With the festive season fast approaching, where better to start off 2019 than the US? The land of the free and home of the burgers, amazing cities and vibrant culture. January in the US sees smaller crowds of tourists, off-season travel rates and turns a huge portion of the country into an enchanting winter wonderland! With so much to see and do in a country the size of the US, it can be a bit overwhelming knowing where to begin planning your trip, so we’ve helped you out! Here are the best places to visit in January in the United States:
1. New York City, New York
The Big Apple tends to draw in smaller crowds in January than other peak times of year. However, January in New York City still boasts an incredible festive spirit and turns into a winter wonderland, making it a truly enchanting time to visit. The average temperature is rather chilly, with highs around 4°C and a lows around -3°C. To make the most of your visit to New York City during January, be sure to explore the beauty of Central Park that will likely be covered in snow. In the city known as the concrete jungle, Central Park provides New Yorkers a much-needed green oasis, and is one of the most famous parks in the world. Since 1949, during the winter months, Central Park opens an ice skating rink called Wollman Rink that is popular with tourists and locals alike. Glide across the ice while enjoying the iconic Manhattan skyline!
Why not check out: The Freehand New York Hostel
2. Los Angeles, California
The City of Angels is a gorgeous destination no matter what time you visit. Los Angeles enjoys an average high of 19°C and an average low of 9°C for the month of January, making it one of the best winter sun destinations in all of the United States. If you want a taste of the glitz and glamour of the Hollywood lifestyle, January is a great time of year for celebrity spotting, with the Golden Globes Awards taking place. January in LA is considered low season, so it’s also a great chance to venture out to Disneyland to enjoy the smallest crowds of the year – which means no waiting in line, win!
3. Las Vegas, Nevada
Also known as Lost Wages and the City of Sin, we all know that what happens in Vegas, well, stays in Vegas. Las Vegas in January can be a little on the cooler side, with an average high of 14°C and an average low of 3°C, meaning you’ll want less time poolside and more time spent at the poker table. During your time in Las Vegas, be sure to check out one of the many acts happening around the city. A few of the Vegas regulars such as Jerry Seinfeld and David Copperfield often have great shows during the month of January. The cooler January weather also makes it a perfect time of year to get some hiking done so be sure to check out Red Rock Canyon!
4. Austin, Texas
January is the perfect time to explore Austin with lots of great functions and events happening all around the city. The month brings an average high temperature of around 16°C and an average low of 5°C, making it comfortable without being too cold. Starting from the 1st of January and running until the 31st, the Wolf Ranch Farmers Market operates every Saturday, showcasing amazing local food and produce. No visit to the State of Texas would be complete without trying some of that famous Texan BBQ, and in Austin one place reigns supreme. Franklin’s Barbecue is open from 11am until sold out, and it sells out every single day! Be sure to get here early enough to experience why Texas BBQ is so famous.
5. New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz and home of the unbelievably tasty soul food known as Gumbo. Gumbo is a West African dish that contains ingredients such as shrimp, chicken, duck, crab and sausage, and no trip to New Orleans would be complete without sampling this world famous Louisiana speciality. New Orleans is a city full of buzz and excitement during the month of January, for just as the festive season is coming to an end the preparations for the annual Mardi Gras celebrations are underway. The average high temperature reaches 17°C and the average low is 8°C, making for an extremely pleasant winter destination with plenty of hours of sunshine to enjoy. While travelling in New Orleans be sure to visit the Old French Quarter, the city’s historic heart famous for its jazz clubs, colourful buildings, St. Louis’ Cathedral and of course, Bourbon Street. Bourbon Street is world famous for its nightlife, neon lights, street parties, live music and for its constant flow of alcohol. The atmosphere and vibe of Bourbon Street should be your first stop while in New Orleans.
6. San Francisco, California
San Francisco is at its coldest in January, with an average high temperature of around 14°C and an average low of 8°C. Although you might not spend too much time at the beach, there’s still plenty to see and do during the winter months in San Fran. While you’ll obviously be visiting the major tourist hotspots such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Prison, there are a few other hidden gems that most tourists don’t know about, so be sure to check these out. Firstly you’ll want to get down to Pier 39 for the amazing cafes and restaurants, street performers and gorgeous views of the marina. But the real reason to venture down here is to see the hundreds of sea lions that call this pier their home! Watching these sea lions wrestle each other for prime spots in the sun on the docks is an amazing (and adorable) thing to witness! Another great place to visit in San Francisco is Muir Woods National Monument, home to the towering old Californian redwood trees, some being over 2000 years old. There’s lots of great hikes in Muir Woods all varying in difficulty and distance, meaning there will be something to suit all fitness levels or time commitments. Getting to Muir Woods takes a little bit of organisation, as it is north of San Francisco (about a 40 minute drive). You can either hire a car for the day or opt for the Muir Wood Shuttle.
7. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
January is a fantastic month for travelling around Philly, but be prepared for some harsh weather with average lows of -2°C and the average high of a balmy 5°C, yikes. But with these wintry conditions comes Philly’s Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest that runs through the month of January, with ice-skating, arcades, free concerts and of course scrumptious snacks. Speaking of scrumptious snacks, it would be considered sacrilege to come to Philadelphia and not sample a Philly Cheesesteak. What is a cheesesteak you ask? It’s essentially a sandwich filled with beefsteak and melted cheese in a long hoagie roll, but trust me it is so much more than just a sandwich; in Philly it’s a way of life. While there is a lot of dispute around the city as to who makes the best cheesesteak, these are some of our favourite spots for a truly authentic Philly experience:
- John’s Roast Pork
- Pat’s King of Steaks
- Geno’s Steaks
8. Washington D.C.
January is undoubtedly the coldest month of the year to travel to the US Capital, with an average low of -4°C and frequent snowstorms, but thankfully there’s a lot of great (and cheap) ways to stay warm in Washington D.C. during the winter months. Washington has a vast and varied range of amazing galleries and museums to keep you out of the cold, so be sure to spend a few hours at the amazing Smithsonian, National Gallery of Art and of course visit the iconic National Monuments. Being the nation’s capital city, there are also a lot of memorials that are really worth visiting such as the World War II Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. January is also the perfect month to bundle up warm, lace up your skates, and head to one of the city’s many popular ice skating rinks that operate for almost all of the month! January also sees the annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, with weekend events taking place from January 18-21st in 2019, making it a unique and prestigious time to be in Washington.
9. Boston, Massachusetts
By the end of January, Boston has usually experienced significant snowfall and stints of severe weather. The average high during January is around 3°C while the low is -5°C, so you’ll definitely need to keep yourself as snug as a bug in a rug. For a truly authentic US experience, you’ll want to attend some live sport, and Boston is a great city to do it in! The Boston Celtics (basketball) have a lot of home games at TD Garden during the month of January, where you’ll be able to experience the fast paced and atmospheric US sporting environment. Maybe sports aren’t your thing? Perhaps the Boston Wine Festival sounds more favourable! It’s the nation’s longest running wine festival celebrating 30 years of delicious wines from the world’s best winemakers, which runs through the month of January. Wine not?!
10. Chicago, Illinois
When the average high for the month of January in Chicago is 0°C, wearing layers of clothing, gloves, a scarf and a hat are essential for winter survival. Thankfully, Chicago’s biggest indoor winter wonderland, Winter WonderFest, is open in January to enjoy all of the perks of winter. Chicago is world famous for its art and theatre culture, and what better way to escape the cold than by enjoying a show or concert! January brings a lot of great musicals, concerts and shows so keep an eye out for what’s happening in 2019! If you’re looking for a completely quirky event to attend in Chicago, all winter movie enthusiasts can gather at Northwestern University for a 24-hour binge session of low-budget films. Tickets are cheap and it will no doubt keep you entertained.
Why not check out: Freehand Chicago Hostel
11. Miami, Florida
Finally some delicious weather for January! Miami enjoys an average high of 23°C and a low of 19°C, making the city a perfect January travel destination. Miami is known as the Magic City, famous for its culinary scene, amazing beaches, Art Deco architecture and friendly locals! Your first stop in Miami needs to be to the iconic Miami Beach, the best area for soaking up some delicious sun and relaxing to the max (you are on holiday after all!) followed by a visit to Bayside Marketplace. The Bayside Marketplace has everything you could possibly need and is located along the Miami waterfront, with daily live music and an atmospheric vibe. Eating is a favourite activity amongst the locals, and here in Miami you can head to Little Havana to indulge in some of the best Cuban food found anywhere in the world. With non-stop lively Latin music filling the air and some amazing Cuban restaurants and food stalls, you may forget you’re in the states at all!
Why not check out: Generator Hostel Miami
12. Santa Monica, California
Santa Monica is a coastal area west of Downtown Los Angeles and is home to the most famous beach in the US, Santa Monica Beach. The weather in January is still warm with an average high of 19°C. Santa Monica is a very walkable and bike-friendly location, and there is no better way to experience the beauty of this area than by foot. The beach enjoys more than 300 days of sunshine a year, but it’s the sunsets over the pier that truly make Santa Monica special. Be sure to visit the Santa Monica Pier with its range of amazing shops, restaurants and carnival attractions including the iconic Ferris wheel. An amazing place to enjoy by day, the pier transforms by night underneath the stars and lights, creating an amazing atmosphere bustling with energy!
13. Seattle, Washington
In January, Seattle has an average high temperature of 8°C and an average low of 3°C. When visiting during the winter months, dressing with layers and always having a rain jacket (ideally with a hood) is a smart idea. January brings far fewer tourists to the city than other peak times, making it a great time to avoid the large crowds that usually congregate. While in Seattle be sure to venture into the Space Needle, the 605-foot tall icon of the city. From the observation level you’ll be rewarded with scenic panoramic views over the city and of Mount Rainer. During those rainy January days, head for the Museum of Pop Culture and keep yourself entertained for hours. Fun fact: The original Starbucks store, which was established in 1971, is located in Downtown Seattle at the Pike Place Market. There are now more than 27,000 Starbucks stores worldwide, so if you’re only going to visit one, why not make it the original here in Seattle?!
About the author: My name is Louis Cuthbert; I have been travelling the globe for the last two and a half years documenting my adventures. Follow my journey on Instagram @one_globe_travels.