If your kids are scaling the furniture or the walls at home, maybe it’s time to give rock-climbing a try! Indoor climbing and bouldering are great ways to keep kids active in cold weather, and experts recommend that newbies start climbing indoors, in a safe, controlled environment. These Toronto and GTA climbing gyms have programs for kids as young as age 4, depending on the activity.
What You Need To Know About Climbing and Bouldering With Kids
You can climb with your kids or, at some gyms, drop them off for lessons or programs with instructors.
Most climbing facilities have both ropes climbing—where the climber is secured via a harness and belay—and bouldering (ropes-free climbing), but some only have one or the other. Depending on the gym and the structures it has, some activities may be restricted by age or ability.
Bouldering may seem like the easier activity since it’s lower to the ground, but it can actually be more challenging since you’re not harnessed. You might be shocked at how skilled young kids are at ropes climbing. A kid just starting out can often outpace a newbie adult!
All facilities require inexperienced climbers to take an intro session or an introductory session or class. All have day rates and membership options. And all require a parent to sign a waiver—so if you’re sending your child with another adult, be sure to do this in advance!
Unless you’re dropping your child off for a class, you’ll likely be required to monitor your child closely. Some gyms even require a parent or guardian to belay their child (you’ll get an orientation on how to do it).
Kid-Friendly Climbing Gyms for Kids in Toronto and the GTA
Here are the best family-friendly places to climb with your kids.
In this 22,000-square-foot facility in Liberty Village, kids ages 10 and under can climb with an experienced adult. If you aren’t an experienced climber, instructors are available for Kids Climbs for ages 13 and under. (You’ll need to make a reservation 48 hours in advance and have a minimum of three climbers.)
If your child wants to become a “real” climber, consider the School of Rock 10-week after-school program for ages 7–13. Individual lessons are available for youth ages 14+ and adults. Birthday parties.35 Fraser Ave., Toronto
Boulderz has ropes climbing and bouldering for kids and adults in two locations: Etobicoke and the Junction Triangle. First-times can do the Intro to Boulderz program (adults must accompany kids). Other options for kids: drop-in climbing, which is open to all ages on Sundays—but with a minimum of one adult per three kids under age 14; group belay classes; after-school programs for specific age groups (4–5, 6–10, 11–17); and day camps. Kids can also take a group belay class. Got a wee one? Check out Mommy Rok, for moms with babes up to 12 months! Birthday parties.1444 Dupont St., Toronto
416-516-6666 80 The East Mall, Etobicoke
In this 12,000-square-foot facility in the Downsview Park Sports Centre, kids can do rock-climbing, bouldering, slacklining, and take part in indoor games (outdoor in summer). Two-hour, drop-off supervised climbs are available for kids ages 7–12 every weekend; reservations are required. True North also has a variety of school-break and summer camps and after-school programs for ages 5–18 and birthday parties.75 Carl Hall Rd., Toronto
The East York climbing facility has 11 distinct climbing areas, 80+ climbing stations, and more than 4,000 square feet of bouldering. For kids, there’s climbing with TCA staff on Saturdays (ages 6–12), school-break and summer camps, and six-week courses for ages 4–18, plus birthday party packages. Parents who’ve taken a beginner belay course can climb with kids independently.11 Curity Ave., Toronto
416-406-5900 or 416-757-4208
These gyms in Leslieville and Ajax have family climbs (by reservation for the first visit), after-school programs for kids in grade 1 and up, and climbing camps, summer youth programs, plus small-group belaying sessions for all ages, by reservation. You can book a climbing birthday party, too.388 Carlaw Ave., Toronto
416-703-3434 75 Centennial Rd., Ajax
This large climbing gym in the Annex is designed for all skill levels and ages. It has more than 7,000 square feet of ropes climbing surface and 58 routes and is the tallest climbing gym in the city. For kids, there are drop-in lessons, kids’ club program, camps, and recreational classes. Book birthday parties for ages 5 and up.677 Bloor St. W., Toronto
This gym with two locations (Mississauga and Markham) is dedicated to being a welcoming space for beginners and kids who want to climb, while also maintaining challenging, state-of-the-art gyms that suit climbers at all levels. Both gyms have bouldering and ropes climbing, the latter for ages 4 and up. Parents will be taught how to belay their child if they don’t know already. Drop-in climbing is available (orientation included) and both locations have virtual-reality climbing walls to gamify your climbing experience. Camps and birthday parties are available, too.165 McIntosh Dr., Markham
905-604-4588 3636 Hawkestone Rd., Unit 1, Mississauga
Climber’s Rock is one of Canada’s largest indoor climbing facilities. Their Youth Academy (ages 4–17) is focused on fitness and fun and progresses by age and ability. Parents who take a belay course can belay with kids at any time.5155 Harvester Rd., Burlington
The York region’s premier climbing gym has ropes climbing and bouldering, with beginner’s course for adults and kids, youth group activities, after-school lessons, summer camps, and birthday parties.482 Ontario St., Newmarket