6 ways to have big fun indoors

Minnesota weather is a bit unpredictable, especially in the shoulder between the state’s two main seasons — winter and road construction. Happily, the Twin Cities is full of venues for active indoor recreation.

A mechanical mountain

1237 Red Fox Rd., Arden Hills
Glen Stubbe

Love downhill skiing but hate frigid chairlift rides? At the Alpine Factory, you can go skiing or snowboarding indoors. The business has two massive downhill skiing treadmills set up in a warehouse where skiers can carve turns on an endlessly rotating carpet of artificial snow. Even in the winter, skiers use the treadmill to sharpen techniques and get a workout. Prices start at $47 an hour for a group lesson, coaching and equipment rental included.

(651) 330-1121

The Twin Cities is home to several indoor ax-throwing parlors, giving urban lumberjacks the chance to hurl hatchets at wooden targets. The concept, a sort of edgier version of darts, started in Canada before migrating south of the border. At FlannelJax’s, located in a former factory in St. Paul, you can get beer and wine while throwing a sharp metal object. Prices start at $25 for an hourlong session. At Big Thrill Factory locations, kids as young as 11 can give it a try.

Get zippy

Mall of America, Bloomington
David Joles

The wait-to-ride ratio is pretty high at the Barnacle Blast Zip Line at the Nickelodeon Universe amusement park in the Mall of America. The 800-foot-long ride lasts only about a minute. But it’s surprisingly vertiginous being suspended 60 feet above the MOA’s theme park. Pants or long shorts are required (that harness really rides up) for the $13.99 ride.


Ninja wannabe?

7399 Bush Lake Rd., Edina

The Twin Cities has been invaded by ninja gyms. These “playgrounds on steroids” feature indoor obstacle courses inspired by the TV show “American Ninja Warrior.” At Obstacle Academy, there are programs for kids and adults, including an open gym for ninjas ages 15 and up on Friday and Saturday nights for $18. An adult membership costs $49 a month and includes obstacle-course race training and high-intensity circuit training sessions.


Virtual sky diving

12415 Wayzata Blvd., Minnetonka
Anthony Souffle

On one hand, you don’t get that awesome bird’s eye view. On the other hand, you don’t have to worry that your parachute won’t open. Those are just a couple of differences between actual sky diving and the indoor version offered at iFly. The vertical wind tunnel, the first of its kind in the state, simulates the sensation of sky diving. It features a giant glass tube 12 feet in diameter and about 35 feet tall. When massive fans drive air up through the cylinder at up to 150 miles per hour, there’s enough force to suspend a person in midair. For the experience ($69.95 for two flights) you’re outfitted with a jumpsuit, helmet, goggles and guidance from an instructor. You can pay extra to get a video of yourself or virtual-reality goggles that will give you the sensation of being above Hawaii or the Swiss Alps.

(612) 444-4359