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Excursions into the protected lagoons let whale watchers get close to the peaceful mammals for thrilling experiences. Visitors also enjoy the seafront Malecon promenade, with its restaurants, bars, sculptures, and spectacular views. The boutique hotel is ideally situated for ocean, mountain, and marina views and offers a spa, golf course, restaurants, pools, and beach activities. Winter in the northern hemisphere and summer south of the equator give January travelers lots of options.

Some plan to embrace the snowy season and all that goes with it: They look forward to donning their puffer coats or the latest ski resort fashions and heading to the slopes. A bit further away and worth every in-flight hour is Cortina in the breathtaking Dolomites of northern Italy.

A wintry spot closer to home, St.

Chicago, Illinois

Best Places to Travel in December. Whale watching in La Paz is a fascinating experience in a beautiful January destination. Sunshine, history, and a lively beach scene make Aruba another great winter escape. Further south, Uruguay offers nightlife, beaches, art, wine, fine dining, and an international crowd also seeking warmth and fun. We know that some of our readers will not quite be ready to end their holiday celebrations, so we suggest a visit to Pasadena, California for the annual Tournament of Roses Parade to help them bid goodbye to and begin the New Year in style.

Others might be seeking a respite from crowds, parties, and holiday bustle, so for them we propose a road trip through Texas to remote Big Bend National Park where hiking in the hills, stargazing at its dark skies, and observing nature will provide solitude and time to relax. Wherever January takes you, the beginning of the year is ideal for looking ahead and making travel plans.

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We hope traveling is on your list of resolutions for Downhill skiing, cross-country, and snowboarding are just the beginning. Dog sledding through mountain trails can be fun, and the hardy huskies and Arctic breeds are great to see, many of them rescue dogs. Snow biking on special fat tires and snowshoeing along designated trails are other ways to enjoy the winter weather. Several companies rent snowmobiles for exploring the backcountry terrain, and many offer guided tours taking visitors to spectacular vistas and out-of-the-way places.

For more thrills, snow tubing is better than ever, especially with lifts back up to the top and lighted lanes for nighttime rides. Quaint Main Street boasts pubs, restaurants, coffee shops, gift stores, and browsing opportunities galore. Extensive lodging options include the luxurious Montage Deer Valley with guestrooms, suites, residences, spa, and ski-in-ski-out facilities and the historic boutique Washington School House just steps from Main Street.

Located in the southern Caribbean Sea, Aruba is only about 15 miles off the coast of Venezuela. The warm, dry climate and temperatures in the low- to mids make it an ideal getaway in January, when visitors flock there to escape cold weather. The atmosphere is lively, though room rates are a bit higher, as expected during prime season.

Kitesurfing, windsurfing, deep sea fishing, and horseback riding are other popular activities. Gambling is legal, and casinos at the major resorts have a following of guests trying their luck with slot machines, roulette, craps, blackjack, or Caribbean stud poker.

Visitors to Aruba should be sure to spend some time in the capital city of Oranjestad, with its harbor, shops, restaurants, nightlife, and historic buildings including Fort Zoutman, built in for protection from pirates. Just a few hours from Venice, making a pre-skiing side trip an attractive option, Cortina was the site of the Olympic Winter Games, the first Games to be broadcast live on television. The Olympic Ice Stadium remains as a year-round ice rink open to the public. One of the most beautiful Nordic ski routes travels along the former Dolomite Railway connecting Cortina with Dobbiaco.

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The Alpine Guides of Cortina can provide advice on these winter sports as well as snow kiting, heli-skiing, and the tamer nighttime snowshoe treks. This northwest Pacific region is the driest area in Costa Rica, and its short rainy season ends around November, leaving January reliably warm and sunny. Coastal beaches, especially in the resort area on the Gulf of Papagayo, are excellent for swimming, surfing, snorkeling, and scenery. Sport fishing and boating in the Papagayo Gulf are popular as well.

Beginning in December, humpback whales from the north migrate to the warm waters of Costa Rica, and they can often be seen from the coast. Several sea turtle nesting beaches are in the area. Tourism is increasing throughout Costa Rica, particularly in this part of the country, with its abundance of natural beauty and diversity. With a spa, golf course, pool, and beach club, the hotel is an ideal home base for exploring or relaxing.

Liberia International Airport also known as Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport is within an hour from most of the beach resorts.

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The warm weather and lively social scene attract visitors in January when temperatures reach the 80s and the party atmosphere heats up as well. Art lovers will enjoy a visit to the Galeria de las Misiones or a quiet stroll through the Fundacion Pablo Atchugarry , a sculpture garden displaying international works in addition to large pieces by Atchugarry. Punta del Este will host the fifth edition of Este Arte from Jan. Visitors can add wine tasting and fine dining to their vacation with a trip to Bodega Garzon , just 20 minutes from Jose Ignacio.

The city makes good on its World Design Capital designation with a host of unique museums, event spaces, and saunas that exemplify modern design integrated into urban life. A prime example: Join in the Finnish obsession with sauna the country of 5. But immerse yourself in history to get a fuller picture: Just across the square you can learn about the Nobel Prize and its laureates at the Nobel Museum. And be sure to visit the fascinating Vasa Museum. While a trip to Stockholm is typically expensive, going in January means you can feel less guilty about the cost of food and drink while there because of discounts on hotels and flights.

And unlike other cold-weather destinations on this list, even in January, you can head outdoors to rejoice in the sun. In between, visit Balboa Park. San Diego is also home to over craft breweries, churning out award-winning beers and pioneering the West Coast IPA. While San Diego is a great destination any time of year, going in January will afford you 37 percent savings on hotel rooms. Portugal is still enjoying a steady rise in popularity. A flourishing economy has helped create a huge tourism boom, landing Lisbon and the Algarve Coast at the top of many travel bucket lists.

This romantic city will win you over precisely because of its slow pace. Porto is compact enough that the best way to explore is on foot. On one end of that waterfront is the Opera House, a shining example of contemporary design, with sleek angular lines that rise out of the water. Traditionally an expensive destination because of the strength of the Norwegian economy, you can help offset the cost of traveling there by going in January.

The city transforms into a winter wonderland with ice sculptures, Christmas markets, and a celebration of Russian folk culture. In Izmailovo Park, catch daily folk dancing and music performances, and try traditional winter snacks such as bagels, jam, and special teas.

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Another bright spot in January: Amble through Haga, the old town dating back to After a long day of strolling, warm up with a relaxing soak at Hagabadet , a beautiful Art Nouveau spa built in Enjoy up to 25 percent savings in January on Gothenburg hotel rooms. Flights from all U. Beijing in January also means its iconic attractions like the ancient palace complex, Forbidden City, and historic Tiananmen Square won't have the crush of tourists typical at other times of year. Covered in snow, the sites will be quiet but hauntingly beautiful.

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To really embrace the season, head to Longqing Gorge, less than two hours north of of the city. From mid January through February, the annual snow and ice festival features hundreds of intricately carved ice sculptures, a human-sized ice maze, folk dancing performances, and firework displays, all set against a towering foot frozen waterfall. Visitors can try winter sports like ice skating, tobogganing, ice fishing, and sledding.

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The Birmingham Museum of Art is free to visit and boasts a collection of more than 24, paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, textiles, and decorative arts ranging from tribal African to Japanese Samurai to contemporary American furniture. When you need to refuel, you'll have plenty of options.

But that makes January the perfect time to go: Beat the crowds to the punch: Get your fill of history at St. Visit the Jameson Distillery where you can get a bottle personalized with your name and the Guinness Storehouse lines will surely be shorter in January.