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6 amazing indoor adventures in New England

Red Jacket Mountain View Resort and Spa

Even if the weather’s cold and snowy, you can enjoy summer activities indoors in Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire.

For those who aren’t out on the ski slopes or cross-country trails, New England winters revolve around interior endeavors. But how many weekends can you bowl or catch a movie before going stir-crazy? A few creative entrepreneurs in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont have brought some outdoor activities indoors. We’ve picked six pursuits to try while you wait for spring to arrive.

1. Climbing: Petra Cliffs Indoor Climbing Center and Mountaineering School

105 Briggs Street, Burlington, Vermont. 802-657-3872; petracliffs.com.

Petra Cliffs Indoor Climbing Center  and Mountaineering School

Photo by Craig Idlebrook

If you long to scale mountains, try Petra Cliffs Indoor Climbing Center. Friendly instructors will give you a basic orientation—including safety, communication, and belay techniques—which will allow you to climb around on your own. The center is open to all ages and has a wide range of climbing walls as well as an indoor ropes course. The casual atmosphere makes it comfortable for both novice and expert climbers. 

Prices: All-day passes start at $11. Equipment rentals cost $4–$6.  

2. Golfing: Gonzo’s Indoor Golf and Sports Bar

1860 Williston Road, Suite 2 South Burlington, Vermont. 802-881-0660; gonzosindoorgolf.com.

Golfing Gonzo’s Indoor Golf and Sports Bar

Photo by Craig Idlebrook

It feels mischievous to swing a golf club indoors, especially when you drive the ball to break virtual windows. But that’s part of the adult-playground character of Gonzo’s Indoor Golf and Sports Bar, which has a playful sign over the bar stating, “Never strike your caddie with a driver. Use your sand wedge instead.” Miniature golf, this ain’t.

The brainchild of PGA golf pro Steve Gonsalves, Gonzo’s offers high-definition golf simulators that allow you to play the world’s best courses while the snow is thick outside. Each simulator is named after a famous golfer.

Players drive real balls into 10-by-12-foot screens that project the courses. Playing a simulated round is all too real, as three high-speed cameras analyze your slice in excruciating detail. Luckily, in a place where even some of the bartenders are golf pros, there’s plenty of help available, and Gonsalves’ enthusiasm for the sport is infectious.

Prices: Rates start at $29 for an hour. Reservations required.

3. Swimming: Kahuna Laguna Indoor Water Parks

Red Jacket Mountain View Resort, 2251 White Mountain Highway (Route 16) North Conway, New Hampshire. 603-356-5411; kahunalaguna.com.

Kahuna Laguna, Red Jacket Mountain View Resort and Spa

Photo courtesy Red Jacket Mountain View Resort and Spa

There’s something nicely incongruous about hearing children splash around in warm water when you can see snow through the windows. Kahuna Laguna brings all the appeal of an outdoor water park into an indoor environment, from water slides to wave pools. All that’s missing is sunscreen.

Earlier generations of water parks, perhaps, relied too heavily on slides, but Kahuna Laguna’s 40,000-square-foot design emphasizes variety. Along with four slides, the park offers four basketball hoops, a wave-making pool, a 25-person hot tub, a toddler pool, and an aquatic play area.

Prices: $40 per person for day passes (noon–8 p.m.) for non–hotel guests; $25 per person for resort guests not on a package; $20 for package guests. 

4. Skydiving: SkyVenture New Hampshire

100 Adventure Way, Nashua, New Hampshire. 603-897-0002; skyventurenh.com.

Skydiving at SkyVenture

Photo courtesy SkyVenture

Ever wanted to skydive but were afraid to jump out of a plane? SkyVenture New Hampshire offers mini-sessions in a wind tunnel with trained instructors. The feeling is closer to liftoff in a windstorm than falling at the top of a roller coaster. Using hand signals, instructors patiently help you fly a few feet above a net before showing off their own stunts. 

SkyVenture also has an indoor surfing wave and a barrel ride, as well as a climbing wall.

Prices: $55–$95 per session, for a two- or four-minute individual flight. 

5. Karting: Maine Indoor Karting

23 Washington Avenue, Scarborough, Maine. 888-246-5278 or 207-885-0058; maineindoorkarting.com.

Maine Indoor Karting

Photo by Craig Idlebrook

Maine Indoor Karting co-owner Lori Snow is not a gearhead by any stretch of the imagination. But when she married her car-loving husband, Rick, he frequently mentioned an indoor go-karting track he once rode in Europe. Still, Lori was the one who one day blurted out that Rick should start an indoor karting track in Maine. She did this when she was six months pregnant with twins. “It must have been the pregnancy hormones,” she says. “Now he blames the track on me.”

Today, the two are the proud owners of Maine’s only indoor karting track, complete with just enough twists, turns, and straightaways to make life interesting with the pedal to the metal. You’d think that the indoors and idling engines wouldn’t mix, but the facility’s state-of-the-art ventilation system exchanges all the air within a space of 10 minutes. The track also has firm rules in place to keep the racing action fun but controlled. 

Since they began their business in 2003, the Snows have appealed to a broad swath of the community. They offer an open area with 5-mph vehicles for small children and host fundraisers and ladies’ nights. The track is known to stay open into the wee hours for after-graduation events.

Prices: $24 per race for nonmember adults. Discounts available for adults who become karting league members.

6. Soccer: Portland Sports Complex

512 Warren Avenue, Portland, Maine. 207-205-0705.

Soccer at Portland Sports Complex

Photo by Craig Idlebrook

Can’t wait until the ground thaws to kick the soccer ball? The Portland Sports Complex has turf fields available for leagues and practice. It’s dedicated solely to soccer but is in the same complex as an indoor baseball training facility and a kids’ fun center. The field can be used for other sports, from field hockey to adult kickball.

Prices: Field rental $225–$400

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