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Visiting the Ice Castles in Midway is a hugely anticipated event in our family every year. While we just live a few miles from the Ice Castles, somehow the atmosphere of it transforms our little valley into something magical every winter.
We let the kids out of the car and they start running, each one wanting to be the first to see the Ice Castles and discover what’s new about them this year. It’s not just the kids though – my husband and I find ourselves jogging right alongside them to step inside the castle and be filled with wonder.
Note: Keep reading to the bottom for a special Ice Castle discount for Bring The Kids readers.
Inside we find secret tunnels, hidden caves, slides, ice sculptures and so much more. Soon, we realize that the word “WOW’ is being used excessively and all everyone can do is look up at the massive icicles above.
Every year the Ice Castles are constructed from scratch and grown right on the spot here in Midway.
Starting in 2009, Midway was where the Ice Castles company got their start. 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.
Located about an hour from Salt Lake City or 35 minutes from Orem, the Ice Castles are located at the Homestead Resort in Midway Utah. They’re an easy getaway if you’re located along the Wasatch Front and there are plenty of things to do in the valley to make a whole day of it (read to the bottom for suggestions on what else to do in Midway and Heber Valley Utah).
The dates of the Ice Castles are incredibly dependant on the weather. For 2020, the Ice Castles are scheduled to open early in January 2020. Last year they stayed open well into March, whereas 2 years ago, they were closing in February, so don’t procrastinate your visit!
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 roofless fortress made out of ice. While it doesn’t have a roof, it can be up to 20 feet in many places, so it’s still very impressive.
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 bigger slides.
Once you get inside, there is wintery being piped through the whole area and 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.
During the weekends, there are often performers doing shows or characters like Elsa and Ana there to visit with the kids, so make sure to call ahead and ask if there are any special events coming up.
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.
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 (adult tickets are $4 more if you buy them at the gate). Also, peak times often sell out, so before you make the drive up, make sure to purchase your tickets online.
Tickets can be purchased from the Ice Castles website.
Weekday tickets are $9.99 for kids and $13.99 for adults and weekend tickets are $11.99 for kids and $17.99 for adults.
Midway Utah Ice Castle Discount Tickets
For an extra 15% off your tickets, use the code: BringthekidstoIC
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 to the Ice Castles?
During peak 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.
How to get to the Midway, Utah Ice Castles
Located in Midway Utah, the Ice Castles are about an hour from Salt Lake City or 35 minutes from Orem, they’re an easy getaway if you’re located along the Wasatch Front. Once you get to the resort on Homestead Drive, turn onto Bluff Road. There you will find designated parking areas for the Ice Castles. The main entrance is reserved for guests of the Homestead Resort, so please be mindful of that as you visit.
How to spend a day in Midway and Heber Valley in the Winter
If you want to make a whole day out of your visit to the Ice Castles, there are tons of great winter activities to do in the Heber Valley.
Ice Skating at the Midway Town Rink
This is my all time favorite winter activity to do here in the Midway area. Located right behind the community center is the Midway Town Ice Rink. It’s the largest outdoor rink in the state of Utah and is full of small-town charm. We take our family there almost weekly in the winter and it’s always full of friendly people and we’ve never seen it very crowded.
Grab a treat at the Midway Bakery
Right across the road from the ice rink is the Midway Bakery. As soon as you walk in, you’ll be hit with delicious smells and the sight of beautiful baked goods. The sweet rolls there are simply amazing, and you absolutely must take a loaf of bread home for later – it’s SO GOOD!
Go for a winter hike at Wasatch Mountain State Park
Our favorite local hike is right outside of Midway on the Pine Creek Nature Trail at Wasatch Mountain State Park. Purchase your day pass at the visitors center and then head to the Pine Creek Campground to the trailhead. The trailhead is directly west of the campground office in the parking lot there and heads out through the sagebrush and into the forest. This trail is usually
Grab lunch and some gelato at Spin Cafe.
Located on Main Street in Heber, the Spin Cafe is a local favorite for great sandwiches and soups. While you may not think that you want gelato in the winter, one look at their hand crafted flavors will probably have you changing your mind.
Swim at the Homestead Crater
While you’re at the Homestead for the Ice Castles, you may as well stay for a swim in the geothermal crater. Yes, there is an actual geothermal crater that you can swim in right at the Homestead Resort. Honestly, what better contrast could you have to the giant ice castles than to walk into a warm and steamy geothermal crater for a swim?
Where else can I visit Ice Castles?
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.
Lincoln, New Hampshire
New Brighton, Minnesota
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada