Bucket List November 29, 2021
13 Magical Ice Castles Across The U.S. That Make Freezing Temperatures Actually Enjoyable
There’s something positively
magical about castles. These stunning structures are straight out of the pages of a fairy tale, and are irresistibly enchanting and charming. But if you’re seeking more of a Frozen fairy tale experience, then the following ice castles are for you. All across the country, winter wonderlands await in the form of ice castles, glacial kingdoms, and frozen fantasies that will render you positively speechless. So bundle up and brave the cold, because these 13 ice castles across the U.S. are waiting to be admired and explored.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
Winter Karneval - Leavenworth, Washington
Leavenworth, WA 98826, USA
It's no secret that Leavenworth, Washington, is one of the most idyllic towns in the U.S.; it's a magical place that celebrates each season with exuberance and enthusiasm. Wintertime is downright magical in this Bavarian town, with Leavenworth's
drawing visitors from all over the world. The city has half a million lights installed each year, and the dazzling displays typically stay up through Valentine's Day. This year, Leavenworth is taking the frozen festivities to the next level with the brand-new Winter Karneval, a festival in the spirit of
, a German tradition dating back to the thirteenth century. Beginning in January 2022, guests can delight in all sorts of winter-weather fun, from fireworks and entertainment to live ice carvings and even fire dancers.
Ice Castles - Midway, Utah
For those wishing to enter a "Frozen" fantasy world, visit the Ice Castles in Utah. A winter wonderland comprised of ice castles and sculptures totaling 25 million pounds, this experience is truly extraordinary. While
now happens annually at a few locations across North America, the Ice Castles originated in Alpine, Utah, in the backyard of ice artist Brent Christensen, who created a frozen playland for his kids during one particularly long winter. Christensen's ice caves and castles proved irresistible for the neighborhood kids, and he began to imagine bigger and better winter wonderlands -- which brings us to today's epic Ice Castle events. Opening dates always depend on the weather, but the attraction is typically up from early January through early March. Ice Castles is an awe-inspiring, must-see winter phenomenon that brings fairy tales to life, complete with dazzling LED-lit sculptures, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, slides, and fountains.
International Snow Sculpture Championships - Breckenridge, Colorado
Breckenridge, Colorado, is one of America's favorite wintertime destinations, with its slopes and resorts attracting millions of visitors each year. But it's not all skiing and snowboarding here;
Breckenridge’s International Snow Sculpture Championships
is a world-renowned snow sculpting competition of epic proportions. For this event, 12 teams from around the globe gather in Breckenridge to hand-carve 20-ton blocks of snow into incredible, intricate works of art. Artists are only allowed to use hand tools and their own creativity and inspiration to bring their visions to life -- and you'll be gobsmacked by these immaculate creations. Teams spend countless hours creating over the span of five days, resulting in the most fantastic -- albeit fleeting -- outdoor art installation in this charming Colorado town.
Ice Castles - New Brighton, Minnesota
1500 Old Hwy 8, New Brighton, MN 55112, USA
After a COVID-related hiatus in 2021, the Ice Castles of New Brighton will once again dazzle and delight Minnesotans this winter. In January, Utah-based Ice Castles will return to
Long Lake Regional Park in New Brighton
, conjuring up a glacial playground of tunnels, caverns, towers, fountains, slides, and crawl spaces out of nothing but water... and a little magic. This is the ultimate winter village, and it's something you really must experience!
Saint Paul Winter Carnival - Saint Paul, Minnesota
Minnesota State Fairgrounds, 1265 Snelling Ave N, St Paul, MN 55108, USA
The Saint Paul Winter Carnival is the oldest winter festival in the U.S., predating Colorado's legendary Tournament of Roses Festival by two years. Since 1886, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival has been a perennial favorite in the Twin Cities metro area, giving Minnesotans a reason to celebrate and embrace this bitterly frigid season. Over the years, the festival has
in size, most recently adding a Drive-Thru Ice & Snow Sculpture Park to the lineup. Billed as "The Coolest Festival on Earth," this long-running winter carnival features city-wide scavenger hunts, an ice fishing tournament, a snow park, and, of course, expertly crafted ice sculptures and statues. This
epic winter festival
will take place Jan. 28-Feb. 6, 2022.
Ice Castles - Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Hidden Cottage Circle, Hidden Cottage Cir, Geneva, WI 53147, USA
Built with thousands of lit-up icicles, the interactive Ice Castles display in Lake Geneva is an enchanting winter wonderland in Wisconsin. While Wisconsinites are no strangers to ice and snow, Ice Castles offers a delightfully different way to experience and
winter in Wisconsin. A highly anticipated seasonal destination, this illuminated
features frozen slides, crawl spaces, ice caves, and frosted fountains beautifully built into an epic outdoor landscape. Part of the national Ice Castles festival, you can come and experience this
wondrous winter event
in early 2022.
Ice Caves - Eben, Michigan
Eben Ice Caves Trailhead, Frey Rd, Deerton, MI 49822, USA
Up in the Great Lakes State, there is an ice cave that the Abominable Snowmonster of the North would be happy to call home. The
Ice Caves of Eben, Michigan
, are a real-life ice castle designed by Mother Nature herself. Situated within Rock River Canyon Wilderness in the Hiawatha National Forest, these icy caves are truly breathtaking. The caves consist of countless frozen icicles and other icy formations that appear when temperatures drop each year, typically starting in December. You'll need to embark upon a 0.75-mile trek to access these caves, and snow cleats are recommended for both the trek and caverns themselves. It's well-worth the effort, however, as these caves are a dazzling display of some of Mother Nature's finest work.
Point Betsie Lighthouse - Lake Michigan
Point Betsie Lighthouse, 3701 Point Betsie Rd, Frankfort, MI 49635, USA
During winter in #PureMichigan, you'll find ice castles instead of sandcastles all along the state's 3,200 miles of shoreline, as the state's iconic lighthouses freeze over from a one-two punch of frigid waves and frosty temperatures. But none of these lighthouses is more spectacular than
Point Betsie Lighthouse
, a beautiful beacon located on the Lake Michigan shoreline just south of Sleeping Bear Dunes. The heavy snowfall seems to swallow this house whole, and ice coats all the plants on the surrounding landscape. Fortunately, the bright white tower and its keeper’s house are topped by a red roof and black lantern, and these vibrant colors seem to jump out of the all-white scenery in the dead of winter. This is a Robert Frost poem come to life, and it's sublime.
Ice Castles - Lake George, New York
19 W Brook Rd, Lake George, NY 12845, USA
newest member of the Ice Castles dream team
, head to Lake George in early 2022 to experience this real-life frozen fantasyland. A labor of love, the craftsmen at Ice Castles spend thousands of hours starting in the fall in order to conjure 5,000-12,000 icicles from nothing but water. Ice artists use variables in wind, water, and temperature to craft these incredible, dynamic, larger-than-life formations. In fact, ice castles are typically around an acre in size, and consist of more than
25 million pounds of ice
. Jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring, massive, and marvelous, you'll be blown away by the grandeur of these amazing creations.
Saranac Lake Winter Carnival - Saranac Lake, New York
Upstate New York is no stranger to ice and snow, as the winters here can be brutal -- and seemingly endless. In order to embrace the snowy season and promote outdoor recreation, the Pontiac Club of Saranac Lake created the eponymous Winter Carnival in 1897, and this tradition continues to this day. In fact, Saranac Lake Winter Carnival is the longest-running event of its kind in the eastern U.S. In its 125-year run, it's grown into a 10-day festival that includes sports, performances, two parades, and three sets of fireworks. The centerpiece of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival is, of course, the Ice Palace, built by volunteers on the shores of Lake Flower's Pontiac Bay. The theme of this ice castle changes each year, with each year's creation somehow more marvelous than the last. This year's event happens in Feb. 4-13, 2022, and will feature a
Ice Castles - Woodstock, New Hampshire
24 Clark Farm Rd, North Woodstock, NH 03262, USA
Tucked away in New Hampshire's White Mountains, the town of Woodstock features one of the most jaw-dropping ice castles in the country. From LED-lit igloos and frozen slides to magnificent ice carvings and massive monoliths, you'll be positively dazzled by this fantastic frozen fantasyland. One of the
five official Ice Castle festivals in the U.S.
, New Hampshire's winter wonderland opens to the public in early 2022.
Mendenhall Glacier - Juneau, Alaska
Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, AK 99801, USA
The Ice Caves located at the
in Juneau, Alaska, are natural ice formations in one of the most extraordinary places on the planet. Calling the Mendenhall Glacier "caves" is a misnomer; this place is an
entire frozen kingdom
that is 13.6 miles long with an estimated total area of 38 square miles. A place of immense beauty and natural splendor, there's nowhere in the world like the ice caves at Mendenhall Glacier, and experiencing this natural wonder in person will be something you'll never, ever forget.
Aurora Ice Museum - Fairbanks, Alaska
Aurora Ice Museum, 17600 Chena Hot Springs Rd, Fairbanks, AK 99712, USA
Alaska is a place of extremes; not only is this continental outlier located in the extreme Northern Hemisphere, but it's also a place of extreme cold, extreme ice, and extreme snowfall. So naturally, the state is home to an
actual ice museum
. The Aurora Ice Museum in Fairbanks has the world's largest year-round ice environment; it was hand-built using over 1,000 tons of ice and snow from the Chena Hot Springs Resort. This massive frozen museum stays a cool 25 degrees Fahrenheit all year long, and is absolutely an adventure for your bucket list.
Winter weather isn’t everyone’s favorite, but all of these enchanting ice castles in the U.S. are worth braving the cold for. In fact, we daresay they’ll make the freezing temperatures actually enjoyable.
Address: Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, AK 99801, USA Address: Eben Ice Caves Trailhead, Frey Rd, Deerton, MI 49822, USA Address: Point Betsie Lighthouse, 3701 Point Betsie Rd, Frankfort, MI 49635, USA Address: Hidden Cottage Circle, Hidden Cottage Cir, Geneva, WI 53147, USA Address: Midway, UT 84049, USA Address: 24 Clark Farm Rd, North Woodstock, NH 03262, USA Address: 19 W Brook Rd, Lake George, NY 12845, USA Address: Aurora Ice Museum, 17600 Chena Hot Springs Rd, Fairbanks, AK 99712, USA Address: 1500 Old Hwy 8, New Brighton, MN 55112, USA Address: Leavenworth, WA 98826, USA Address: Minnesota State Fairgrounds, 1265 Snelling Ave N, St Paul, MN 55108, USA Address: Saranac Lake, NY, USA