Eden Prairie Ice Castles in Minnesota is officially open and, like previous years, the experience is grand. This year was my family’s third time seeing these spectacular creations and they never cease to amaze me. Our first visit was during the day when the castles were displayed at Mall of America. Last year we showed up to the ice castles around sunset. This year we saw the castles lit up at night (note the difference between the family photos from last year in the light and this year in the dark). Each year the temperatures have been very, very cold but all three visits were unique due to the lighting. With that said, here are some ice castle tips to help make your visit to the icy wonders comfortable.
Bundle up in layers. Dressing warmly may seem like the most ridiculous advice being that it’s obviously cold enough to keep ice castles standing. However, the key isn’t simply to “dress warmly” but rather dress in layers. If the wind picks up the icy breeze will likely blow right through your jeans. In fact, even if you’re an adult I recommend you…
Wear snow pants. For the kids, snow pants are a must-wear because there are ice slides! This year the longer slide in Eden Prairie does have flat sleds to ride down on but the other shorter slide relies on the slider’s slick winter gear (see video below – and watch the colors change). Parents may want to slide down and that’s why I recommend adults dressing in full winter gear – just in case. That, and proper pants will protect you from the snow and ice.
Boots. In past years the ground was slick and icy while this year when we visited the ground was thick with crunchy snow. The point is this, water/ice/snow changes from minute to minute so you never know what the ground is going to be like in any section of the ice castle. Thus, wear your best winter boots with good treads. As I write this the temperature is pushing 40, so if the top layer of ice melts today then freezes tonight expect slick conditions tomorrow (Minnesota people already know this). If you’re not familiar with frigid temps, trust me.
Let the kids burn off energy. Your children are going to have so much fun! However, remind them to go slow and not run because slipping is possible. Ice is everywhere!
Skip the stroller. If you have babies or toddlers forget the stroller. We carried Maisie both years, although last year we did see some parents pulling sleds or plastic wagons for the little ones. Again, if you have a walking toddler, put on those boots and full snow gear.
Warm up. There is a coffee stand with goodies and I highly recommend a hot chocolate for warming up.
Visit twice. The reason I suggest repeat visits is because the day and night experiences are so different. As previously mentioned, we took an awesome family photo during the day last year but this year we have a cool silhouette family photo (see above?). My favorite time to visit was sunset because the sky colors meshed well with the unique ice colors. Of course, the vibrant changing neon night colors made fantastic photos.
Opt for weekdays. Weekends are crowded. As in, there will be a line to get in and photos are a little more challenging because people are everywhere. There is also a discount for visiting during the week. Also, order your tickets online for a discount. Camera. Obviously, bring the camera. If you can, keep your gloves on while taking pictures because when it’s super cold your fingers will freeze faster (again, stating the obvious). Here’s another tip regarding pictures. If you visit at night make sure your coat isn’t shiny. If you use a flash the light will catch your coat and throw off the picture. I found out the hard way, thus the silhouette photo is my favorite.
Are you going to visit any ice castles this year? What questions can I answer?