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The 15: Winter Sports Activities For Families

November 15, 2018
We're settling in for a long winter here in Charm City, one whose temperature is likely to be roughly as hot as the Orioles' offseason stove. 

Obviously the weather creates some limitations for what you can do to entertain your family. With that in mind, for The 15 this month we offer winter weather sports(y) activities for families. 

And while we encourage you to check out local college basketball or the Baltimore Blast or be like me and go see "Creed II" in theaters 47 times, these activities are more for participating than viewing.

1. Putt-Putt is still super fun when you do it inside.

I can't tell you how much fun my two kids (ages 3.5 and 1.5) had at Monster Mini Golf in Parkville -- and they're not even really old enough to know how to putt-putt yet. If your kids know which end of the stick to smack the ball with, they'll be in even better shape and might enjoy Bel Air's Jurassic Golf, too.

2. Or you could try an indoor golf simulator.

Perhaps your family might scoff at the idea of playing on an indoor golf simulator. But hear me out for a second. At Blue Mash Golf Course in Montgomery County, you can rent a simulator that not only allows you to "play" golf courses but also to play soccer, football, dodgeball, baseball and hockey games. Remember how excited you were for about the first month you played Nintendo Wii? Try a more realistic version of that on a bigger screen. It's worth a shot. 

3. Since this is Baltimore, just go duckpin bowling already.

Sure, traditional bowling is still all well and good, but it staggers me how many times I meet people who have lived here for awhile (some their entire lives) and sheepishly must admit they've never tried duckpin bowling. I wonder if some of them have even licked Old Bay straight off their hands, either. For a vintage Baltimore duckpin experience, try somewhere like Stoneleigh Lanes on York Road. 

4. You've probably forgotten about curling since the Olympics, but it's still a ton of fun.

I had the awesome experience of being invited to Chesapeake Curling Club in Easton back in February to give the sport a try. I can tell you firsthand the most underrated sport for Olympic viewing is also one of the more surprisingly fun games to play. It is NOT easy. It's a great workout. You'll need to learn the game before you can play, but it's worth making a day of it to try. 

5. I guess you could go ice skating, too, if you're into that.

And if you're going to choose to be this cold, you might as well do it on the Inner Harbor rink, which opened Nov. 9 this year. Let the kids tire themselves out while you hold hands with your spouse and linger a little closer to the rail and hope no one notices.

6. Did you know roller skating was still a thing?

I went to so many birthday parties at Skateland Putty Hill growing up. I would have lost a rather sizeable bet if you asked me if I thought the place was still open. What's next? I'm going to find out there's still a Ground Round somewhere in town? 

7. Since there's no luge track nearby, you're going to have to settle for just going skiing (or snowboarding or tubing).

If you want to give luge a shot, you'd have to a.) be completely insane and b.) travel to Lake Placid, N.Y. In the meantime, head out to Garrett County for a weekend at Wisp Resort or visit nearby Liberty, Roundtop or Whitetail. Wisp offers an activity called "snowshoeing," which is apparently sort of like hiking through snow. Or after the kids go to bed you can try my favorite ski weekend activity: "drinking and smoking cigars in the hot tub."

8. These fancy new indoor go-kart tracks are fancy!

Autobahn Indoor Speedway opened locations in Baltimore and Howard Counties in recent years, and they're a little better than that go-kart spot you went to as a kid that was run by a carnie who would refuse to give you your money back even when your kart sputtered 10 feet into your first race. As if it weren't bad enough that your buddy Leonard was going to brag about winning your "race" for like three weeks when you went back to school. Or so I've heard. 

9. While you're there, maybe give axe-throwing a shot.

If you've visited the new axe-throwing bar in Highlandtown, you know that it is DEFINITELY not a family activity. (Being a bar and all, it's a 21-and-over facility.) But the Autobahn location in Jessup also offers axe-throwing. So if your kids are old enough (spoiler: mine absolutely are not), give it your best shot. It's like going to the Renaissance Festival without all of the folks whose cosplay is a little creepier than you'd like to explain to your kids.

10. And if you've got a few extra bucks, check out an indoor skydiving joint.

Is skydiving a sport? Look, I specifically said "sports-y." There's no price option at iFLY Indoor Skydiving in White Marsh or Gaithersburg that will run you less than $70, but these wind tunnels are genuinely cool. 

11. For a little less money, take flight at a trampoline park instead.

Sky Zone's Timonium location just added a "warrior course" to its attractions, which sounds far too difficult for me but might be perfect for your kids. You might say, "So what's perfect for you, Glenn?" I would, of course, say, "A nap." 

12. Another option you might not know about? Indoor bocce.

Here's an idea for a fun Sunday afternoon/evening. (You can wait until football season is over if you'd like.) Book a late afternoon/early evening dinner at Little Italy's La Scala. But when you make your reservation, be sure to also reserve some time on their indoor bocce pit. (As an aside, if you've never played bocce in Little Italy, your Baltimore bingo card is not full.)

13. You could always spend a Saturday afternoon playing ping pong.

You don't need to go somewhere like Top Hat Cue Club in Baltimore County because you have your own ping pong table at home, you say? Well look at you, Bighouse McLotsofspace! Some of us don't have room for ping pong tables in our houses because where else would we put our 12-foot Mrs. Claus inflatable? 

14. There won't be ice cream after, but an indoor family swim is otherwise just as good as the summer.

Well, that might actually be a stretch, but there's a "family fun pool" at the Orokawa Y in Towson, and seriously, fun is right there in the name. Sadly, it won't help your tan -- but you've got the whole spring to worry about that. 

15. Figure out a way to try fowling and then invite me.

Fowling is a very popular game in Michigan that combines football and bowling by throwing footballs at 10 bowling pins. I'd REALLY like to play, but I don't know anyone who has 10 bowling pins lying around and is willing to give me a shot. If you have the space and the bowling pins (or a sense of adventure to find some), let me know. I'll bring my family. We can have a family date. I expect a cheese platter.

Issue 249: November 2018