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The 8 best destinations to visit in January

Jan. 05, 2023
9 min read
Man and woman backcountry skiers reaching their summit in beautiful sunrise light.
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The gift-giving days may be over for a while, but it's time to make good on the 2023 resolution to travel more. You also might need a break after all that holiday chaos.

Luckily, January is the perfect time to plan a getaway, whether you love the beach or snowcapped mountains. It's also cheaper to travel to many international destinations in the new year. Most places have lifted pretty much all COVID-19-related restrictions, too, making it easier than ever to hit the road.

However, even with more accessibility, it's important to remember that this season is plagued with respiratory infections like the flu, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus, known as RSV, that can ruin a vacation. So, check out the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and consider getting the flu shot and new COVID-19 vaccine booster for added protection.

Where should you go? Here are TPG's eight best places to visit in January.



Minneapolis might not be your first thought for a January destination.

However, when the temperatures drop in the Twin Cities (the average January temperature is 22 degrees), the locals don't hibernate. They embrace the cold at The Great Northern festival.

One of the world's top winter festivals, the annual 10-day festival takes place Jan. 25 to Feb. 5. It is spectacular enough to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to Minneapolis and St. Paul in the dead of winter.

Additionally, Minneapolis isn't short on other unique activities for visitors. Be active on a pair of cross-country skis or a fat-tire bike or trade those boots for a pair of skates to glide on the frozen lakes (there are 22 of them). Flying kites on frozen Lake Harriet is another winter favorite.

Don't miss arguably the best new restaurant in the country, the James Beard Award-winning Owamni by the Sioux Chef. It's the state's first Native American dining spot and has everyone talking.

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TPG tip: There are many accommodation options, including the new Four Seasons. The Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, The Depot is offering 15% off for festivalgoers. Otherwise, rates start at $153 per night or 20,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.

San Diego


This Southern California city is always a good choice for a winter getaway. Not only will you still get temperatures in the high 60s, but there are some special events in January that make it worth it to book a trip.

The 12th annual San Diego Brew Festival takes place in NTC Park in Liberty Station on Jan. 7 and will feature over 70 breweries, 200 beers, 10 of San Diego's best food trucks, bands and more.

Other popular events in San Diego include the Monster Jam, the Borrego Springs Film Festival and the San Diego Lunar New Year Festival.

Additionally, more than 20,000 gray whales migrate from Alaska to the lagoons of Baja California in January, where the females give birth to their calves. San Diego is an ideal destination for viewing this impressive spectacle, with 70 miles of coastline set along the migration path.

TPG tip: Book a room at Andaz San Diego, located in the bustling Gaslamp Quarter, from 12,000 World of Hyatt points or $425 per night. It's just minutes from many of these events and other mainstay attractions.

Related: The 15 best things to do in San Diego

Los Angeles


There's plenty to do in Hollywood all year round, but the Los Angeles Zoo is open after dark for Animals Aglow, a holiday tradition.

Lighting displays such as elephant statues with whimsical projections, mosaiclike multicolor giraffes and twinkling butterflies draw inspiration from the zoo's wild residents.

Also, according to new Priceline data, January is one of the least expensive times to visit the bustling city. Average round-trip airfare is just $281, while the average hotel night comes in at around $178.

TPG tip: Stay close to the zoo action and Universal Studios Hollywood at the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City from $207 or 61,000 Hilton Honors points per night.

Related: 23 fun things to do in Los Angeles for every type of traveler

St. Barts


January is one of the most popular months to visit St. Barts and it's easy to see why.

The weather is perfect and the beaches are sparkling. Also, the island hosts the 39th annual St. Bart's Music Festival on Jan. 6-18. The festival is a music connoisseur's dream.

It brings some of the world's most prominent classical, opera, ballet and jazz stars from Montreal, Boston, New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, London and Paris, as well as from the Juilliard and Curtis schools of music.

TPG tip: Stay at the luxurious Hotel Barriere Le Carl Gustaf for $2,200 or 100,400 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per night. Another option? Tropical Hotel St Barth has rooms from $905 or 63,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per night.

Boone, North Carolina


Kick off that 2023 resolution for healthy living in this charming North Carolina mountain town. Why? Well, it's home to the Art of Living Retreat Center.

This ayurvedic wellness getaway offers travelers an immersive and transformational experience through various programs and workshops, yoga and meditation classes, outdoor activities, spa treatments and healthy cuisine.

The new year offers a fresh start and an opportunity to learn new routines. The Retreat Center offers various workshops for guests striving for an improved version of themselves. Guests can join breathwork retreats, a silent retreat and various other opportunities to go inward and reset their mind, body and spirit.

Additionally, you can explore the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains and visit the Hickory Ridge Living History Museum, which re-creates 1700s homestead life.

TPG tip: If you don't want to stay at the Retreat Center or you want to extend the trip, book a room at the Holiday Inn Boone — University Area for $125 or 20,000 IHG One Rewards points per night.

Related: 4 road trips you can take from Charlotte, North Carolina

Sri Lanka


January is the perfect time to visit Sri Lanka because travelers will experience plenty of sunshine and minimal rainfall throughout the month. You'll also miss the rush of tourists in December.

In particular, you should plan to visit tea country. The tea plantation industry in Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon) began in 1825. The country's cool temperatures and heavy rainfall provide an ideal climate for harvesting tea.

Here, adventurous travelers can explore the rolling hills on foot or by bike before heading to the south coast for even more serenity at Cape Weligama, where they can enjoy breathtaking views overlooking the Indian Ocean. Don't miss the fortress city of Galle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

TPG tip: For a hotel that enhances that nature-focused experience, stay at DoubleTree by Hilton Weerawila Rajawarna Resort. The waterfront retreat is close to Weerawila Tissa Sanctuary and Bundala National Park, both a birdwatcher's dream (Bundala is a wintering ground for about 197 species of birds). Incredibly, you can stay here for as little as $90 or 27,000 Hilton Honors points a night.

Related: Now's the time to visit Sri Lanka — here's why

Khao Yai, Thailand


If you're considering visiting Thailand, January is the time to do it.

According to Priceline data, the destination is one of the cheapest in terms of airfare and hotel. The average round-trip airfare to Bangkok is $1,329, and it's just an average of $65 per night for a hotel room.

Once in the country, venture about three hours to Khao Yai National Park. Established as Thailand's first, and currently one of its largest, national parks, Khao Yai is a serene landscape of forest and grassland that offers an escape from the outside world.

As one of the richest conservation areas in Thailand, the UNESCO-protected preserve encompasses miles of hiking and biking trails, picturesque waterfalls and nature in its purest form. Here you may encounter varied wildlife — from wandering elephants and hornbills to gibbons and bears.

TPG tip: Transporting guests back to the golden age of rail travel, the just-opened InterContinental Khao Yai Resort takes historical inspiration from King Rama V's reign in the late 1800s. Rooms are available for around $199 or 33,000 IHG One Rewards points per night.

Park City, Utah


For powderhounds, Park City is the ultimate winter escape. In January, the snow is at its prime, ideal for skiing and snowboarding.

If you don't want to shred some powder, this month also marks one of the biggest Hollywood events. The Sundance Film Festival is when lots of A-listers descend on the charming ski town to show off their new films, lead discussions with fans and throw some epic parties.

While there, discover Utah Olympic Park, explore the buzzing Main Street, book a spa treatment at Westgate Park City (which has a Forbes four-star rating), and have an apres experience with Alpine Distilling Social Aid & Pleasure Club. It's hard to find a reason not to visit in January.

TPG tip: The AC Hotel Park City — available from $307 or 32,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night — is a sleek new hotel located less than 10 minutes from the ski slopes and 15 minutes from downtown.

Related: How to ski and stay in Park City with points and miles

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.