Stopping by Chicago can be an interesting time with all the sightseeing you can enact upon, however, Chicago also features a huge array of top-notch indoor climbing gyms. But, as you likely are well aware of by now, finding the perfect climbing gym that suits your needs and wants can be a real hassle just due to the different communities and services these locations happen to offer. Today we aim to provide you with the best climbing gyms in Chicago so that you can further your climbing portfolio. We will be taking a look at our overall favorite, following up with our top pick, runner up, and then last but not least our value pick – which is great for climbers needing a location a little on the cheaper side. Look no further, these gyms found below will surely satisfy you no matter what type of facility you enjoy.
After you’re done here, if you’re still looking for another city, check out our reviews of other cities’ climbing gyms here.
Our Overall Favorite Indoor Climbing Gym and Bouldering Gym in Chicago
This locally created facility, First Ascent, really has a diverse community that lives within and even outside the facility. They even feature over 20 different yoga classes, as well as a multitude of climbing ones that benefit both those new to the sport and those top-notch experts. Furthermore, First Ascent actually features 4 of their locations in Chicago which all happen to be considered “world-class”. Their reputation is booming and is always positive which really led us to place this as our favorite just due to their lovely nature and great quality of services they offer here.
We’ve been members of FA for several years, and watched it grow from just two gym locations of FA Avondale and FA Uptown to include FA Humboldt Park, FA Block 37, and FA Arlington Heights. The pay one monthly membership for all gyms is a unique value that other Chicago climbing gyms can’t offer.
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What Makes First Ascent Unique:
- The public image of your gym is everything. The guys at First Ascent know this, so you can expect a great general opinion of this gym anywhere you look. Just take a look at one of the reviews for example, “Great gym! Came for a day while visiting from Vermont and we were very impressed with the cleanliness, organization, and friendliness of the staff. Got the impression that there’s a real community here and we felt super welcome even just for a few hours! One thing to note is that the ratings of top-rope climbs seemed a grade or two softer than what we were used to on the east coast, but after about 10b or so we felt they were adequately challenging for what they were labeled as. Overall great experience, though. Will definitely come by again on our next trip out!”
- FA’s multiple locations allow you to get your climbing fix depending on what you’d like. Want to lead climb? Go to FA Avondale or FA Arlington Heights. Boulder? FA Humboldt Park and FA Uptown are some of the best sets in the city. Want to get a quick climb after work? Drop by FA Block 37.
- FA’s climbing league is several seasons in, and it’s an absolute blast. We’ve done several seasons in the league and each year it gets better, with great competition and prizes. One downside though is that league prices have gone up over time. You can learn more about the Crosstown climbing league here.
Why Choose First Ascent:
- First Ascent’s additional services are really high-quality and range from a large amount of service. If you can think of a service, they have it here. Yoga classes are plentiful with varieties like Vinyasa, Acroyoga, specific sessions for climber recovery and more. On the other hand, they offer a summer camp for the kiddos that provides a great community and learning structure. First Ascent has inclusive affinity group meet ups too, such as Sending in Color, Women Crush Wednesdays, and Queers on the Rocks.
First Ascent features a great roster of services that will definitely satisfy whatever you may happen to be looking for. Climbing 101’s goal is to teach you the basics, the secrets, and the advanced techniques of climbing. Yoga is sure to be perfect for a broad audience, even for people who aren’t entirely physical or very active – everyone starts somewhere after all.
First Ascent’s day passes offer a good look into what you can expect if you do in fact decide to become a member at this facility – being $19 for a singular day pass. They even have a cheaper $15 day pass if you happen to be a student. On the other hand, their full gear package is only $10 but they have individual rates, ($6 for shoes, $4 harness, $2 chalk, and a $2 belay device). However, on a bigger note, their memberships clock in at $79 a month – being $869 annually. Luckily, First Ascent actually offers a plethora of discounts for college students, youth, and the elderly. This means you’ll likely be able to find a discount in one way or another here.
If you ever need help waiving an enrollment fee, don’t be afraid to reach out to us through DM on Instagram.
Our Runner Up Pick for the Best Climbing Gym in Chicago
Being a solid 25,000 square foot location, Brooklyn Boulders earns its rank as our runner up pick for the best bouldering gym in all of Chicago. Some of the unique qualities this location features happen to include collaborative workspace, free WiFi, locker rooms, showers, pop-up, and lastly event spaces. This facility is full of the youngest and oldest city folk of everyone in Chicago which really offers a booming community that fits swiftly with the modern and colorful look the routes have. Even if you happen to be a newbie to climbing or a full-on expert that’s climbed for your entire life, Brooklyn Boulders has something for you and the next guy.
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What Makes Brooklyn Boulders Unique:
- The team at Brooklyn Boulders may just be some of the most qualified people to run an indoor climbing gym that we have ever seen. They’ve trained their whole lives and have a true passion for everything that they stand for. But just by saying this isn’t enough, you’ll notice this is true yourself if you interact with any of the staff in the facility. Each and every member of Brooklyn Boulders are friendly, excited, and happy to help you and share so many interests with the community they’ve built.
Why Choose Brooklyn Boulders:
- By taking a look at the reviews for Brooklyn Boulders, it shows us that it truly is loved and populated by an ever-growing crowd, “Good place to work out regularly or just to spend a fun day with friends. Taking the classes – intro and learn the ropes is definitely helpful, the smaller the class size, the better it is. Extremely helpful and encouraging staff – especially Bry and Joel! You can really tell they want you to stay physically active and engaged :)”
They offer an ‘Intro to Climbing’ course, ‘Private Coaching’ for those looking for a bit of a relaxed training experience, and ‘Climb Like A Girl’ which is exactly what you would think it is. Here is a description of what the guys at Brookly Boulders try to go and achieve on a daily basis, “We offer a variety of classes designed to improve your climbing knowledge and skills. At BKB, we can help you climb smarter and stronger. All climbing classes are led by CWI Certified instructors who teach you climbing techniques, rope skills, knots, risk management, and other technical climbing skills.“
Starting off, their day passes come in at a hefty $25 which even comes with access to their fitness equipment and allows you to explore all 25,000 square feet. As for their gear, you can even get free towel and yoga mat rentals – after all, you cannot beat free now, can you. However, they also offer an $11 full gear package that includes shoes, harness, and chalk. On a bigger note, their monthly memberships cost $125 per month and have a huge array of perks that justifies that larger price.
Another Option for the Best Bouldering Gym in Chicago
Chicago Bouldering Collective
This location has been open for over 10 years and its hours range from 5:30 am to 9 pm on weekdays to 12 pm – 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Chicago Bouldering Collective is extraordinarily packed with quality, services, routes, and so much more. With over 100 routes, they typically are updated and changed at the turn of the week. Kids through adults will be satisfied by the types of services offered here, as some routes are designed for youth while others are designed for the most advanced climbers. Once you come and stop by here in Chicago, you’ll not only be greeted by the lovely staff but by the ever-growing community as well.
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What Makes Chicago Bouldering Collective Unique:
- In reality, Chicago Boulder Collective has a great typical rating that’s above average when compared to most locations. Take a look at one guy’s opinion on the location, with many reviews stating things very similar, “I first started climbing here about 6 months ago as a complete beginner. Extremely reasonable pricing (a month’s pass is barely more than a day pass at some other climbing gyms in the city) and the owner, Georges, is super friendly. The atmosphere is very laid back and the regulars are incredibly supportive; they made it very easy to get into bouldering as a new hobby.”
Why Choose Chicago Bouldering Collective:
- They account for every skill type here at Chicago Bouldering Collective and work with kids and experts in a very particular, professional and enjoyable way. As for the largest demographic, they do in fact have climbing 101, group training, yoga, and private lessons. You really will be able to find whatever you happen to be looking for with over 10 different types of services they offer.
Their classes will engage your body and mind in problem-solving, mental preparedness, strength, and even training. You can expect their team to be extremely qualified and very experienced to provide skills-based instruction to beginners or experts. Their yoga, events, intro classes, and huge other list of services are just some of the many examples of their great services.
Chicago Bouldering Collective’s single day passes only charge $12 and are sure to give you a detailed look at this worthy location. On the other hand, if you want a large batch of day passes you can get ten for just $92 – in fact, you even get two extra day passes for FREE. After all, their motto is “A gym built by Chicago climbers for Chicago climbers.” If you are looking for gear rentals you’ll need to ask the staff for specific prices, they will be sure to assist you very promptly. On a final note, their monthly memberships only charge $50 per month and come with a huge list of perks and overall is a great price in our humble opinion. You’ll find a service at Chicago Bouldering Collective for everyone and anyone.
Our Value Pick for the Best Climbing Gym in Chicago
With over 100 routes that are changed out by the week, Hidden Peak aims to be the most value condensed climbing gym in all of Chicago and most importantly, it tries to become your personal favorite one to stop by for. They barely ever close a day of the year, which some may say is too much but you have to admire the sheer dedication to give their customers the freedom of literally coming any day of the year. They are open for 6 hours or more every single day of the week depending on their varying schedule. Once you leave this gym on your first visit, you’ll be sure to be grateful for their wonderful and friendly staff and the sheer amount of content to be found at this location.
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What Makes Hidden Peak Unique:
- One aspect that makes Hidden Peak unique has to be the fact that whether you’re a seasoned veteran or just beginning, you’ve come to the right place. With that in mind, you’ll also be able to build muscle, learn new tips and tricks, and most importantly become a part of the local community.
Why Choose Hidden Peak:
- Luckily for you, you don’t have to take all the words from us, instead, here is a short and sweet review of Hidden Peak here in Chicago. We value the opinions of the people by the people, “The entire experience exceeded all of our expectations, and we are already looking to book another outing before the end of the season. Highly recommended for a fun and successful trip!”
They try to achieve the best and most satisfactory classes in all of Chicago here at Hidden Peak. Yoga, endurance, training, and recovery are all themes present in the services located here. In particular, their website offers this short description of the goals they accomplish, “Hidden Peak has rock climbing for people of all ages! We offer recreational or advanced programs for kids and we have open climb for adults of all abilities.”
If one thing is certain, it’s that ever since Hidden Peak opened their doors, they’ve continued to provide fair and even low prices for the services offered. You won’t believe this… their yearly membership for a family is $150, that’s less than $13 a month – that’s insane! Here is a description of what fantastic perks you will get with their membership, “Included with each membership is a free Lakeshore T-shirt and a free class card which can be used for gymnastics or rock climbing… use it for your own family, or treat a friend. Lastly, only members may schedule birthday parties at Lakeshore Academy.” If you’d like to learn more about Hidden Peak, come stop by and say hi.
Summary of the Best Climbing Gyms in Chicago
Our overall favorite just simply has to be First Ascent for a variety of obvious reasons. Containing over 100 routes in all that are frequently traded out with new ones, as well as over 30 different variations of their courses. This location is really great for a variety of individuals as well as groups, and the prices are pretty exceptional as well.
Brooklyn Boulders comes in as our runner up pick that’s just an inch below our beloved prior gym. BKB is a nice option for those who live around the West Loop. Kids are in luck especially with this gym as their services are great for them just as much as they are for adults.
Being an over 10-year-old location that’s just grown love over the years, Chicago Bouldering Collective is a well-known location that people see for its growing community and friendly staff. No doubt, you’ll get a happy vibe once you step foot in this gym as well as much more.
Lastly, Hidden Peak closes things up today being our value pick due to the great classes and qualities this location contains. Their prices are great, just as much as the perks that come with each and every single one of their services. Yoga, training, fitness, and much more are all available here – just come look.
Overall, the best climbing gyms in Chicago are all truly great and each has their own traits and environments. After all, it was hard to rank them all. There surely will be a perfect gym for you if you happen to look hard enough, just remember to come have fun in Chicago!
Did you enjoy this guide on the best climbing gyms in Chicago? Check out our reviews of other cities’ climbing gyms here.
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