Leave the house, keep the AC: Top 10 South Florida activities where you can beat the heat

This year’s soaring temperatures have been dominating the headlines, bringing heat records, a higher risk of heatstroke and persistent T-shirt pit stains.

For those wanting to get out of their homes but not into the fieriness this summer, consider these 10 indoor activities throughout Broward and Palm Beach counties.

From museums to indoor skydiving to chocolate factory tours, this diverse roundup has something for anyone in need of some air conditioning and a break from the sun’s oppressive rays.

Panthers IceDen

3299 Sportsplex Drive, Coral Springs; 954-835-8500; panthersiceden.com/public-skating

Florida Panthers left wing Anthony Duclair talks to campers during his youth development camp at the Florida Panthers IceDen Sportsplex in Coral Springs on Tuesday, June 27, 2023. The mission of The Anthony Duclair Foundation is to ensure that Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) children are granted safe and equal access to playing hockey in North America (Carline Jean/South Florida Sun Sentinel)
Former Florida Panthers left wing Anthony Duclair during his youth development camp on June 27, 2023, at the team’s ice-skating and entertainment facility in Coral Springs. (Carline Jean/South Florida Sun Sentinel)

It’s OK to dig out the winter sweater and forgo reality for a moment. If you’re ready to put the summer on ice, try hitting the Panthers IceDen, a rink that offers all-inclusive skating, youth and adult hockey, and lessons with private instructors. It caters to skaters of all skill levels, so there’s enough room to practice your freestyle or hug the rails while clinging for your balance and dignity. Cost ranges from $10 to $13.50 per session, depending on age and day of the week, and there’s a $5 fee for skate rentals. If your Floridian dream is to ice skate like a pro, take a Learn to Skate USA class, part of a nationwide training program, which you can join for an additional monthly fee, or drop in for $30.

The Escape South Florida

10800 N. Military Trail, No. 211, Palm Beach Gardens; 561-318-8973; escapesoflo.com

This is a telling place to test compatibility with your partner. Can you work together to emerge victorious from a mind-bending puzzle room at The Escape South Florida? When the team at Escape South Florida has a vision, they set out to find the optimal creators for their themed rooms. Local artists are brought on to create the most convincing environments that feel as though they’re from a movie set. Some current rooms are Through the Looking Glass, an Alice in Wonderland-themed riddle room, where escapees must traverse the surreal world of magic to get back to reality. Another adventure is the “Upside of Down,” inspired by the Netflix series “Stranger Things.” But don’t worry about getting stuck in another dimension, because if need be, hints are provided. The best way to play is with a group of four to six people, with a minimum of three players. Expect to spend about an hour and some change navigating your way through these puzzles, and when you break free, you can gloat for the cameras with your “We Escaped” sign. Admission is $35.95 per player (receive a 10% discount if you have five or more guests).

Hoffman’s Chocolates Factory Tour

5190 Lake Worth Road, Greenacres; 561-967-2213; hoffmans.com

A mom-and-pop chocolates store opened its first location in Lake Worth in 1975, and since then, Hoffman’s Chocolates have been popping up around SoFlo, spreading a little sweetness and their ever-popular ice cream, which hits even during the winter. But the Greenacres location has something more than frosty treats: a functional chocolate factory where there’s “no golden ticket needed.” In the Swiss-cottage-style workshop, dozens of chocolatiers pump out a staggering 15,000 pounds of sweets each day, and the process is open to the public. So after securing your $5 cone at Ice Cream Happy Hour (3-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays), take time to see how your candy is created. It’s like something out of a fairy tale.

Sistrunk Marketplace & Brewery

115 NW Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale; 954-329-2551; sistrunkmarketplace.com

Pictured Sistrunk Marketplace and Brewery in Fort Lauderdale on Friday August 21, 2020. Jennifer Lett South Florida Sun Sentinel

Jennifer Lett / South Florida Sun Sentinel

Take the crew to Sistrunk Marketplace and Brewery in Fort Lauderdale. (Jennifer Lett/South Florida Sun Sentinel)

Have picky eaters in your group? Sistrunk Marketplace & Brewery in Fort Lauderdale is a convenient option for even the most particular people. Opened in 2020, this multifaceted food hall has a bit of everything: tacos, sandwiches, poke, crepes, Korean, Southern and Italian fare. Vegan and gluten-free options are bountiful, too. There’s a bar, coffee choices and a butcher shop. So split up, grab your ideal meal then regroup after the difficult decisions have been made. Sistrunk also has an assortment of experiences, which are culinary events that rotate throughout the year. You can down mimosas at Sistrunk’s Bubbles and Brunch, or get creative with the dough at Pizza Academy 101. Once the team is well-fed, it’s time to lounge around and enjoy the sounds of professional DJs and live music. Before leaving, make sure to hit the boutique-style art stores, with merchandise from artists and craftspeople from around South Florida.

Hillsboro Antique Mall

2900 W. Sample Road, Pompano Beach; 954-571-9988; hillsboroantiquemall.com

It’s not hoarding, it’s collecting! Always on the hunt for good deals and decorations for your mother-in-law suite turned “beach cabana”? The Hillsboro Antique Mall has an assortment of vintage and retro merchandise just waiting for a second life. It’s all the second-hand treasures of a flea market but entirely indoors, and much more curated. With more than 200 dealer booths spanning the 35,000-square-foot complex, each category of collectibles is represented. Here, shoppers can easily take a couple hours rummaging, for everything from postcards, records and  jewelry to silver, porcelain and glassware — or items “precious, funky or just fun,” as the website states. (And if you’re wanting to add your own items to the trove, there are opportunities to sell too.)

Norton Museum of Art

1450 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-832-5196; norton.org

The Visions FLA band performing at the Norton Museum's Art After Dark, June 30, 2023, for Reggae night.

Jack Lemnus/South Florida Sun Sentinel

Visions Band FLA performs during the Norton Museum’s Art After Dark event on June 30, 2023. (Jack Lemnus/South Florida Sun Sentinel)

With a deliberate and elegant curation of paintings, sculptures, pottery and furniture, the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach is a trove of beauty. Even the building is aesthetically pleasing, with cavernous ceilings, surreal windows and sculptures creating a space for the mind to wander. So much emphasis has been placed on the Norton’s design that it’s hard to discern where the museum ends and the art begins. During your visit, dedicate about an hour toward the rotating exhibits, which are unveiled about every month. The current exhibit, “At the Dawn of a New Age: Early Twentieth-Century American Modernism,” has works from Georgia O’Keeffe and Man Ray, pioneers in the colorful, industrial style when the nation was filled with optimism after the industrial revolution. If you visit on a Friday, you’ll want to time it so you can catch Art After Dark, which includes live music, guided tours, poetry and hands-on arts and crafts from 5 to 10 p.m.

iFLY Indoor Skydiving

11690 W. State Road 84, Davie; 954-280-4359; iflyworld.com

What better way to cool down than through a 100-mph wind tunnel? At iFLY Indoor Skydiving, you can simulate what it feels like to freefall in near weightlessness, without having to hurl yourself from a plane 10,000 feet in the air. That also makes it a great experience for adventurous kids who are still too young for the real thing. A package of four flights per person goes for $159.99. For those visiting in pairs, there’s a buy-two-get-two offer priced at $104.99. Don’t worry if your flight suit is at the dry cleaners, as these prices include gear and training. Additionally, each participant receives a personalized flight certificate, which is almost as cool as actually skydiving.

Flying Squirrel Trampoline Park

3305 Corporate Ave., Weston; 954-314-7439; flyingsquirrelsports.us/weston-florida

Sometimes, you just need a place to sit back and let your children expend their excess energy. Try Flying Squirrel Trampoline Park, which has designated child-friendly areas for high fun and seemingly low risk. There are safety padding, shock-absorbing systems and no-climb netting in place, according to the website. When they tire of jumping, the facility also offers an arcade and ample food and drink options. Have very young tots? There’s a special Toddler Time for that, which offers kids age 6 and younger an hour of jump time for $14. General jump time ranges from $19 for 60 minutes to $29 for 120 minutes.

Young at Art Museum

8000 W. Broward Blvd., Suite 1208, Plantation; 954-424-0085; youngatartmuseum.org

This one’s a go-to for kids to put their minds to work and think creatively. Almost everything at this interactive museum is hands-on, which is great for us tactile learners. They can learn to create poetry, take the stage with puppet shows and craft their own works with the help of local artists. Just showing up for the immersive exhibits is enough to get their little gears turning, and who knows? There might be an artist in the making. Also, consider signing up for one of Young at Art’s summer camps, where kids can explore various avenues for making, creating and imagining. There are more than a dozen workshops available through Aug. 18 to keep the kids busy with activities such as making Lion King-inspired masks, designing video game heroes and learning urban-themed art using stencils, graffiti and other styles.

Arts Garage

94 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach; 561-450-6357; artsgarage.org

Make the Arts Garage in downtown Delray Beach part of your monthly First Friday ArtWalk.

Sun Sentinel file photo

Make the Arts Garage in downtown Delray Beach part of your day out. (Sun Sentinel file photo)

South Florida is flush with creative minds bursting with a passion to entertain and inspire. For a wide array of artists and content creators, Arts Garage acts like a canvas for all that creative, local energy. But it’s not really a concert hall, or an art gallery, or a theater. Giving Arts Garage one label would be a disservice, as it encompasses all things theater, music, comedy, visual arts and arts education. You can attend art workshops, theater performances, dance classes and much more. The folks at Arts Garage unite emerging and established creators to celebrate art and engage the community. Arts Garage stresses diversity in its programming, which caters to adults and youth, locals and tourists, and audiences of all backgrounds.

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