Divided between two locations in Manchester and Nashua, Vertical Dreams' 15,000 square feet of simulated mountainside are packed with obstacles and tough sections to challenge climbers of all skill levels. At the Manchester gym, gutted elevator shafts lined with hand grips extend four stories upward, creating 70-foot vertical surfaces. The Nashua location boasts 10,000 square feet of wall space, with textured surfaces that respond realistically to climber's hands and feet and fill their nostrils with simulated rock smells.
Vertical Dreams' staff of veteran climbers teaches students one-on-one or in groups. In beginner lesson packages, instructors show aspiring climbers the figurative and literal ropes involved in belaying, climbing, and knot tying, and the teachers in advanced top-roping and sport-climbing classes push their students' abilities to climb solo or in a lead position.
Visitors to Mel's Funway Park can try their hand at two 18-hole mini-golf courses before speeding and swinging their way through the go-kart track and batting cages, which feature a replica of Fenway's Green Monster and slow- and fast-pitch machines that can reach speeds of up to 85 mph. Inside, a laser plex hosts games of laser tag, while other visitors attempt the laser maze, a web of 36 lasers that participants must avoid to keep from triggering the alarm and receive their cat-burglar certification. Funway Park has also partnered with Naticook Fish & Grill to recharge empty body batteries.
Windsor Mountain International Summer Camp hosts families on five-day rustic retreats on 365 acres of rural white-pine forest. Parents, accompanied by their children, can return to the days of bunking in cabins and dorms, roasting marshmallows, and kindling campfires with only a piece of flint and a smartphone. A daily activities schedule abounds with aquatic endeavors, such as canoeing, sailing, and swimming; adventurous challenges, such as zip lining and ropes courses; and creative activities, including music, theater, and arts and crafts. A winding network of hiking trails transports forest explorers along the shores of hidden lakes and through dense pine woodlands, where hikers can seek answers to the philosophical question of whether it’s possible to hear a falling tree’s cries for help.
Adventurers glide past pine and deciduous trees, navigating branches at 200 feet above the ground. As they reach a treetop platform, guides wave them along onto a bridge that swings high above the forest floor. This nerve-racking scene is the norm at Alpine Adventures, where professionals have led guests soaring through the woodlands of New Hampshire's White Mountains since 2006. Today, in addition to leading guests on three distinct canopy tours, each testing adventurers' courage with swinging bridges and fast speeds, they captain off-road adventures in six-wheeled Swiss Pinzgauers. Up to 11 passengers sit protected by seat harnesses and an overhead roll cage as guides narrate and charge through fall foliage, winter flurries, or summer volleyball games. An aerial park invites thrill seekers to explore cargo nets, rope ladders, ziplines, a treehouse, a climbing tower, and many other elevated obstacles.
With an All-Day Pass in hand, merrymakers can limitlessly enjoy Mel's Funway Park's go-karts, batting cages, mini golf, driving range, laser tag, and laser maze. Motor around Mel's go-kart track, which tests rubber-burners with tight turns and a bridge. David Ortiz admirers can emulate Big Papi in Mel's batting cages, featuring a replica of the Fenway Park's Green Monster and pitches from 45 to 85 mph. Golf gurus can tap orbs around two mini-golf courses, or sharpen their power-drive on the driving range. Show off your laser-firing accuracy or settle trading disputes with the Galactic Emperor Zorgo by dueling in the laser plex, where fog and black lights fill the futuristic arena. Mel's laser maze presents an electrifying challenge, as calm contortionists achieve victory by maneuvering around 36 beams of emerald light.
A natural doorway to the past, Polar Caves gives families an underground adventure through a network of caves and passageways formed by a retreating glacier during an age when woolly mammoths still roamed the earth. Encompassing a stretch near Hawk's Cliff, the highlight of Polar Caves Park is the caves themselves, which wind underground through the rock, twisting and turning before reemerging at the surface. Self-educating explorers can guide themselves through the subterranean walkways, where escaped slaves, Prohibition-era rumrunners, and angry teenage saber-toothed tigers found safety. Previous occupants have left behind evidence of their hidden lives, including a wood-burning stove and cider press. Along the trails, both above ground and underground, educational opportunities abound, with signs proclaiming local history and distinguishing local flora and fauna. Diminutive Dr. Dolittles enjoy practicing their deer whispering at the petting zoo, and landlocked fans flock to the birds at the waterfowl display.
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