Rock climbing, bouldering, wall climbing, belaying... Climbing is an increasingly popular sport, and there are lots of locations in the Chicagoland area where kids can try it out. Here are some top spots where your little ones can learn new skills or take their climbing to new levels. Hours and pricing information are subject to change, so please call or visit each location's web site for current information.
100 South Morgan Street, Chicago
Brooklyn Boulders 25,000 square foot facility in Chicago's West Loop offers a number of climbing options for kids and families. The after school "Kids Academy" for kids ages 5-12 offers two hours of bouldering, top-rope climbing and games plus gear rental and a day pass. Kids can sign up for a single day, or a discounted 10-visit pass. For families, the "Family Learn the Ropes" course covers the basics of top-rope climbing including knot tying, kids harnesses, belaying (managing the ropes) and more. In summer and during the school year on days off, kids can sign up for BKB Adventures, full day and full week programs focused on engaging and exciting your kids in an experiential learning environment. Learn more...
Climbing Wall at Maggie Daley Park
337 E. Randolph St., Chicago
Two rock climbing structures offer climbers a unique outdoor experience for all levels of expertise. The wall's maximum height is 40 feet, and is divided into areas for beginners and advanced climbers, with areas for bouldering, lead-harnessed and top rope climbing. Instruction and certification classes are available. Climbers must be at least 4 years of age. Kids can participate in an hour-long orientation with an instructor to learn the basics before climbing. For bouldering there's a 15 minute orientation. The minimum age for belaying or spotting is 18. The climbing wall is managed by Lakeshore Sport and Fitness, and is open daily from mid-April until late October. Learn more...
Fitness Formula Club Old Town
1235 N. LaSalle Blvd. Chicago
At Fitness Formula Club's Old Town location, a year-round Kids Climbing Camp trains kids ages 5-13 in a wide variety of climbing disciplines, and trial visits for $35 are available for kids to try before committing to the 10-week program. Kids can boulder to low heights, climb on ropes and belay under supervision, or be encouraged to design their own routes, giving themselves kid-appropriate personal achievement goals. Kids under age 16 may participate in staff supervised climbing programs or be accompanied by an adult. Learn more...
246 Windy Point Drive, Glendale Heights
Vertical Endeavors offers 45,000 square feet of climbing surface with bouldering areas, auto belays, top ropes, and lead climbing. The facility is open year round so that climbers of all ages and abilities can climb throughout the year. Walk-ins and first timers are welcome, and an initial orientation qualifies visitors for the auto belay and bouldering walls. The "Little Tikes" program for ages 6-7 gets kids used to being on the wall and teaches them how to use the safety equipment. Classes for kids ages 8-18 are available at novice, intermediate and advanced levels. Learn more...
Climbing Wall at Annerino Community Center
201 Recreation Drive, Bolingbrook
Kids 6 and up can learn rock climbing on a 23-foot custom rock-climbing wall. Classes focus on the fundamentals of wall climbing, and kids will learn basic climbing commands and wall rules and will play bouldering games. There's a "Little Geckos" class for ages 6-11, and a "Teen Climbing" class for ages 12-15. Private lessons are also available for kids to get one-on-one attention from certified staff, and there are open climb hours available during the week. Minimum age of 6 to climb the wall. Learn more...
Broadway Armory Park
5917 N. Broadway, Chicago
Take on the challenge of climbing to the top. This Chicago Park District climbing wall at the Broadway Armory lets kids climb a 35 foot wall. Check with park staff regarding the availability of the wall. Learn more...
Climbing Wall at SRF
737 S. Halsted St. Chicago
The UIC Climbing Wall at SRF is an Entre Prises' Free Form climbing wall, which accurately simulates the look, feel, and detail of real rock. The wall is 43 feet tall, 7 top ropes across, and has a stunning variety of built in features such as cracks, flakes, pockets, arêtes, a dihedral, and endless intricate features. There are no lessons offered, but kids can climb on the weekends. Non-members can get a punch pass for access to the club. The wall is designed for adults, so it's recommended for ages 5 and up. Rock 'N' Swim summer camp for kids ages 5-11 offers both climbing instruction and swim lessons. Learn more...
Lakeshore Academy's Hidden Peak Climbing Gym
937 W. Chestnut Chicago
Hidden Peak is primarily a bouldering gym, which is unroped climbing within a specified height limit and therefore requires no technical training or harness. It's a great way for kids to try out the sport, and develop movement skills. There's also a small vertical wall with harnesses for kids to try. 10-week long classes are available for kids ages 5-16 of all skill levels and run throughout the year, and there's also a Jr. Team and Competitive Team for kids ages 8-18. In summer, rock climbing and gymnastics camp is available. Learn more...
Formula Club Oak Park
1114 Lake Street, Oak Park
The Fitness Formula Club in Oak Park is open to the public and offers weekend climbing classes for kids at beginning to intermediate skill levels. Classes are limited to no more than 4 students per class, focusing on the joy of climbing with an introduction to technical skills taught through game play. Private lessons are available as well. The junior climbing team lets members cultivate climbing strengths with a 10-week intensive training program. Learn more...