You might notice a theme in Cumberland County’s recreational offerings. They’re often adrenaline-inducing, tactical pursuits that require strategy and/or strength. And why is this? Because we are Ft. Bragg’s playground, where some of the nation’s finest military units train hard and play even harder. Our post, which is home to service members from all five military branches, is the largest in the world. Because of their jobs, the 55,000+ men and women stationed here are not content with your average recreation when they can take it to the next level. In fact, the businesses I’m featuring in this blog are all veteran-owned or military-affiliated. Since we love to support our hometown heroes, here are eight recreational pursuits to try in Ft. Bragg's playground!
Did you know we can boast the largest indoor wind tunnel in the U.S.? Paraclete XP Indoor Skydiving features a vertical tunnel measuring 16’5” in diameter and 56’ in height and offers adventurers the thrill of skydiving without jumping from a plane. Not surprisingly, this gem of an attraction is veteran-owned.
Not only will you find some of the top indoor skydiving athletes from around the world training at Paraclete, but our own U.S. Army Golden Knights also use it as their training hub. This experience is not just for pros, though. Children as young as 3 years old can learn how to fly with the aid of one of Paraclete’s expert instructors. Come discover what it's like to be a paratrooper!
Just six miles from Paraclete, you’ll find one of Cumberland County’s trampoline parks, JP’s Jump Masters, and the story behind this locally owned business is about as inspiring as it gets. After John Pettit, a retired Special Forces medic, lost his life, his wife vowed to do something in his honor and to give back to the community that had supported her family. Her vision was to create a safe space for families to enjoy spending time together. JP’s Jump Masters was borne out of her dream.
This 20,000-square-foot facility features foam pits, basketball hoops, trampoline dodgeball courts, a gourmet coffee shop, an arcade, an indoor/outdoor café, and more. If you’ve never been to a trampoline park before, you should know people of all ages join in the fun. They’re even a perfect destination for a team-building event or group outing, and their packages make this form of entertainment affordable for larger groups.
We have a brand-new attraction in town—Battle House Tactical Laser Tag—offering “action-packed Call of Duty-style missions in a complex 14,000-square-foot urban environment.” Not only can Battle House boast a multi-story and multi-dimensional arena, but their layout is constantly changing as they add to and move around the barricades and buildings.
Whether you’re looking for something to do with family or friends or as a work team-building exercise, their 1-1/2-hour missions are a fantastic way to entertain the whole crew indoors. This veteran-owned business is also conveniently located at Westwood Shopping Center—a popular destination for visitors and locals alike because of its array of dining, entertainment, and shopping options.
Bonus: You’ll also find laser tag available at two other Cumberland County attractions: Fun Fun Fun and Putt Putt Fun Center.
Just a nine-mile drive from I-95 is a 96-acre adventure destination called Black Ops Paintball. Established in 2012 by combat veterans, Black Ops claims to have “the only regulation-sized, turfed, and fully stadium-lit field in the Carolinas” for their speedball field. Plus, they have hyperball fields, woodsball arenas, a pipes field, and “The Compound,” featuring a mock-up city and 30-foot tower.
On any given day at Black Ops, you may find a military training event, birthday party, company team-building outing, or family reunion going on. And that’s exactly what Black Ops is designed to offer. Best of all, you don’t have to travel with your gear to play. Rent all your equipment and purchase your paintballs right there. Then you’re all set to hit the field!
If you follow my blog, you know I like to share my list of “firsts” at the end of each year. One of my favorite first-time experiences last year took place at Axes & X’s Axe Throwing Range, where I tried my hand at throwing a hatchet at a target marked with a bullseye. In case you’re not in the know about this sport, we can thank Canada for turning it into such a popular game that the U.S. has now adopted it. As Axes & X’s describes the experience, “Think darts, but way cooler.”
The owners—an active-duty soldier and his wife—started this business in 2018 with one mobile, axe-throwing unit, popping up at local breweries on the weekends. Over a year later, their schedule stays packed with festivals, breweries, baseball games, private events, and more. While they’re looking for a permanent location, you can still find Axes & X’s popping up all over Cumberland County. Just follow their website calendar and Facebook page to keep track. Then plan on including this AXEperience in your Fayetteville adventures!
Bonus: You’ll also find axe throwing available at Axes & Armor Hatchet House.
As I’ve been bragging on for a while now, our Town of Spring Lake has become quite the outdoor adventure destination. Thanks to Spring Lake Outpost, you can experience kayaking, canoeing, or tubing during a trek down the Lower Little River. Their stated mission is “to merge water sports and relaxation as you tour 3-mile or 6-mile excursions.” Of course, anyone can throw their craft on a body of water here, but SLO is the only business in our area offering designated routes, watercraft rentals, safety devices, and return transportation.
Additionally, if you’re new to this type of recreation, you can opt in for a kayaking lesson and even a river guide (at an extra charge). Throughout the year, SLO holds a variety of special events, like their Freedom Float for the Fallen, Kayak Fest, and SLO Glow - Evening Kayaking. Even better, this veteran-owned business is part of The Collective—a business complex that offers kombucha, yoga, CrossFit, coffee, and more. This Spring Lake adventure destination needs to be on your bucket list!
One of North Carolina’s largest shotgun shooting facilities is just one and one-half miles from Spring Lake Outpost, at the Ft. Bragg Clay Target Center. This facility features 12 competition-level skeet fields, six of which are overlaid with competition-level trap fields. Although it is one of the Ft. Bragg Family and MWR facilities, no military ID card is needed to access the site, and it’s completely open to the public.
Here, you’ll find a team of folks, most of which are veterans, who love introducing this sport to first-time shooters. In fact, newbies may request instructions on the basics of shooting; however, reservations are recommended, and a fee will be charged. Anyone, 8 years of age and up, can practice skeet and trap shooting here. There’s no need to bring your own shotgun, as this facility offers shotgun rentals (12-, 20-, and 28-gauge), but that is an option. Come test your aim at this Spring Lake outdoor gem!
On the outskirts of downtown Fayetteville, you’ll find North Carolina’s oldest climbing gym still in existence, The Climbing Place. Open since 1996, their newly remodeled facility boasts 20,000 square feet of climbing and bouldering. Not only is the owner retired from the U.S. Army, but mountaineering was quite literally his job while he served.
Visitors to the gym today vary from beginner to advanced and may choose between bouldering, top rope, and lead climbing. The gym’s expert staff enjoy teaching their visitors the fundamentals of climbing and ensure everyone is using proper safety precautions. Since it is located downtown, you have breweries, boutiques, theaters, galleries, and more within walking distance, making for a one-stop family-friendly destination!
Bonus: Fayetteville offers yet another climbing gym at Triangle Rock Club.
If I haven't convinced you yet that Cumberland County is a recreation destination, I'd encourage you to check out our All-American Adventure Trail, which features 25 places to play here. Additionally, the Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (FACVB) provides a comprehensive list of every type of indoor and outdoor recreation we offer. Lastly, the FACVB's calendar of events is a great resource for visitors planning their trip. Come explore Fort Bragg's playground!