Roads reopened but officials continued to warn residents that highways could be icy and treacherous. Hundreds of thousands of people from Pennsylvania to New Jersey to Virginia were without power, left in the cold and possibly without a way to watch the Super Bowl.
Philadelphia, the nation's sixth-largest city, was virtually shut down with a record of nearly 27 inches.
The heavy, wet snow snapped tree limbs onto power lines and several roofs collapsed under the weight. Still, most tried to make the best of the situation.
"I think it's fun," said 10-year-old Jayla Burgess in Arlington, Virginia. "The best part is throwing snowballs at my Dad."
She wasn't the only one hurling the white stuff. Hundreds crowded Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., for a snowball fight organized online. Skiers lapped the Reflecting Pool along the National Mall and others used the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for a slope.
Washington took on a surreal, almost magical feel even though it was one of the worst blizzards in the city's history.
"Right now it's like the Epcot Center version of Washington," said Mary Lord, 56, a D.C. resident for some 30 years who had skied around the city.
President Barack Obama called it "Snowmageddon." Even his motorcade - which featured SUVs instead of limousines - fell victim to the storm as a tree limb crashed onto a vehicle carrying press. No one was injured.
At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, soldiers' names were buried 16 rows deep, while higher up snow had settled into the letters so they stood out against the black background. The wreaths of the World War II Memorial looked like giant white-frosted doughnuts. The big attraction at the Lincoln Memorial was not the nation's 16th president, but rather a snowman with eyes of copper pennies bearing Lincoln's likeness.
A group of four sophomores from George Washington University took pictures nearby.
"I'm from California. This is my first snow ever," said Megan McDonough, 19. "My parents called and asked if I had enough food."
The snow fell too quickly for crews to keep up, and officials begged residents to stay home. The hope was everyone could return to work on Monday.
The usually traffic-snarled roads were mostly barren, save for some snow plows, fire trucks, ambulances and a few SUVs. The Capital Beltway, always filled with cars, was empty at times.
Carolyn Matuska loved the quiet during her morning run along Washington's National Mall.
"Oh, it's spectacular out," she said. "It's so beautiful. The temperature's perfect, it's quiet, there's nobody out, it's a beautiful day."
The ugly side of the snow led to thousands of wrecks. Still, only two people had died - a father-and-son team who were killed trying to help someone stuck on a highway in Virginia.
The snow comes less than two months after a Dec. 19 storm dumped more than 16 inches on Washington. According to the National Weather Service, Washington has received more than a foot of snow only 13 times since 1870.
The heaviest on record was 28 inches in January 1922. The biggest snowfall for the Washington-Baltimore area is believed to have been in 1772, before official records were kept, when as much as 3 feet fell, which George Washington and Thomas Jefferson penned in their diaries.
By Associated Press Writer Jessica Gresko; AP writers Carol Druga, Sarah Brumfield, Christine Simmons and Philip Elliott in Washington, Kathleen Miller in Arlington, Virginia, and Alex Dominguez in Baltimore contributed to this report