We can't all travel to Rio to cheer on Team USA for the 2016 Summer Olympics. But we can all feed our Olympic spirit close at home by visiting the sites of past Games. Olympic parks and centers across the US and Canada provide an interesting look back at games past along with a hands-on experience for fans of both the summer and the winter competitions.
Lake Placid Olympic Center
Home of the "miracle on ice" that made heroes out of the US hockey team in 1980, Lake Placid's storied Olympic history is celebrated at Whiteface Mountain. Start at the Lake Placid Olympic Museum, filled with artifacts from the Games and a detailed history of how this small town came to host one of the world's most prolific events. Next, check out the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex where you can take a chairlift from the base up to a 26-story elevator to the top. After touring the jumps, you’ll want to check out the freestyle pool, where jumpers practice year-round. Check the calendar when planning your visit to see some of the best athletes in the world, and maybe even meet them.
Also at the complex: sliding apparatuses (for bobsled, skeleton, etc.) and the skating rink, where visitors can try their hand at hockey or figure skating, even in summer. If you have extra time, pair the trip with a scenic drive up to the peak of Whiteface Mountain via the Veterans Memorial Highway, where you'll traverse through a tunnel and take an elevator to the top. The gondola runs throughout the summer, offering impressive views of the Lake Placid region. Tickets to the museum are $7 for adults and $5 for kids, and bundled passes for all Olympic activities are available.
Utah Olympic Park
Located just outside Salt Lake in the resort town of Park City, the Utah Olympic Park is a one-shop stop for outdoor athletic fun for the whole family year-round. During the warm months, start out at the ropes courses and extreme zip lines before hitting the alpine slide. Extreme tubing is also an official sport, with visitors sailing down carpeted chutes on inner tubes. Once everyone has had their fill of adventure, check out the museum, which details the history of the winter Games held in 2002.
Back outside, the summer comet bobsled (guided) is available for those ages 13 and up, and definitely takes some guts to attempt. Everyone can enjoy the view from the top of the ski jump, accessible via chairlift and elevator. As with the Lake Placid complex, athletes train here year-round, so be sure to keep any eye out for some impressive jumps and flips. Freestyle shows are also offered throughout the summer, and are well worth planning your visit around. Ticket prices vary widely by activity, but opt for a summer or day pass to get the biggest bang for your buck.
WinSport Calgary Olympic Park
A destination for skiers, snowboarders, and skaters in the winter months, WinSport becomes a warm-weathered playground in the summer, with its ski jump and outdoor arenas front and center. Mountain biking, zip lines, and ropes courses fill the arena that's located just outside Calgary.
While the outdoor offerings will burn some energy, the indoor exhibits at the adjacent Canadian Sports Hall of Fame is not to be missed. If you're unfamiliar with some of The Great White North's prized sporting events like curling, this is your chance to try the game, or if you're a pro, show off your skills. Almost every exhibit is hands-on, whether it be a hockey showcase with pucks to hit or a rowing challenge to stretch your arm muscles. Olympic history is woven throughout the museum, which will easily take several hours to explore. Kids, and kids at heart, will spend most of their time at the multi-sports simulator, where speed and skill are calculated on live scoreboards and gear is available to try on. Admission is offered for the museum only, or in family passes.