the cold and make the most of the winter snow sports on offer; or head to states where you’re almost guaranteed fine sunny weather. Here are my favorite spots to explore…

1. Breckenridge, Colorado – for stunning scenery and skiing 

Breckenridge - best places to visit in January

Breckenridge - best winter breaks

I’m a huge fan of the charming mountain town of Breckenridge. It offers incredible ski runs that are deeply coated in perfect powder for much of the winter months coupled with vibrant après options and a surprisingly lively nightlife in the town itself for when you finally manage to drag yourself off those picturesque slopes.

Characterized by its charming Victorian architecture, Breckenridge has legendary skiing opportunities as well as an iconic main street. It’s a bustling but very charming hub packed with cafes, restaurants, and unique shops. 

I would highly recommend going on the highest chairlift in North America when you visit and this time of year provides you with easy access to the very best runs. This month sees the highest average snowfall of the year and the town transforms into a very beautiful winter wonderland. 

  • Visitor’s Center Address: The Breckenridge Welcome Centre, 203 S. Main Street Breckenridge, CO 80424, Phone: 877 864 0868
  • Average temperatures – minus 1 to minus 7 degrees

My must-do highlights

  • Take a wander down Main Street to enjoy the magical holiday lights and stop off for a warm cup of hot chocolate.
  • Experience an exciting, guided snowmobile tour to explore the backcountry memorably.
  • Visit the International Snow Sculpture Championships where teams from across the world hand-carve their creative ideas.

How to get there

Located just 80 miles from downtown Denver, there are two airports that service Breckenridge: Denver International (95 miles away) and Eagle/Vail Regional Airport in Gypsum, about 60 miles west of I-70.

2. Palm Desert, California – perfect for a sunny leisure break Palm Desert, California

Coachella Valley - winter break

Nestled next to Palm Springs in the sun-baked Coachella Valley, roughly equidistant from lively and eclectic Los Angeles and surfers’ paradise San Diego, I’m a big fan of this cool and quirky destination.

It’s filled with natural hot springs, luxury hotels, country clubs, gourmet restaurants, boutique hotels, golf courses, and sunny weather. With its promise of Californian sun and warmth, even when most of the Northern Hemisphere is hunkered down for winter, it’s no wonder that Palm Desert is a favorite pick among celebrities for a blissful winter retreat. 

It’s neither too hot nor too cold so perfect for all sorts of activities; from hiking to biking, desert treks, and golf. Although I would recommend just lounging by the pool before a visit to one of the town’s numerous spas.

  • Visitor’s Center Address: 73510 Fred Waring Dr, Palm Desert, CA 92260
  • Average temperature – 22 degrees

My must-do highlights

  • Hire a bike and explore the city whilst admiring the beautiful scenery and views.
  • Take a trip on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway where you can snap Insta-worthy shots of the breathtaking Chino Canyon.
  • Reserve a pass for the Palm Springs International Film Festival and do some celebrity spotting.

How to get there

The closest airport is Indio/Palm Springs (PSP) which is easily accessible from the town. It is also incredibly easy to take the train into Palm Desert as around 33 US cities have services that run into the main station. 

3. Zion National Park, Utah – an otherworldly natural wonder

Zion National Park January

Zion National Park winter

In southwest Utah lies a unique natural reserve distinguished by the steep red cliffs of Zion Canyon, part of the awe-inspiring Zion National Park, an area of outstanding natural beauty. 

I would suggest heading out onto the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, a winding two-lane road that carves a path through the National Park, and offers magnificent vistas at every turn before winding up at the serene forest trails along the Virgin River.

I would also recommend exploring the luminous Emerald Pools, the Virgin River, the waterfalls and the Zion Narrow for a unique wintertime walk (although keep safe!) I think this month is a great time to explore Zion without the crowds, and, being based in southern Utah. 

The park experiences mild winters and limited snowfall – so walking trails are accessible even during the winter months. Also, areas closed to cars in summer allow vehicular access – so reaching its wealth of natural attractions is never easier!

My must-do highlights

  • Take a hike on one of the trails and catch the picturesque views overlooking the red sandstone cliffs.
  • Explore the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive by car and discover the beautiful lands at your own pace.
  • Go paddleboarding on the quiet Quail Creek State Park Lake and spend the day out on the serene waters.

How to get there

As a result of its remote location, driving is the easiest and most convenient way of reaching the park. The park is serviced by a couple of airports, the closest being that in St. George’s. Though SGU is a regional airport, large airlines such as Delta and Southwest do fly in. The airport itself is located just 47 miles from the Springdale gate of the park. 

4. Big Sky, Montana – for snowy scenery and skiing

Big Sky Montana in the winter

Big Sky, Montana - ski winter

In my opinion, this is prime time in Big Sky because of the plethora of family-friendly events and activities it has to offer. While the nearby famous Yellowstone National Park is definitely an attraction, other outdoor activities include nature zip lines, hikes, and escape rooms. Winter activities include sledging, snowmobiling, snow-go bike rides, ice trekking, and cross-country skiing. For those less adventurous, I’d highly recommend the fun après ski scene! 

No matter how you choose to spend your days, winter evenings in Big Sky are made for curling up in front of a fire. The endless panoramic views of Montana’s magical winter scapes make Big Sky the perfect winter destination and I’m a big fan! 

My must-do highlights

  • Explore along the scenic Ousel Falls Trailhead and discover the frozen waterfall where you can also enjoy a picnic.
  • Have a shopping day at the upscale and unique boutiques located in the town center.
  • Go skiing at Big Sky Resort which is suited to all abilities and well known for being a favourite for those who love powder.

How to get there

Located midway between Bozeman and West Yellowstone, Big Sky is serviced by Bozeman International Airport (BZN): around an hour away along scenic, relatively quiet roads. It’s not well-serviced by public transport routes.

5. Miami, Florida – for a fun and warm beach destination 

Miami, Florida, USA

Beautiful Miami beach - great winter destinations in the USA

Miami is of course known for its sun-kissed sandy beaches, humming beach bars, and opulent At-Deco style hotels. While this vibrant city is a popular year-round destination, this month is a cost-effective time to visit the ever-exuberant Miami as it is off-peak – so not only will you miss the busy crowds of families and spring-breakers you can make the most of many attractions and fabulously extravagant hotels for a more budget-friendly price.

Also, Miami’s sub-tropical climate means that whilst other states find themselves in the depths of winter, the pastel-coloured streets of Florida’s most Instagrammable city are still abuzz with activity. 

I’d recommend strolling down the famous Ocean Drive, and visiting museums such as the Vizcaya Museum and Perez Art Museum, historic sites, clubs, and casinos, and then staying at one of the many amazing boutique hotels – the options are endless!

My must-do highlights

  • Go on a hop-on-hop-off sightseeing bus tour and explore the popular attractions of the city.
  • Discover the Night Garden which is a spectacular botanical garden to visit during the winter season which is filled with trees, scavenger hunts, and dandelion flower fields.
  • Slow down and relax at the iconic Miami Beach where you can spend the day sunbathing or swimming.

How to get there

Fly directly into Miami International Airport (MIA) from cities and countries all over the world. 

6. Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina – for a unique winter holiday in America’s South

Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina

Hunting Island State Park

Hunting Island is a 5,000-acre secluded, semi-tropical barrier island 15 miles east of Beaufort, South Carolina. Known for its pristine beaches, maritime forests, historic lighthouse, and exclusive nature center, Hunting Island State Park attracts more than a million visitors each year. It is also home to the only publicly accessible lighthouse in the state and I’d recommend visiting it.

The island is also home to a saltwater lagoon, an ocean inlet, and a fishing pier, and I’d also recommend camping to make the most of the beautiful oceanside location. The warm sea temperatures, even in this month, make it a great time to go visit the island and enjoy swimming in its alluring lagoon.

My must-do highlights

  • Climb 167 spiral steps to the top of the Hunting Island Lighthouse and enjoy the picturesque view overlooking the coast and other nearby islands.
  • Stroll along the Hunting Island campground and admire one of the most beautiful starry skies.
  • Explore the lush greenery along the exotic island’s coastal barrier on several trails.

How to get there

Many drive from one of the nearby towns such as Charleston and Savannah. The nearest large airport is Charleston around 70 miles away and there are some limited public transportation services.

7. Heavenly, the border of California and Nevada – a huge ski resort with heaps of hidden gems

Heavenly Mountain ski resort

Heavenly Ski Resort - best USA destinations

On the Southern shores of Lake Tahoe, you will find the aptly named Heavenly, one of the world’s biggest ski resorts that offers amazing views of the lake as you ascend or make your way down its pristine slopes.

This extraordinary ski resort is not only known for its unparalleled natural beauty but also its extensive range of terrain parks, mogul runs, and untracked slopes – not to mention its happening après-ski scene which I highly recommend sampling! 

Besides skiing and boarding, the mountains offer other adventure activities including zip lines, tube runs, and gondola rides. In my opinion, the after-dark, off-the-slope fun is as equally exciting and pulls in crowds from the local area and further afield.

As with most ski resorts, the best time to ski is in this month, after the holidays when the crowds have lessened, and the slopes themselves have had time to build up a thick layer of snow topped with the fluffy powder that continues to fall throughout the month.

  • Visitor Center Address: Explore Tahoe Visitor Center 4114 Lake Tahoe Blvd, South Lake Tahoe
  • Average temperature – 8 to -2 degrees

My must-do highlights

  • Experience a unique and thrilling ride through the snow-covered forests on the Mountain Coaster.
  • For those who like to party, head to Unbuckle for a lively atmosphere at 9,150 feet high.
  • Enjoy the Insta-worthy views at the observation tower before taking one of the epic runs back down to the resort.

How to get there

It’s within easy reach from both the Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) and Sacramento International Airport (SMF), which offer more than 200 non-stop and direct flights with numerous connecting flights from 24 other US cities. 

8. Brunswick & Golden Isles, Georgia – perfect for nature lovers

Golden Isles, Georgia

Jekyll Island Georgia

Nestled along Georgia’s Atlantic coast, Golden Isles comprise the city of Brunswick and the barrier islands of St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Little St. Simons Island, and Jekyll Island. The Golden Isles are known for their marshlands and beaches that are spotted with small islands called hammocks.

The magnificent landscape includes stretches of sandy beaches to barrier islands. Golden Isles offers breathtaking views, historic landmarks, museums, art galleries, golf courses, and accommodation options which range from everything from cozy inns to luxury resorts so I would suggest trying some out! Throw in some of that unparalleled southern hospitality and basically, I think it’s winter break perfection! 

My must-do highlights

  • Catch a show and enjoy some entertainment at the historic Ritz Theatre located in the Old Town.
  • For those who love to golf, experience a round at one of the courses situated across this breathtaking bucket list destination.
  • Spend a night camping at Jekyll Island Campground which is near other local attractions.

How to get there

The area of Brunswick and the Golden Isles is well served by bus transportation. The closest international airport is Jacksonville, which is around 3 hours drive away and some buses run between the two locations. There is also a small local airport in Brunswick and Golden Isles as well as on Jekyll Island.

9. Payette National Forest, Idaho – a great alternative ski break

Payette National Forest Idaho in January

Payette National Forest - winter vacation

Based in central-western Idaho, the Payette National Forest comprises over 2.3 million acres of peaceful natural beauty for you to explore and offers an amazing alternative to the bigger-name ski resorts like Aspen.

Receiving over 300 inches of snow per year, Payette is known for its extensive array of winter activities. On-slope activities consist of snowmobiling, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and many more recreational experiences.

The area boasts 500 miles of groomed snowmobile trails that are well-maintained and continue to increase in number and popularity, as well as 19,000 acres of elevated terrain that is ideal for backcountry skiing and snowboarding, which I highly recommend. 

My must-do highlights

  • For those who love skiing or snowboarding, take advantage of being surrounded by some of Idaho’s best snow-covered resorts.
  • Take a snowmobile ride to explore over 500 miles worth of trails and admire the stunning views.
  • Learn about the county’s history and its native tribes with a visit to Payette County Museum.

How to get there

Many visitors opt to drive into the relative wilderness of the park from all over the country. The nearest airport is found in Boise and there are shuttles as well as bus and taxi services that run to and from the area. 

10. Kailua Kona, Hawaii Big Island – for a beautiful warm getaway

Kailua Kona, Hawaii

Kailua Kona Hawaii - best winter January locations

Kailua-Kona is a seaside town on the west coast of Hawaii Island, where the western slopes of the Hualālai volcano meet the ocean. This gorgeous island boasts blue skies and sunny, dry weather all year round. While summers can get extremely hot, the warm temperatures (around 80F) this month presents the perfect opportunity to enjoy its sugary soft beaches.

The island is known for its white sandy beaches so I would highly recommend sunbathing, snorkeling, and swimming while here! Laid-back vibes, all-inclusive resorts, five-star spas, and world-class golf courses also await. 

South Kona is known for its lush forests and renowned Kona coffee, so I would suggest taking a walk through some of its unspoiled green areas and visiting its expansive coffee farms as well as the historic Hawaiian landmarks, local farmers’ markets, boutiques, restaurants, and bars. This is one of the warmest places in The States during this month so it’s a great choice for winter sun! 

My must-do highlights

  • Take a trip to see two of the world’s most active volcanoes at the National Park for an unforgettable experience.
  • Discover the unique and beautiful Punaluu Black Sand Beach after grabbing some food to enjoy from the Punalu’u Bake Shop.
  • Visit the famous ‘Akaka Falls which stands at 442 feet high and can be found by following an easy and beautiful hiking trail. 

How to get there

You will find a variety of flights from the US mainland to Kona. Alternatively, you can also always fly into Hilo International Airport and make the very scenic drive clear across the island, which takes around 2 hours. 

11. Alta & Snowbird, Utah – for skiing and stunning snowy scenery

Alta, Utah - best places to visit in the USA

Snowbird, Utah in January

A picturesque ski area part of the imposing Wasatch Mountains of Utah located in Salt Lake County, Alta is known for its wide array of slopes that make it ideal for every level of skier. Alta averages 550 inches of snow each year, so the season is both long and filled with variety.

Snowbird is a world-famous ‘must-ski’ destination situated just one mile away from Alta. Snowbird is known for its all-year-round ski season as it remains open for over 200 days.

This month sees heavy snowfall on top of an already thick covering on the ground in Alta and Snowbird, and it also sees its fair share of bluebird days, so I would suggest appreciating those stunning views as you head up on the lift and down on your skis!

My must-do highlights

  • Indulge in some R&R at The Cliff Spa and treat yourself to luxurious wellness treatments.
  • Experience helicopter skiing on a fresh powder day for a unique and unforgettable memory.
  • Take a guided ski tour and discover the tranquil backcountry trails.

How to get there

You can fly into Salt Lake City International Airport and then Alta and Snowbird are just a 32-mile drive from there. 

12. White Sands National Monument, New Mexico – a truly unique beauty spot 

White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument, Mexico

As its name might suggest this place is characterized by its stunning, seemingly endless stretches of bright white sand – white enough to rival even the freshest of snowfall! The region’s dune field is very dynamic, with the most active dunes moving at a rate of up to 30 feet per year.

I would highly recommend seeing the largest gypsum dune field, the tall glistening range of white dunes in Tularosa Basin (“internally drained valley”), and over 800 unique species of fauna and flora that survive in these extreme and largely inhospitable conditions.

Not only the natural geology of the region but also the incredible animals that live here are what make this destination so uniquely intriguing. Summers are too hot to visit, making winter the best time to visit White Sands National Monument.

  • Visitor Center Address: 19955 US-70 W, Alamogordo, NM 88310
  • Phone: (575) 479-6124
  • Average temperature – 14 degrees

My must-do highlights

  • Visit the white gypsum dunes that cover 275 square miles of land, making them the largest in the world.
  • Have a go at sledging down the dunes ideal for the whole family to enjoy.
  • For those who love the outdoors, spend a night or two camping underneath the starry skies at one of the ten campsites. 

How to there

The nearest airport is Roswell, which operates domestic flights. Alternatively, you can fly into El Paso in Texas, and then either drive in just under 2 hours or take one of the Sun Metro Greyhound USA bus services which run on a semi-regular basis and take around 4 hours. Buses operate within the area, and there are several private touring options.

13. Death Valley, California – a safer time to visit this extraordinary place

Death Valley - amazing places to explore in January

Death Valley Salt Flats

Bordering the Great Basin Desert, Death Valley is a desert valley in Eastern California and is one of the hottest places on Earth, often compared with deserts in the Middle East and the Sahara.

Being one of the hottest, driest, and lowest national parks and places in the world, Death Valley has unbearably blistering summer temperatures. Therefore I’d recommend visiting in the wintertime instead! Two exclusive hotels offer distinct experiences – relaxing or adventurous and both offer swimming pools and a variety of other activities. 

While exploring the national park, I’d suggest trying to spot its unique wildlife such as desert bighorn sheep, lizards, and the tiny pupfish, which live in pools saltier than seawater. At night, I would highly recommend stargazing free from light pollution in this mesmerizing landscape! 

My must-do highlights

  • Take a journey along Artists Drive to discover Artists Palette whilst admiring the pink granite and magnificent rock formations.
  • Enjoy a hike through the Golden Canyon and experience some Insta-worthy views, well-known for being one of the best trails.
  • Catch a sunrise at one of the most iconic places in Death Valley, Zabriskie Point, offering visitors a panoramic view.

How to get there

Straddling the border between California and Nevada, you have a choice of airports in either state to fly into, depending on where you wish to enter the valley. Public transport is not available in the area and although some do drive into it with private vehicles the safest way to visit is via a tour group.

14. San Diego, California – makes a gorgeous winter city break

San Diego in the winter

San Diego City Break

I honestly think San Diego is an excellent destination to visit this month because, whilst it is on the cooler side compared with other months, it still offers a great escape from cold dreary weather, boasting an almost picture-perfect, year-round Mediterranean-like climate with sunshine and soft ocean winds.

I would recommend exploring its beautiful beaches, family-friendly parks, world-class restaurants, trendy bars, and excellent artistic and cultural offerings which you can enjoy with thinned-out crowds in winter. I’d also recommend choosing from various activities such as sunbathing, surfing, kayaking, and bodyboarding.

Other attractions include the Immense Balboa Park, Japanese Botanical Gardens, Old Town San Diego, art galleries, museums, and gardens.

My must-do highlights

  • Take a stroll around San Diego Botanic Garden which provides 4 miles of trails and an array of stunning flora and fauna. 
  • Visit the Old Town located in the heart of the city and taste your way through the Mexican-inspired restaurants.
  • Explore around on the hop-on-hop-off bus to discover as many of San Diego’s popular attractions as you like.

How to get there

It is easy to get to San Diego, with direct flights operating both internationally and domestically. The city itself is also very bicycle-friendly, so there is always the opportunity to swap four wheels for two and head out to explore with a hire bike.

15. Mt Baker, Washington – a snowy winter wonderland 

Mt Baker, Washington

Mt Baker, Washington in the winter

Mt. Baker Ski Area is an epic ski resort in Washington that is well-known for its unbeatable snow levels of up to 17 meters per season, extreme inbounds terrain, and vastly accessible backcountry. The fresh powder snow in high volumes makes Mt Baker a great attraction for skiers and snowboarders.

However, since Mt Baker is not as known as some of its comparable ski resorts, it’s generally less crowded so an ideal pick for anyone looking for some discreet ski time away from the rush.

Along with its groomed ski trails, I’d also highly recommend participating in winter sports on offer like snowmobiling, snow hikes, sledging, and exploring the spellbinding old-growth forest! 

How to get there

The closest airports are Seattle (148 miles away) and Vancouver (93 miles and just across the border). The ‘Baker Bus’ is a subsidized bus service that runs on weekends and holidays from Bellingham. 

16. South Padre Island & Port Isabel, Texas – warm temperatures and beautiful scenery

South Padre Island Texas

Port Isabel Texas

Off the coast of Texas lies South Padre Island: a resort town on a barrier island known for its soft beaches and calm waters. While summers can get too hot, and spring attracts large crowds, winters with pleasant temperatures ranging between 55°F – 75°F are the best time to visit South Padre Island.

I’d recommend visiting the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Centre, which comprises of a 5-story watchtower with marvelous views of migrating birds. 

A short trip away is Port Isabel which is separated from the shores of South Padre Island by the 2.6-mile-long Queen Isabella Causeway. I would suggest taking to the waters on a magical dolphin cruise, stroll along Laguna Madre Nature Trail, or enjoy a picnic in Isla Blanca Park.

With its pleasant subtropical climate and rich culture and history, I honestly think it’s no surprise that South Padre Island is a favorite winter destination for millions of visitors each year.

My must-do highlights

  • Visit one of the most Instagrammable spots, Holiday Sandcastle Village, and see some life-size sculptures.
  • Take a trip to the entertainment district where you can have some fun on the Ferris wheel, mini golf, go-karts, and more.
  • Enjoy a relaxed stroll along the beach whilst listening to the serene sounds of the ocean.

How to get there

Whilst South Padre Island does not have an airport itself, it is accessible via the Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge, providing relatively easy access by car from the nearest airports: the Brownsville-South Padre Island International Airport and the Valley International Airport, each of which is within a 40 miles drive of this popular beach resort. 

17. Moosehead Lake, Maine – winter fun on a beautiful frozen lake

Moosehead Lake Maine in the winter

The largest mountain lake in the eastern United States and the second-largest lake in New England, Moosehead Lake is a deep, cold-water lake situated in the Longfellow Mountains. I’d highly recommend cozying up in a rustic cabin located by a serene frozen lake, surrounded by picturesque scenery! Pure Bliss! 

The array of adventure activities on offer includes winter hikes, snowmobiling and snowshoe trails by day campfires, and stargazing into the clear northern skies by night.

And, if you’re still after more, there is even the possibility of glimpsing the elusive Northern Lights on your trip I didn’t see them on my trip but it’s definitely possible! In this month, the nearby Squaw Mountain is also open to snowboarders and skiers should you want to venture out to another mountain.

My must-do highlights

  • Start your day right with a breakfast around the lake and fuel yourself ready for a full day of activities.
  • Take a snowmobile ride along the Moosehead Trail which offers an expansive and scenic range of 160 miles.
  • Experience the picturesque views by going on a hike to explore your surroundings. 

How to get there

Arguably the east way of getting to Moosehead Lake is to fly into Maine’s Bangor International Airport and then make the ½ to 2-hour drive to the lake itself. There is no direct bus route, but it is possible to take a car ferry from Bay Harbour to Yarmouth.

18. Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida – for interesting scenery and warm temperatures

Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park

Situated in the Gulf of Mexico, west of Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park comprises 7 islands with protected coral reefs. This beach destination allows tourists to escape the cold winters and relish the warm Floridian sunshine all year round. The Dry Tortugas, as the name suggests, have a dry winter season (November-March) with little or no rainfall, which is not as hot and humid as its summer months.

I think January is a great time to visit because the warm temperatures allow for snorkeling, sunbathing, and enjoying other water sports like kayaking, and boating without being too hot and sticky which is sometimes a risk in the summer months.

Also, with fewer visitors, you have a much better chance of spotting some of the rare birds that call this area home; including the Brown Noddy, Sooty Tern, Brown Pelicans, Magnificent Frigatebirds, or Black-bellied Plovers.

Bush Key is a nesting site for seabirds, Loggerhead Key has an iconic lighthouse and is home to sea turtles. Garden Key is known for its lovely beaches and the historic 19th-century Fort Jefferson so I would suggest visiting! 

My must-do highlights

  • Explore the historic Fort Jefferson for some of the best views overlooking the crystal-clear waters and surrounding islands.
  • Experience some of the best snorkeling in Florida at the Moat Wall or South Coaling Dock Ruins.
  • Take a walk around the lush Bush Key, a perfect activity for those who don’t want to go in the water.

How to get there

As one of the most remote National Parks in America, it takes a little organizing to get to Dry Tortugas. It is, however, accessible via private or charter boat, organized group tour, ferry, and seaplane! The nearest airport is at Key West (EYW), and international flights arrive here regularly.

19. Tucson, Arizona – fewer crowds and pleasant winter temperatures

Tucson Arizona

Tucson,Arizona USA

Tucson has been dubbed the ‘City of Gastronomy’ by UNESCO, and rightly so. This amazing city offers some of the most remarkable restaurants, cafes, bars, and breweries in the Southwest – and so unsurprisingly Tucson’s downtown is a thriving hub of activity and fun. Even hotels in Tucson strive to meet the city’s reputation for its excellent fare.

Apart from its rich food scene, Tucson is known for the spectacular natural beauty of its national parks and pine forests like Saguaro National Park and Mount Lemmon, its colossal cave, open-air museums and gardens, and its iconic old town and I would highly recommend exploring all of them! 

But with summers being desert hot, it can sometimes be difficult to make the most of these rich cultural offerings, so I believe wintertime can allow you to really make the most of what Tucson, Arizona has to offer.

  • Visitor Center Address: Southern Tucson Visitor Center, 115 N. Church Ave. Tucson, AZ 85701
  • Average temperatures – 19 degrees

My must-do highlights 

  • Take an underground tour at one of the most unique attractions in Tuscon, Kartchner Caverns State Park, and discover the mesmerizing cave formations.
  • Visit Pima Air and Space Museum, the world’s largest aerospace museum which is home to over 300 aircraft.
  • Play a round of golf in the Tuscan sunshine at one of the 40 courses located across the city, 

How to get there

Tucson is very well connected, both to other states and internationally. You can fly into Tucson International Airport, or access the city from other towns and cities in the US using its excellent rail networks. Amtrak offers a service to Tucson from several other cities.

20. Fairbanks, Alaska – for winter activities and the Northern Lights

Fairbanks, Alaska in January

Fairbanks, Alaska in the winter

One of the largest cities of Alaska, Fairbanks is situated at a latitude that makes it perfect to witness the famed Aurora Borealis. Your chances of seeing the Northern lights are higher this month, but the crowds are lesser due to the cold weather. You’ll also find much better deals on flights, hotels, and tours during January as it’s officially off-season.

The scenic natural landscape includes serene mountains and pristine rivers and lakes that are teeming with wildlife so I recommend trying to spot wildlife here. Experience sunrises and sunsets that last forever (typically two hours), and where the sky’s made up of a kaleidoscope of oranges and blues.

Fairbanks also offers an array of winter activities. I’d suggest going sledging, snowmobiling, snow hikes, and visiting the nearby Chena hot springs! 

My must-do highlights

  • Experience the sky come alive by taking a Northern Lights tour and watch how it dances over your head.
  • Discover the creative and incredible sculptures at the Ice Museum.
  • Take some time out to relax at the beautiful Chena Hot Springs Resort which is run off geothermal energy.

How to get there

The easiest way to reach Fairbanks, particularly during the winter months when many roads are entirely blocked by snow, is by air – and beautiful Fairbanks has its own international airport from where you can arrange shuttles or taxis to take you where you need to go.

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