Vertical wind tunnels have become popular destinations for people hoping to experience the rush of skydiving, the glamour of volumized hair, and the pride of smiting Sir Isaac Newton's ghost. Gloat while disproving gravitational theory with today's Groupon: for $55, you get one four-minute, solo, vertical, wind-tunnel flight (a $95 value for adults, a $90 value for ages 3–11) at SkyVenture New Hampshire in Nashua, New Hampshire. Anyone age 3 and up can take the virtual plunge as long as they meet SkyVenture’s weight and health requirements.
SkyVenture New Hampshire’s state-of-the-art indoor wind tunnel lets adrenaline junkies experience the sensations of skydiving under safe, closely monitored conditions. Once SkyVenture suits each adventurer up with a helmet, goggles, flight suit, and can of gravity repellent, an instructor will teach basic maneuvers and hand signals before unleashing participants into the vertical tunnel’s artificial wind current for four minutes of air-swimming (equivalent to about six skydives from 13,000 feet). As customers hover in empty space, they float serenely and reach a carefree state rarely achieved without being fired from a cannon into a trench filled with cotton candy. The entire process may take up to 90 minutes, including a waiver signing and a 20-minute class.
Indoor skydiving is accessible to a wide, family-friendly age range, meaning that grandma and grandpa can celebrate their 60th anniversary with more than the traditional cake shaped like Andy Griffith. SkyVenture’s observation deck allows for maximum show-offiness, so invite along an audience of hard-to-impress friends and family members to marvel at your simulated plummet through the heavens.
The swimsuit-clad guests at Skyventure New Hampshire's Surf's Up attraction may not be going anywhere, but they're having lots of fun along the way. Designed to be the largest indoor wave park of its kind, the new venue from simulated-extreme-sports specialists sets surfers atop a standing wave that can—depending on the settings of its modular SurfStream machine—reach heights of 6 feet. Surfers with experience can use it to stay conditioned and improve their balance on barrel waves year round, while beginners can more easily learn to mount their boards in a 100% jellyfish-free setting. As reported on the Discovery Channel, the machine can release a rush of 750,000 liters of water per minute. And because the water temperature is kept at a mild 83 degrees, no wetsuits are necessary.
At 32 feet wide—making it the largest in North America, the owners say—the surf pool is a star attraction. But it's not the only one. There's also the FishPipe, a wildly spinning water-filled sphere that replicates the thrill of an ultra-steep water slide, a 24-foot Nicros art rock wall with an auto-belay system, and SkyVenture itself. The last provides the surreal thrill of falling slowly through the air with no need for a parachute—it's an indoor, vertical wind tunnel, of a kind used not only by everyday thrill-seekers but also by pro skydivers.
Right beside the rolling waters and powerful winds is the Oasis Cafe Restaurant, which completes the beachy experience with a thatched roof and tabletop shakers of sand. Even approaching the wave park puts surfers in a tropical mood—its exterior is bedecked with towering palm trees and other tiki trimmings.