The downside of the recent warm weather is that so many of the fun winter things to do are — very quickly — literally melting away! So we took advantage of the Ice Castles in Stillwater being open tonight for a Valentine's Day outing.

We've wanted to go for a few years, but this is the first time we got it together to do so. And I'm really glad we did!

We got there just as it was getting dark, and it was pretty quiet. The warmth meant the ice had a slight mist to it. The castle looks pretty small from the outside, and we enjoyed the twisting caverns as we walked in, and the colored lights just showing up against the ice as it got dimmer. It felt a lot like a British Christmas grotto, but made of ice.

Then we turned into the main courtyard, which was kind of amazing! There was even a fountain, and to one side was an enclosed ice slide (kids grabbed plastic mini-bogans, then went through a low tunnel and slid down an enclosed ice slide). Beatrix can be pretty anxious about sliding, but she went down this one five times in a row (easy to do, because it was relatively uncrowded).

Then we hit the maze area, which was really fun, when if most of the maze paths were a little too small for adults. Beatrix loved scrambling around. And then — just like that — it got dark, and the colored lights came on, and it was magic!

We spent quite some time in the maze, then did some other, smaller ice slides, and watched some fire dancers. All in all, it was a pretty magical way to spend a romantic evening!

After more than an hour there, we headed over to Leo's Malt Shop on Main Street for a 50s style dinner, and where we got to people-watch young couples having Valentine's Day dinners. Then home, where Beatrix had chocolate mousse cake, and I received flowers, and painting tools, proving my romantic man really knows me.

We've had a lot of Valentine's Days together, though I laugh as I look back at the calendar, because they always seem to have some kind of parental duty on them (cookie booths! dance class! music!), or various meetings and events. This is the first one that I can remember in quite some time where we spent it having fun as a family, and it was magical. Highly recommended.

(With the warm weather, I doubt the #icecastles will be open much longer. But if you get a chance to check them out, you should — it's worth it. Definitely but online in advance because it's much cheaper, and try to get there in the time frame we did, where day turns into night, for the best effects.)


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