If your kids are literally climbing the walls, a trip to an indoor climbing gym to burn off some mental and physical energy may be in order. Lucky for us, the Emerald City boasts several indoor climbing gyms due to the fact that rock climbing is part of the heart and soul of our region. If you’re ready to reach new heights with your crew, scroll down for five gyms that offer climbing classes and experiences for all ages.

Island Rock Gym

Just across the Puget Sound is Island Rock Gym. Hop on a ferry to picturesque Bainbridge Island and take your rock climbing crew to new heights. Island Rock Gym offers super bouldering and climbing and a variety of climbing routes with groovy names like Raspberry Jam, Low Hanging Fruit and Pistol Pete. Age appropriate kids’ clubs for climbers ages 4–12 incorporate fun climbing activities and instruction. Serious climbers ages 7-18 can take part in Island Rock Gym’s climbing competitions. Psst! If you’re a first-time visitor or new to the sport, the Experience Climbing Package is a great introduction and includes a day pass, all gear and a one-hour pro belay. Cost is $48 for the first climber; $35 for each additional climber (for up to four people).

Amenities: Island Rock Gym has a Pro Shop and lockers. Snacks and drinks are available for purchase. There is also free WiFi and coffee!

The Rules: Climbers under age 14 must be actively supervised by an adult. Adults may not be responsible for more than 4 kids.

Age Restrictions: There is no minimum age to climb. Classes begin at age 4.

Island Rock Gym
9437 Coppertop Loop N.E.
Bainbridge Island, Wa 98110
Online: islandrockgym.com

Hours: Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.- 9 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Cost: $17/Adult Day Pass; $14/Youth Day Pass (5-13); $8/Kids Day Pass (under 5). See website for punch-card and membership rates. $5/shoe rental.

Seattle Bouldering Project

All climbing at SBP is rope-free with lots of options to choose from. Little climbers can start with a fun bouldering cave where they can slide down and then try out some harder problems, overhangs and topout boulders. Plus, there are four bouldering rooms offering new challenges and a super cool castle-themed party room. SBP offers classes for kids of all ages and stages. Tots Class (for ages 4-6) is designed for small groups of climbers and explores the world of bouldering through fun games and basic instruction. The Kids Program (for ages 7-9) helps climbers develop confidence and promotes a love of climbing and exercise. The Youth Program (for ages 10-12) gives budding climbers more experience through specific games and activities tailored to their abilities. For kids ages 12 & older, the Junior Program adds more challenges, strength building and technical instruction. Climbers ages 8-18 can sign up to join the Seattle Climbing Team and take part in bouldering competitions.

Good to Know: SBP offers a full-service fitness center with a weight room, circuit equipment and cardio space. They also offer a range of yoga classes and host birthday parties ranging from group climbing instruction to challenge games for kids of all ages.

Amenities: SBP has a Pro Shop, showers and lockers. Snacks, sandwiches and drinks are available for purchase. There is also free WiFi and a lounge to chillax in between climbs.

The Rules: Kids under 14 must be actively supervised by an adult. Adults may not be responsible for more than three kids at a time in the youth climbing areas.

Age Restrictions: There is no minimum age to climb; classes begin at age 4.

Seattle Bouldering Project
900 Poplar Pl. S.
Seattle, Wa 98144
Online: seattleboulderingproject.com 

Hours: Daily, 6 a.m.-11 p.m.
Cost: $16/Adult Day Pass (includes access to the whole facility); $12/Student or Youth Day Pass. See website for punch-card and membership rates. $4/shoe rental (free for first time guests).

Stone Gardens

Stone Gardens offers bouldering and roped climbing, so you can try a bit of both. Their Ballard location includes cool bouldering rooms, plus the chance to make your ascent up to 40 feet with roped climbing or tackle the outdoor climbing wall on a sunny Seattle day. The Stone Gardens location in Bellevue is bigger and boasts a super kids’ instruction area with a pirate ship and forest wall, plus Fang and Zenith boulders in the main bouldering area.

Good to Know: Both locations include a weight room to help build your climbing stamina.

Amenities: Stone Gardens has a Pro Shop, showers and lockers. Snacks and drinks are available for purchase.

The Rules: Children under 14 must be directly supervised by an adult while climbing. One adult may not be responsible for more than three children.

Age Restrictions: There is no minimum age to climb; classes begin at age 6.

Stone Gardens Seattle
2839 N.W. Market St.
Seattle Wa 98107
Online: stonegardens.com/seattle 

Hours: Mon.-Fri., 6 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
Cost: $18/Adult Day Pass; $14/Youth Day Pass (13 & under). See website for punch-card and membership rates. $5.25/shoe rental.

Stone Gardens Bellevue
15600 N.E. 8th St.; Suite C-1
Bellevue Wa 98008
Online: stonegardens.com/bellevue 

Hours: Mon.-Fri., 6 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
Cost: $21/Adult Day Pass (includes access to both climbing gyms); $16/Youth Day Pass (13 & under). See website for punch card and membership rates. $6.50/climbing shoe rental.

Summit Everett

Summit Everett is the North End’s premier climbing gym offering fun for novice and experienced climbers. If you’re new to the sport, purchase an All Access Pass (starting at $40 per person) and get your gear, one hour of staff instruction and access to all bouldering walls. Once your kids are more familiar with climbing, you can enroll them in the Summit Youth Climbing School (ages 5–14). This unique program offers an engaging environment to deepen climbing knowledge and grow as climbers.

Amenities: The gym offers showers and a locker room for changing clothes.

The rules: Climbers under age 14 must be under direct adult supervision while in the gym.

Age Restrictions: Children younger than 5 are welcome to climb in the gym, but formal instruction begins at age 5.

Summit Everett
2820 Rucker Ave.
Everett, Wa 98201
Online: summiteverett.com

Hours: Mon.–Fri., 11 a.m.–10 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
Cost: $16/Adult Day Pass; $13/Youth Day Pass (under 14). See website for membership options.

Good to Know

A Sport for Everyone
Rock climbing is a sport for the young (and old) and you don’t have to be super-fit or skilled to try it. If you’re new to the sport, you should know there are two different kinds of climbing to try in the indoor gyms: bouldering and top rope climbing. Bouldering is climbing at low heights without the use of ropes or a harness (there are big padded mats to cushion a fall) and usually the goal is to aim for the top of the boulder. Top rope climbing lets you go much higher, but you’re strapped into a harness and clipped into a rope. You’ll also need someone to “belay” for you, which is something grownups can learn how to do at the gym.

Choose Your Own Adventure
At all climbing gyms you’ll find route setters whose job it is to create imaginative and challenging routes for boulderers and climbers. All the routes are given difficulty ratings, so you can choose the one that’s best suited for your skill set. Hint: Bouldering routes are called “problems” – they’re shorter than rope routes, but may be more challenging. When you’re just starting out you can pick whichever holds you like, but as you get more experienced you may enjoy the challenge of solving a bouldering “problem” or following a route.

Have you and your kids tried indoor rock climbing? What’s your family’s favorite part about the sport? Tell us in the comments below!

—Abbey McGee & Helen Walker Green


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