7 Indoor Rock Climbing Spots to Get Your Kids’ Wiggles Out

If your kids have been climbing the walls, it’s a great time to take them to a place where acting like a monkey is totally encouraged. Rock climbing is a fun way to burn energy and bond as a family, plus you don’t have to go far to find some of the best scaling spots in and around Chicago.

Note: We’re updating our website as quickly as we can, but changes may occur due to COVID-19. Please double check before heading out for the most updated information on safety precautions and any last-minute cancellations. Stay safe!

Brooklyn Boulders

Although plenty of hardcore climbers frequent this gym, but guests with children aren’t required to take any intro classes, just a quick facility orientation. Daily Kids Academy classes teach skills such as bouldering, roped climbing and team building. Birthday parties and S.T.E.A.M.-focused adventure camps are also offered, along with teen and after-school programs.

Vertical Endeavors

This gym is the Western Suburbs is one of the largest indoor climbing facilities in the U.S., with over 45,000 square feet of space. Three bouldering gyms (where no harnesses are required) and 30 auto belays (a device that picks up the slack and lowers you to the ground in case of fall) make this spot ideal for families. Discount days are available for homeschoolers and Scouts, and there are plenty of classes, clubs and camps for families to choose from.

Funtopia

If your kids aren’t quite ready to tackle a full-on climbing gym, this play center is a fun way to introduce them to the sport. Forty interactive “fun walls,” including a magic beanstalk and a dinosaur skeleton, will thrill and delight your little ones, while bigger kiddos can attempt the Rocktopia Granite wall. With two locations in Glenview and Naperville, there are also ropes courses, climbing obstacles, a Jungle Gym and a realistic cave structure to explore.

Climb On

From top rope and bouldering to lead climbing, you’ll find courses for all ages and skill levels at Climb On. If your kids are serious about learning rock climbing skills, the gym offers a $70 family orientation for children under 14 to (quite literally) learn the ropes and practice working together as a team. Once you’re ready to make climbing a regular part of your routine, there are multiple membership plans available.

First Ascent

This yoga, fitness and climbing gym offers rock climbing for kids 5 and up at each of their six Chicago area locations. Parents are required to supervise children, but don’t have to pay a fee if they’re just watching. Their wide range of classes aim to improve kids’ balance and coordination, as well as increase confidence and strength. Parents can take a survey on the gym’s website to figure out which class best suits their children’s needs.

UIC Campus Recreation Climbing Wall

The 43-foot Entre Prises’ Free Form wall at UIC simulates the look and feel of an actual rock, which makes for a truly authentic experience. Featuring seven top ropes, the wall’s intricate detailing will make you feel like you’re miles away from the city. Kids ages 5 and up are welcome to use the wall during weekend hours and college breaks, and non-members can get a five climb punch card.

Ackerman Sports & Fitness Center

  • Address: 800 St. Charles Road, Glen Ellyn
  • COVID-19 updates: Indoor rock climbing wall is temporarily closed.

The Glen Ellyn sports club is home to the Ackerman Alps, two thirty foot climbing rocks and a bouldering wall which feature an auto belay system. Make sure to check out adult/tot drop-in days, where parents can bring their 2-5 year olds climbing for free ($5 for non-members). There are daily drop-in hours for older kids and adults, too.


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This article originally published on Feb. 13, 2020. It has been updated with the most recent information. 

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