U.S. Cities Most Likely to Have a White Christmas
As the holidays draw near, many people begin to dream about waking up to a blanket of snow on Christmas Day. Romanticized in classic holiday songs and films, the idea conjures images of snowflakes gently falling on the ground, going outside to build snowmen, and sledding down hills with loved ones. While many parts of the country won’t get to wake up to snow this holiday season, dozens of locations across the U.S. will.
Just how likely is it? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has put together a handy interactive map of the places that have the highest probability of receiving at least one inch of snow cover on December 25, based on 30-year weather averages. Ring in the holiday cheer with these 10 cities where you won’t have to just dream about a white Christmas.
Montpelier, Vermont (81% Chance)
There are few holiday destinations in the U.S. more quintessential than the state that provided the setting for the classic 1954 film White Christmas, starring Bing Crosby. Montpelier, Vermont’s capital city, is as close as you’ll get to the movie’s fictional town of Pine Tree. A huge decorated Christmas tree is placed outside Vermont State House, and the state governor has the happy task of turning on the lights each season. Elsewhere, there are seven cozy outdoor fireplaces to warm up next to while wandering the snow-draped lawns of Hubbard Park.
Lake Placid, New York (87% Chance)
New York City is known for the Rockefeller Christmas Tree and Macy’s festive window displays. But while the city experiences its fair share of winter weather, it has only an 11% chance of snow on Christmas Day. One of the best places in the Empire State to wake up to a blanket of fresh powder on December 25 is Lake Placid, in upstate New York. With a backdrop of snow-capped peaks and frozen lakes, the host city for the 1980 Winter Olympics is at its most magical during the holidays. Think ice skating on Mirror Lake and at the Olympic Oval, dog sled rides, and a Christmas-themed scavenger hunt.
Bozeman, Montana (91% Chance)
Nestled in the Rocky Mountains in Montana’s Big Sky Country, Bozeman is a popular gateway to Yellowstone National Park. The holiday fun starts at the beginning of December with the city’s annual Christmas Stroll, featuring Christmas carols, twinkling lights, and a Main Street parade led by Santa Claus himself. For those looking to get active during the holiday, the Bridger Bowl, Big Sky, and Moonlight Basin ski areas are all short drives from the city.
Ogden, Utah (91% Chance)
There’s no better place for residents of Ogden to ring in the holiday season than the city’s Christmas Village, which offers nightly illuminations, Santa meet-and-greets, and live music performances. Add a high chance of snow on Christmas morning, and the scene in this city (located north of Salt Lake City) becomes even more like a fairy-tale. There are even Christmas lights mixed with Jurassic exhibitions at Ogden's George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park. Ogden is also conveniently close to the winter sport adventures at Snowbasin Resort, one of the venues that hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Duluth, Minnesota (92% Chance)
Thanks to its location in the Great Lakes snowbelt region — where heavy lake-effect snow is a frequent occurrence — Duluth is no stranger to fresh powder. This port city at the westernmost point of Lake Superior is a place that truly embraces the festive spirit with many family-friendly activities. Visitors can walk among a sparkling light display at the Bentleyville Tour of Lights in Bayfront Festival Park, and there’s plenty of Yuletide cheer at the beautifully decorated lakeside Glensheen Mansion and gardens.
Winthrop, Washington (95% Chance)
Winthrop is located on the banks of the Methow River in the eastern foothills of the North Cascades mountain range. This small town is one of Washington’s premier destinations for winter recreation, and it goes all out for Christmas when the holiday season comes around. Decorations abound throughout town, and a kickoff festival over Thanksgiving weekend features a magical fireworks display. A great place to soak up the scenery is at the Winthrop Ice Rink, while skiing enthusiasts can explore the natural beauty surrounding the town on the Methow Trails — a 120-mile-long series of groomed cross-country trails.
Marquette, Michigan (96% Chance)
Also located in the Great Lakes snowbelt region, this city on the southern shores of Lake Superior has an average winter snow depth of 10 inches — good news for those dreaming of a white Christmas. A stroll along the lakefront affords views of snow-covered beaches and the postcard-perfect Marquette Harbor Lighthouse. History buffs can delve into the city’s past at the Marquette Maritime Museum, while snow lovers can make the most of the fresh powder on the slopes at Marquette Mountain Resort.
Ketchum, Idaho (96% Chance)
This lively resort city is a stone’s throw from the Sun Valley ski area, widely regarded as one of the best in the West. Night skiing, festive decorations on Main Street, and a Christmas Eve parade and fireworks display transform the town into a truly magical place for the holidays. For a more unusual celebration, there’s a 92% likelihood of snow settling on the ethereal landscapes of Craters of the Moon National Monument, about a two-hour drive away.
Crested Butte, Colorado (99% Chance)
A handful of towns in Colorado have a 90% or greater probability of snowfall on December 25, but your best chance of a white Christmas is in the ski resort town of Crested Butte. The town’s main street, Elk Avenue, turns into a bonafide winter wonderland, complete with twinkling lights and holly wreaths decorating the shops and restaurants. For adventure seekers, Crested Butte Mountain Resort and Crested Butte Nordic Center are the best places for snow sports — Santa himself even descends the slopes of the former on Christmas Eve.
Fairbanks, Alaska (100% Chance)
Fairbanks is one of the world’s coldest cities, so it will probably come as no surprise that the possibility of a snow-covered Christmas Day is practically guaranteed — there’s been an inch or more on the ground every year for the past 50 years. With snow in every direction, it’s easy to get into the festive spirit in Alaska’s second-largest city. There are opportunities to walk with reindeer and even witness the jaw-dropping natural spectacle of the northern lights. A short drive away, the aptly named town of North Pole celebrates Christmas year-round with its candy cane-striped streetlights, Santa Claus House gift shop, and winter ice park.