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Photograph: Courtesy Chelsea Piers

The best places to go rock climbing in NYC

Test your strength at these outdoor and indoor spots for rock climbing in NYC offering classes and fun events

Written by
Tolly Wright

Ready to learn the ropes (or the stones) while rock climbing? NYC has excellent facilities where you can test your strength and crush your fear of heights. When yoga in NYC and scenic running routes aren’t enough, opt for an adventurous way to get toned, which works your muscles without sacrificing the fun. NYC has plenty of outdoor and indoor bouldering spots that will liven up your life. Whether you want a low-stakes, low-cost climb in one of the many NYC parks that offer great things to do outside, or if you want the full-fledge gym experience with classes, ropes and harnesses, here are the best places to go rock climbing in NYC. 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to fitness classes and gyms in NYC

Best places to go rock climbing in NYC

  • Sports and fitness
  • Yoga & Pilates
  • Gowanus
  • price 3 of 4

Fans of climbing rejoiced when this massive, state-of-the-art facility came to Gowanus. You’ll need a rope and a harness to conquer the 22-foot tall walls and 22,000-square-feet of climbable space. (Don’t worry if you’re a newbie, they have plenty of classes here.) All first-time visitors get a 15-minute course where they learn “how to fall,” and how to use auto-belay (rope and harness system), but if you’d rather stick to bouldering (climbing on the shorter walls where no ropes are required) there’s no judgment here. A day pass will set you back either $28 or $32, but if you just can’t get enough, a $135/month membership grants you access to the walls, a lounge with free WiFi, and a series of yoga and fitness courses to further your exercise routine.

  • Sports and fitness
  • Climbing

Good news: The only outdoor facility on this list is also the most affordable. This offshoot of The Cliffs at LIC opened summer of 2016, and comes with some pretty spectacular views. Located in the Brooklyn Bridge Park under the Manhattan Bridge, the wide, curvy bouldering walls offer hours of exploration. The walls here are short enough that there’s no need for harnesses or ropes, and rest assured that the cushy rubber mulch will comfortably catch your fall. The super cheap price tag ($9) includes climbing shoe rental, so think of this place as the people’s wall. The only downside? The climbing wall is temporarily closed due to construction work, however a statement by Brooklyn Bridge Park anticipates the spot to reopen in April. 

  • Sports and fitness
  • Climbing
  • Long Island City

As the perfect spot to learn the ropes, the friendly staff at this facility are well equipped to share their knowledge. If you’re nervous about trying rock climbing for the first time, the $49 introductory class gives you a full 1.5 hours of instruction where you learn the knots, harness procedures and safety precautions you’ll need to pass a belay test (the price includes a day-pass and gear rental, so you’ll be all set to jump into the deep end). Avid climbers should look into the membership ($85 to $115/month) to gain access to special clinics, which teaches you how to transition from indoor courses to real cliffs. 

  • Sports and fitness
  • Chelsea

Many of the city’s sportier individuals are well aware of the numerous fitness opportunities at Chelsea Piers, including sand volleyball and golf overlooking the Hudson. But the facility also boasts one of the more challenging rock climbing walls in the country. There’s 11,000-feet worth of climbable three-dimensional jutting walls that extend to an overhung competition roof, which means users are actually climbing perpendicular to the ground. Make sure you’re already belay-certified from another facility, or purchase a class at Chelsea Piers, before purchasing a non-member guest pass ($50 for the day).

  • Sports and fitness
  • Hell's Kitchen
  • price 2 of 4

Dating back to 1992, this tried and true climbing gym was the first of its kind in NYC, and is still one of the best spots to appease your inner adventurer. There’s 5,000-square-feet of climbing space, which includes various degrees of challenging levels. First-time climbers can opt for a one-hour belay course ($70) or a 15-minute bouldering instruction ($40), including equipment rental and a day-pass. Returnees can expect to get a day-pass for a cool $20, which means you’ll have enough dough leftover to spend upon your return. You’ll want to, since new climbing challenges are created every week.

  • Sports and fitness
  • Climbing
  • East Harlem

Like Dumbo Bouldering, this no-frills UES indoor facility is exclusively bouldering—no ropes here, jack—and heights manageable for most acrophobes. The bright facility is a favorite among kids, so get here early for your workout or beat the masses by coming on a weekday during the school year. A day pass is $25, but locals particularly appreciate the $115 monthly membership which includes 25 percent off all classes, plus discounts on drafts at Earl’s Beer and Cheese nearby. 

Adventures at Governors Island
  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Governors Island

Governors Island already has an impressive playground (including slides for adults), but the landmark offers a fairly new attraction, Adventures at Governors Island, which includes a climbing wall within the Island’s Western Development Zone near Liggett Terrace. Test your agility on the three 25-foot walls with a self-guiding belay system. $6. Opens May 1. 

Central Rock Gym
  • Things to do
  • Midtown West

This brand-new, premier climbing gym is tentatively set to open on April 22 in Columbus Circle, and it sounds dope. The open, community-focused space offers giant steep overhangs, delicate slab climbs and climbing-specific training stations with hang boards to help you prepare for your next hike. In addition, the facility includes 40-foot rope stations. Diehard climbers can sign up for a pre-sale membership and received a cheaper rate ($119/month) for one year. In case you missed the boat, the main rate is $135/month, but you can also opt for $32 day-pass.

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