Visiting the Wisconsin Ice Castles in 2020 + Discount Tickets

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The magical Ice Castles are coming back to Wisconsin for yet another winter extravaganza, this year at a different location in Lake Geneva.  Last year the Ice Castles were located close to downtown, whereas this year they will be located at Geneva National. If you’re anywhere near there, they’re the perfect winter outing or addition to any winter getaway you’ve got planned.  This is the perfect winter getaway because it’s centrally located near so many major cities and is only 80 miles outside of Chicago. With only 6 Ice Castle locations in North America, this is a truly unique attraction that will make you completely fall in love with the wonder of winter (if you haven’t fully embraced it already)

As far as winter attractions go, the Ice Castles are one of the most unique that we’ve ever seen (and we LOVE winter, so that’s saying A LOT). 

It’s well known that in the Midwest, winters are COLD, so locals can rejoice that Ice Castles is taking that cold and using it to it’s advantage.  

When you get there you’ll notice that it’s essentially a frozen wonderland that’s part art and part playground.

ice castle tunnel
Photo Credit AJ Mellor Icecastles.com

Once inside, you’ll find room after room of frozen wonder.  Icicles reflecting the ever changing light, and every turn seems to draw you in and make you want to explore more.  

Really though, who doesn’t love playing in the snow and ice?  Our entire family loves the Ice Castles – kids and adults included.  

Crawl through ice tunnels, race up a frozen staircase, and let yourself shriek with delight as you zoom down a slide completely made of ice.  Take a seat on a frozen throne, or stare in wonder at the beautiful ice sculptures.  

baby in ice castles

At night, the ice is lit up by colored LED lights that make the whole Castle take on an entirely new effect.  Changing colors glow through the ice, and the lights take the magic to an entirely new level.  

The Ice Castles are all constructed from scratch every single year by ice artists.  It takes months to grow all of the icicles, carefully place them and then grow an entire Ice Castle out of them with an elaborate sprinkler system.  In the end, each Ice Castle is made up of about 20 MILLION pounds of ice.  

Every year that we visit the Ice Castles with our family, 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! The Ice Castles usually reach heights of 30 feet tall.  

Ice Castles with kids

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.  

Ice Castles at night
Photo credit Bryan Rowland IceCastles.com

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)

Ice Castles with 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.

Ice Castles with kids

Under your boots, wool socks are a must have.  Not only will they keep your feet warmer, but in case they do get a little wet, they’ll still keep you warm, unlike cotton socks.  We recommend these wool socks because they have a lifetime warranty!

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.  

Photo Credit AJ Mellor IceCastles.com

What to bring for a visit to the Ice Castles

Camera

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, budget priced DSLR, though if you want a good mirrorless camera, check out the Sony a6000.

Sled

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.

Hot Chocolate

We always take a big insulated jug full of hot chocolate and keep it in the car for as soon as we’re done. It’s a great way to warm up AND a fun way to wrap up a family outing. We absolutely love our giant jug since it keeps our cocoa warm ALL DAY and it holds enough so everyone can have seconds! Also, if you haven’t tried this Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate, you’re seriously missing out!

What dates are the Ice Castles open?

The dates of the Ice Castles are incredibly dependant on the weather.  This year the Minnesota Ice Castles are planning on opening in January 2020 and will be open as long as the weather permits.  Sometimes they stay open well into March and other years they close in February if it’s too warm. Read here for up to date information with Ice Castle openings.  Since it’s hard to predict exactly when they’ll close, take my advice and go as early in the season as possible.

Ice Castles
Photo Credit AJ Mellor IceCastles.com

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.

Regular ticket prices on weekdays are $11.99 for kids and $16.99 for adults and weekend ticket prices are $15.99 for kids and 20.99 for adults (Save 15% by using our discount code below!)

If you purchase tickets at the gate, they are $20 on weekdays and $25 on weekends, though there it always a chance they will be sold out, so it’s best to get them in advance.  

Wisconsin Ice Castle Discount Code 2020

For an extra 15% off your tickets, use the online code: BringthekidstoIC
to purchase tickets online.  

At all Ice Castle locations, kids 0-3 are free and discounted kids rates are available for kids from 4-11.  

Do I need to purchase Ice Castle Tickets in advance??

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.

How To Get to the Lake Geneva Wisconsin Ice Castles

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