When First Night celebrations are over and done, and New England wakes to greet January 1, the region must brace for what is typically the coldest month of the year. Lakes will freeze. Snow will fall. And kids will flush ice cubes down the toilet and wear their pajamas inside out and backwards in hopes that accumulations will lead to school cancellations.
If you think January is hibernation time, you're mistaken! Even the animals at Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island, remain active—and on view—in the wintertime. If you don't ski, you can embrace outdoor winter activities like snow tubing, snowmobiling or even dog sledding. You can even swim outdoors in New England all winter long. And if you truly hate the cold, that's still no excuse to hunker down at home. Head to New England with someone you love, and hole up at one of these inns with a fireplace in every room, dine at New England's best restaurants with fireplaces, or visit New England attractions where you'll forget it's January entirely (like the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory in Massachusetts, where it's always 80 degrees!).
So, just how cold does it get in New England in January?
Average January Temperatures (Low / High)
Hartford, CT: 18º / 36º Fahrenheit (-8º / 2º Celsius)
Providence, RI: 21º / 37º Fahrenheit (-6º / 3º Celsius)
Boston, MA: 22º / 36º Fahrenheit (-6º / 2º Celsius)
Killington, VT: 5º / 26º Fahrenheit (-15º / -3º Celsius)
North Conway, NH: 8º / 28º Fahrenheit (-13º / -2º Celsius)
Portland, ME: 13º / 31º Fahrenheit (-11º / -1º Celsius)
January Holidays in New England
January 1: New Year's Day (many businesses and services are closed)
Third Monday: Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January 15 in 2018)
Unofficial Holidays Worth Celebrating in New England
January 20: Penguin Awareness Day
Book a Penguin Encounter at Connecticut's Mystic Aquarium.
January 23: National Pie Day
Participate in the Historic Inns of Rockland's annual Pies on Parade inn-to-inn pie tour in Rockland, Maine, on Sunday, January 28.
Top 10 January 2018 Events in New England
One-of-a-kind events in January help New Englanders and visitors avoid cabin fever.
January 11-15: New England International Auto Show in Boston, Massachusetts
January 13-15: Sleigh Ride Weekend at Billings Farm in Woodstock, Vermont
January 13-27: Stowe Winter Carnival in Stowe, Vermont
January 18-20: Snodeo in Rangeley, Maine
January 19-21: Northeast RV & Camping Show in Hartford, Connecticut
January 26-28: Sun Wine and Food Fest at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut
January 26-28: Snow Sculpting Competition at Black Mountain in Jackson, New Hampshire
January 26-28: Taste of Chocolate Festival in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Best Destinations for January in New England
So, you're convinced now you should visit New England in January? That's wicked cool! And if you're still on the fence, remember, as the Scandinavians say, "There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing."
Now what? New England is larger than it appears on a map, and there are many perfect destinations for your January getaway. Here are some of your best bets:
If you are a serious skier, head to Maine's Sunday River, Jay Peak in Vermont, the resurrected Powder Ridge in Connecticut or the Camden Snow Bowl in Maine: the only New England ski area with an ocean view!
For the most magical and complete wintertime in New England experience, plan a January vacation in New Hampshire's White Mountains.
If you're looking for a steal of a winter getaway deal, Cape Cod is quiet and always on sale in January. The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce is a good source for hot deals.
More January in New England Travel Advice
- Winter storms—including potent Nor'easters—can crop up at any time during the month of January. If you're renting a car, splurge for an SUV. If you're traveling in New England in your own car, be sure to equip your vehicle with a snow scraper, shovel, rock salt or ice melt and blankets. Don't let your gas tank get below half full.
- Check cancellation policies before you book accommodations. Many inns and hotels that do not appear to have liberal cancellation policies may still be willing to work with you if a blizzard delays your trip or if you're unable to leave on your intended checkout date. It's worth making a phone call in advance, particularly if the forecast is threatening.