The world of little girls and little boys needs more magic. There should be more experiences just for the pleasure of seeing a child’s face light up with the sheer joy of life.
Enter the frozen attraction nestled in New Hampshire’s White Mountains – Ice Castles New Hampshire.
This road trip-worthy spot is in North Woodstock, a quirky little ski village 60 miles north of Concord, New Hampshire.
Tickets for Ice Castles Hew Hampshire can be purchased online ahead of time – recommended not only because they sell out, but because it will streamline the process once you arrive. We added on a horse-drawn sleigh ride at a cost of $15 a person, and purchased for the first time slot of the day, 4 p.m. (Time slots are purchased in half hour windows.)
When we arrived, a staffer directed us to a parking spot and we bundled up to head inside. It is COLD in there, so I definitely recommend your warm weather gear — including snow pants if you plan to take full advantage of things like the slide and tunnels.
Next we joined the queue leading to the gates to Ice Castles New Hampshire. There are three lines here – one for people who pre-purchased regular tickets, one for people who purchased combo tickets for the ice castle and the sleigh ride, and one for stand-by. The lines filled up quickly, so we were glad we had chosen an early time.
Once they scanned our tickets, we hopped on a sleigh drawn by two horses and driven by a gentleman from Utah. He told us the horses were “half draft,” meaning they were half draft and half quarter horse, and all beautiful. The ride took us along a pretty little path which ran alongside a babbling brook and through a small wooded area. The area was lit with twinkling lights and was really quite lovely. Bria quietly sang “jingle bells” to herself the entire ride – she could barely contain her excitement at actually being on a sleigh ride!
At the end of the ride, the sleigh went through an archway of ice (much to the delight of its passengers) and delivered us to the entrance of the ice castles. We stopped for photos with the horses, then a photo with the official photographers.
As the name suggests, the main event is a 20-foot tall fairy tale castle constructed of ice. Inside is a series of rooms, LED-lit sculptures, frozen thrones, carved tunnels, a fountain, and two slides. If you’ve ever enjoyed a pumpkin patch in the fall, this sort of reminded me of the winter version!
Bria was the perfect age for this. She raced around, exploring all of the rooms and enjoying every magical feature. She especially loved the slide, and rode it over and over, squealing with joy each time until I pried her away to warm up near one of the fires.
In addition to the fires, the little warm up area has a hut offering cocoa and cinnamon rolls. We tried out the cocoa and thawed out a bit, then went back for a few more rides on the slide.
All told we stayed about 90 minutes. It was COLD, and that was probably a little longer than we should have stayed, but she was having such a great time, it was hard to tear her away! For a family with little ones, the stay probably would have been shorter.
A few tips:
- The snow is pretty tough to walk in, so is probably not well suited to those with mobility issues. We saw families with babies and toddlers pulling the kiddos in sleds, which was super clever!
- An early-ish time slot allows you to enjoy the ice castles both in daytime and at night. The lights are really special.
- As mentioned above, definitely consider buying tickets ahead of time, but maybe not too far ahead of time – they are not refundable.
- Hit the bathrooms before you go in! There is a row of port-a-potties in the parking lot, but you won’t have access to them once inside.
- Dress warm. I saw a review that said dress for winter and then add a layer, and I’m thinking that is pretty great advice.
Not going to be in New Hampshire any time soon? Check out the Ice Castles website, because their 40 artisans put together castles in six location each year. There may be one near you!
Have you been to the Ice Castles? What was your favorite part? Tell us in the comments!