New Year, New Scene: Where to Travel in January for Every Type of TravelerBy Caroline Eubanks
Start the new year with a getaway, whether it’s close to home or overseas. January is a great time to explore, especially in destinations where it’s low season and there are deals on airfare and accommodations to be found. But if you’re looking to escape the cold, there are plenty of warmer, sunnier places to do that, too.
Read on for some fantastic January getaways perfect for foodies, adventurers and everyone in between. As always, check for travel guidelines and closures before planning your trip.
The Wellness Buff
The British Columbian capital is best accessed by seaplane from Vancouver, offering views of the forests and series of islands of the Pacific Northwest’s winter wonderland. After browsing the Government Street shops, get a spa treatment at a converted barge in the harbor to warm up.
Travelers come from all over the world to see colorful flowers at Butchart Gardens. If visiting in early January, you can catch the tail end of its holiday light display. Also check out the garden’s restaurant, which is turned into an indoor spring display with flowering trees and shrubs.
Before leaving Victoria, cross the water to Malahat — the Malahat SkyWalk offers incredible panoramic views of the area’s snow-topped trees.
January is the perfect time to visit Scottsdale without the high temperatures. Outdoors lovers can make the trek to Camelback Mountain, named for the shape of its ridgeline. After your hike, book a massage at one of the many spas within the city.
You can’t visit Scottsdale without visiting Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, his carefully preserved home. The Desert Botanical Garden is another nice place to stroll between the cacti and other desert plant species.
The Food and Drinks Lover
Central Coast, California
Napa and Sonoma aren’t the only wine regions in the Golden State. The Santa Ynez Valley in California includes multiple viticultural areas and is easily accessible from Santa Barbara. Expect temperate climates ideal for roaming through the vines.
Check out the town of Solvang (nicknamed the “Danish Capital of America”), which has Danish bakeries and restaurants, among other cuisines. If you’re short on time, you can sample wines at tasting rooms from Alma Rosa and Casa Cassara without making the trek to the vineyards.
New York City
If you don’t mind the chilly weather, New York City in January can be magical. Crowds flock there for New Year’s Eve, but the weeks after provide an opportunity to see the best of the city while staying on a budget.
The winter iteration of New York City Restaurant Week typically kicks off this month with discounted menus for lunch and dinner at top-tier restaurants. The event encompasses a variety of cuisines and neighborhoods, so you’re never far from a good meal. Broadway Week takes place around the same time, so grab a meal before taking advantage of two-for-one tickets to your favorite shows.
The Sports Fan
Sports fans flock Down Under for the Australian Open, held at the National Tennis Centre in Melbourne Park in January. And because it’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere, travelers can expect comfortable temperatures as they roam the city’s mural-covered laneways and sprawling public parks.
In between matches, explore the museums of Fed Square, chow down on dumplings in Melbourne’s Chinatown and explore neighborhoods like beachside St. Kilda and hip Richmond.
Monaco and the French Riviera
For car enthusiasts, the main draw of Monte Carlo is the Rallye Monte-Carlo. This race has run between the namesake city and southeast France since it was started in 1911 by Prince Albert. The high-octane affair combines the thrills of a standard race with winter weather conditions and the added elevation of Alpine towns like Champcella and St.-Léger-les-Mélèzes.
While you’re in the luxe locale, dress up and embrace your inner James Bond at famed Casino Square, or take in the views at the Mémorial Princesse Grace, a scenic overlook and memorial near the site of the actress-turned-royalty’s tragic crash.
The Outdoor Enthusiast
Holbox Island, Mexico
Isla Holbox, the car-free island northwest of Cancún, is the perfect place to disconnect and explore laid-back beaches and casual seafood restaurants via golf cart. Much of the island is undeveloped and is home to sea turtles and flamingos.
Admire the bioluminescent bay, a natural phenomenon created by microscopic organisms interacting with the ocean’s waves. The lagoon on the far west side of the island is the best place to spot the bioluminescence, especially during the quiet weeks at the start of the year when you won’t be fighting for a spot on the beach.
The Kenyan capital is where visitors can enjoy traditional cuisine and shop for souvenirs from local artisans. In nearby Nairobi National Park, you can go on a safari to see giraffes, lions, rhinoceros and other wildlife. While January is considered the high season for travel, birders in particular have many spotting opportunities this time of year.
From Nairobi, you can also get to Masai Mara National Reserve, another park with the “Big Five” (elephants, leopards, lions, buffalos and rhinos). The Masai people are known for their intricately crafted beadwork items and patterned fabrics, which you can buy from local markets.
The Arts and Culture Seeker
Late January is Singapore Art Week, which highlights the city’s thriving visual arts community through events all over the city in galleries and among the mural-covered streets.
While this week can’t be missed, you’ll find fascinating art and design throughout Singapore year-round. Admire the lit sculptures of Gardens by the Bay (as seen in “Crazy Rich Asians”), the traditional work in the National Gallery and even the Kinetic Rain installation at Changi Airport.
Turks and Caicos
The Turks and Caicos islands have the clear blue water and soft sandy beaches many travelers are looking for at this time of year. Featuring brightly colored costumes and headdresses, Junkanoo in Turks and Caicos started in the 1980s and is based on a similar festival in the Bahamas. New Year’s Day promises Junkanoo celebrations — and a visit to the Junkanoo Museum provides added context year-round.
You’ll certainly want to spend time taking in the crystal-clear water with activities like sailing and scuba diving. Attending the fish fry is another must-do that sees locals and visitors gather over the catch of the day.