Minnesota, USA: Ice Castles
You don't need to be at Disney to feel immersed in fairy tales.
I've not always lived in Minnesota. In fact, growing up in one of the busiest cities from a much warmer climate, I never saw snow. When I first witnessed the beautiful white flakes coming down from the sky (it was three months after I married the love of my life), I knew I had fallen in love once more. In Minnesota's winter, where day time temperatures can drop as low as negative degrees Fahrenheit like in these past few days, almost nobody wants to go outside. But, soon as the temperature returns to a livable level (is 32 degrees Fahrenheit livable?), people are generally eager to be out and about again.
Before our baby boy was born, we used to be one of those people. We still are, at heart for now anyway. We enjoyed looking for cool new places in town to visit every weekend besides exploring the vast snowy forests around us and ambling across frozen lakes. One of the few magical places we found by chance was Ice Castles.
The company that hosts Ice Castles has been doing it since 2011, and it's expended so much, adding locations in New York, Utah, New Hampshire and Wisconsin. Ice Castles is not a real castle per se. For one thing, it's not stationary. This magical place is made of huge blocks of ice craved into breathtaking formations. When my husband and I were there, we were fully amazed by all of the ice sculptures, hand-craved by local artists. Through the awe-inspiring cascades of ice and dangling icicles that hung like chandeliers, right from the entrance, it felt as though we had just entered, and were immediately being tucked away in, an actual ice castle up in a mystic Scandinavian mountain. We went through each of the paranormal caverns and archways, and voluntarily got lost (not literally) in a frozen maze where every turn was a mystery to behold and be found out.
We even squeezed ourselves through the crawl tunnels that were just large enough for us silly adults. There is a sledding hill providing the classic thrill of cruising down a snow path (at safe speed of course), which we weren't aware of at the time. Depending on the date, there are food vendors selling various menu items inside this frozen wonderland. So if you feel hungry, you can go for a BBQ pork sandwich; or if you feel like snacking, you can get a good-old campfire s'more. If you go at night, they even have a place that serves winter-themed alcoholic beverages (check out Polar Pub's operating hours HERE).
As we took our final stroll down the lantern passage, it was coming to be night. With our surroundings illuminated by thousands of luster, it felt like magic to just be there in each other's company. Our journey did not end there even after we exited Ice Castles. If only we had wings, we might just fly away like Tinker Bell.
A Few Tips:
On-site tickets cost more, so buy your tickets online in advance. Ticket sales are final. They are nonrefundable and non-transferable to another person.
Certain features inside Ice Castles are weather-dependent. So it's best to choose a calm, non-snowy day to go visit.
It's not too much colder inside the castle, so wearing your regular winter outfit should be good enough (plus they turn on their fire pits at night to make sure their guests stay comfortable).
Location reference: icecastles.com/minnesota
Have you been to Ice Castles? Share your experience with us in the comments below.
Julie Y. Barris
Founder | Chief Editor | Advice Guru of Moody Melon Magazine
I am an author, artist, entrepreneur, and a graphic designer with a unique vision to contribute to the world one idea at a time. Besides creating and inventing things, I’m also fascinated by the human mind. I enjoy helping others help themselves by giving them advice on family and relationship matters.