Sitting at home while the snow piles up isn't often considered ideal, as blizzards mean shoveling, trudging through waist-deep snowbanks and canceled flights. Although snow and ice have a bad reputation in many cases, they have the potential to highlight the beauty of a destination.
Whether you're kayaking through lakes surrounded by glaciated mountains in Alaska or strolling through a quiet Japanese forest covered in a sparkling sheet of white, there are several snowy travel opportunities that attract people from across the world every winter. Take a trip to one of these wintry cities and experience snow at its finest.
Known as one of the snowiest cities in the world, Toyama is a quaint seaside destination. According to Conde Nast Traveler, the area gets more than 140 inches of snow each winter, which makes it hard to believe that the summers are hot and humid. Skiers and snowboarders frequently flock to the city to take on its challenging slopes or visit the ski resorts in neighboring city Nagano where the 1998 Winter Olympics were held.
Mount Ushidake is a common destination for travelers who come to Toyama to test their skiing skills. The mountain hosts several popular festivals throughout the year, including its annual Snow Festival held in early February. Guests are treated to a live jazz concert, a breathtaking firework display over the slopes and even a ski performance lit by torches at night.
Looking for stunning panoramas of the city's mountain ranges? The Toyama City Global Site suggested that travelers venture to the Toyama Port Observatory. Frequented by the area's visitors, the observatory is one of the only places in the city with vistas of both the snowcapped mountains and Toyama Port. If that's not enough, the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is the perfect mountain sightseeing trail for adventure travel with an altitude of nearly 6,500 feet.
The city of Syracuse receives an average of 120 inches of snow every year, earning it a spot among the snowiest cities in the U.S. with Erie, Pennsylvania, close on its heels. The historic destination is ideal for family travel and history buffs, as there are plenty of tours giving guests a look into the city's past in addition to a number of popular museums, such as the Erie Canal Museum.
With all the snow in the winter, the city becomes a haven for ski and snowboarding fanatics. The Greek Peak Ski Resort is ideal for both adults and children learning to ski with a variety of slopes for beginners, while experienced skiers also have their pick of challenging terrain. The mountain is consistently covered in fresh snow due to what seems like nonstop snowfall as a result of its close location to Lake Ontario and the winter storms that hit New England. There are also plenty of additional ski resorts in the area to choose from, including Song Mountain Resort and Labrador Mountain.
Conde Nast Traveler calls Valdez, Alaska, the snowiest place in the U.S. Accumulating a shocking 325 inches each year, it's not surprising that only a small group of people are able to permanently reside there. The Valdez Glaciers are a major attraction for travelers who can view the massive ice cliffs by boat, helicopter or foot on a hike through frosty trails.
Valdez is known as a prime location for heli-skiing where only the bravest and most experienced skiers are taken to the top of one of the many mountains in the area by a helicopter and dropped onto the slope. ValdezAlaska.org recommended a trip during the spring to see the area's average 27 feet of snow melt, transforming the snowy paradise into the Land of Waterfalls.