Wander in an Icy Wonderland
// Midway, Utah
Brent Christensen’s first “ice castle” was a frozen playground he built for his daughter in the front yard of their home just outside Salt Lake City. Nearly a decade later, he’s the mastermind behind an acre-size, 30-foot-tall icicle fortress featuring tunnels, slides, and color-changing lights that enhance the experience at night. Nowhere near Utah? The company, Ice Castles, also oversees creations in Colorado, Minnesota, and New Hampshire. Tickets go quick, as do the castles themselves—they typically open in late December and last, on average, six to eight weeks.
// Newport Beach, California
Dating back to 1908, the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade is a five-night celebration (Dec. 19–23) that involves 200-plus boats decked out in lights, Christmas trees, and over-the-top decor. To be part of the action, book a spot aboard one of Newport Landing’s parade vessels.
Take a Shivering Run Down the River
// Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Don your swimsuit (crazy costume optional) and join the Fire & Ice Winterfest’s popular polar float on Feb. 2. After braving the frigid quarter-mile route along the Portneuf River, participants warm up at the town’s namesake springs.
Harvest Ice (the Old-Fashioned Way)
// South Bristol, Maine
Before refrigerators were the norm, blocks of ice were sawed from frozen waterways, loaded onto ships, and carried to distant ports. The Thompson Ice House Harvesting Museum preserves this tradition by inviting visitors to employ century-old techniques at their annual ice harvest, held Feb. 17. Return in July to sample the bounty at the community’s ice cream social.
Skate Beneath the Skies
// Coronado, California
Located just outside San Diego, Hotel del Coronado transforms its palm tree–lined lawn into an ice skating oasis overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Reserve a table at the rink-side lounge for unlimited hot cocoa and easy access to a fire pit. In town on Dec. 15? Don’t miss a special appearance by Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski.
+ we also love Rosa Parks Circle, designed by architect Maya Lin, in Grand Rapids, Michigan