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blog - Inspiration

FestivalNet

The 20 Best Places to Celebrate the Holidays Across the US

posted 12/09/21 16:27:35   Category » Inspiration
The 20 Best Places to Celebrate the Holidays Across the US

As the days shorten and nights become longer, many cities across the US have found ways to lighten and lifts our spirits by embracing the magic of this time of year. Festivals, and events fill the streets and enrich our days and nights all over the country. Snow piled forests and frozen rivers offer a magical ambiance with winter recreational activities providing an added excitement.


While many are familiar with the iconic and beautiful holiday displays put on in New York City, between the traffic and tourists, it certainly wouldn’t be considered a winter wonderland-esk experience. So what are the cities and towns that can truly give you the breath taking and magical winter wonderland experience, combined with the holiday cheer and livelihood of shopping, event and festivals? To find out, Rocket Homes conducted a study to ranks the best places all over the US to experience a winter wonderland that also offer a variety of holiday festivals and events.


The West

1. Denver, Colorado

  • Average snowfall November through December: 21.6 inches

  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 13

  • Nearby forests and parks: 23

Winter skies aren’t always cloudy and gloomy. Some days the sun comes out and hits the snow just right, creating a sparkling landscape that seems to have been dusted with glitter. Residents of the Denver metro area can enjoy about 32 sunny days from November 1 to December 31, an amount that puts the region in the top 15% of sunny days during the holiday months. The city takes advantage of these beautiful days with several winter events, including holiday markets, outdoor art installations, walking tours and opportunities for sledding, snowshoeing and alpine skiing at one of many world-class resorts.


2. Wenatchee, Washington

  • Average snowfall November through December: 40.1 inches

  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 11

  • Nearby forests and parks: 16

Starting in November, the city of Wenatchee embraces the winter and holiday seasons with a series of events including a winter farmers market, Christmas markets, Christmas lights, holiday wine walk, festival of trees and a holiday celebration at the local ski resort, Mission Ridge. The city also holds a “Pray for Snow” concert that seems to be highly effective. With an average of more than three feet of snow, Wenatchee ranks in the top 1% of the country for the amount of snowfall between November and December.


3. Spokane, Washington

  • Average snowfall November through December: 21.6 inches

  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 5

  • Nearby forests and parks: 14

Winter wonderlands aren’t just experienced outdoors. They can also be enjoyed inside the home, snuggled up to a crackling fire with hot chocolate, surrounded by holiday decor and watching the snow fall silently outside. Spokane ranks in the top 5% of the country for the percentage of homes with fireplaces as more than half of the area’s homes are equipped with one. Residents can add to the warmth and cheer of the season by visiting one of the many Christmas tree farms to find the perfect pine. Also listed as one of the best places for hikers, Spokane has many snowy trails for snowshoeing or skiing and hosts the West Coast’s first and only ice ribbon.


4. Provo, Utah

  • Average snowfall November through December: 16.9 inches

  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 10

  • Nearby forests and parks: 11

With Provo situated between Utah Lake and the Wasatch Mountains, it’s no surprise that the metropolitan area ranks in the top 10% for nearby mountains and top 1% of the country for winter recreation. First-class ski resorts including Sundance, Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort lie just beyond the city. Winter sports enthusiasts can also visit the Utah Olympic Park, home of the 2002 Winter Olympics, where they can ride down the Olympic bobsled track in an actual bobsled.


5. Anchorage, Alaska

  • Average snowfall November through December: 34.1 inches

  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 3

  • Nearby forests and parks: 9

While winter in Alaska might seem hardcore with images of dog sledding and snowmobiling, Anchorage is a great winter destination. Anchorage ranks in the top 10% of the country for nearby mountains thanks to the Chugach Mountains, a range just outside of the city that often blankets the area in snow. So much, in fact, that Anchorage gets more snowfall in November and December than 98% of the country. At night, glittering city lights reflect off the snow and, paired with the glow of the northern lights overhead, make for a wonderland that’s almost fairytale-esque.


The Midwest

1. Duluth, Minnesota

  • Average snowfall November through December: 24.8 inches

  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 8

  • Nearby forests and parks: 25

If the idea of a winter wonderland is walking through a forest blanketed with snow, one would likely find it in the Duluth metro area. The area ranks in the top 4% for nearby forests and parks and has an average snowfall of two feet during the holiday months. Adding to the winter holiday magic, the area has a slew of events, including the Duluth Winter Village, Arrowhead Ice Fishing and Winter Show, Christmas City of the North Parade and the Bentleyville Tour of Lights, the country’s largest, free walk-through lighting display.


2. Rapid City, South Dakota

  • Average snowfall November through December: 10.7 inches

  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 1

  • Nearby forests and parks: 8

Rapid City provides all the cozy vibes one would expect in a winter wonderland, ranking in the top 15% of the country for the percentage of homes with fireplaces. Those who venture out to enjoy holiday scenery will find comfort and enchantment aboard the Holiday Express, an authentic steam engine that takes riders on a round trip adventure to the North Pole. Along the ride, travelers are treated to hot cocoa, cookies and candy canes. Once at the North Pole, Santa boards the train for the return trip and children receive a small sleigh bell.


3. Bloomington, Minnesota

  • Average snowfall November through December: 18.4 inches

  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 9

  • Nearby forests and parks: 17

The Bloomington metro area has several ways to enjoy the more-than-a-foot of snow it averages during the holiday months. It ranks in the top 10% of the country for nearby forests and parks and the top 20% for winter recreation resources within 100 miles. Of course, there’s something special for those who prefer the indoors, instead. Those folks can get some holiday shopping done at Mall of America, the largest retail and entertainment center in the U.S. with over 500 stores.


4. Cleveland, Ohio

  • Average snowfall November through December: 16.7 inches

  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 5

  • Nearby forests and parks: 9

Cleveland ranks in the top 10% of the country for average snowfall during November and December, making it likely that the city’s annual Winterfest will also be a winter wonderland. Those who attend the festival will be wrapped in winter and holiday magic with twinkling holiday lights, hot cocoa and cookies, horse-drawn carriage rides, caroling, ice skating and the lighting of Cleveland’s own tree.


5. Muskegon, Michigan

  • Average snowfall November through December: 27.2 inches

  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 9

  • Nearby forests and parks: 4

Ranking in the top 2% of the country for average snowfall, Muskegon typically gets about 27.2 inches from November 1 through December 31. And at the Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park, visitors have ample opportunity to enjoy it in unique ways. The park offers ice skating through the woods, cross country skiing and show shoeing. However, the real highlight is the park’s ice luge track, created by an Olympian and one of only four ice luge tracks in the country – and the only one made from natural ice. The 850-foot track is open to the public, who receive equipment and training before speeding down at up to 30 miles per hour.


The Northeast

1. Burlington, Vermont

  • Average snowfall November through December: 23.9 inches

  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 20

  • Nearby forests and parks: 12

With an average snowfall of two feet during the holiday months, Burlington ranks in the top 5% of the country for snowfall in November and December. And all that snow resting on branches wrapped in lights and glistening from the streets and storefronts only adds to the holiday charm that fills the downtown area’s winter market, where visitors can sip warm drinks, gather with their neighbors and find the perfect gift from a local artist or vendor.


2. Manchester, New Hampshire

  • Average snowfall November through December: 15.9 inches

  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 20

  • Nearby forests and parks: 7

Those who love experiencing a winter wonderland through recreation will be happy to know that Manchester has more nearby winter recreation resources than 90% of the country. Along with the Mcintyre Ski Area, which offers skiing, snowboarding and tubing, the city features at least 9 different places for outdoor ice skating. One of the most cherished places to skate for free is Dorrs Pond, a 25-acre pond that has been a winter staple for locals since 1934. After a day spent in the snow and cold, many Manchester residents can snuggle up to a crackling fire as the area ranks in the top 1% of the country for the percentage of homes with fireplaces.


3. Albany, New York

  • Average snowfall November through December: 16 inches

  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 20

  • Nearby forests and parks: 16

Trekking through a snow-covered forest is one of the best ways to experience the serene, undisturbed beauty of a winter wonderland. With more nearby forests and parks than 90% of the country, Albany is the perfect place to explore the season in a type of quietness that’s as crisp as the cold air. Those who want glimpses of holiday festivities can drive through the downtown area of New York’s capital, where holiday markets, light spectacles and cheerful window displays take over during the festive season.


4. Pittsfield, Massachusetts

  • Average snowfall November through December: 18.1 inches

  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 20

  • Nearby forests and parks: 13

Located in the heart of the Berkshires, Pittsfield ranks in the top 5% of the country for resources for winter recreation, with 10 ski resorts located within an hour of town. Bousquet Mountain, located right in Pittsfield, provides 200 acres to ski and play in the snow – during the day or at night. As the first ski area in the U.S. to offer night skiing, the resort continues the tradition of allowing visitors to experience a winter wonderland under the moon’s glow.


5. Syracuse, New York

  • Average snowfall November through December: 34.1 inches

  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 15

  • Nearby forests and parks: 9

Syracuse ranks in the top 1% of the U.S. for its abundance of snow between November and December, with an average total snowfall of almost three feet. It isn’t just the people of Syracuse who enjoy the snow; it’s also the animals that live there. And visitors of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo can see them frolicking in their own winter wonderland. After hours, the zoo hosts a Holiday Nights event that includes hot cocoa, s’mores and holiday light displays throughout the park.


The South

1. Beckley, West Virginia

  • Average snowfall November through December: 11.1 inches

  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 3

  • Nearby forests and parks: 4

Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, the small town of Beckley ranks in the top 20% of the country for nearby mountains. And thanks to the terrain – and 100% snowmaking, if necessary – residents can enjoy a winter wonderland atop the runs at Winterplace Ski Resort, a nearby ski area with 27 slopes and the largest snow tubing park in West Virginia.


2. Morgantown, West Virginia

  • Average snowfall November through December: 14.1 inches

  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 11

  • Nearby forests and parks: 2

There’s plenty of holiday cheer to add to the magic of the season in Morgantown, from Santa sightings and holiday parades to festivals, tree lightings and holiday markets. And despite Morgantown’s southern location, such events may be made more enchanting with some snow. The area still sees more snowfall during the holiday months than 85% of the country, with an average of 14.1 inches of snow throughout November and December.


3. Asheville, North Carolina

  • Average snowfall November through December: 1.9 inches

  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 7

  • Nearby forests and parks: 9

Located at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains, Asheville ranks in the top 20% of the country for nearby mountains. The terrain and mild winter weather make the area a perfect place for a winter hike that may include sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountain Range lightly dusted with snow. Even Santa uses the topography to his advantage, training for Christmas Eve by descending one of the world’s largest chimneys, Chimney Rock, during Asheville’s popular, annual event that includes holiday music, hot cocoa and cookies.


4. Roanoke, Virginia

  • Average snowfall November through December: 3.6 inches

  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 4

  • Nearby forests and parks: 8

They may be living in the South, but residents of Roanoke still like to stay warm and cozy during the winter months. In fact, the area has more homes with fireplaces than 90% of the country. And folks can enjoy the holidays while staying snuggled up at home thanks to a slew of virtual holiday events the city hosts, including light tours, concerts and holiday-themed murder mysteries. For warmth and comfort outside the home, there are a plethora of in-person events, including candlelight wine dinners and tours, holiday Sunday brunches and ugly sweater parties.


5. Harrisonburg, Virginia

  • Average snowfall November through December: 5.6 inches

  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 7

  • Nearby forests and parks: 2

While it may not get a ton of snow during November and December, Harrisonburg does rank in the top 15% of the country for winter recreation resources within 100 miles. That’s likely due to its location in the Blue Ridge Mountains. One such place Harrisonburg residents can play in a winter wonderland is at the nearby ski resort, Massanutten. There, visitors can swish in the snow on one of 14 ski runs and 16 snow tubing lanes or take a spin on the resort’s outdoor ice-skating rink.


Methodology: Finding The Best Places To Experience A Winter Wonderland For The Holidays

To determine the best places to experience a winter wonderland, Rocket Homes and Best Places analyzed 383 metropolitan areas, which are home to over 85% of all U.S. residents. Metro areas include one or more major core cities and the surrounding counties that contribute to the area's economy. As such, using metro areas as the basis for our study includes not only the primary cities but the surrounding suburbs as well.

By analyzing statistics in seven key areas, this provided insight into each area’s snowy climate, sunny days, hours of daylight, nearby wintry resources such as forests and state parks, mountains, winter recreation venues and a fireplace to warm up after a day in the snow. Rocket Homes chose metrics that are as current and detailed as possible to reveal the places where people are most likely to enjoy a classic winter experience.

For scoring and comparison, each data metric was normalized and transformed to a common range of 0-100 points. Weights were then applied to each metric to reflect its importance in the study and, from there, the weighted scores for each metric were summed and sorted to generate the final rankings.


 
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