Nice Ice! The Twin Cities’ Frozen Wonders Beckon with Beauty
If you arrive at the Ice Castles in Excelsior on a bright, sunny day, the frozen landscape glows with every shade of glacial blue and green. You’ll also probably spot several pint-sized visitors dressed in their favorite Frozen princess costumes, staring up at icicled overhangs, as delighted parents take photos and wander through nooks and passageways that look a lot like natural ice cave stalactites.
For winter adventurers, 2018-19 brings an unusual and beautiful convergence of frozen beauty: Ice Castles near Excelsior Bay; Saint Paul Winter Carnival ice sculptures in Saint Paul’s Rice Park; and the frozen Minnehaha waterfalls near the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.
The tough part may be deciding when to visit. While sunshine seems to bring out all the blues, a light snowfall adds an enchanting snow-globe atmosphere.
And nighttime? That’s for big wows as colored lights create a fantasy effect. “If you’re going on a date, go at night,” says Ice Castles founder Brent Christensen. “It’s more romantic.”
Saint Paul’s Winter Carnival held January 24 – February 3, 2019
Don’t miss the 133rd Saint Paul Winter Carnival, the “Coolest Celebration on Earth” since 1886.
The Winter Carnival continues to bring family-friendly events and community pride to Saint Paul and the Twin Most activities Cities metro area.
Dozens of free events, both traditional favorites and new attractions, will entertain those of all ages. Most events take place in downtown Saint Paul, in and around Kellogg Mall Park and Landmark Center, as well as at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.
The Ice Palace glows like sea glass during the day and brightens up with colored lighting at night. Visitors can warm their hands around steaming cups of hot chocolate from park vendors or grab a cold brew or local wine from the park’s temporary bar — made of ice, of course!
Minnehaha Falls: A Natural Winter Wonder Not to Be Missed
For a look at the natural beauty of ice, Minnehaha Falls freezes dramatically during frigid weather. The 53-foot scenic falls, which often freezes in January or February, anchors the 167-acre Minnehaha Regional Park along the Mississippi River. The historic Longfellow House offers information on visiting the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway, which links lakes and parks where you can find cross-country ski trails, fat bike trails and lakeside skating rinks.
Visitors with furry companions can stop by the Minnehaha Dog Park or explore the many walking trails leading to and from the Falls. Make sure to bundle up, and don’t forget your camera!
Ice Castles: A Stunning Sight Along Excelsior Bay
Ice castles is the must-see winter wonderland where fairy tales are brought to life with twinkling lights, magnificent archways and towers, ice-carved tunnels, fountains and slides ready to be explored. By day this frozen castle glimmers with glacial blues and after dark the ice formations create a magical glow.
The 2019 Ice Castles will be located in downtown Excelsior along the lakefront. Come see this beautiful castle and plan to stay overnight to further explore the area’s, dining, nightlife and family fun.
It’s wise to reserve tickets online — scheduled in 30-minute blocks — to make sure the attraction isn’t at capacity. Guests are welcome to linger longer than 30 minutes, and it helps to dress warmly and wear boots with good treads.
The temperatures may be freezing, but a magical day at an ice castle or a romantic night at a frozen palace makes it all worth it.