14 Warm Places to Visit in January

From Palm Springs to Phuket

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Collage of warm places to visit in January
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January 1 may usher in a new year full of excitement and possibilities, but a few weeks in, that positive attitude quickly fades as the snow piles up. You start to find that snow angels aren’t that amusing after all, and your favorite hot cocoa would taste better if it were a piña colada and you were drinking it on a luxurious beach somewhere. As the temperatures continue to dip, you find yourself constantly staring out the window and fantasizing about going somewhere warm.

The good news is that January is a great month to travel. With the holiday rush in the rearview mirror, rates begin to drop, ushering in the ideal time to jet off to greener (and sunnier) pastures. Of course, it depends on what you're after. Lee Thompson, co-founder of global travel company Flash Pack says that for a bucket-list warm-weather trip in January, nothing beats the Serengeti. If it's about scoring an airfare deal, Becky Blaine, Newsletter Editor at The Points Guy, advises to keep an eye on flights to Hawaii as airfare drops to draw visitors back to support the economy post-Maui fire. For the best of everything—warm temps, direct flights, beaches, culture and food—check out Curaçao. It's more of a hidden gem (at least to Americans) in the Caribbean and a stay at the new, adults-only boutique Kura Botanica (located in a UNESCO World Heritage building!) will certainly cure your winter blues. (Check out airfare here).

So if you’re dreaming of a winter getaway (or simply need some inspo to get you through the frosty month), here are 14 warm places to travel in January.

Where Is the Warmest Place in the U.S. in January?

The warmest spots in the U.S. overall in January are probably gonna be Hawaii or Puerto Rico. On the mainland, it's all about the Sun Belt region, spanning from Southern California to North Carolina, including cities like Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Las Vegas, L.A., Phoenix, San Antonio and more. Blaine warns that many warm-weather U.S. destinations end up with extended high seasons into January as people look to escape cold weather and snow. Tracking airfare to certain destinations will be a good indicator of the willingness of the destination to draw in more visitors. 

10 Island Vacations You Can Take Without Leaving the Country

Street view of Cartagena
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1. Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena is the epitome of a steamy escape with lots of choices at your fingertips. January delivers tropical temperatures, minimal humidity and the lowest chance of precipitation. You’ll certainly appreciate the gentle breeze while walking around this picturesque port. This UNESCO-listed old town is an Insta-worthy maze of cobblestone lanes, Spanish colonial buildings with balconies covered in bougainvillea and glorious churches that dominate the tree-lined plazas. When it comes to tasty eats, find your way to a palettas, a fruity and refreshing mid-afternoon snack. You gotta try pescado frito (fried fish) with green plantains and coconut rice. For the best beaches in the area, book a day trip to the magical Islas del Rosario.

Flamingos in clear waters of Aruba
Luis Rossi/EyeEm/Getty Images

2. Aruba

Aruba, the happy island 48 miles west of Curaçao, welcomes hordes of repeat travelers—especially in the winter when consistently warm weather, endless sunshine and cooling trade winds sure beat the forecast in most of the U.S.—and with nonstop flights out of JFK and Newark daily means Aruba’s famed sandy beaches and rum punch are only a direct flight away. According to travel writer Dan Koday, along with overall chill-meets-luxe vibe of the island, the water activities are a main attraction: "[Whether] it’s windsurfing, riding Jet Skis, snorkeling, cruising on a catamaran or scuba diving. In fact, you’d be missing out if you have your PADI certification and left without exploring the many shipwrecks in Aruba’s waters: the AntillaDebbie II and Jane wrecks, plus an airplane wreck site with not one but two submerged planes (they were intentionally sunk to form an artificial reef)." On land, Koday recommends renting an ATV to see the island—especially the rugged, arid Arikok National Park. But whatever you do, he tells us, "be sure to try pastechis (local empanadas) pretty much anywhere you find them." Think: flaky pastry and gooey cheese.

Mountain and palm trees in Palm Springs California at sunset.
Wildroze/Getty Images

3. Palm Springs, California

Sunshine. Highs in the low 70s. Yeah, January in Palm Springs is total perfection. The hip Sonoran Desert oasis is known for its mid-century design cred, iconic architecture and salacious tales from Tinseltown’s golden age. That raises the question of where you’re going to stay. Whether you’re a fan of retro glamor or contemporary aesthetics, stylish hotels abound. We also love the idea of renting a fabulous house erected in the famous neighborhood Elvis and Priscilla honeymooned. Of course, a pool and jacuzzi are non-negotiables regardless of where you shack up. Round out your itinerary by doing a historical walking tour to see where the Rat Pack used to party, snapping (mandatory) pics under luscious palm trees, indulging in spa treatments, shopping for vintage treasures and communing with nature on a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park.

A fancy hut on aqua clear waters in Cancun Mexican
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4. Cancun, Mexico

It’s all about sun and fun in Cancun. And it truly has activities for all types of travelers—from hard-partying college students and bachelorette parties to honeymooners and families. In fact, PureWow Editor in Chief, Jillian Quint, brought her 5 and 7-year-olds to the all-inclusive Garza Blanca and was quite surprised by how both family-friendly and luxe it still felt: "Dare I say, it reaffirmed my commitment to family travel," she wrote on her stay. Nonetheless, you’ll undoubtedly spend the bulk of your trip on the beach (hello, Playa Delfines). For a dose of culture, head over to the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and if you’re on the market for some adventure, take up some whale shark snorkeling courtesy of Ocean Tours. Have a hankering for authentic Mexican food? TripAdvisor reviewers rave about El Rinconcito de Puebla and Los Caporales.

Rice fields of Chiang Mai Thailand
Korawee Ratchapakdee/Getty Images

5. Chiang Mai, Thailand

According to Lee Thompson, co-founder of global travel company, Flash Pack, South East Asia itineraries are popular during the month of January thanks to hot temperatures. Specifically, Chiang Mai, dubbed the “Rose of the North,” is a continual reminder that there’s more to Thailand than the islands of Phuket (though we’ll get to that later) and Koh Samui. The capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom charms tourists with its relaxed pace and rich culture. The city boasts hundreds of opulent Buddhist temples including the gilded Wat Phra Singh as well as lush rainforests, majestic mountains and elephant sanctuaries within driving distance. Since Chiang Mai has a slightly cooler climate than Bangkok, you can clock more sightseeing hours without sweating through your gauzy printed pants. Let’s be honest, it’ll still feel quite balmy.

warm places to visit in january curucao
Cultura RM Exclusive/RUSS ROHDE/Getty Images

6. Curaçao

A less touristy spot than other Caribbean locales, you might consider Curaçao a hidden gem with less crowds, fewer tourist traps and lower prices. Don't worry. It's still replete with beaches, amazing food (like goat barbecue, fried conch, Antillean ice cream, bòkel, and iguana soup) and opportunities to kick back and explore whether on ATVs or boat to visit the famous Blue Room cave. Tirzah Statia, Curaçao native and experience curator for Curaçao Tourist Board explained to PureWow editor Taryn Pire why January was a great time to visit: “In Curaçao, winter is still summer, with temperatures averaging between 80 and 90°F [with] some rain and light winds.” In fact, many find the constant wind or breeze we experience here like “the cherry on the cake.” Weather aside, Delta will add direct flights from Atlanta to the island in winter 2024 adding to the convenience of a winter island getaway. (Direct flights are already available from NYC, Newark, Charlotte, Miami, Toronto and Montreal). Unique in its identity amid the many more Americanized Caribbean destinations, during Pire's own visit to Curaçao, she felt almost immediately in the thick of local culture, passing local watering holes and lively neighborhoods.

Herd of wildebeast at sunrise in the Serengeti
Winfried Wisniewski/Getty Images

7. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Says Flash Pack Co-Founder Thompson: "For January, I would choose an epic, bucket-list adventure." Specifically, the travel expert is talking about a unique roaming safari in Tanzania (a group tour built of solo travelers), since dry season in the Serengeti means great viewing for the great wildebeest migration. Serengeti National Park, a World Heritage Site, teems with wildlife, including lions, leopards, cheetahs and more. Amazingly, though a safari can seem far-flung and out of reach, accommodations are available at every point. Meet ya near the lions?

Historic duomo and colored buildings in Campeche Mexico
Jesse Kraft / EyeEm/Getty Images

8. Campeche, Mexico

The Yucatan Peninsula shines as a hotbed of tourism thanks to Cancún, Playa del Carmen and Tulum. But you likely haven’t heard of Campeche. (That’s OK, we didn’t know much about it either until recently.) This less-frequented port city oozes charm and heritage. Mild weather makes January the perfect month to visit since you’ll want to spend time exploring the cobblestone streets, sherbet-hued colonial buildings, UNESCO-listed walled historic center and hilltop fortresses. The waterfront promenade is a lovely spot for a morning jog or a sunset stroll. Embark on an artisan, culinary and archeological tour or explore the historical artifacts in Edzna.

warm places to visit in january phuket
Jordan Siemens/Getty Images

9. Phuket, Thailand

From backpackers and spring breakers to honeymooners and celebs, everyone loves Phuket. It’ll downright blow you away with its white sands, swaying palm trees and turquoise tides, but the stunning scenery is hardly the only draw. Thailand’s biggest island also has legendary nightlife, delicious local eats, Buddhist temples, fabled diving sites and hundreds of hotels. Despite its status as a full-fledged tourism darling and January being the preeminent time to visit, you can still score legit deals. At the time of this writing, a deluxe room at the Renaissance Phuket Resort & Spa—an attractive oceanfront property with swish decor and stellar service—will run you $150 per night, for example. Couples in the mood for romance will fall hard for Trisara, which woos with its Michelin-starred restaurant, plush spa and private beach. It’s on the pricier side but definitely worth it for an unforgettable anniversary trip or a splurge-worthy international getaway. On the opposite end of the spectrum, hostels in the lively town of Patong start at $8.

warm places to visit in january big island hawaii
David Shvartsman/Getty Images

10. Big Island, Hawaii

When asked where she'd personally travel in January, Becky Blaine, Newsletter Editor at TPG, said that for a mix of activity and relaxation, Hawaii is a great option: "There are so many airfare deals right now to draw visitors back and support the economy after the wildfires in Maui," she expands. The Big Island earns our vote as the picture-perfect place to kick off your adventures in the Aloha State. Blessed with an unimaginably diverse landscape, this tropical paradise is teeming with hiking trails, waterfalls, giant lava rocks and jaw-dropping shores in colors you’ve never imagined. On the southernmost tip, Papakolea Beach displays dazzling green sand as a result of a mineral called olivine. Basalt gives Punaluʻu Beach its black hue. Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is truly unlike anywhere else on the planet. You can also swim alongside gentle manta rays with massive 16-foot wingspans. If you’re into java, be sure to book a Kona coffee tour! January falls within the rainy season for Hawaii, but the upside is that everything looks so green, and the flowers are blooming. Plus, it’s not too humid. Rates tend to be on the higher side at the beginning of January, but by the middle of the month prices drop back down to average.

warm places to visit in january costa rica
Matteo Colombo/Getty Images

11. Costa Rica

Keep the excitement of the holidays going by escaping the frightful winter weather and trading it for sunny Costa Rica. "I think Central and South American locations can be overlooked," says Blaine. "Don’t be afraid of the language barrier—many resorts have English-speaking staff and offer guided tours and great recommendations to explore local culture." Plus, January is the perfect time to visit this Central American country because it’s just after the holiday rush and it’s the first month of the dry season. That means you can expect smaller crowds and picture-perfect weather when you embark on wildlife tours at the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve, Hacienda Barú National Wildlife Refuge or the Curi Cancha Wildlife Refuge. Costa Rica is also nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea which means countless blue water beaches to just relax and unwind at—try Playa Conchal or Manuel Antonio Beach to start.

Boats on the sand of Cape Verde in Africa
Ichauvel/Getty Images

12. Cape Verde, Africa

Sure, it’s not nearly as hot as, say, Colombia, but the cool January temperatures in Cape Verde make it so it’s not too cold that you don’t want to go outside, and it’s not so hot that your afternoon adventure is ruined by your desire to get to an AC ASAP. This island off the coast of west Africa has a lot to offer for snowbirds escaping the harsh winters. And as Thompson points out, "For January, I would choose an epic, bucket-list adventure." And adventures this African spot has to offer: go on an excursion and get a different view of the Island of Sal courtesy of Zipline Cabo Verde, and those who like to keep things more grounded can still get their adrenaline pumping while on a 4WD Buggy Island Adventure.

A funky sign pointing in all directions on Grand Cayman
Lisa Chavis/EyeEm/Getty Images

13. Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

Known for calm waters, coral reefs teeming with marine life and most famously the spectacular beauty of Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman is the quintessential Caribbean getaway. Catching rays, snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding in a bioluminescent bay and fishing are among the most popular pastimes. Need a break from the sun? Head over to George Town to watch the massive cruise ships dock in the port. The capital is also home to the ruins of a colonial-era fort and the Cayman Islands National Museum. Foodies won’t want to pass up the return of the Cayman Cookout (January 10 to 14, 2024). Held at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, the mouthwatering event brings together leading chefs, sommeliers and spirit aficionados from all over the world. Past headliner chefs include Emeril Lagasse, Deedee Niyomkul, Éric Ripert​ and ​José Andrés—just to name a few.

Nassau, Bahamas has an average temperature of 79 degrees Fahrenheit in January.
Laurie Chamberlain/Getty Images

Nothing compares to the sweet island breeze, vivid coral reefs and soft and silky sand in the Bahamas. Specifically in Nassau, the capital, which is also one of the most popular cruise ship stops and home to the beloved The Atlantis Resort. (You know, the humungous hotel that Michael Jackson frequented, which now has a suite named after the king of pop). A seven-day trip for two people can cost as high as $3,000, but you can get day passes starting at $135 to enjoy all that the resort has to offer (including swimming with dolphins, a 30-minute lazy river and water slides, to name a few), if you decide to stay somewhere else. Then you can go into town to shop and eat with tourists and locals alike.

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Freelance PureWow Editor

Lindsay Cohn is a travel writer and serial trip planner who has visited 46 countries across six continents (and counting). When not globetrotting, she’s most likely either doing...


Executive Editor, Frazzled Mom, Bravo-Holic

Dara Katz is PureWow's Executive Editor, focusing on relationships, sex, horoscopes, travel and pets. Dara joined PureWow in 2016 and now dresses so much better. A lifestyle...

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