By Mary Bergin
Special to TravelWisconsin.com
Plan on hibernating until spring? Nonsense. Keep your kids active and put a stop to the boredom with these excellent outlets for staying active indoors – and they go beyond the thick wave of waterparks.
Have teens into the sport of table tennis? Then head to this action-packed entertainment destination, which offers exercise, meals and cocktails (for mom and dad!). While open to all families, the vibe is a better fit for the older kids and adults who seek a place to both burn calories and relax. Reserva a table by the hour, join a league or book a room (with private bar and playing table). Evolution's 13 table tennis courts are in use day and night: during lunch breaks, after school/work to unwind and into the wee hours.
No bowling center in Wisconsin is bigger than this one, which boasts 72 lanes and is on the outskirts of Milwaukee. Strike up whatever mood seems suitable and fun for an afternoon or evening with the kids. Sure, there’s bowling as you’ve always known it, but consider showing up for Xtreme Bowling, which adds unusual bowling challenges, dimmed lights and hyped-up music.
A perfect pasttime for kids of all ages. No experience is necessary to confront two climbing walls, each 30 feet high, through Stout Adventures at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Eleven ropes and at least 40 routes head skyward. These courses are designed to appeal to all skill levels of rappelling. Day passes to annual memberships are available. Sign up for a “try climbing” class, an introduction to climbing that includes equipment rental and assistance during four climbs.
Suit up, load up on ammo and prepare to meet the enemy. The Midwest’s biggest indoor facility for paintball will test your stealth, reflexes and ability to work in a team. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never played. Staffers routinely and deliberately mix novices and veterans before games begin. It is the same with equipment: If you don’t have your own (paintball guns to masks), it is available to rent.
Load up the whole family for some high-thrill fun. Shoot up to 1,000 paintballs in a day. If paint splats don’t sound fun, laser tag is another option.
Under the roof of one of the state’s largest indoor amusement parks is entertainment for all ages. Among the dozen diversions: a game arcade, train roller coaster, 4D theater ride, indoor jumping pillow, inflatable jumping pirate ship, bumper cars, bowling lanes and go kart tracks (some cars are designed to carry an adult and small child). It’s one price to play all day, or pay per ride. Amuse yourself with Ballocity, where ball shooters climb tunnels and slides.
Bow hunters who want to hone up on skills all year head to Antlers Archery, where 3D targets up to 40 yards away make practice possible in any kind of weather. The 28 shooting stations accommodate single hunters to groups up to 28. Expect targets in woodland settings to include forms that resemble exotic animals, wolves, deer, buffalo. Beginners take aim at bales of hay.
Maybe a perfect father-son outing?
The two outdoor Vitense miniature golf courses sure look forlorn during this time of year, but that’s a fooler. Inside are another 18 holes to test your skills and burn the kids’ excess energy. Maneuver a remote control boat around the little lakes that are a part of this course. Or buy a bucket of balls to practice full-size swings at 18 covered and heated tees. Another option is venturing to the indoor putting green. Add a little Skee-Ball at the game arcade, and the day’s complete.
Now if you're looking for a fun night away without the kids, we have a perfectly unique option for you. Turn back the clock and take your honey to a 1928 ballroom southeast of Appleton, near the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago, for dancing the way it used to be: coupled, hand-in-hand and cheek-to-cheek.
You likely won’t linger on the Crystal Ballroom’s verandah or deck during this time of year, but any season is fine for a foxtrot, rumba, samba or elegant waltz. Ballroom dances welcome all levels of skill Fridays from 8-11 p.m. and 2-5 p.m. the first Sunday of the month. Feeling out of your element? Lessons (for a nominal fee) happen before the dancing begins on Fridays.