As much as we Chicagoans dread our long and brutal winters, there is a reason to celebrate the upcoming cold and icy season. Why? Because Ice Castles are coming to Lake Geneva! My family and I were able to visit the Ice Castles when they were in the Wisconsin Dells a few years ago and it was one of the COOLEST (pun intended) things we have ever done. But before you plan your trip, here are five tips for visiting the Ice Castles exhibit.
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I mean…you will be walking ON ICE. It is slippery, so this is the perfect time to bust out your snow boots and ski gear and dress in layers. Your hands will get wet when touching the ice (just don’t lick it!) so pack an extra pair or two (like these cashmere “smartphone” gloves). And don’t forget to pack a warm and waterproof hat since the icicles will drip on you when you are walking around.
Make sure everyone is agile enough for adventure.
I’m not saying that you need to be in stellar shape for the Ice Castles exhibit, but if your kids aren’t sure footed (think three years and up) or other family members can’t get around confidently with some type of assistance, the Ice Castles exhibit isn’t for them. Baby wearing is extremely dangerous while walking on ice and strollers will have a very difficult time navigating the narrow and winding passageways, so it is best to leave the littles warm and cozy at home. Sleds are welcome if you really want to involve the kids but be prepared for a workout!
Be prepared for the “ultimate photo shoot.”
I’m not going to lie, the Ice Castles don’t look like much when you pull up to the parking lot. But once you enter, it is like walking into a frozen fairytale. The photo opportunities are endless, whether you are posing in front or inside of the icy caves, taking boomerangs of your squad going up and down slides made of solid ice, or focusing your shots on the tiny ice crystals that form throughout the exhibit.
Add a pop of color to your outfit.
No one loves a puffy and warm black coat like me, but adding some colorful winter accessories will really make your Ice Castles photos pop. When we visited on a gloomy afternoon, our brightly colored accessories like scarves and hats added warmth and color to the white and blue background. When visiting at night, there are tons of gorgeous shadows on the ice castles but it might be tricky to ensure that you are noticed in the photos if you aren’t totting around fancy cameras, lenses, and lights. Dressing in a bright color, even at night, will most definitely make a positive impact on your photos.
Finally, be sure to book your tickets ahead of time and pay close attention to the time and details on your ticket. Due to the popularity of the Lake Geneva Ice Castles exhibit, it will sell out fast and they cannot offer refunds if you miss your scheduled time. You might be able to snag a stand-by ticket, but there are no guarantees so your best bet is to pre-pay for tickets online (kids under 3 are free, but I wouldn’t recommend bringing them due to safety concerns). The exhibit might also temporarily close if the weather is not cooperating (it is made of ice, after all) so be mindful of that and check the Ice Castles website and social media pages before heading out to the exhibit.
Hope you and your family enjoy the Ice Castles exhibit as much as my family and I did!
Click here for other “must do” activities to put on your winter bucket list!