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Best Places to Visit in January
January is an ideal time to travel for those needing to escape winter's chill. While travel deals may be limited during this time, you will skirt humidity and the rainy season in popular warm weather destinations. And if you're one for embracing the season's snowy offerings, this is the best time to take advantage of the powder in mountainous regions north of the equator. U.S. News weighed these factors and more across an array of different destinations – from the rugged to the refined – to come up with the best places to visit in January. Have a favorite? Vote below to have a say in next year's list.
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Those looking to get away from chilly winter weather should consider a relaxing getaway to the British Virgin Islands. Temperatures hover between the low 70s and mid-80s this time of year, making it easy to enjoy the many outdoor activities that the four main islands have to offer. With ferries regularly traveling to and from the various islands, visitors can hike through Sage Mountain National Park on the capital island of Tortola one day and explore The Baths on Virgin Gorda the next.
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Tulum, Mexico, is an excellent destination for travelers who want to unwind after the busy holiday season. Visitors can release the stress that the holidays can bring in one of the city's many yoga and wellness centers. More adventurous vacationers will enjoy exploring Tulum's ancient Mayan ruins, which are some of the best-preserved ruins in Mexico. For those who'd rather swim and soak up some sun, venture to one of the city's cenotes (sinkholes that are filled with water) or a beautiful beach like Playa Paraíso.
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Perhaps the best way to take in Jasper's wild splendor is when it's completely overtaken by the elements. Snow cakes the Canadian park's many mountains and forests, creating a winter wonderland that's begging to be explored on skis, on dog sleds or even on foot. January is also a great time to admire the park's star-filled sky, as Jasper National Park is the second-largest dark sky preserve in the world. Plus, the annual Jasper in January festival takes place during the last half of the month, providing visitors with plenty of food, drinks, shows and deals for skiing and lodging.
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January is one of the driest times of the year in this tropical Central American country. That means it's much easier to enjoy Costa Rica's vast array of outdoor offerings and wildlife-viewing opportunities, such as the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve and the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge. What's more, a number of culturally significant fiestas take place in January, including the Palmares Fiestas, which features everything from bullfights to outdoor concerts. Looking to catch some waves? This is also a great time of year to go surfing in Costa Rica, especially for beginners.
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Florida's intense humidity is at one of its lowest points in January, making it one of the most comfortable times to travel to Miami. During this dry season, you won’t break too much of a sweat while perusing outdoor attractions like the Wynwood Walls, a beautiful display of graffiti and street art murals, and Zoo Miami, the largest zoo in the state and the only subtropical zoo in the country. Should you choose to visit during this time, make sure to book early, as this month is a prime time for snowbirds to flock south.
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If you prefer snow over sand, consider taking a trip to Aspen, Colorado, one of the best places to travel in January. Daily temperatures tend to hover near or below freezing, so you'll need to bundle up while shredding powder on one of the town's four ski mountains. Visit at the end of the month to catch Aspen's annual X Games, where top athletes compete in skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling. The town also offers plenty of museums, theaters and shops for when you need a break from the slopes.
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January is summertime in this Peruvian hot spot, yielding warm temperatures perfect for lounging on one of Lima's many beaches. Indulge in some retail therapy at Larcomar, a cliffside shopping center with breathtaking ocean views and more than 100 stores and restaurants. When the heat becomes too much to bear, slip into one of the city's many impressive museums, including MALI – Museo de Arte de Lima or MATE – Museo Mario Testino. Another perk of visiting in January is bearing witness to Lima's lively Foundation Day, a cultural celebration commemorating Peru's settlement by Spanish conquistadors.
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With more than 5,000 acres of skiable terrain, Vail, Colorado, is one of America's most popular ski destinations and one of the best places to travel in January. It features seven back bowls with varying degrees of difficulty, so you can find the perfect slope for you no matter your age and skill level. After spending the day in the snow, take a walk along the heated streets of Vail's villages, which are lined with restaurants and shops. Many celebrities have been known to frequent this town, so you might spot one or two during your stay.
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This historical hot spot is best experienced when there is little to no rain. January falls outside of the wet season, with daytime highs hovering in the mid-70s (though you'll want to bring a jacket for nighttime). Make sure to also pack some comfortable shoes, as you'll likely do a lot of walking while taking in this colorful city's beauty. While here, don't miss out on the impressive Cañada de la Virgen archaeological site, or enjoy a leisurely stroll through El Jardín, preferably with a chamango (a sweet and spicy fruit drink) in hand.
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An African safari may not be the first kind of vacation you think of when planning a winter getaway, but a trip to Tanzania's Serengeti National Park should be on your radar. January is one of the best times to travel here, as it is when numerous wildebeest breed during their Great Migration throughout the park. To catch a glimpse of this can't-miss natural phenomena, which is the only large migration of its kind in Africa, base yourself in Southern Serengeti or the northern part of the adjacent Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
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When it comes to beaches, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, does not disappoint. But what makes this warm city an excellent place to travel in January is its thriving art scene. Toward the end of the month, the destination hosts its annual Art Fort Lauderdale, a four-day event where exhibits are on display within multiple Intracoastal Waterway homes. Or, visitors ages 21 and older can arrive in the middle of the month to sample various brews at Funky Buddha Brewery's Maple Bacon Coffee Porter Festival, which pays homage to one of the brewery's most popular beers.
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Take a trip Down Under for an unforgettable outdoor adventure. In January, this Australian island offers its warmest weather of the year – average highs sit in the low 70s – thanks to its location in the Southern Hemisphere. Much of Tasmania is protected in national parks and wildlife reserves, offering nature lovers plenty of opportunities to hike, camp and spot wildlife. Travelers can also stop by the MONA, an underground art museum with its own brewery, winery and restaurant. Be sure to visit in in mid-January to attend the museum's MONA FOMA music and art festival.
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Zermatt#13 in Best Places to Visit in January
Venture to this Swiss town for a scenic winter getaway. One of Zermatt's most impressive sights is its world-renowned Matterhorn. Keep in mind, though, that the mountain does not have a cable car, so less active travelers may want to stick to viewing it from below. Adrenaline junkies can also gaze at this jaw-dropping natural wonder during a helicopter tour, or they can try hiking or skiing one of the area's 37 other mountains. Zermatt itself is car-free, but visitors can get around using the town's electric vehicles and horse-drawn carriages.
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If you want to vacation in a winter wonderland without leaving the country, Stowe, Vermont, is the place to go. Stowe features several ski trails, recreation areas and resorts to choose from, including Stowe Recreation Path, Stowe Mountain Resort and the Austrian-inspired Trapp Family Lodge (a favorite of "The Sound of Music" fans thanks to its ties to the von Trapp family). In addition to being a prime time for skiing, January marks the return of Stowe's annual Winter Carnival, which offers fun activities for the whole family, such as snow volleyball tournaments and ice carving competitions.
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Taos, NM#15 in Best Places to Visit in January
New Mexico might seem like a surprising destination for a winter escape, but Taos' ski slopes and schools are known as some of the best in the country, especially for those looking for a challenge. Plus, vacationers can immerse themselves in Taos' rich Native American and Spanish culture and history as they peruse the town's art galleries and museums. January is also a great time to view the nearby Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, which becomes even more breathtaking when it is dusted in snow.
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