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As the Ice Castles came into sight, the kids started sprinting. I quickly increased my pace, not just to keep up, but because what was ahead of me was simply magical.
The Ice Castles are an impressive structure built to inspire, excite and help you really enjoy the beauty that winter brings. We’ve visited the Ice Castles several times (we are lucky to live just a few minutes from one) and every visit is just as wonderful as the last. While I’ll tell you plenty about them below, the pictures pretty much speak for themselves.
Note: Keep reading to the bottom for a special Ice Castle discount for Bring The Kids readers.
With secret tunnels to climb into, passageways to climb, and slides to race down, this is a fantastic winter activity for all ages. All of our kids from our toddler to our tween loved it, and it’s also a wonderful spot to sneak away on a date night.
Every year the Ice Castles are constructed from scratch and grown right on the spot. Starting with a few imported giant icicles and aided by a massive sprinkler system, the Ice Castles seem to take on a life of their own each year. While the overall effect is the same, the details and nooks and crevices make the experience unique every single time that we visit.
There are 6 different Ice Castle locations in the United States and Canada.
For location specific information, click on the Ice Castle you want to visit.
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
The dates of the Ice Castles are incredibly dependant on the weather. For 2020, most of the Ice Castles are scheduled to open early in January 2020. Sometimes they stay open well into March and other years they close in February if it’s too warm. This page will provide you up to date information with Ice Castle openings.
Every year we visit the Ice Castles, we learn a little bit more to make our experience even better, so here I’m sharing all the tips and tricks you need to know for an amazing visit to the Ice Castles.
What to expect when you visit the Ice Castles
First of all, the Ice Castles aren’t quite what you would envision Elsa from Frozen building. What you will actually find is more like a roof-less fortress made out of ice. It’s made of thousands and thousands of icicles and takes months to create. Think of it more like a giant, wide, ice waterfall!
It will take you a minimum of an hour to explore everything there, and it would be easy to spend 2 hours if you’ve got kids with you or want to do the slides.
Once you get inside, there is music being piped through the whole area and even concessions that you can buy (complete with hot cocoa). You’ll even find a few fires that you can warm up by and some ice benches where you can rest your legs.
Embedded in the ice are bright colored lights which make the entire structure feel like it’s glowing in the evening.
Many of the Ice Castle locations even have performers or characters on certain dates, so it’s worth calling ahead to see if there are any extra special festivities planned. The Midway Ice Castles near us has fire dancers which are absolutely amazing against the ice backdrop.
When is the best time to visit the Ice Castles?
The best time of day to visit the Ice Castles is about an hour before sunset. This allows you some time to see them in the daylight (which is fantastic for pictures), but also be there when it’s starting to get dark so that you can experience them in both light and dark.
Weekends at the Ice Castles can get VERY BUSY so if possible, try and go during the week.
What to wear to the Ice Castles?
When you’re heading to the Ice Castles remember to dress WARM! Remember that this is a whole castle made of ICE and SNOW and if you are going in the evening, it will be extra cold. Wear good base layers, an insulating layer like fleece and then snow pants and a coat on top. Of course, a warm hat and waterproof mittens are a must, especially with kids who will likely be touching the ice for the few hours you are are there! (Read our review of the best waterproof mittens and gloves for kids)
While many people think that snow pants are options when visiting the Ice Castles, think again. I’ve seen many people there in jeans or other regular pants, and after crawling through a few tunnels or going down the slide, they’re wet and cold.
Also, make sure that you wear snow boots to the ice castles. The floor of the ice castles is basically crushed ice and snow and it can get kind of messy. Your feet will get wet and cold so waterproof snow boots are your best footwear option. Not sure what boots are best for your kids? Read our review of the top kids snow boots.
Under your boots, wool socks are a
What do do first at the Ice Castles
As soon as you get to the Ice Castles, head for the ice slides. The lines on these get long FAST, so the sooner you can get in line the better. During the week, you may only have to wait for 5-10 minutes but the wait can be well over 30 minutes at peak times. Generally the later in the day it is, the longer the line gets, so go early.
What to bring for a visit to the Ice Castles
While your iPhone does a pretty good job on most photos, capturing the unique lighting of the ice castles will work much better if you take a good camera with you. Make sure to take a case to put it in as well, since you’ll want to race down the ice slides too and you want to make sure your nice camera is protected. I personally use the Nikon D3500 which is a great quality,
If you’ve got young kids, a sled is the best option for getting them around. I’ve seen a few parents there trying to push a stroller through the ice and snow and it looked absolutely miserable. Having a sled will be tricky on really crowded days or weekends, so this will work best on a mid-week visit. I recommend taking a sled with a back so that the kids can sit upright better and look around like these sleds.
How do I get tickets to the Ice Castles?
If you want the best deal on tickets to the Ice Castles, make sure to buy them online, as tickets are more expensive if you buy them at the gate.
Tickets can be purchased from the Ice Castles website.
Ice Castles 2020 Discount Code
For an extra 15% off your tickets, use the code: BringthekidstoIC
Tickets vary depending on the dates that you go and the location that you visit. At all 6 Ice Castle locations, kids 0-3 are free and discounted kids rates are available for kids from 4-11.
Do I need advance tickets for the Ice Castles?
During main times, tickets do sell out, so it’s smart to purchase them in advance. When you purchase your tickets, you purchase them for a specific entry time, not just the date so keep that in mind as well. Like I mentioned above, I think that the best time to visit the Ice Castles is about an hour before sunset so that you can see them both during the day and at night.
Where else can I visit Ice Castles in the United States or Canada?
For more detailed information on each Ice Castle location, click on the destination you are interested in.
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin