Think your kids can only play arena games like laser tag and paintball in the 'burbs? Well, think again. Queens' Indoor Extreme Sports, a massive, labyrinthine athletic facility housed in an old warehouse, offers multiple kinds of laser tag, no-mess reball paintball and archery tag, which are all incredibly fun for school-age kids—not to mention grown-ups. (My tweenage kid, husband and I had such a blast playing together we decided to have my son's 10th birthday here!) Suiting up, grabbing your gear and hitting the battlefield feels like entering a real-life video game. It's an awesome way for the whole family to get active, especially in the dead of winter.
Indoor Extreme Sports was the first facility of its kind in NYC—though now there's also one on Staten Island run by the same owners. We've got the scoop on all the games the spot has to offer along with important tips for making the most of your visit.
Located just across the East River from Manhattan in Long Island City, Indoor Extreme Sports is a totally immersive experience. It's loud (music is blaring, toy guns are popping and kids are yelling gleefully), dark (there are no windows and some games are played in near blackness) and easy to get lost in its twisty corridors.
The facility offers no-mess paintball, archery tag and multiple versions of laser tag. The friendly staff holds orientations before you start so you learn how to use the equipment and play the games safely. Although they're all fun, each one has different age minimums and will appeal to different kinds of kids.
Divide into teams, put on your vests and try to take out your opponents with a M4 laser rifle. You don't feel anything when you're shot; instead, a red light pops up on your vest. But you're not out for long: Just return to your team's safe zone and then reenter the battlefield.
There are three laser tag options. The best best for younger kids is Arena Laser Tag since the course is small and maze-like, and the guns look like toys. Meanwhile, the quasi-military Black Ops Laser Tag and post-apocalyptic Zombie Laser Tag are recommended for ages 12 and up due to mature content. On Friday nights, there's even a Zombie Experience Laser Tag for teens and up, which includes undead players.
This variation on traditional paintball let's you take out your opponents with high-powered air rifles that shoot little rubber balls instead of messy paint. They're more environmentally friendly and easier to clean up, which means less waiting between games. However, they hurt just like regular paintball (yes, that's part of the appeal). Children ages 10 and up can play in one of two netted, 5,000-square-foot, obstacle-filled fields.
Like dodge ball, except players shoot foam-tipped arrows at each other. Children ages 10 and up can take aim while trying to avoid getting hit.
While there's obviously a shoot-'em-up aspect to all the activities, they're really fun and not graphic. There's no guts, gore or extreme violence, and everyone understands it's just pretend.
In addition to accommodating groups, Indoor Extreme Sports offers affordable birthday party packages that include game play, pizza, chips and beverages. Each arena has a small, private party room, where kids can relax and eat between games.
Things to Know Before You Go
Get a group together. Each game has a minimum number of players. Don't have enough people? Call 718-361-9152 and the owners will see if they can pair you with another group.
Book in advance. You can't just show up and play. Making a reservation is a must as the place is often completely booked up with parties.
Wear comfortable clothes and sneakers. You're going to be running around... a lot.
Fill out the waiver in advance online and print it out. Everyone needs a waiver to play.
Be prepared for sensory overload. This place can get crazy. There are teens running around, pop music cranked up to 11 and bathrooms that look like they were used by a frat party. But you know what? My son and his 10-year-old friends loved it all.
Find out when Indoor Extreme Sports opens its Staten Island location. The owners are hard at work trying to open their new outpost at 501 Industry Road on the West Shore by spring. Like Indoor Extreme Sports on Facebook so you'll know when it debuts.
Indoor Extreme Sports is located at 47-11 Van Dam Street between 47th and 48th Avenues in Long Island City, Queens. Find the complete list of prices on the website. The closest subway stop is 33rd Street on the 7 but if you opt to drive there tends to be plenty of street parking.
Find other great places to run around inside with kids in our Indoor Activity Guide.