It may be spring, but we’re still a few weeks away from spend-a-day-in-the-park weather and we’ve all got excess energy to burn, right? If you’re running out of ways to get the kids out of the apartment and wear them out, give your local climbing center a try. Not only will the race to the top of the wall exhaust kids, exploring climbing routes will help them build strength and flexibility and it’s a whole lot of fun! The best bit? You can gear up and you’ll get a great workout too. Here are seven of the best indoor climbing gyms in New York City.

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Youngest: Everyday Athlete
This Carroll Gardens gym loves to get kids into climbing as soon as they show interest. They claim the tallest bouldering wall in Brooklyn, at 17.5 feet (bouldering is a style of climbing without using ropes), and they offer lots of programs for families to get involved. Kids can try one of their after school, or after pre-school programs starting at age 3, or they can climb with their you during a family open climbing session on weekends. Good to know: If you want to partner up with your kid you can take a belay certification class for $75 or for an additional $50 a staffer will belay your kid.

Everyday Athlete
136 Union Street
Carroll Gardens
Phone: 718-852-6300
Ages: 3 and older
Cost: Family open climb is $25 per person with gear included.
Hours: Family Open Climbing is open weekends: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm. Register in advance where possible as this session is popular. Check their website for details on after school programs.

brooklynbouldersBiggest: Brooklyn Boulders
This huge, 18,000-square-foot climbing gym is all about climbing and nothing else. They have a special children’s wall with easy climbs designed especially for little kiddos. Plus, they host a bunch of after school and summer programs that kids who love to climb can sign up for. If that’s not enough for your monkeys, Brooklyn Boulders also offers birthday party packages, adventure days and a youth climbing team. Good to know: All kids programs require pre-booking.

Brooklyn Boulders
575 Degraw Street
Phone: 347-834-9066
Ages: 5 and older
Cost: Family Learn the Ropes: $79/adult $29/child. Day pass: $22 (Students $19) plus equipment hire.
Hours: Mon – Fri: 7:00 am – 2:00 am, Sat – Sun: 8:00 am – 2:00 am. Brooklyn Boulders also offers weekend family hours, where they’re exclusively open to parents and children from 8:00 am – 11 am.

Tallest: Aviator Sports And Events Center
The Aviator Center features a huge 175,000 square feet of total indoor events, athletics, and recreation space for individuals, families, and groups. You’ll find some of the tallest indoor rock climbing walls in New York City here – at 35 feet high, it sounds plenty tall enough to us! Good to know: Beyond climbing, there’s literally something for everyone in the family here to do if you all feel an exercise jaunt coming on. Kids and adults can get involved in programs for basketball, volleyball, ice skating, running and bungee jumping.

Aviator Sports And Events Center
3159 Flatbush Avenue
Fort Greene
Phone: 718-758-7500
Age: 5 and older
Cost: 2 Climbs – $10.00 per person
Hours: Fri: 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Sat: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm, Sun: 11:00 am – 6:00 pm

the cliffs valhalla


Newest: The Cliffs at Long Island City
A brand new gym, opening on May 1, The Cliffs has the ability to fit in 500(!) climbers at a time. We can’t wait to check out the gym’s 3D curved walls and modern, fresh designs. What does this mean for climbers? Most climbing walls are built with sheets of plywood covered with concrete, creating straight planes with sharp angle changes at the ends of a “panel” or section of plywood. The 3D walls at The Cliffs curve organically and gradually, giving climbers a totally difference experience than they will find anywhere else in the city. The Cliffs has also focused a lot of thought on making New York’s littlest climbers feel at home. Kids get to enjoy their own private, full-height climbing walls, designed specifically for kids and their needs (for example, kids’ shorter arms mean they need the holds on the walls to be closer together) and full of kid-friendly imagery and colors. Also offered for kids: birthday parties, after school programs, climbing teams, kids classes, summer camps, boy scout merit badge, girl scout events, and more. They also have plans to offer open climbing hours for families to drop in without a reservation and have a climbing professional show them “the ropes”. Pun definitely intended.

The Cliffs at Long Island City
11-11 44th Drive
Long Island City
Phone: 718-729-7625
Age: 5 and older
Cost: $28 for a day pass, plus equipment rental.


Most Surprising: Manhattan Plaza Health Club
Nestled in the Times Square district in a nondescript building, lies one of New York’s best kept secrets – an indoor climbing gym that, at the grand old age of 17 years, ranks as one of the city’s oldest gyms. Part of the Manhattan Plaza Health Club, the 1600-square-foot climbing gym features over 60 climbing routes that get redesigned monthly, a cave and two 20-foot chimneys to squeeze up. Good to know: The gym hosts climbing workshops, seminars and competitions for world class climbers, as well as offering special rates for group climbing and children’s birthday parties.

Manhattan Plaza Health Club
482 West 43rd Street
Phone: 212-563-7001
Age: 6 and older
Cost: A day pass begins at $20 for adults and $15 for youth 14 and under.
Hours: Mon – Fri: 6:00 am – 11:00 pm Sat – Sun: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm Weekend/Holiday Children’s Hours: 10:00 am – 3:30 pm

Easiest for Newbies: Field House at Chelsea Piers
Part of the huge Chelsea Piers sporting center, the indoor rock wall at the Field House is 23 feet high, and suitable for climbers of all ages and experience. Kids wanting to try climbing can register for a drop-in youth climb, held every week for kids of varying ages. Good to know: If your kids can’t get enough of swinging from walls, they can enroll in semester-long classes in rock climbing. Classes start with parent/child sessions for kids 5 to 7 years old – kiddos age 7 and older can take classes on their own.

Field House at Chelsea Piers
Pier 62 – 23rd Street & Hudson River Park
Phone: 212-336-6500
Age: 5 and older
Cost: $30 for a 50 minute drop in session. Gear included.
Hours: Tues and Thurs 3:40 pm, Sat 9:00 am (age 5 – 9), Wed 5:30pm (age 10 – 15)

climb rockWorth the Trip

Hardest: The Rock Club
A mere 30 minute subway ride from Grand Central Terminal lies the Rock Club in New Rochelle. The Rock Club prides itself on being the premier indoor climbing location for the New York area. They boast 15,000 square feet of climbing terrain, walls up to 40 feet tall, and an impressive 80 climbing stations with more than 200 routes – plus, they have separate areas for beginners and groups. They also feature some of the best youth programs we’ve seen for kids who love to climb – kiddos can join a climbing team, sign up for after school programs or even celebrate their birthday here.

The Rock Club
130 Rhodes Street
New Rochelle
Phone: 914-633-7625
Age: 3 and older
Cost: Daypass $18/adult, $10/child 12 and under
Hours: Mon – Fri: 10:00 am – 10:30 pm, Sat – Sun: 9:30 am – 8:00 pm

When was the last time you went rock climbing? Is this a sport you think your kids will enjoy?

–Christine Knight

Photos courtesy of Everyday Athlete, Brooklyn Boulders, The Cliffs and The Rock Club.