Our family loves visiting New Hampshire. Since we don’t ski, we often visit the White Mountains in the summer months for hiking and camping. Last winter, we had the pleasure of checking out the Ice Castles in Lincoln, which is near both the Loon Mountain and Waterville Valley ski resorts. Here are our 6 tips for making your visit to the Ice Castles as spectacular as ours.
The idea for the Ice Castles was born in the front yard of Brent Christensen in Alpine, Utah while building an ice cave for his daughter. Since then, his Ice Castles company has expanded to include 5 US locations: Lincoln, NH; Midway, UT; Stillwater, MN; Wisconsin Dells, WI; and Edmonton, Alberta Canada. The Ice Castles return for a third year to the Hobo Scenic Railroad Station in Lincoln, New Hampshire, starting later in December and running until early March.
6 Tips for Visiting the Ice Castles in Lincoln, New Hampshire
1. Book tickets in advance and arrive on time
Especially if you plan to visit on a weekend, you’ll want to book your tickets in advance. When booking your tickets, you’ll select an entry time block, which is 30 minutes in length. If you miss your entry time block, you may forfeit your ticket, so be sure to arrive on time. Once inside the Ice Castles, you may stay as long as you’d like.
2. Spark their imagination!
Before visiting the Ice Castles, I recommend giving your kids some cools stats about the awe-inspiring creations. The actual process starts with just one icicle, which gets watered and molded to other icicles until the huge structure takes form. The completed Ice Castles weigh about 25,000,000 pounds and the walls are about 10′ thick.
They will likely be so caught up in running around and exploring that it will be hard to have this discussion on site. After your visit, you’ll be able to have a thought provoking chat about their amazing experience.
3. Visit at night
Since night falls quite early throughout the northern half of the US, we strongly recommend a visit to the Ice Castles after the sun sets. This is where the scenery becomes truly magical. The Ice Castles are illuminated from within with thousands of LED colored lights. The lights follow a choreographed “dance” to music periodically throughout the evening. The park gets more crowded as the night progresses. Consider arriving for the 4-4:30 time slot so you’ll be inside just as it gets dark and get on the slide line asap (see below).
4. Get on the slide line early
Sliding through an Ice Castle is a pretty awesome experience. Trouble is, everyone wants to do it so the line gets quite long. We waited about 45 minutes for a 10-second slide. According to our kids, ages 10 and 12 at the time, they thought the wait was worth every second. For the adults, I’ll warn you that the ride is not as smooth as you might think. Be sure you have a padded coat under your bum or skip the slide. Believe me, your tail bone will thank you.
5. Dress Appropriately
Regardless of the temperature outside of the Ice Castles, dress for winter! We immediately felt the air temperature drop by at least 15 degrees the second we walked through the entry arch. Winter boots are a must, after all, you are walking on ICE! Much of the ice is more like snow in the main walking areas, but it’s easy to slip when you least expect it. After a sunny, warm day, the ice melts and can create slippery patches throughout the castles. Snow pants are ideal for the kids.
6. Explore and then explore some more
Around every corner, there are hidden surprises within the Ice Castles. We walked through some areas a number of times before finding a hidden gem like a tunnel or ice sculpture. The kids especially enjoyed the ice tunnels. My husband and I enjoyed the smaller “rooms” with spectacular icicle details hanging above us. There were ice thrones, glowing ice orbs and more.
Each year the ice architects go to work on creating something new so that visitors want to return year after year. We will certainly be back! For information about the Ice Castles, visit their site at www.icecastles.com.
Thinking about a visit to New Hampshire during the summer months? Check out my review of our trip to Attitash Mountain.