9 Tips for Visiting Ice Castles in New Hampshire this Winter

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New Hampshire is a great spot for family fun. Not only is there an abundance of skiing, hiking and natural beauty but it’s easily accessible from other New England states. Located near Loon Mountain, Waterville Valley and other New Hampshire ski resorts, the Ice Castles in North Woodstock are filled with magic.

Before you head to this winter wonderland, there are a few things that you need to know to make your visit go smoothly. We’re sharing our top tips on visiting Ice Castles and the lessons we learned the hard way.

For 2024, there are five Ice Castle locations: Utah, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and New York. There was a location in Colorado but that one has closed. New Hampshire’s Ice Castle is located in North Woodstock. Sometimes you’ll see it listed as Lincoln, NH. It’s the same location. Tickets are weather dependent but generally visitors are welcome from December through early March.

Read More: 10 Best New England Ski Resorts for Families

Things You Should Know Before You Go: Ice Castles North Woodstock

The New Hampshire Ice Castles offer a multitude of unique experiences. In addition to the ice slides, tunnels, caverns, crawl spaces and archways that the ice castles are known for, New Hampshire boasts the Mystic Forest Light Walk and a snow tubing hill. Feel like adding a little bit of extra pizzaz? You can upgrade and add a horse-drawn sleigh ride to your ticket.

Read More: 7 Tips for Taking Kids Snow Tubing

1. Buy Ice Castle Tickets Online

This isn’t a “wing it” type trip. The Ice Castles have capacity restrictions and timed tickets are required. Although they may sometimes have standby tickets available on site it isn’t guaranteed and standby tickets are priced higher. If you’re driving several hours from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont or New York, you don’t want your getaway to end with disappointment.

For weekend visits, we recommend always booking in advance. It is the only way to guarantee your entry. The tickets go quickly as folks look for unique winter activities in the White Mountains and beyond.

When Can I Buy Ice Castle Tickets for the North Woodstock NH location? 

Tickets went on sale November 28, 2023, in rolling 3-4 week blocks. This means that if you’re planning to visit in late February you’ll need to keep an eye on the ticket sale page to purchase when your dates become available in late January/early February. Subscribe to the newsletter at the bottom of the New Hampshire page to stay up to date.

2. Don’t be Late for Your Ice Castles NH Time Slot

Tickets for the North Woodstock Ice Castles are sold with a 30-minute entry window to manage capacities inside the ice castles. This doesn’t mean you only get 30 minutes inside! But it does mean that if you buy a ticket with a 4-430pm entry window, you need to enter during that time to be guaranteed admittance. If you miss your entry time, your ticket could be forfeited or you might have to wait until capacity allows your entrance. Once inside the ice castles, you may stay as long as you’d like.

For this reason, don’t underestimate drive time. Make sure your time block is realistic and that your whole party understands the importance of a timely arrival. Weather can be iffy during winter in the White Mountains, so plan to arrive in the area early!

3. Talk to the Kids about the Ice Castles Before You Go

The right time to talk to your kids about how cool the Ice Castles are and how they are created is BEFORE you visit. Once you get there they’ll be busy running around and exploring. When building the Ice Castles the process starts with just one icicle! It is watered and molded to other icicles until the huge structure takes form. The completed Ice Castles weigh about 25 million pounds and have frozen walls about 10 feet thick.

Looking back on the story of how the ice castles came to be can be fun for kids. Dad Brent Christensen built an ice cave for his daughter in his front yard in Alpine, Utah. From there, the idea evolved.

SheBuysTravel Tip: The restroom facilities at the Ice Castles are portable in nature and located near the entrance/exit. It’s always a good idea to review restroom info ahead of your visit so that the “go before we go” directive is taken seriously. You don’t want to have to be trekking back and forth to heed the call of nature.

4. Don’t Bring These Things to the Ice Castles

There are some items that aren’t allowed in the Ice Castles. Be sure to check out the list so that you don’t delay your entry.

Items that aren’t allowed include:

  • Firearms, weapons or toys that look like either
  • Drones
  • Extra camera equipment like tripods or lighting
  • Strollers (baby backpacks are allowed)
  • Pets (service animals are allowed)
  • Outside food and beverage
  • Inappropriate or obscene clothing

5. Visit the Ice Castles at Night for the Best Photos

Honestly, this one isn’t hard to do. It gets dark in New England pretty early during the winter. Because the ice castles are illuminated from within by thousands of LED lights, visiting in the dark feels almost like being in a fairytale. The scenery becomes truly magical. Over the course of the evening, the LED lights periodically do a choreographed “dance” to music. As it gets later, the ice castles get busier. We recommend arriving for an earlier entry time slot like the 4p-430pm one. This way, you’ll be inside just as it gets dark and can jump in line for the ice slide early.

Don’t make our winter error! Bring water-resistant TOUCH-SCREEN-friendly gloves. Otherwise every time you want to snap a picture on your phone you’ll need to take your gloves off, brrrr.

6. Don’t Wait to Get in Line for the Ice Slide

Sliding through an ice castle is a pretty awesome experience. Trouble is, everyone wants to do it, so the line can build quickly.

Fellow SheBuysTravel contributor Jenn Mitchell waited roughly 45 minutes for her turn to slide. Since the sliding itself only lasts about 10-20 seconds, the time value equation there is a delicate balance. Her tween kids still thought the wait was worth every second.

To avoid the long wait, ride early. One recommendation that we heard over and over was that us grownups should make sure to protect our butts. Put a coat under your bum or wear snow pants so that you don’t end up with a bruised tailbone (and dignity).

7. Wear the Right Winter Gear

Even if the winter temperatures are mild, you need to keep in mind that you’re walking into a structure made out of frozen water. Dress for winter. The temperature inside the castles can be lower than the surrounding area temperature.

Wear waterproof winter boots. You’ll be walking on ice and, due to the volume of visitors, slushy areas can develop. You don’t want to end up with wet feet! If you don’t own winter boots, buy a set of YakTrax. They slip on over other shoes and provide traction. Snow pants are your best option for the kids. Everyone will have a better visit if they stay dry.

Bring a change of clothes and footwear for after! Don’t end the visit grumpy and wet.

8. Experience All of the Activities

The ice castles are filled with surprises and the ice architects add new experiences and details every season. Sometimes you won’t notice things on the first go. You might find an ice sculpture or ice tunnel that you didn’t see the first time.

Pay attention to everything, even the ceilings. There are sparkling icicle details in some of the areas. Ice thrones, frozen orbs that glow and more are sprinkled throughout. Around every corner, there are hidden surprises.

If you get cold go warm up near the fire pits. Yes, that’s right — there are fire pits inside the ice castle!

Hungry? You can purchase treats like cinnamon rolls, hot cocoa and cookies. Mobile pay is available.

9. Plan to stay overnight in the White Mountains

The White Mountains offer a variety of options for multi-day visits from skiing to Attitash Mountain to the Conway Scenic Railroad. Because the Ice Castles experience is at night, planning to stay overnight is a smart option. You don’t want to rush the experience because you have a long drive home.

Lodging options in New Hampshire include grand resorts like the Omni Mount Washington, the family-friendly Hampton Inn in Lincoln and date night favorite Launchpoint Lodge.

And if you stay overnight, you do more of these fun things to do in New Hampshire the next day!

Nasreen’s adventures started out as business travel. Working as a territory sales manager she covered 21 states during her tenure, traveling 3-5 nights a week. As she visited new cities and states, she always worked in a quick stop at a unique or iconic site. A travel writing career was born. When her father-in-law’s cancer came back she started writing and consulting full-time around his chemotherapy schedule. Traveling with her firefighter/paramedic husband, kids, friends and solo allows her to cover a variety of situations and topics. Her four kids (19 year old boy, 13 year old girl, 11 year old girl and 7 year old boy) are professionals at the cross country road trip. After 10 years in Texas, their family is back in the Northeast exploring both familiar and new destinations. There she runs her own business providing go-to-market, sales strategy, podcast, and content marketing consulting for websites and B2B businesses. Whenever possible she writes for a variety of publications in the podcast, travel, and business space. Connect with her on LinkedIn to chat about travel, content, sales, and podcasts!
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10 responses

  1. Could overweight people fit in the ice castle?

    1. For most of the Ice Castles, anyone can walk through. Some tunnels are tight for even the average adult. They are really meant for kids. The entrance to the slide when we went was a rather tight squeeze, but this may vary from year to year. If you have concerns, I recommend that you call the Ice Castles organizer.

  2. These are amazing. I thought the ICE visit at gaylord palms in Orlando was awesome. This is just amazing. Thanks for sharing

  3. I had no clue that these existed! I will have to plan a trip up there sometime.

  4. I would so love to go here this looks like a total blast and amazing fun thanks for sharing these great pictures.

  5. Thanks so much! We have been thinking about taking our family. It always helps to get advise from someone who has been there already.

  6. This looks fantastic! I’ll have to make a point of visiting on my excursions north.

  7. I would love to go there with my family it looks like so much fun to go see the amazing Ice Castle.

  8. We are planning on a trip to NH. I am putting this on my list to go and see.

  9. This sounds like an awesome place to visit with kids during the winter months.

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