There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who embrace winter for the wonderful season that it is, and those who would choose to hibernate through it if they could.
If you include all the extra layers you wear, and the extra steps you have to take over the snow, winter can be one of the most active times of the year. If you’re the type that can’t get enough of winter activities, whether that be downhill skiing, ice carving or attending to a bonfire, you aren’t alone. And in fact there happens to be a handful of cities in the U.S. that would agree with you.
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Serving as one of the coldest capital cities in the continental United States, you better believe the citizens of Saint Paul don’t take winter sitting down. Throughout the months of November and March, Saint Paul serves up all sorts of activities to stay warm. The Red Bull Crashed Ice Championships have been held in Saint Paul for the last six years, and the outdoor Wells Fargo WinterSkate is always free and open to the public for open skate. A signature event of the area that really testifies towards Saint Paul’s attitude for winter is the 17-day Winter Carnival, which features parades, winter fun runs and a beautiful decorated public park acting as center stage for all the festivities.
A lot of cities and towns in Colorado can vie for celebrating winter right, but it’s the municipality of Ouray that takes the cake with most things to do. Between Rocky Mountain snow touring and multiple sets of cross-country ski trails winding throughout the area, at the center of all of Ouray’s winter attention has to be the Ouray Ice Park within walking distance of the town. Man-made with a community effort, Ouray Ice Park features over 200 named ice and mixed climbs, and hosts the world-renown Ouray Ice Festival each January, bringing in winter enthusiasts from all walks of life to scale the ice walls.
Thanks to its proximity to the ocean, Anchorage doesn’t get as chilly as some of its far-neighboring cities, making it the perfect home base to explore the abundant arctic environments of Alaska. Cross-country skiing, dog sledding and northern lights viewing, if it can be done on the snow, it can be done in Anchorage. A premier event for Anchorage and the rest of the state each year is the Fur Rendezvous, or Fur Rondy, which consists of a 10-day celebration full of winter sports, live music and a community that loves to play in the snow.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Featuring world-class skiing, historic hot springs, and frozen waterfalls, Steamboat Springs is another Colorado city primed for the wintertime. With any visit to Steamboat in the winter, a handful of days riding down the seven mountains of Steamboat Springs Ski Resort are highly recommended, as well as tying on a few visits to the Old Town Hot Spring to properly soak any sore muscles. Come February, the entire city’s attitude towards winter is exemplified through the four-day Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival complete with skijoring, roman candle ski races and plenty of cold-weather cheer.
Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Surrounded by spectacular Sierra Nevada Mountain lines, skiing and snowboarding are a go-to sport in Lake Tahoe. Beyond the vertical downhill at the neighboring Heavenly and Homewood Mountain Resorts, Tahoe tops off the winter with anything your snow fancies desire. Cross-country ski routes branch off from all directions from the never-frozen shores of Lake Tahoe, and sleigh rides and snowmobiles aren’t uncommon to come across in the abundant snowfields. With annual events to go alongside the colder weather like the often-aptly-named SnowFest each March and the groovy SnowGlobe Music Festival in December, winter is a contender for the most active time of year in Tahoe.