5 Tips for Your First Visit to Ice Castles
Here are some tips for your first visit to Ice Castles so you know what to expect. Every winter a frozen attraction appears in states such as Minnesota, Utah, and Colorado, bringing ice artists together to create Ice Castles. If this winter is cold, you are in luck as you may be able to see this for yourself. Because this is an outdoor activity, there are some days when the park isn’t open, so you have to be patient and flexible.
The Ice Castles are different in each location but all have professional ice sculptures, tunnels, and slides! There were LED lights all around, which changed the look of this attraction at night. Local EMTs were on site for those of you who worry about your friends/family. And don’t worry, there are bathrooms, concessions, and a gift shop on-site to assist with your trip.
Located in Midway, Utah, about an hour from the SLC airport, the Utah Ice Castles are a fantastic option for everyone. Take your friends, invite friends who have kids, or just go with your partner. Just be sure to purchase tickets in advance, as they sell out! This trip to Midway is a great reason to escape the city and enjoy the outdoors. Here are my 5 tips for visiting the Ice Castles this winter:
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Wear Shoes With Good Traction When Visiting Ice Castles
First, you may want to trade in your city boots for hiking/winter boots that have more traction. Winter weather will always dictate a shoe choice, but wearing good traction shoes will make your experience inside the Ice Castles much better. Think snow boots, outdoor hiking boots, or something that you would wear outdoors.
The reason for this is because once you are inside the Ice Castles, you will notice that the floor is covered in snow and ice. The employees do a great job of keeping the snow soft but this isn’t a replacement for good shoes. A friend who came with the group was wearing regular sneakers and slipped quite a bit. Do yourself a favor and wear good traction shoes so you have a better time exploring the Ice Castles.
Dress Warm for This Outdoor Attraction
Although this tip might seem obvious, you should wear layers and dress warmly. I know, this is a kind of silly tip for someone who is going to an Ice Castle. But you would be surprised how cold you can get while standing outside in the winter. Now, the line to get into the Ice Castles wasn’t too bad, but I could foresee a child getting cold very quickly if they’re not bundled up.
There were outdoor heaters around the property for those who got super cold. But in any case, if you dress appropriately, you will have a better time at the Ice Castles. Plus, as soon as the sun went down, the temperature dropped dramatically. At this point, we went inside to warm up. If you’re not sure how to bundle up in the winter, check out my ski vacation packing checklist. Check out my FREE packing list on what to wear during your skiing vacation.
Wear Snow Pants so You Don’t Get Cold and Wet
Equally important to dressing warmly, I recommend that you wear waterproof pants. If you have skiing pants, these will be perfect. However, if you don’t plan on going down any slides, you will probably be okay with regular jeans. Just know that you might get cold or wet from the ice and snow in the Ice Castles.
When going down the slides in jeans, I got stuck because my pants weren’t slippery. This sucked because I had to scoot down the slide and hope that a toddler or other child didn’t run into me. I was okay. Now, there was a larger slide that allowed you to sit on a pad, but the smaller slides did not have this option. If you wear slippery pants, like snow pants, you will be able to truly enjoy the slides that are available throughout the Ice Castles. The slides are really fun, so I def recommend this, even for adults!
Be Prepared to Crawl Through Ice Castle Tunnels If Exploring
Next, you should be ready to explore! The Ice Castles will have various hallways and tunnels for you to walk through. Use your best judgment on where to go. Some adults nearby had to turn around because they were too wide to fit through the tunnel. In any case, exploring the Ice Castles will lead to fun encounters in the park (like an ice throne!).
Oh and please bear in mind, that while exploring you may have to crawl. This is because the tunnel itself is not tall enough to walk through. This was true for the toddler slide during my visit. So wear waterproof gloves or mittens so you can save your hands from the cold while crawling to your next destination.
Plan Ahead for Traffic Into and Leaving Town
Finally, make sure to give yourself enough time when traveling to and from the Ice Castles. For the Midway, Utah location, it generally takes about an hour to get there from Salt Lake City. Because this is a mountain town, the weather can slow you down and deer might be around as well. So be patient.
As a former 9-5er in Park City, I know firsthand how congested the traffic can get –not only in Park City but on the route from PC into Midway. You will need to be patient, have a good winter vehicle, and always pack water, snacks, and a blanket just in case. While traffic is always a thing here in Utah, just remember that traffic may be slow, so plan accordingly.
Summing up, a visit to the Utah Ice Castles is a great winter activity. The LED-lit ice sculptures have various colors, there are concessions and bathrooms on-site, and you can get your souvenir in the shop. While it is a tourist attraction, it is still a fun activity during winter.
While I was there, we even encountered some ice princesses, which made a lot of kid’s day. Purchase your tickets ahead of time so you can visit and can see the attraction before it’s too warm, and before it sells out that day. For several years I was not able to see the Ice Castles because our winters were too warm. So if it’s cold, you should jump on it before the sun melts the fun away.
Have you been to any of the Ice Castles? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
The Basics – Utah Ice Castles
Best Time to Visit:
During the day so you’re not as cold, but dates and hours are weather dependent.
How to Get There:
From SLC, drive east to Midway and park at Soldier Hollow Nordic Center, 2002 Olympic Drive, Midway, Utah 84049.
Uber and Lyft are NOT reliable in Midway.
Stay overnight in Midway at Homestead Resort so you don’t have to sit in traffic on the way back to SLC. It has a beautiful crater you can swim in!
What to Eat:
Warm-up with hot chocolate and churros inside the ice castles
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OMG, how have I not heard of these before!? They are spectacular! I love how much effort the ice artists have put in, epsecially with the LED lights. This must make this time of year so much more exciting in Utah!!
OK ice castles definitely look like the coolest kind of castles. In both senses of the word. I haven’t experienced anything like this so this is so interesting to see, and such good tips.
Jenn - The Solivagant Soul
Wow, this is amazing! coming from a warm country such as Spain I can’t even imagine the cold you may have to keep this up for more than a couple of days, but it is great! Thanks for sharing =)
I am dreaming to go to some ice castles one day! It’s so magical! Thanks for all the good tips!
Wow how cool does this look?! I would love to visit this – and I don’t mind crawling around either!
What an incredible sight! I imagine loads of effort goes into building the ice castles! Thanks for the tip on having to crawl through gaps…that’s good to know beforehand! Thanks for the great guide!