Beat the winter doldrums and plan an enchanting winter getaway to visit one of the five ice castles that can be seen right here in the United States.
Fall is winding down and I am mourning the arrival of winter. With shorter days and cold temperatures throughout much of the country, it’s no wonder we go into hibernation for a few months!
Winter is not all bad, though, and with the right winter clothes, there are many fun winter activities to enjoy in the United States.
One of my winter bucket list items is to visit an ice castle this winter.
You know I’m a fan of castles. My husband and I made it a point to see as many as we could on our first trip to Europe.
I’ve even visited several of Ohio’s castles.
So why on earth would I not want to plan a trip to an ice castle? I can’t think of anything other than the fact that I detest driving in the snow- yes, I am an Ohio girl, I should be used to it.
winter is to check out the different ice castles that pop up all over the country.
Here are some of the best ice castles in the US!
Where to Find Ice Castles in the U.S.
A company called the Ice Castle Project sets up ice castles all over North America, in places where the climate is suitable for ice.
As soon as winter approaches, they start a drip system to create the ice castles, which are then carved into magical creations. Lights and music are added, creating a winter wonderland for visitors willing to brave the cold for a unique night out.
The ice castles usually open after the holidays and continue to grow throughout the season as more ice is added and some daytime melting takes place. In 2018, they had five US locations and one in Edmonton, Canada.
- Dillon, Colorado – located about 90 minutes from Denver near Dillon Reservoir, this is a great addition to your ski trip in Keystone, Breckenridge or Copper Mountain.
- Excelsior, Minnesota – this Midwest ice castle is located about 30 minutes west of the Twin Cities, near the Minnetonka Lakes area.
- Lake Geneva, Wisconsin – Two hours from Chicago or 90 minutes from Madison, Lake Geneva is all about winter fun. In addition to the Ice Castle, they have an annual Winterfest that includes the US National Snow Sculpting Competition.
- Lincoln, New Hampshire – nestled in the White Mountains, the New Hampshire Ice Castle is less than 2 ½ hours from Portland, Burlington, and Boston.
- Midway, Utah – not far from Park City, Deer Valley and Salt Lake City, the Utah ice castle is the perfect add-on for your Wasatch Mountains ski trip.
If you don’t happen to live near one of the ice castle projects, there are some other frosty options you might enjoy.
Other Icy Options
Aurora Ice Museum – this spot in Fairbanks Alaska is kind of like a Rennaissance Faire meets ice castle.
It’s also the world’s largest year-round ice structure.
It’s located at Chena Hot Springs Resort, so you can thaw out in the springs after touring the museum. The museum also has a bar where you can order drinks and a few rooms you can reserve if sleeping in an ice building sounds fun to you.
They do loan out coats, but if you’re visiting Alaska in winter, I hope you don’t forget your winter coat!
Ice bars are a popular winter drinking destination and a great way to ensure your drink is always cold! Minus 5 Ice Bar operates locations in Orlando, Las Vegas, and New York. Some ice bars will wrap you in a luxurious robe, seat you on sculpted ice barstools and serve shots of your favorite libation in shot glasses carved out of ice.
It’s definitely a cool experience, no pun intended!
Tips for Visiting Ice Castles
If you haven’t visited ice castles before, these tips will help you have a good time!
- Warm Boots are a must. Make sure you have warm snow boots with good traction and warm socks underneath.
- Insulated gloves will help keep your hands warm, which is key if you want to crawl through some of the tunnels and slides.
- Wear warm layers that you can easily add and remove. Most ice castles sell hot drinks and many have a fire pit where you can warm up, so having good layers for you and your kids will keep everyone comfortable!
- Tuck a Hot Hands hand warmers to your gloves or boots to help keep the cold to a minimum.
- Waterproof pants are best if you plan to be crawling around through tunnels or going down any slides at the castles.
- Use the toilet before you get all bundled up. Most ice castles are built at temporary, outdoor areas, so you’ll be using a frozen porta-potty if you have to go!
- Try to arrive before sunset so you can experience the ice castle in daylight and when it is lit up for the evening.
- Pack a thermos of hot chocolate for the drive home.
Have you visited an ice castle? What tips can you share from your experience?