Happy landings

Indoors and out, quiet and loud

By Shira Springer
Globe Staff / January 9, 2011

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With the new year arrived, it’s a perfect time to consider new adventures. The next new thing to capture a child’s imagination might be at a ski resort or inside a museum. The region offers plenty of newly opened attractions, as well as new perspectives on art and history and new twists on familiar sports.

Attempt skijoring or snowkiting with young outdoor enthusiasts. Take an imaginative audio tour or art lesson with culturally curious children. Ride a mountain coaster or zip line with pint-sized thrill seekers. Experience rock climbing or falconry with children who prefer seeing the world from a bird’s-eye view.

SKIJORING at Telemark Inn (Mason Township, Maine) Man’s best friend becomes a child’s turbocharged tow. That’s one way to describe the dog-powered ski adventure called skijoring. Harnessed to a dog with a bungee line, kids can speed through the woods. “The beauty of skijoring is that it’s a fusion between your dog, a love for dogs, and skiing,’’ said Steve Crone, Telemark Inn co-owner and skijoring instructor. Equipment (harnesses and bungee line) is provided. Customers supply Nordic ski equipment with the option to use their own dogs or the inn’s Alaskan huskies. There is no age limit, but comfort on Nordic equipment makes for a better experience. Prices start at $150 for a three-hour session, reservations required. 591 Kings Highway, 207-836-2703,

New England FALCONRY (Hadley) What’s old is new again in the ancient art of training raptors to fly, hunt, and return. “The thing people are really coming for is that close-up experience with the bird, to have the experience of flying the bird,’’ said Chris Davis, master falconer. “There may be some nervousness for kids, but once they get their gumption up and do it, it’s a great experience.’’ Davis, founder and director of New England Falconry, recommends the 45-minute introductory session. Children 5 and older will handle and fly a trained Harris hawk and learn about the bird. Younger children are welcome as observers. $65 per participant, $15 per nonparticipant. 115 River Drive, 413-259-1466,

SNOWKITING on Lake Champlain (Milton, Vt.) For the child who gravitates toward more extreme sports, this might be the perfect fit. Participants, be they skiers or snowboarders, are attached to a kite that propels them. “You can pick your level of extreme,’’ said instructor Rachael Miller. “If you have enough power in your kite and learn the techniques to jump, you can get quite a bit of air and come down light as a feather, but it’s not a flying-around sport.’’ Miller, owner of the certified snowkiting school called Stormboarding, has taught children as young as 9. Having children comfortable on skis or snowboards is essential. Bring ski or snowboard equipment and a helmet. Stormboarding provides kite-related gear. Three-hour introductory lesson $120 per person. Sand Bar State Park, 802-578-6120,

Sugarloaf ZIP LINE Tours (Carrabassett Valley, Maine) From a height of 30 to 40 feet, zip line tours take visitors through the woods on the lower mountain. With a ride that’s tamer than most, zip line manager Mark Adams calls it “the perfect intro for kids.’’ While the resort plans to add more height and length, tours currently last roughly two hours and feature six zip lines that stretch 150 to 250 feet between platforms. Top speeds reach 25 miles per hour. “The small kids are real return customers,’’ said Adams. Riders must be at least 3 feet tall and weigh between 60 and 275 pounds. Weekend and holiday tours leave every hour from 3-8 p.m. $49 per person. 5092 Sugarloaf Access Road, 800-843-5623,

Cranmore Mountain COASTER (North Conway, N.H.) Dashing through the snow has gone way beyond sleighs. This ride twists and turns for roughly six minutes down the Cranmore Mountain slope. “You hear laughter and happy screams from the kids riding the coaster with their parents,’’ said Kathy Bennett, marketing director. “When they reach the bottom, most almost immediately ask to take another ride.’’ Riders control their speed as they go and can reach up to 25 miles per hour for what the resort calls a “high-thrill, low-skill’’ activity. Children must be at least 3 to ride and at least 9, and 48 inches tall, to ride alone. Fri 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sat 9-9, Sun 9-4. Single ride $9, three rides $23. 1 Skimobile Road, 800-786-6754,

Last Saturdays for Families at Wadsworth ATHENEUM (Hartford) Using hands-on activities and dance, multimedia and music performances, the atheneum hopes children see art outside often staid museum settings. “The program offers a variety of fun ways for families to explore art together that encourage creativity and conversation,’’ said Johanna Plummer, the museum’s director of education. Organizers coordinate each program with exhibits on display. Upcoming Last Saturday projects will let children try Impressionist art and printmaking, experience the ties between hip-hop and contemporary art, and find inspiration in flowers. The museum encourages families to participate. Last Saturday of every month 10 a.m.-1 p.m., free. 600 Main St., 860-838-4121, Children’s AUDIO TOUR at The Breakers (Newport, R.I.) History comes alive on this tour of the 70-room Vanderbilt family mansion. The tour introduces family members and staff, as well as such characters as a hospitable dolphin, lions, dragons, acrobats, and Monsieur Le Chef and The Butler. Children are asked to imagine sliding down the grand stairs and life on a summer day. “They get the sense of experiencing the house on their own terms,’’ said John Tschirch, director of museum affairs for the Preservation Society of Newport County. Recommended for ages 6 to 10. Audio tours available Feb. 12-21 for Newport Winter Festival, then daily starting early April. Admission including audio tour $19 adults, $5 ages 6-17. 44 Ochre Point Ave., 401-847-1000,

Rock Spot CLIMBING (Boston) Kids are welcome to climb the walls and more at this gym. Afterschool and weekend programs teach the basics to the youngest climbers. “We definitely encourage kids that are not the typical athlete,’’ said Lary Norin, Rock Spot Climbing co-owner. “You sort of need to outsmart the climbing wall when you’re on it, not just outmuscle it.’’ While the gym offers 45-minute classes for children as young as 4, Norin recommends starting youngsters at 6 in hourlong sessions that include knot tying, bouldering, climbing, and belaying. Classes are small (usually 4 or fewer children) to ensure personal attention and safety. Daily 10 a.m.-midnight, day pass $16, $24 with gear; ages 7 and under $10, $15 with gear. 67 Sprague St., 617-333-4433,

Shira Springer can be reached at

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