Brooklyn Boulders
Photograph: Courtesy Brooklyn Boulders Brooklyn Boulders

The best kids' rock climbing walls in NYC

NYC's best kids' rock climbing walls are great ways to take playdates and birthday parties to new heights—literally

By Dorkys Ramos and Danielle Valente

NYC's epic kids' rock climbing walls are here to shake things up when the littles are in search of a challenge. 

As much as the best kids' playgrounds make for a fun afternoon, sometimes we need to raise the stakes (literally in this case). Venues like The Cliffs at LIC and Brooklyn Boulders provide adventurous, safe opportunities for kids to climb and tackle a new experience (glance through our kids' fitness classes for more athletic activities). How could you say no?

Tell your tykes to step away from the monkey bars, dry up after a visit to their favorite water playgrounds and get ready to soar at these stellar attractions. See you at the top! 

Be sure to book other fun activities with your family—there's plenty to choose from. 

Best kids' rock climbing walls

Photograph: Courtesy Paula Lobo

1. The Cliffs at LIC

Sports and fitness Climbing Long Island City

The Cliffs provides a fun experience for all ages and levels. Whether your kids want to tackle the tall walls or stay close to the mat in the bouldering section, this gym offers it all. Youth programs introduce kids to rock climbing starting as young as 6 years old. Tots in Club 1 (beginners, ages 6–9) will get acquainted with the wall through games and fun activities and those in Club 2 (intermediate, ages 6–9) will learn techniques and build strength as they tackle various courses. If your budding climber wants an extra challenge, three Vikings curriculums for ages 10–12, 13–18 and a competitive team for all ages will provide advanced training. For a more immersive experience, The Cliff’s vacation program provide week-long adventure where kids will learn rope skills, how to belay and tie knots and learn how to problem solve during their climb. If your brood is feeling extra adventurous, there are also birthday party options at this awesome venue! 

2. Brooklyn Boulders

Sports and fitness Yoga & Pilates Gowanus

From the experienced climber looking for new challenges to the curious newbies, Brooklyn Boulders' offerings pack in something for everyone in its 22,000 square-foot gym. In the Kids Academy, the 5–12 set will do bouldering, roped climbing, stretching and participate in climbing and STEAM games. If they’re itching for more time on the wall, Brooklyn Boulders Adventures offers single and full-week programs during school vacations. Those who become really serious about their climbing endeavors might want to consider joining the team as well. As an added bonus, if you don’t want to trek all the way into Gowanus, Brooklyn Boulders has another location in Long Island City.

Photograph: Courtesy Bryan Coppede

3. The Cliffs DUMBO

Sports and fitness Climbing DUMBO

The Cliff’s DUMBO locations offers rock climbing with a beautiful view of the Manhattan skyline, so it's difficult to resist. Thanks to its convenient location in Brooklyn Bridge Park, you won’t have to worry about kids using their outdoor voices. You’ll only be able to boulder at this spot–the LIC gym offers top rope and lead climbing, auto-belaying and bouldering–but the shorter walls and safety mats make it a wonderful play space for kids 6 and up. Just note that kids 14 and under must be supervised and spotted by an adult and each adult can only supervise a maximum of two kids. Don't plan a winter visit—this is a seasonal venue, so visit the website for updates before planning an afternoon of climbing. 

Photograph: Courtesy + Chelsea Piers

4. Chelsea Piers Field House

Sports and fitness Downtown

If you want to participate in sports leagues or learn a new action sport, Chelsea Piers is the place to go. The Hudson River facility offers climbing for kids and adults on its 23-foot indoor rock wall at the Field House. Kids ages 5–9 can join in on Open Youth Rock Climbing sessions during which instructors teach and supervise the kiddos and provide all equipment needed to hit the walls. Rock-n-Roll sessions for those aged 5–16 feature 45 minutes of gymnastics and 45 minutes of rock climbing to really get those little ones moving!

Photograph: Courtesy + Manhattan Plaza Health Club

5. Manhattan Plaza Health Club

Sports and fitness Hell's Kitchen

The climbing gym at the Manhattan Plaza Health Club contains 5,000 square feet of climbing space with over 70 routes, truly providing visitors with exciting possibilities! Young climbers ages 3 and older are welcome to climb in the bouldering and top rope rooms during kids hours (Bouldering room: Mon–Fri 10am–4pm, Sat and Sun noon–6pm; Top rope room: Mon–Fri 10am–6pm, Sat and Sun noon–6pm). Please note, if your child is under 17 and is interested in either a guest pass or a day pass, a guardian must be present. 

Photograph: Courtesy + Wendy H

6. Steep Rock Bouldering

Sports and fitness Climbing East Harlem

With locations in both East and West Harlem, Uptowners have a great place to get their climbing on without traveling far. The gym is exclusively for bouldering and anyone ages 5 and older can hit the walls. After school programs for kids will build on strengths while helping them overcome challenges they might face during their climb. School of Rock is perfect for 5- to 8-year-olds who have little to no climbing experience. Club Rock, for the 8 and older set, gets those mental gears turning as kids are encouraged to problem solve and push past their mental and physical comfort zones. Rock Apprenticeship and Rock Master programs are available for those who’d love to compete at local, national and international levels.

Photograph: Courtesy Alley Pond Adventure Course and Daniel Avila

7. Alley Pond Park's Adventure Program

Attractions Parks and gardens Queens

This 657-acre green oasis (the second largest park in Queens) is home to New York City's first public high ropes adventure course, which is part of the Urban Park Rangers' Alley Pond Adventure Program. During this seasonal offering, kids ages 8 and up have the opportunity to enjoy a climbing wall, zipline, take a spot on the Nitro swing and more—all for free. Click here to learn about the sweet summertime event. When your kids are done participating, don't forget to also explore the park's barbequing areas, athletic fields, freshwater and saltwater wetlands, dog runs, tennis courts, playgrounds, hiking trails and spray showers.

Photograph: Courtesy NY Carousel Entertainment

8. Adventures at Governors Island

Sports and fitness Governors Island

Adventures at Governors Island packs in more fun than ever before thanks to a longer zip line (introduced in 2018) plus a maze challenge and rock climbing options, so kiddies better come well rested before making their way to the Island. The colorful, multi-challenge wall will certainly keep visitors entertained. But if these activities are a bit too much for some members of your clan, make sure to take advantage of the new seating area or grab a bite to eat. A new mini golf course with a nautical flair also made a 2018 debut, so swing by and try to get a hole in one! 

Photograph: Courtesy + Jackieson L

9. GP81

With a completely unique layout exclusive to its Greenpoint home, the tightknit, welcoming GP81 invites visitors to tackle its moon boards and 30, 45 and 60-degree walls. The 6,500 square-foot-space is a climber's dream, but certainly offers up a fitness challenge for those making a pitstop, which is why patrons must be 13 and up. Learn more here

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