This story was previously published on Dec. 21, 2016.
There is a simple antidote for your family’s mid-winter slump and lackadaisical attitude.
Consider the rule you learned in physics class: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Kids need to burn off energy to stay energetic.
Just get everyone out of the house and head to these favorite indoor activities where physical meets fun!
Little kids with dreams of becoming shredders can get started on their air tricks at the Wheel Mill in Homestead. The 80,000-square-foot indoor bike park boasts eight rooms with varied levels of expertise for mountain and BMX bikes.
Even the smallest bikers can participate in regularly scheduled Strider Races on kid-powered balance bikes.
More adventurous kids can get a feel for flying through the air with a Foam Pit landing, then work their way up to the Resi Ramp, a jump with a padded landing.
Teens will want to move onto the jump lines, pump track, and mountain bike rooms and trails. Classes are offered for beginners, who can sharpen their knowledge and practice skills in the fundamental skills room.
Could the X-Games be the next stop?
Go slip-sliding away – without icy chills – at Fun Slides Carpet Skate Park in Allison Park. The carpet slides attach to shoes for an easy-to-learn “skating” experience. Bring a helmet for ages 8 and younger. The suggested age begins at 4 years, but even kids as young as 3 years can slide with a parent on the skate floor. With a “butt slide,” kids can sit and zoom down ramps – no balance required!
Younger tykes, from age 2, can enjoy the inflatable bounce area while the big kids zip through the 30,000-square-foot facility.
Advanced skaters can compete in glow-in-the-dark Blacklight Dodgeball or accept the challenge of the Super Ninja Obstacle Course.
Kids love to jump, hop and leap. Add a springy trampoline under their feet and they can reach new heights of excitement.
Bounce your heart out at the wall-to-wall jump space at the new Sky Zone Trampoline Park location in Canonsburg. Open for all ages, kids are safely designated by size to their individual trampoline squares.
The five courts include 3-D trampoline dodgeball and a basketball court where kids can quite literally bounce off the walls.
In the Foam Zone, kids can take to the air with a leap from a trampoline to crash land in a vat of 10,000 soft foam blocks. It’s as much fun to watch as we imagine it is to perform the feat.
The Kiddie Court at Flight Trampoline Park in Bridgeville is a space strictly dedicated to those measuring less than 46 inches. They can jump, slide and climb in the safety of their own interactive playground. Club Flight is a night-time play date for ages 12 and older. Laser lights compete with an occasional DJ for a high-energy bounce party.
In between those skill sets, Flight Trampoline offers a laser race (think “Mission Impossible”), open jump sessions and a challenging Ninja Warrior Course.
Smaller kids will likely have just as much of a thrill at JumpZone, Allison Park, which is designed for kids from 2 to 12 years. The huge inflatable slides and bounce houses are offered in open play sessions scheduled in two-hour increments.
It’s the basic imperative learned as an infant – up! And it’s one that stays with kids long after they’ve become upright on their feet and are fully mobile.
Put that instinct to work in an even more athletic way with climbing walls and rope courses. Climbing is an exercise that can improve strength, endurance, and flexibility.
At Climb North in Hampton, beginner classes start at age 6. The 6,000 square feet of climbing wall space includes friendly attention to the newest climbers. You can rent equipment like a harness, shoes, chalk bags and helmets.
In the beginner class, kids learn about knot tying, climbing safety, types of holds and body movement. Once kids advance, boredom will not be a problem, with more than 40 routes to access.
Rock and boulder climbing is the focus of the Climbing Wall in Point Breeze. The youth program, which includes climber newbies from age 6 to 16, teaches basic climbing, bouldering, and top-roping skills on 14,000 square feet of climbing terrain.
By comparison, a tamer 25-foot climbing wall experience can be found at the Highmark SportsWorks facility of the Carnegie Science Center. It’s a great spot for trying out the sport and for building confidence.
Running, chasing, diving, blasting – those are the basic rules for laser tag.
Pulsating music, fog and black light are part of the fun at Laser Storm in Ross. Participants work their way through police beacons, barriers and energizers, phaser in hand to deactivate the enemy. Xtreme Laser Storm in Robinson offers a similar experience. There’s no age limit for participation, but 6 and older is probably a good baseline.
A more Pittsburgh-themed game set up is Zombieburgh Lazer Tag located – where else? – in Monroeville Mall, the unofficial capital of zombies. The 3,000-square-foot arena is a challenging maze with pumping music and specialty lighting. Sunday is Family Fun Day when parents play free with the purchase of a child’s admission. Family bonding over zombie hunting? Only in the ‘Burgh!
We don’t usually think of tennis as a winter sport, but with the bubble-domed facility at Mellon Park Tennis Center in Shadyside. Lessons begin with pint-sized 4-year-olds – racquets included, but beginning tennis players of any age are welcome at these state-of-the-art courts.
Another bubble-topped sports destination is the driving range at the RMU Island Sports Center on Neville Island. A shared learning experience is part of the parent-child classes. The four-week course covers all the basics, from grip, swing, chipping and putting. The Junior Golf Academy targets kids ages 8 to 14. Of course, there’s plenty of time for practice just hitting a bucket of balls.