Now is the perfect time to plan a ski vacation.
The word may be from Old Norse, and the tradition may be ancient — wall paintings and artifacts date to 10,000 years ago in China — but skiing, which first became viewed as a pleasurable sport in 19th-century Scandinavia and Switzerland, has become a beloved American pastime. Throughout the United States, thousands of lifts transport roughly 55 million ski bunnies to the slopes at nearly 500 ski areas.
Conveniently, many of the country's peaks are also within a few hours of big cities. Take Timberline, east of Portland, Oregon. There, skiers and boarders can swoosh down a whopping 3,600 feet of vertical drop on the south face of Mount Hood. Little wonder that T+L readers think Portland is one of the country's best cities for skiing.
In our annual America's Favorite Places survey, we ask Travel + Leisure readers to dish about their hometowns — the place they grew up or have lived in and know better than anywhere else on Earth. Unlike T+L's World's Best Awards, which encourages readers to weigh in on travel experiences across the globe, the America's Favorite Places survey is a way for locals to share what their hometowns do best.
The winners in this year's survey demonstrate skiing's broad geographical range — from east to west and north and south. Even a Midwest city earned high marks from T+L readers, who noted several regional ski areas, including one frequented by an Olympic gold medalist.
These favorite American cities prove you don't need to live in a tiny mountain town to have access to some of the nation's best skiing.