Looking for a fun winter activity in the Midwest? Check out the new Winter Realms (from the creators of the ice castles) in Wisconsin. Tickets were just released today for the 2024 season.
Here is everything you need to plan your visit including the best time to visit, how to get there, where to stay and more tips.
Visiting Winter Realms (formerly the Ice Castles) in Lake Geneva Wisconsin
What is Winter Realms?
Winter Realms is a new open-air winter experience brought to you by the creators of Ice Castles. The reason for the rebranding was that the ice castles in 2023 were only able to stay open for a few days due to warm temperatures last winter.
Winter Realms will have pretty much everything the ice castles had in one place, just, without the castle.
Winter attractions at Winter Realms will include sleigh rides, an ice volcano, igloos, tubing activities, ice sculptures, light walk, ice slides, warming stations and an Après-ski ice bar.
Here are some photos of our visits from prior years:
The small ice slides do not have a long wait but there can be a long wait for the large ice slide especially on weekends and in the evening.
Where is Winter Realms located?
Winter Realms will be located near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin on the grounds of the Geneva National Resort & Club at 1091 Hidden Cottage Cir, Lake Geneva, WI 53147.
The closest large city is Milwaukee, Wisconsin which is less than an hour drive away.
Lake Geneva is located close to the Illinois border about 90 miles from Chicago, IL.
Other nearby cities include Madison, WI (about 67 miles) and Green Bay, WI (about 166 miles).
What dates is Winter Realms open?
Winter Realms WI will likely open in January and run through late February or early March. Dates differ year-to-year as their operations are completely dependent on weather as they can only create winter magic when precipitation is not in the forecast and temperatures are consistently cold enough to generate snow and icicles.
Tickets for Winter Realms are now on sale for January 26-February 11, 2024 on their website here. If they are extended after this date, they will release a new batch of tickets at a later date. If they open after January 26, your tickets will be automatically refunded.
General admission is $26 per person on off-peak times and $30 per person during peak times. For a more private experience, you can pay extra to reserve the private Arctic Alcove.
If tickets are sold out on their website for the dates and times you want, you can still get tickets by booking an overnight package either at Geneva National Resort & Club or The Ridge Hotel.
Keep in mind that Winterfest (featuring the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Championship) will be held in downtown Lake Geneva during January 31 – February 4, 2024. If you visit Winter Realms that this time you can also experience Winterfest, but it will be more crowded at this time and hotel prices will likely be higher.
What is the best time to visit Winter Realms?
The best time to visit is right before sunset so you can see experience Winter Realms both in the daytime and at night. It does get more crowded later in the evening however especially on weekends.
I recommend purchasing a ticket with an arrival time just before sunset so you can see everything during the day and have some time go down the ice slides before there is a long wait. Then you can stay a bit in the evening to see the lights at night before it gets too crowded and cold.
Tips for visiting the Winter Realms
• Check that Winter Realms is open before heading there. They can close due to weather.
• Allow extra travel time. Last year there was a lot of car traffic entering the parking lots.
• Dress warmly especially in the evening.
• Wear winter boots as the ground can be slippery.
• I recommend wearing snow pants especially for kids that will be going down the ice slides and crawling through small tunnels.
• Strollers are hard to use so bring a sled to pull young kids.
Where is the best place to stay near Winter Realms?
These are the closest hotels to Winter Realms and they both offer stay packages with tickets.
• Ridge Hotel – The Ridge Hotel is located about four miles from downtown Lake Geneva, along the shores of Lake Como. The Ridge offers indoor pool and sauna and is pet friendly. Click here to read reviews and here to see latest prices.
Other great hotels options in the Lake Geneva area for those visiting Winter Realms include the following:
• Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark – Timber Ridge Lodge Waterpark is a family friendly all-suite hotel, offering kitchens with full-sized refrigerators, stove top burners, dishwashers and double sinks. Other indoor amenities include a spa, game arcade and indoor activity pools. Staying at Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark includes passes to their indoor waterpark with two large heated waterslides and inner tubing on the lazy river. The resort is located on the grounds of Grand Geneva and there is a trolley between both resorts throughout the day. Click here to read reviews and here to see latest prices.
• Grand Geneva Resort & Spa – Grand Geneva Resort & Spa is the most convenient option for visitors planning to do some skiing and snowboarding as there is a ski center at the resort offering rentals and lessons. Other amenities include a full service spa and an indoor pool. Guests of Grand Geneva may purchase half-day passes to the waterpark at Timber Ridge on a first-come, first-served basis, based on availability. Click here to read reviews and here to see latest prices. You can also read our full review here.