The weather in the Northern Hemisphere may be frightfully cold this time of year, but that's no reason to miss out on adventure travel. Staying warm indoors doesn't have to mean curling up in front of the fire. Thanks to the ingenuity of the operators of some United States travel attractions, you can spend your vacation inside and still experience plenty of thrilling activities.
Biking trips are an ever-popular way of seeing the countryside and keeping fit while on vacations, but in the winter, only the most hardcore of mountain bikers can travel on two wheels. According to USA Today, Ray's MTB Park, in Cleveland, Ohio, lets visitors use their pedal power all year-round, with more than 12,000 square-meters of indoor tracks that are remade each season to give the ultimate mountain biking experience indoors. It may even be better than the real thing for family travel, as its foam pits and safe indoor environment make it accessible for those who aren't quite ready to go tearing down a mountain on their own.
If off-road isn't enough, consider going off the ground entirely. Soarin' Indoors, in Manchester, Connecticut, is described on its website as an aerial adventure park. This 1,300-square-meter indoor park is packed with courses comprising rope bridges, ziplines, trapezes and other high-flying obstacles. Another good pick for family travel, visitors are attached to safety lines to ensure that they can tackle the courses' challenges at their own pace, without worrying about a sudden fall.
For some travellers, climbing doesn't get the adrenaline flowing quite as much as diving. USA Today named SkyVenture, in Nashua, New Hampshire, the world's best artificial freefall. A twist on traditional skydiving, the facility uses gigantic turbines to create a strong updraft of 240 kilometers per hour in a vertical wind tunnel. Visitors stepping inside will be thrust into the air to float on the artificial wind current. The source reported that visitors need just 20 minutes of instruction to prepare for the virtual skydive, and that the experience is remarkably like the real thing.
Down South, an iconic structure in Houston, Texas, may soon become a multi-purpose indoor adventure park. According to Your Houston News, a proposal is underway that would see the Astrodome, Houston's indoor sports stadium, converted into a number of separate areas each housing its own attraction. Along with museum exhibits and a location for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the building would contain a park with areas for activities like mountain climbing and ziplining.
For those who'd rather use their brains than flex their muscles, 5 Wits in Foxboro, Massachusetts, may be the ticket. The facility offers live-action games that put teams up against puzzles and riddles in two different adventures. According to its website, 5 Wits offers two challenges, Espionage and 20,000 Leagues, in Foxboro - and an additional scenario called TOMB in Syracuse, New York - each packed with difficult puzzles. A staff member guides groups through the narratives at 5 Wits, but visitors are left to their own devices to solve the challenges before them.
Similar challenges have been springing up across the world for those who want to test their wits while on vacation. According to Thrillist, the phenomenon of escape rooms started in Asia before migrating overseas. In these puzzles, visitors are locked in a room packed with props, puzzles and clues and left to find their own way out. From the spy-themed The Room in Berlin to the Sherlock Holmes-inspired The Home in New York City, these challenges are built to give visitors a real-life video game experience that gets them off the couch while solving puzzles.