7 Stunning Warm Places to Visit in January

An image of green cliffs in Maui on the ocean and a yellow rectangle with the words

With the new year inevitably comes a new sense of wanderlust. And if you're anything like us, you're specifically dreaming of warm places to visit in January

We love an epic powder day on the slopes just as much as anyone and we're always down to explore a national park, but the new year just begs to be rung in with some sunshine and flip-flops. 

To help you narrow it down, we highlighted seven awesome places to visit in January, both in the US and internationally.

Amazing Warm Places to Visit in January

A beach in Mirissa, Sri Lanka, one of the best warm places to visit in January

Mirissa, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka as a whole is extremely underrated, and the southern coastal town of Mirissa especially is one of the best warm places to visit in January. 

The clean, palm tree-studded beaches are reminiscent of both Thailand and Costa Rica, with the lush vegetation and rocky landscapes. You'll find dozens of casual (and cheap!) beach shacks serving up drinks and snacks, and the waters here are home to sea turtles and whales. 

Weather-wise, Mirissa is near perfect in January, with high temperatures in the 80s and very little humidity in the winter. 

Bonus: because it's so underrated, Mirissa is generally extremely affordable (especially compared to other winter destinations!). 

Don't miss: photo ops at Coconut Tree Hill and surfing (or watching people surf!) in Weligama

A beach resort in Aqaba, one of the best warm places to visit in January

Aqaba, Jordan

Jordan has several world renowned landmarks, including the ancient city of Petra, the infamous Dead Sea, and the otherworldly landscape in Wadi Rum. The country also has a large coastal region along the Red Sea - and it's more tropical than what you're likely picturing.

From your luxury waterfront resort, you can easily snorkel or take sailing trips, plus of course, enjoy white sand beaches and warm waters. The dive sites here are widely considered hidden gems as well!

The coast has an almost Mediterranean climate, with warm days (think 70s in the winter) and just enough humidity to keep temperatures from dipping too low. January also happens to be one of the driest months in Jordan, making it a great time to explore. 

A nice perk of visiting Jordan is that the country is relatively small, so it's easy to hop around and experience several of its highlights. 

Don't miss: Go snorkeling or diving (or both!) and explore the Souk by the Sea night market 

A saguaro cactus and desert scene during an Arizona sunset

Arizona

Looking for warm places to visit in January, but not necessarily a beach? Head south, to Arizona (we mean that very literally — southern Arizona is substantially warmer than the northern part of the state)!

The Tucson and Phoenix metropolitan areas, two of Arizona's major cities, enjoy average temperatures in the 60s through January and the skies are perpetually blue and clear.

Even in Sedona, at slightly higher elevation, temps are often in the upper 50s and low 60s. This is awesome hiking and general adventuring weather, but brace yourself for crowds, as this is peak tourism season in Arizona. 

January is a fantastic time to visit Arizona's national parks. Weather-wise, it's the best time to visit Saguaro in Tucson, and in terms of crowds, January is also ideal for the Grand Canyon. In ultra remote Petrified Forest National Park, winter is an awesome time to explore the fossils and enjoy stargazing. 

Don't miss: one of the countless festivals in any of the cities, or enjoying lakes including Patagonia or Canyon. 

St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, one of the best warm places to visit in January

US Virgin Islands

For people wanting an epic tropical adventure but who don't necessarily want to leave the states, the US Virgin Islands is an excellent option. 

The USVI include St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. While they're all distinctly different in their individual vibes, they're similar in scenery and near-perfect weather.

This is one of the best warm places to visit in January because the islands typically enjoy low 80s every day and rarely dip below 70 degrees. January is also one of the best months in terms of overall weather, when you're unlikely to encounter storms or even rain. 

St. Thomas is the most developed island, and a common cruise ship port. It's defined by upscale shopping and dining, sprawling resorts, and activities galore. 

In stark contrast, St. John is the most undeveloped. US Virgin Islands National Park covers over half the island, protecting a variety of native wildlife and unique geographical features such as mangrove forests. This is the island you should choose if you're seeking that classic Caribbean nature and want to do lots of hiking.

Head to St. Croix, the largest island, for a little of everything plus a healthy dose of vibrant Caribbean culture and history. The island has two very different sides, with the cities of Christiansted and Frederiksted anchoring each.

Christiansted is more for activities, dining, and nightlife, plus the launching point for Buck Island National Monument tours. Frederiksted is the quieter, more residential side, with nicer beaches. 

Don't miss: snorkel at Buck Island, one of the only underwater national parks in the world, and hike to the Annaly Bay tide pools on St. Croix.

A white sand beach on Florida's emerald coast

Florida's Emerald Coast 

Florida is another tried-and-true tropical destination, but the Emerald Coast is somewhat of a hidden gem.

Situated on the "flat" part of the Florida Panhandle, the Emerald Coast comprises the area between Panama City Beach on the east to Pensacola on the west, just over the state line from Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Alabama (another fantastic warm place to visit in January!). 

The Emerald Coast is mostly frequented by area locals and those in-the-know, as the vast majority of visitors head to famous beach destinations including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Tampa. 

What that means is that you'll enjoy the Emerald Coast's sugar-fine white sand beaches and clear turquoise waters largely to yourself. Many very well-traveled people swear the beaches here are nicer than any in Mexico, Belize, or even the Caribbean!

Enjoy empty beaches, uncrowded boat tours, excellent fishing, and even better fresh seafood. 

Don't miss: Visit Henderson Beach State Park at sunset and try oysters at AJ's Seafood & Oyster Bar in Destin. 

Sea cliffs and a beach in Maui, one of the best places to visit in January

Maui, Hawaii

Let's be honest, there's never a "bad" time to visit Maui (or Hawaii in general, while we're thinking of it...). However, it's one of the best warm places to visit in January for a few specific reasons. 

Number one is the whale watching. Humpback whales migrate south from Alaska in the winter to calve their babies. They prefer the warm, shallow waters surrounding Maui, which serves as a natural barrier from sharks and other predators. 

Next, January falls within Maui's rainy season — and yes, that's actually a good thing. Rainy season means slightly fewer visitors and more affordable accommodations.

If you're hoping to drive the Road to Hana without sitting in traffic or catch sunrise from the summit of Haleakala National Park, your odds are significantly better in January. 

Even during this rainy season, Maui still enjoys fantastic weather the vast majority of the time. This is Hawaii, after all!

The flip side of it being rainy season is that water-based activities like snorkeling, surfing, and boat tours are slightly more subject to being postponed or canceled. Be flexible and have a Plan B (and pack a rain jacket!). 

Don't miss: book a whale-watching and snorkeling tour, and rent a car to drive the iconic Road to Hana

Colorful houses in New Orleans, one of the best warm destinations in January

New Orleans, Louisiana

For a truly unique winter travel experience, head for the Big Easy. In January, New Orleans is in a state of transition between the holidays and Mardi Gras.

This means the city is unusually quiet, allowing you to experience it well beyond Bourbon Street and swamp tours (although this is a great time to enjoy those!). 

Spend your time wandering through the colorful streets and tasting your way through the French Quarter. Enjoy live music on Frenchmen Street (trust us on this one, skip Bourbon for music!) and take advantage of the fact that the city's best restaurants are largely empty. 

January is also a fantastic time to enjoy some of Louisiana's famous state parks. Fountainebleu, on the northern shores of Lake Pontchartrain, is one of the closest to the city and also one of the most worthwhile. Explore by kayak, enjoy the beaches, and try your luck fishing. 

Don't miss: take a totally free tour at Sazerac House, rent a bike to explore the Garden District, and eat all the oysters because January is oyster season!

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