Enjoy Nature Without all the Hassle of Actually Going Outside

Aug 19, 2013 at 1:57 PM ET

Lots of people say they don’t enjoy nature enough, but let’s be honest: The great outdoors isn’t always that great.

You can broil under the searing sun or go numb from frigid winds. There are swarms of bugs that bite, and there are no clean toilets. So before you know it, you might just give up and choose to spend your free time mowing through season 4 of Lost instead getting some fresh air.

If you find nature’s inconveniences too inconvenient, then these man-made adaptations of outdoor fun are for you. For some of them, you never even have to set foot outside.

The Tropical Islands indoor resort boasts that it combines the natural beauty of Africa, South America, Asia and the Pacific all under one roof…in Brandenburg, Germany. According to its website, the resort has the world’s largest indoor rain forest. That sounds like an oxymoron, but let’s explore.

At Tropical Islands, the temperature is always a delightful 26 degrees Celsius (that’s 78.8 degrees Fahrenheit if you’re not European). Even better, unlike the tropics, the humidity never gets above 60 percent, and the water stays at 28 degrees Celsius (82.4 degrees Fahrenheit). Also, there is no threat of a typhoon.


Ray’s Mountain Bike Park offers all the fun of mountain biking without the hassle, you know, of getting up and down a mountain. The park is located in the hallowed Midwest city of Milwaukee, famous for beer and lying, cheating National League MVPs, but not mountains.


When you think of Dubai, you think of a scorching desert where the average temperatures in the summer can reach a blistering 120 degrees Fahrenheit. But that didn’t stop Ski Dubai from building the Middle East’s “first indoor ski resort.” The facility can hold 1,500 people, and the temperature lingers just below freezing, but there’s a catch: The longest run is a measly 400 meters.


Ocean water too sandy and jellyfish-infested for you? The Sunway Lagoon in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, claims it has the largest wave pool in the world.


White-water rafting is downright terrifying. The thrill of shooting down a series of rough rapids is quickly negated by the thought of having your skull smashed against a rock. And let’s not forget the damage the movie Deliverance has done to the sport. But at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, you can get a bit of adventure with a fraction of the fear.


The Bjoeks Climbing Centre in Groningen, Netherlands, can’t replace scaling the Half Dome at Yosemite National Park, but its Excalibur climbing wall is the tallest in the world at 37 meters (that’s more than 121 feet high).

The Excalibur, however, is not for amateurs, according to the website. So if you think you’d still struggle climbing the rope in your junior-high gym class, you should pass on visiting this facility.


What’s next on the outdoors-brought-indoors scene? Since 2008, a developer in the Netherlands has been trying to build “the biggest indoor golf course in the world.”

The design looks like a beached robot whale, which might be more likely to exist than an 18-hole golf course contained under a roof. However, the developers see the course as a place to practice your short game, so don’t expect to unleash your 300-yard drive at this place.