Imagine a snowy white winter’s day surrounded by breathtaking crystal clear castles of ice. No, I’m not just describing a scene from Frozen; we have real ice castles just 1.5 hours from Chicagoland in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. My kids truly felt the magic as they took in the sights of the ice castles, tunnels, slides, and color effects. It was just breathtaking and definitely worth the day trip. My experience was from 2020; there might be a few difference in 2021, but we will update when they are released! I have the inside scoop on our visit to help your trip run as smooth as ice.
A Trip to the Ice Castles in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Ice Castles is an award winning attraction located in six cities in the United States. The past two years, the Ice Castes have been built in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. For the 2020-2021 season, the Ice Castles are located at the Geneva National Golf Course. The ice castles are built using thousands of icicles hand-placed by professional ice artists. The ice castles include LED lighting, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, slides, fountains and much more.
Because of the nature of melting ice, the ice castles dates and hours are weather-dependent. Tickets ranges from $12.99 – $18.99 for ages 4-11 and $18.99 – $22.99 for ages 12 and up. Tickets will be on sale soon! Due to Covid, some features might be limited or capacity capped and guests are required to wear masks / face coverings in common areas, near other guests, and when interacting with employees.
Geneva National Golf Course
1091 Hidden Cottage Circle
Lake Geneva, WI 53147
Ice Castle Attractions
The Ice Castles in Lake Geneva are a breathtaking sight. You can wander through the attraction at your own pace and take lots of pictures of the castles handmade from ice. There is music piping though that makes the experience just like Frozen! As you wonder through the attraction, there are castles to walk through with icicles dripping and sparkling everywhere you turn. It was truly a magnificent architectural design to create these castles of ice.
One of the attractions my kids loved the most are the ice slides throughout the exhibit. The slides range from six feet long (featured here) through a LED lit tunnel slide that you must be 42″ to ride. The slides brought a fun aspect for kids and adults to ride. There was no wait for the small ice slides. My daughter and husband waited 30 minutes for the giant LED lit tunnel slide, but both said it was worth it!
Throughout the castles, there are small caves dug out for kids (and adults) to climb through. The kids loved finding the smallest tunnels and alcoves to climb through and find out where they led. Along with caves to climb through, there were king and queen thrones to sit in and fountains of water misting.
The LED lights display is an instagram worthy experience in itself. They turn the LED lights on as the sun goes down, between 4:30 – 5:00 pm. The ice castles are then illuminated in all different colors and rainbows. The lights beam off the ice and just glow all around you.
Arriving at Geneva National
Your tickets grant you a 30-minute window to check in for the experience. As you arrive at the Geneva National Clubhouse to check in, make sure you give yourself extra time to use the indoor washroom before you get in line. The bathroom line gets a little lengthy because there are very few stalls and most people have been in the car for a while, so allow for extra time. There are portable toilets outside if necessary during the experience, too. You cannot check-in to the ice castles until your whole party arrives and is out of the bathroom. You then proceed to the check-in room and wait in line for an agent to scan your phone or tickets. You will sign a waiver upon check-in, as well.
Food and Drinks at the Ice Castles
At the Ice Castles experience outside, there are a few different opportunities to grab a snack and hot chocolate. Frost Bites offers coffee, water, hot chocolate, cookies, handwarmers, and souvenir mugs. Hot shotties offered the same beverages and snacks, but also added cheese curds, hot apple cider, and three hot cocktails for the adults.
Pricing and Tickets
Ice Castle tickets go on sale a few weeks prior to opening. The ice castles are completely weather dependent for both building and opening each day. If we have an unseasonably warm winter, the ice castles will melt and they will close the attraction. The goal is for Ice Castles to be open late December- February. It is important to check before you leave your house to make sure they will be open that day. With that being said, the Ice Castle tickets sell out quickly, especially for weekend times. Ticket prices for 2020 range from $11.99-$15.99 for a child and $16.99-$20.99 for an adult.
In my option, the best time slot for a family with kids is 4:30-5:00 pm entrance time. You will have the sunlight to start the experience and by the end, the sun will set and the LED lights will turn on. It is very cold at night, and it is hard for little ones to stay up too late (plus the 1.5 hour drive home), but with this entrance time you get the best of what day time and night time has to offer in the ice castles!
What to Bring to the Ice Castles
Make sure you bundle up in outdoor weather gear. We all wore snow pants and snow boots with lots of layers. The experience takes anywhere from an hour to two hours depending on your leisure. My family was there an hour and a half, but thirty minutes was spent waiting for the largest tunnel slide. You cannot bring a stroller. You are walking on feet on snow and a stroller would just get stuck immediately.
Instead, bring a sled for your kids to pile into. My kids loved being pulled through the snow looking at the beautiful sights. This tip is all pro! Parents all around us were jealous.
My other suggestion would be to bring hand warmers if you get a really cold day.
Special Needs Accommodations
The walking path for the ice castles is made up of crushed ice and snow. This makes it impossible for a wheelchair to be pushed through. The Ice Castle website states, “Our policy is that guests in a wheelchair may be offered a refund, or if they want to attempt exploring the Ice Castles, they may use an Ice Castles-provided large black sled to be pulled around inside Ice Castles. If using a sled, the wheelchair must be transferred in and out of an ice sled and pulled around inside Ice Castles by members of the guests party and not by Ice Castles employees. We recommend a minimum of two people to assist with the transfer.”
Around the Area
Geneva National offers overnight packages for a fun weekend in their vacation villas, just steps away from the ice castles. If you are thinking about staying the night in the area or just looking for a place to have dinner on the way home, The Ridge Hotel, just on the other side of the lake, offers many unique experiences and packages. They offer overnight packages as well as many entertainment options, such as a German Biergarten, a gourmet smores fireside, curling, ice skating, or an outdoor igloo to rent for dinner and drinks. The Timber Ridge Waterpark is only about 15 minutes away on the other side of town, too.
Of course, things may look different for the above desintations this year, so be sure to check ahead of time.
Looking to add more stops to your Winter Bucket List, check out more Winter Ideas our Kidlist team has dreamed up!