Fun Winter Family Activity
Last weekend I took my kids to the Ice Castles in Dillon, Colorado. It was an amazing experience and I’m so glad we braved the traffic to go see this fantastic place. Here are a few tips and tricks I learned from our experience and of course images and a little video!
Buy tickets online, you can save a little bit on the ticket price and it also shows you when they’re open. It can be weather dependent too so your best bet is to head to their website to get updates. You buy your ticket based on a time slot for entry. We bought our tickets for the 5:00-5:30 entry time, once you’re in you can stay as long as you want but you cannot leave and come back. Make sure the kids are fed and do a potty stop before you go in because just like in regular old-timey castles, there is no indoor plumbing!
I wanted to see Ice Castles during the day and at night and the 5:00 entry time was perfect. Some days there is quite a long wait to get in but when I went (on a Friday), I think it was earlier enough that people hadn’t made their way up there yet and there was hardly a line. I bet it’s a different story on Saturdays and Sundays though. Lesson learned: optimal time Friday at 5! We were there right as the sun was starting to set and it cast this pretty shade of pink that reflected on the ice [insert: photographer’s deep sigh].
My kids are 8 & 5 and we managed to stay just over 1.5 hours. The wind can pick up there and it can make for a chilly evening so bring those layers and waterproof gloves/mittens and boots. The ice can drip and cause puddles which are irresistible for children, you can imagine what cold gloves and boots on a windy day up on the mountain feels like!
There are lots of little tunnels, rooms, windows, mazes, sculptures and even a fountain. Tons of nooks and crannies for kids to crawl around in and explore and a long ice tunnel slide. Fair warning: some of the tunnels are S-M-A-L-L and if you are not a fan of tight spaces, those tunnels are not your friend. I included some photos of my kids crawling through them so you can get some perspective. If you have a little kiddo that you normally use a stroller for, bring your sled. The ice on the ground is like walking through sand, pulling a sled is your best way to transport tired kids.
We stayed long enough to catch the fire dancer show put on by Insphyre Performance. It’s about 10-15 mins and worth the wait if you can make it-my boys loved it, check out the video below for part of their performance. When I was there the first show started around 7pm.
At night it did get significantly busier with crowds and despite the colorful lights underneath the ice it was still pretty dark. That, coupled with lots of people and everything looking pretty similar, might make it confusing for kids, make sure they stick close or establish a meeting spot if they become lost. Be sure to talk to them beforehand on what to do and make a gameplan if they get separated from you. There’s lots of friendly staff there on hand to assist but I saw several panicked parents and worried kids. If you have littles best to stick by their sides after the sun goes down.
All in all we had a super fun time, there are plenty of restaurants nearby both sit down and fast food and that certainly makes keeping stomachs full and bladders empty much easier. You are not allowed to bring in outside food or drinks and if you want to take photos be aware that you can’t bring anything with a tripod or stand, it all has to be handheld.
Definitely go check it out, you won’t regret it!