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Shibu-Onsen and Nagano area - recommendations?

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Okay, I'm kind of falling in love with the pictures of Shibu-Onsen and the thought of going to see the snow monkeys. I'm thinking this might make a good end to our trip and that we could possible travel from here to Narita airport. Some questions if you've stayed in the area:

1. Is there anything to do other than the hot springs and seeing the snow monkeys?
2. Is it picturesque or do the pictures lie?
3. Are there other towns nearby that are worth checking out? What is Nagano like?

I appreciate any insight you can offer!

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