10 Things to Do in Phoenix in January

January is part of the low season in Phoenix but the weather is ideal for discovering the attractions of the outskirts of the city. During the first month of the year you can also enjoy festivals and sporting events.

Matías Rodríguez

Matías Rodríguez

11 min read

10 Things to Do in Phoenix in January

Vista panorámica de Phoenix |©umlighthouse

Phoenix is the capital and most populous city in Arizona, and also one of the most important tourist destinations in the American West. With its views of the Rocky Mountains and its entrance to the desert, it offers adventure alternatives and a wide variety of activities for everyone. If you visit this place in January, you will also find the ideal weather to visit the surrounding attractions and enjoy local events.

Some of the best things to do in Phoenix in January include taking a hot air balloon ride, competing in the local marathon, enjoying bike tours, experiencing the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations, attending an Arizona Cardinals NFL game and touring Sedona, which is one of the most outstanding towns around Phoenix. Here I tell you all about these plans!

1. Join a balloon flight tour in Phoenix

balloons in the desert|©caretakr
balloons in the desert|©caretakr

Participating in a balloon flight excursion in Phoenix during the month of January is an unforgettable experience. With the mild weather this time of year, clear skies and light wind, you'll find the perfect conditions to enjoy this aerial adventure to the fullest.

From the balloon flight you'll be able to experience Arizona's diverse landscape. You will contemplate the majestic mountains, giant cacti and extensive valleys that characterize the region and make the best Phoenix desert tours famous. The panoramic view will also allow you to appreciate the natural beauty of the environment in all its magnitude.

During the adventure you can also observe the desert wildlife in its natural habitat, such as birds, rabbits and other animals that can be spotted from the heights and become protagonists of this site, especially if you visit Phoenix in December or during the following winter months, when temperatures drop and the desert becomes passable.

The January balloon tour also offers the chance to witness a sunrise or sunset from the sky. The vibrant colors that paint the horizon, combined with the soft, golden light, create a magical and romantic atmosphere that will leave you in awe and make for an ideal photo opportunity.

Book a balloon flight in Phoenix

2. Attend an Arizona Cardinals game at the close of the NFL regular season

Arizona Cardinals Warm Ups|©Jack Nealy
Arizona Cardinals Warm Ups|©Jack Nealy

Attending an Arizona Cardinals game at the close of the NFL regular season in January in Phoenix is an exciting and energetic experience. The Cardinals, one of the city's most beloved teams, usually play their final home games during this month, giving fans a chance to enjoy an exciting showdown before the playoffs.

State Farm Stadium in Phoenix is filled with fans dressed in red, the team's signature color, creating a vibrant and enthusiastic atmosphere. Cardinals games are known for their festive atmosphere and the passion of the fans, making each game an unforgettable experience.

In addition to the exciting game itself, attending an Arizona Cardinals game will allow you to enjoy the stadium's modern amenities, such as a wide selection of food and beverages, and a large screen that will keep you up to date on game replays and stats.

Attending a game at the close of the regular season also adds an extra element of excitement, as teams often go all out to secure their playoff position.

Get NFL tickets in Phoenix

3. Take a bike tour of Phoenix

person on a bike on the road|©Joe Shlabotnik
person on a bike on the road|©Joe Shlabotnik

Taking a bike tour of Phoenix in January is an ideal option, as it's the best time to enjoy the city without the sweltering heat that characterizes the summer months. With moderate and pleasant temperatures, you'll be able to pedal without worrying about exhaustion or extreme heat.

In addition to the weather, another advantage of taking a bike tour in January is the relative quietness of the streets. Phoenix is known for being a city where most people commute by car, which means you 'll find fewer pedestrians compared to similar cities that tend to be more congested.

Pedaling through the streets you will discover the essence of the city in a unique way. You'll admire the local architecture and lifestyle as you ride through vibrant and picturesque neighborhoods, many of which take center stage with their lights and decorations during Christmas in Phoenix.

Another advantage of taking a Phoenix bike tour in January is the opportunity to participate in cycling-related events and activities. The city often hosts special cycling races and events during this month, allowing you to meet other cycling enthusiasts and further immerse yourself in the local culture.

Book a bike tour in Phoenix

4. Experience the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations

Dr Martin Luther King Jr Day of Service|©glotwp
Dr Martin Luther King Jr Day of Service|©glotwp

Experiencing the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations in Phoenix is an inspiring and meaningful experience. Each year, the city comes together to honor and remember the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., leader of the civil rights movement in the United States. This holiday takes place on the third Monday in January and is filled with special events and activities.

During this day, the city hosts a variety of celebrations and ceremonies that pay tribute to the message of equality, justice and freedom promoted by Dr. King. You can participate in parades, marches and community gatherings that highlight his legacy and underscore the importance of continuing to fight for equal rights for all. In addition, you'll also get discounts to visit Phoenix's best museums, which often feature commemorative exhibits.

One of the highlights is the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade, which winds through the city's main streets. This colorful and festive parade brings together people of all ages and backgrounds, creating an atmosphere of unity and solidarity in the community.

You can also witness speeches, choir performances and dances that pay tribute to Dr. King's life and work.

5. Take a trip to the Grand Canyon of Colorado

Grand Canyon|©Jonathan Schmer
Grand Canyon|©Jonathan Schmer

Taking a trip to the Grand Canyon from Phoenix in January is an experience that will allow you to enjoy the majesty of one of America's iconic sites. Despite the winter temperatures, the Grand Canyon offers a landscape that is worth exploring and becomes more tame than during the summer. For this you will have to travel about 350 kilometers in a journey of almost 4 hours, but its beauty justifies the journey.

In January, moreover, the Grand Canyon is usually less crowded, which will give you the opportunity to enjoy a quieter atmosphere and appreciate the natural beauty at its best. You can marvel at the impressive rock formations, changing colors and panoramic views offered by the canyon, which is certainly one of the best full-day tours from Phoenix.

Keep in mind that in January temperatures in the Grand Canyon can be chilly, so warm clothing and extra layers are recommended. However, the scenic beauty of the site and the chance to see the layers of snow covering the surrounding mountaintops make it worth braving the winter weather here.

During your excursion to the Grand Canyon, you'll have the opportunity to engage in activities such as hiking or simply enjoy the views from the overlooks.

6. Participate in Barrett-Jackson's annual auction.

Auto at Barrett-Jackson|©Tony DeFrank
Auto at Barrett-Jackson|©Tony DeFrank

Participating in the annual Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction in January is a unique experience for car lovers and collectors. This event, held in Scottsdale, a city near Phoenix, brings together enthusiasts from around the world in search of luxury, classic and collector vehicles.

This auction is known for offering a wide variety of automobiles, from restored classics to modern and rare supercars. Whether you're looking to add an automotive gem to your collection or just want to enjoy the atmosphere and excitement of the auction, this event is the perfect place to do it.

In addition to the auction itself, the Barrett-Jackson experience also includes car shows and special exhibits. You'll be able to see the featured cars up close, admire their beauty and meet other enthusiasts with similar interests. It's a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in car culture and share your passion for luxury vehicles with other enthusiasts.

The Barrett-Jackson auction is not only an event for potential buyers, but also for those who enjoy the history and aesthetics of automobiles. You can learn about the history of iconic models, discover fascinating details and appreciate the craftsmanship and design behind each vehicle that comes up for auction.

7. Compete in the Phoenix Rock 'n' Roll Marathon

Rock 'n Roll Marathon|©Mike Lagman
Rock 'n Roll Marathon|©Mike Lagman

The Phoenix Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, held each year during the third week of January, is an exciting and high-energy sporting experience. This renowned race is known for its festive atmosphere and its combination of live music and running. It is an opportunity to challenge your limits, join other passionate runners and enjoy the scenic beauty of the city.

January generally offers pleasant running weather, with cool temperatures and bright but not scorching sunshine. Spectators energetically cheer on the runners along the course, while live bands and DJs play music at various strategic points. You can participate in the race as a runner or simply as part of the crowd.

If you choose to run during the event, the marathon route will take you through the streets of the city, passing through picturesque neighborhoods, lush parks, outstanding museums and different sites of interest that are usually included in the best tours of Phoenix.

Once the event is over, you can enjoy live music performances and soak in the festive atmosphere surrounding the event. Plus, you'll receive a finisher's medal in recognition of your effort and dedication.

8. Visit Sedona without sweltering temperatures

Sedona|©Bas van Kuijck
Sedona|©Bas van Kuijck

If you want to see one of the most beautiful places around Phoenix, you can't miss Sedona. In January, Sedona is a perfect choice for those who want to enjoy this city without the sweltering summer temperatures. Sedona, located in the heart of Arizona, is known for its rocky landscapes, hiking trails and spiritual energy.

During the winter months, Sedona offers a pleasant and cool climate, with milder temperatures than the summer. This allows you to explore and enjoy the natural attractions without feeling overwhelmed by the intense heat. You can hike in the canyons, visit iconic rock formations such as Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock, and enjoy the scenic views without suffering from the heat.

Another advantage of visiting Sedona from Phoenix in January is that the city tends to be less crowded compared to the summer months, which means you can enjoy a quieter, more relaxing experience. Restaurants, stores and attractions will not be crowded, allowing you to enjoy a quieter atmosphere and more time to explore every corner of this city.

Because of its proximity, you can visit Sedona even if you plan to tour Phoenix in 3 days or even less.

9. Watch the sunrise from Piestewa Peak

Piestewa Peak Park|©Garrick Schermer
Piestewa Peak Park|©Garrick Schermer

Watching the sunrise from Piestewa Peak in January is a magical experience. This is one of the most popular mountains for hiking in Phoenix and during the winter is the perfect time to enjoy the sunrise views. You can hike here on your own or on full day hikes.

One of the main reasons January is considered the best time to see the sunrise at Piestewa Peak is because of the cooler temperatures. Unlike the summer months, in the first month of the year temperatures are mild and pleasant, which makes the climb to the summit more comfortable and enjoyable.

From the top of Piestewa Peak, you will witness a breathtaking natural spectacle. As the sun begins to appear on the horizon, warm, soft colors reflect in the sky and surrounding mountains, creating a surreal view.

10. Attend the Phoenix Art Museum's season opener

Phoenix Art Museum|©Luis José Mata
Phoenix Art Museum|©Luis José Mata

Attending the Phoenix Art Museum 's season opening in January is a fascinating cultural experience that will immerse you in the vibrant world of art. With diverse and exciting programming, this exhibition will offer you the opportunity to explore contemporary masterpieces, thematic exhibitions and renowned historical pieces.

The season opening is a special event that marks the beginning of a year full of new exhibitions and events at the museum. During this occasion, you can admire the works of local and international artists, while mingling with other art enthusiasts and culture lovers as you tour one of Phoenix's finest museums.

The Phoenix Art Museum is proud to present a wide range of artistic disciplines, from painting and sculpture to photography and digital art. The season opening is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in creativity and artistic expression.

In addition to enjoying the exhibitions, the season opening also often includes special events, such as artist talks, live performances and interactive activities, some even geared toward children. This is why visiting this museum is also one of the best things to do with kids in Phoenix.

Temperatures in Phoenix in January

Desert Sunset, Phoenix|©Karl Agre
Desert Sunset, Phoenix|©Karl Agre

Temperatures in January are pleasant and mild compared to the summer months in Phoenix, averaging around 20°, with lows of 5° and highs of 25°. Although it can be chilly in the mornings, daytime temperatures are generally warm and will allow you to enjoy outdoor activities without the sweltering heat of summer.

January weather in the city is ideal for exploring the natural parks, hiking, biking and enjoying the beauty of the desert. Keep in mind, however, that if you plan to tour Phoenix at night you may find the temperature dropping to 7° on average.

Tourist traffic in Phoenix in January

Car traffic on the road|©Barry Saturen
Car traffic on the road|©Barry Saturen

In January, Phoenix experiences an increase in tourist traffic. Many visitors choose this location to escape the cold winter in other parts of the country and enjoy the region's pleasant weather. This destination is popular for those looking to explore the desert and participate in outdoor activities, although the density obviously does not reach the summer influx, so it is still a great time to visit the city.

The January tourist influx is also due to Phoenix's reputation as a cultural and artistic center. Visitors can enjoy museums, art galleries, theaters and live music, allowing them to immerse themselves in the city's vibrant cultural scene.

Prices in Phoenix in January

Market Place|©Sarah
Market Place|©Sarah

Prices in Phoenix in January can vary depending on the type of service or product you are looking for. In general, this time of year tends to be considered low season in the city, although you may notice an increase in prices for lodging, transportation and tourist activities compared to other months of the year.

However, keep in mind that the city offers a wide range of options for all budgets. There are a variety of accommodations, from luxury hotels to more economical options such as motels and vacation rentals that will offer you similar prices to what you can find in Phoenix in March or during less crowded months.

What to pack for your visit to Phoenix in January?

Open luggage|©Craig Adderley
Open luggage|©Craig Adderley

Phoenix in January offers pleasant daytime temperatures, but at night the temperature can drop, especially in the desert area, so I advise you to pack the following in your suitcase:

  • Hiking shoes
  • Mountain coat
  • Light jacket
  • Wool sweaters
  • Light T-shirt
  • Light pants
  • Sunscreen
  • Thermal gloves
  • Wool scarf