Ice Castles: The Worst $55 Mistake I’ve Ever Made as a Parent

If I could build a time machine, the first thing I would do after killing Baby Hitler would be to go to Ice Castles New Hampshire in mid-January 2016 instead of yesterday. This way I could have warned the world to stay far, far away from this ridiculously overhyped, money-sucking tourist trap.

Today is the last day Ice Castles is open this winter. If you already bought tickets, here’s some advice: Find your nearest Target or Wal-Mart and stare at the mounds of snow that the plows piled up in the parking lot. They are far more impressive.

Here’s what I thought I was bringing my family of four to see based on the Ice Castles website:

Bait-and-Switch: The glorious advertised image of the New Hampshire Ice Castles (source:

Bait-and-Switch: The glorious advertised image of the New Hampshire Ice Castles (source:

And here’s what greeted us when we got there, a really wide but not-so-tall snow fort:

ice castles-2

Backing up, here is the view from the parking lot:


This place was the ultimate letdown. Based on the admission fees ($15.95 online, $20 at the door), I was expecting a Disney-quality attraction – not something the guys at my local DPW could slap together with a bulldozer and a ski resort snow machine.

I was probably naive to begin with, but I was hoping to bring my family to a smaller version of the Ice Hotel in Sweden or a scaled-down Superman Fortress of Solitude.

The snow sculpture below is funky for sure, but charging $55 for my whole family to see it just felt criminal.

ice castles-3

Probably would have been better off going to Dartmouth College’s annual Winter Carnival, or to the local Sheraton’s Sunday brunch, which features some awesome ice sculptures by the salad bar.

What do you do when you feel ripped off and are surrounded by signs reminding you there are no refunds under any circumstances? Well, all you can do is laugh and go enjoy the surrounding White Mountains and gorgeous Kancamagus Highway scenic drive. At least we didn’t waste the gas to get there.

I’ll be updating this blog post with more pics and observations when I get a chance, but for now, I’ll leave you with this classic image from the Ice Castles ticket lobby. They rented out the classy Hobo Railroad for their seasonal attraction.

Making fun of homeless people just puts the icing — get it, ICING? — on the cake for the nauseous feeling I had leaving here. Needless to say, I won’t be back.



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