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7 Jaw-Dropping Destinations to See This January

There’s no better way to shake a holiday hangover than jetting off on a relaxing vacation. From Alberta to Australia, these jaw-dropping destinations are sure to cure your winter blues. Read on for the seven best places to visit in January.

Chelsea is Brooklyn-based travel writer, editor, and photographer. When not home eating her way through NYC, she's gallivanting across the globe, sailing the coast of Croatia or hiking the peaks of Peru. Her superpowers include booking flight deals and sleeping in small plane seats.

See recent posts by Chelsea Bengier

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Melbourne, Australia

When we think of Australia, Sydney always seems to steal the spotlight. But Melbourne, Victoria’s coastal, cool-kid capital, is a destination in its own right. Go in January—the heart of summer—to catch the Australian Open, where tennis stars like Venus Williams and Rafael Nadal come to play. Just make sure to save time to explore the scenic landscapes just outside the city. An hour south of Melbourne, you’ll find the Jackalope Hotel, an edgy, design-forward stay that sits on 27 rolling acres of the Morning Peninsula wine region. Take a dip in the black stone infinity pool, and sip chardonnay while watching the sunset on your private terrace. Ready for a road trip? Drive 75 minutes down to Torquay, the starting point of the Great Ocean Road, a 150-mile stretch along Australia’s scenic coast where you’ll cruise by sheer limestone cliffs, windswept surf, and thundering waterfalls.

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Alberta, Canada

If you can stand the subzero temps, Alberta is one of Canada’s most beautiful escapes. Locals and visitors alike bundle up to see celebrations such as the Ice on Whyte Festival in Edmonton, Jasper in January at Jasper National Park, and the Ice Magic Festival in Lake Louise, all of which are winter wonderlands of ice sculptures, sleigh rides, and skating rinks. An hour west of Calgary, Banff National Park is the perfect place to kick off the trip. Spend your days outdoors, fat biking, snowshoeing, and ice climbing frozen waterfalls before thawing out in the hot springs around Lake Louise. Then, explore the 145-mile Icefields Parkway which threads around craggy, snow-capped peaks and glacial valleys from Lake Louise to Jasper.

RELATED: 9 Best National Parks in Canada

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Scottsdale, Arizona

Want to soak up some sunshine? Look no further than Scottsdale, Arizona. This arid desert abode has a culture of its own, from its retro resorts and creative cuisine to its contemporary galleries and scenic hiking trails. Bed down at the Andaz Scottsdale, where a landscape of cacti, cottonwood, and pine trees connect the three pristine pools and the minimalist casitas, designed by artists-in-residence. On Thursdays, Old Town Scottsdale hosts Art Walk, where you can explore artisanal shops that showcase Western-themed works. We love Bischoff’s Gallery for its Native American jewelry, Navajo rugs, and handmade pottery. It’s also worth checking out the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and the Cattle Track Arts Compound, a group of studios run by local painters, photographers, and performers. When hunger strikes, head to Culinary Dropout for innovative antipasti plates like green chili cornbread, prosciutto deviled eggs, cheddar pork cracklings, and pickled sweet peppers. Follow it down with a craft beer from Goldwater Brewing Co.—the Desert Rose ale, made from organic Arizona cactus fruit and desert botanicals, is a favorite.

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Dubai

As the epicenter of high-end shopping, Dubai goes above and beyond when it comes to retail therapy. Not only is the city home to the world’s largest shopping mall, it also has a month-long festival in January dedicated to in-store sales and designer deals. Pick up eclectic trinkets, handwoven textiles, and fine jewelry at Souk Madinat Jumeirah, a Middle Eastern-style bazaar on the Arabian Gulf, just south of Dubai Marina and its glitzy waterfront promenade. Or, flex that plastic at La Mer, a brand new 13.4 million-square-foot retail space that has more than 130 stores and restaurants. After browsing the boutiques, drop your bags off at the just-opened Bulgari Resort & Residences Dubai. The sprawling property features a 101-room hotel, six residences, and 15 private mansions, as well as an exclusive beach club with a mosaic-tiled pool, and the brand’s first marina and 50-boat yacht club.

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Park City, Utah

Besides being one of America’s premier skiing spots, Park City has a thriving arts scene, crowned by its main jewel, Sundance. The 10-day indie film fest founded by Robert Redford will be celebrating its 40th anniversary, so you can expect an even greater line-up of A-listers and celebrities in attendance. This will also be the first year to debut an audience award for “Festival Favorite.” When you’re not in the theaters, hit the slopes at Deer Valley or Park City Mountain—and keep your eyes peeled for athletes training for the Winter Olympics in Seoul. Then, join the après-ski scene at the High West saloon, the world’s only ski-in/ski-out whiskey distillery, or defrost by the fire at the Grand Summit Hotel, which got a $15 million facelift, adding exposed wood accents, rustic stone hearths, rich leather furniture, and cowhide print throws.

RELATED: Where to Hit the Slopes and Unwind Après-Ski in Park City, Utah

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Phuket, Thailand

January is dry season in Thailand, meaning it's prime time to hit the beach in Phuket. This mountainous isle looks like a fantasyland, with lush tropical rainforests and limestone pinnacles that rise out of the crystalline waters of Phang Nga Bay. The ultra-luxe Rosewood Phuket, which opened in November, is the latest standout resort to come to the region. Set on 43 acres along Emerald Bay, this beachfront beauty offers 71 elegant hilltop villas, four restaurants, and a lagoon-style infinity pool—all overlooking the turquoise Andaman Sea. The real showstopper here is Asaya, Rosewood’s first health concept where wellness ateliers arrange personalized holistic treatments, including Watsu therapy, Reiki healing, and Chi Nei Tsang massage.

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Belize

Belize is the perfect blend between Central America’s colorful culture and the Caribbean’s breezy, barefoot vibe. The country is home to wild jungles, Mayan ruins, and a vibrant reef system—the second largest in the world. Splurge for a stay at Itz’ana Resort, a Placencia newcomer that nods to Belize’s storied past. Each room is kitted out with custom wood furnishings by local artisans, handmade pottery, and rare vintage finds from markets around Central America. The sea-to-table eatery sources its produce from the property’s own organic farm, while in-house fisherman bring in the day’s line-caught fresh catch and the rum sommelier stocks the bar with the region’s best golden rums. There’s also a full-service marina and watersports center, a rooftop deck for sunrise yoga classes, a Hemingway-inspired library, and a blissful spa with a saltwater pool and meditation room.

RELATED: The Best Hotels in Belize

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