X-Golf Portland opened downtown with six simulators in the spring. Photo courtesy of X-Golf Portland

There’s bad news on the horizon for those of us who have been using winter’s inhospitable weather as an excuse to sit on the sofa and eat potato chips all season: The forces of indoor athletics are onto us. With the entry of places like X-Golf Portland, which opened in the spring with six simulators, there are more local spots than ever to stay active all winter – not just to keep your game up, but improve it. And in some cases, start a new game altogether.

“Indoor golf is a great way to learn the game,” said Chad Allen of Sim-City Indoor Golf in Westbrook. “It’s very low-commitment – we rent clubs for those who just want to just try it. And it doesn’t have the stress of being on a range where lots of other golfers are behind you, judging you.”

That relatively low stress level also applies to other indoor pursuits in the area, like rock climbing, ax-throwing and trampolining. In almost all cases, a block of time is reserved that allows you – with or without an instructor, who are usually bookable through each facility – to get acclimated at your own pace.

One thing they all advise, however: Book ahead in winter. “We get super busy on weekends,” said X-Golf Portland owner Joe Atwood, adding that the facility fills up with group events and leagues that gather to practice their game, then hang out with food and drink. And for those of us looking for a sofa to enjoy them on, there are plenty.

X-Golf Portland

This new indoor golf spot with six state-of-the-art simulators uses software to measure ball and swing data (reportedly with 98% accuracy), so players looking to improve can analyze their game either on their own or with an instructor. “We have a PGA pro on staff who can give lessons,” says Atwood, “and we’re a registered Callaway dealer, so we can fit you for clubs and place an order for you.”

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101 York St. B, Portland, 207-536-1257; 1-10:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday; $50 per hour Monday through Thursday, $55 per hour Friday through Sunday. xgolfportland.com

Sim City in Westbrook has recently expanded and has food and drink to enjoy. Photo courtesy of Sim City

Sim City Indoor Golf

Having just expanded to eight simulators, Westbrook’s indoor golf spot attracts a diverse group of golfers, as well as the golf-curious. “We get everyone from very serious players to kids coming in to give it a try,” said Allen, the owner. “It’s very social.” That cause gets a boost from the full bar (with up to 12 beers on tap from the likes of Maine Beer Co. and Mast Landing) and pizzas made from Portland Pie Company dough.

100 Larrabee Road, Suite 250, Westbrook, 207-591-5062; 2-10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 2-8 p.m. on Sunday; $40 per hour weekdays and $45 on weekends. simcityindoorgolf.com

Evo Rock + Fitness Portland

No less than 17,000 square feet of indoor climbing walls are the biggest draw at the facility, accommodating everyone from beginners to speed climbers. (For those just giving it a try, it’s easy to rent equipment like harnesses, shoes and belay devices.) But not every activity here is vertical; there are yoga classes and space for cross-fit and weight training. Evo also offers regular events for the community, from after-school sessions and camps to high school leagues and LGBTQ+ nights. Both day rates and memberships are available.

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65 Warren Ave., Portland, 207-780-6370; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; day passes are $15 for children and seniors, $19 for adults. evorock.com/portland-me

An ax sinks into the bullseye at the Axe Pit in South Portland. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The Axe Pit

What started as a literal “pit” (a small, secluded hallway in a gym) for ax-throwing enthusiasts has transformed into this, a site opened in 2019 with four digital projected targets, a performance stage for live music, and league nights on Thursdays and Sundays. Open-toed shoes are verboten, natch.

333 Clarks Pond Parkway, South Portland, 207-329-0229; 4-9 p.m. Wednesday, 4-10 p.m. Thursday, 1-10 p.m. Friday through Sunday; $25 per hour, per person. theaxepit.com

Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park

The indoor trampolines here grab most of the spotlight (and with good reason; the APEX trampolines are found everywhere but on the ceiling, so you can literally bounce off the walls). But you’ll find a deluge of other structures for acrobatics, including a tubes playground, tumble track, a giant inflatable airbag for flips, a ropes course, and a dodgeball-on-trampolines setup.

333 Clarks Pond Parkway, South Portland, 207-808-7696; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, noon to 8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; $23.99 for adults for two hours, $11.99 for children under 5 for one hour and a half. urbanair.com/maine-south-portland

Alexandra Hall is a longtime New England lifestyle writer who lives in Maine.


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