Rock Climbing Walls for Kids in New York City
Indoor rock climbing is an excellent way for kids to get some needed activity in the dead of winter, though it can be enjoyed year-round. Plan a visit to one of these rock climbing walls for kids and let them scale someone else's walls for a change. Major bonus: The sport takes concentration, discipline, and strength; all the skills you'll be more than happy to help them build.
New York City boasts more than a dozen indoor bouldering and rock climbing spots in every borough but the Bronx and more are due to open in 2020. While a couple of these are only open during the summer, most are year-round destinations. The best part? Kids tend to love the activity, and it isn't too pricey. Try a drop-in program or sign up for one of the many after-school classes or break camps offered at the rock climbing walls for kids profiled below.
Find more active fun in our Kids' Sports Centers Guide.
Rock Climbing Walls for Kids in Manhattan
Central Rock Gym – Midtown West
Rise and shine early to catch "Breakfast Club" at this Midtown climbing spot. Kids ages 4-8 can kick off their weekends by getting some wiggles out. Competitive teams are offered for children ages 8-18. Drop-in climbing is also available, and kids ages 5 and under get a break on admission, too.
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The climbing wall at the Field House at Chelsea Piers is 23-feet tall and perfect for ages 5-16. Photo courtesy of Chelsea Piers
The Field House at Chelsea Piers – Chelsea
Many of us have escorted little ones to birthday parties here and seen the 23-foot-high climbing wall designed with kids in mind. Children ages 5-16 can try a Rock-N-Rolls session. In these 90-minute classes, kids receive 45 minutes of rock climbing instruction and 45 minutes of gymnastics instruction. Reservations are required. If your child already has sufficient skills, drop in for an open, youth-only climbing session. There are great birthday party options that include the rock wall, too.
Manhattan Plaza Health Club – Midtown West
This health club offers 5,000 square feet of climbing space for your little one's enjoyment. Children ages 4 and older are welcome to climb. The club suggests mom or dad take an introductory class to learn the essentials of the sport, including belaying (holding the rope to which your child is attached). This allows your child access to the wall whenever the club is open. Beyond that, you can opt for a one- or two-times-per-week class with the Skyline Youth Climbing Program. Geared toward children ages 5-17, the program teaches climbing skills along with patience, body awareness, and cognitive awareness.
Steep Rock Bouldering – East Harlem and West Harlem
This uptown duo is dedicated to the art of bouldering, meaning ropes and harnesses are not used. Climbers ages 5 and older are welcome to scale the walls at the east side location, while ages 8 and up can visit the west Harlem spot. Both sites offer after-school, weekend classes, and competitive team options. Birthday party packages are available.
Rock Climbing Walls for Kids in Brooklyn
Aviator Sports and Events Center – Marine Park, Brooklyn
This massive airplane-hangar-turned-sports-center boasts a 35-foot-high wall in the Main Street area of the complex. Children ages 5 and older can climb on a first-come, first-served basis. Hours vary, so call before heading out. Aviator also offers rock climbing birthday parties.
Brooklyn Boulders offers options for all ability levels, including after-school and weekend classes for kids. Photo courtesy the gym
Brooklyn Boulders – Gowanus and Long Island City, Queens
A climbing mecca, Brooklyn Boulders has a separate wall for kids and allows children as young as 5 to scale its regular walls. There are after-school and weekend classes so kids can master the basics. There are also teen programs and party-perfect space rentals for all ages, including adults. It also offers a summer camp. If your climber has a competitive streak, consider having them try out at either location for the Brooklyn Beasts climbing team.
Everyday Athlete – Brooklyn Heights
This gym has a pair of locations in Brooklyn Heights and offers after-school classes for kids age 3 and older, as well as drop-in, open-climb hours, and unlimited climb packages.
GP81 – Greenpoint, Brooklyn
This new community-built, training-focused gym is currently limited to ages 13 and up, but it may be a good option for local teens who are serious about climbing.
MetroRock Brooklyn – Bushwick
MetroRock Climbing, which has three locations in Massachusetts and Vermont, has now opened a massive spot in Bushwick. Kids can come in and climb anytime, thanks to the auto-belays. After-school programs, birthday parties, and climbing teams are also available.
Learn the ropes at The Cliffs LIC. Photo courtesy of The Cliffs LIC
Rock Climbing Walls for Kids in Queens & Staten Island
The Cliffs – Long Island City, Queens
This LIC facility offers introductory classes for children and adults and multiple teams for kids, whether they want a competitive or recreational experience. Camp opportunities during school breaks enable kids to hone skills, and birthday party packages are available. A Harlem location is now in the works.
Rock'Em Extreme – Charleston, Staten Island
Staten Island space uses its 35-foot-tall rock climbing wall as a vehicle to promote an anti-bullying platform—by learning to work together to conquer a climbing wall, kids are also learning to solve problems in other parts of their lives. There are multiple climbing options, including traditional bouldering, ropes, rings, and monkey bars. Day passes and memberships are available, and there are birthday party packages.
Kids can climb outdoors in warmer months at The Cliffs at DUMBO. Photo by Rose Gordon Sala
Seasonal Rock Climbing Walls for Kids
The Cliffs at DUMBO – Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn
The Cliffs opened this seasonal climbing spot in the summer of 2016 under the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Parkgoers can try their bouldering skills on these manmade cliffs, which organizers say make up the largest outdoor bouldering area in North America. Multiple climbing walls are available, including a beginner's area that's best for kids. DUMBO Boulders is open spring through fall, though we are still waiting to hear about its 2020 summer hours.
The climbing wall at Governors Island is not only challenging but also has a beautiful view. Photo courtesy of Governors Island
Adventures at GI – Governors Island
The Climbing Challenge at Governors Island debuted in 2017 as part of Adventures at GI, a trio of attractions that also includes a zip line and maze. It's a 25-foot structure with three different paths to choose from, and it's aimed primarily at kids.
More Nearby Options
There are also child-sized rock climbing walls at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City and the New York Hall of Science in Queens that are included with museum admission. Brooklyn play space Fairytale Island has a small wall, as does Bounce 'N Play in Astoria, Queens, and there is a tiny one at Chelsea Playground on Staten Island. For another outdoor option, visit the Pier 25 playground. The Rock Club in New Rochelle might be the closest spot for those in the Bronx.
A version of this article was published in February 2018; it is updated annually. Jody Mercier contributed additional reporting.