The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio are just around the corner, but you don't have to be an Olympian (or even have a plane ticket to Brazil) to get in the spirit. In honor of this inspiring international sporting event, here are 10 places in North America where you can create your own Olympic memories.
1. Extreme Summer Tubing at Utah Olympic Park
While Nordic ski jumping might be a wee bit intense for the average traveler, the folks at Utah Olympic Park in Salt Lake City have come up with a thrilling – and less intimidating – alternative to enjoy the slopes. It's called Extreme Summer Tubing.
Brave souls glide down the landing hills used by Olympic ski jumpers on an inner tube, reaching speeds of up to 50 miles per hour, thanks to special plastic surface that becomes slippery like snow when wet.
2. Wheeled Luge at the Lake Placid Olympic Jumping Complex
Gravity is the main attraction for intrepid visitors to the Lake Placid Olympic Jumping Complex on Whiteface Mountain. Not only can guests tour the complex to get a view from the launch ramp, they can test their nerves in another Olympic sport, the luge. Expert-taught, hour-long clinics teach luge basics before allowing participants to race down a paved luge track.
3. Splash at Centennial Olympic Park
The site of the 1996 Olympic Games is now a public park in the heart of Downtown Atlanta. Few things are better for cooling off during a hot Georgia summer than a splash in the Fountain of Rings, a large interactive fountain in the shape of the iconic Olympic symbol. An audio walking tour, offered on the mobile website, gives a history of the park and the 1996 Olympics.
4. Tour the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center
The Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs is the flagship training facility for Team USA, and while much of the center is closed to the public – the athletes are training for the Olympics after all – visitors can still sign up for a tour of the facilities, including the weightlifting and wrestling rooms, aquatic center and gymnasiums. The on-site U.S. Olympic Store sells official memorabilia.
5. BMX at the US Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista
BMX racing became a medaled sport at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. At the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, newbies can hit the track – considered one of the best in the nation – each week for a beginner clinic, where riders learn safety and technique.
6. Olympic Trampoline at Woodward Copper
Olympic divers, gymnasts, skiers and snowboarders all use the trampoline to train and practice aerial maneuvers. Woodward Copper, a year-round training facility in Copper Mountain, Colo., maintains five Olympic trampolines and one Supertramp in their Barn facility, where anyone can drop in and catch some air.
7. Summer Bobsleigh at the Whistler Sliding Centre
If you've ever dreamed of whizzing down a track in a bobsled, a la Cool Runnings, you're in luck. At the Whistler Sliding Centre in British Columbia, guests can hop in a four-person bobsled for a thrilling ride down the world's fastest track (with the help of a trained bobsled pilot of course) at speeds of up to 56 miles per hour in summer and 78 miles per hour in winter.
8. Speed Skating at Pettit National Ice Center
Visitors to the Pettit National Ice Center, an official Olympic Training Facility in Milwaukee, have the opportunity to channel their inner Apolo Ohno by registering for Skating School. This all-ages program teaches skaters who are comfortable on the ice to pick up the speed. Those strapping on skates for the first time can test out the ice during regular public skating sessions.
9. Rowing at RIVERSPORT School
Oklahoma City's RIVERSPORT School, situated in the Boathouse District where America's Olympic rowers train, offers a 2-hour Discover Rowing program for those interesting in trying out the Olympic sport. The school also teaches introductory classes in whitewater kayaking and sailing.
10. Ski with an Olympian at Crested Butte
Skiers will have to wait for winter for this opportunity, but we think it's one for the bucket list. Visitors to Crested Butte Mountain Resort can strap on their ski boots for a private or group lesson with Olympian Wendy Fisher. These clinics are designed to help skiers feel more confident on the mountain by honing their technique and style.