There was a lot of good buzz surrounding ClimbZone before the kids and I went ourselves. Both friends and KFDC readers raved about the new indoor climbing center in Laurel, MD. And when a place gets that kind of hype, my expectations are high.
We finally made it there on a recent snow day, and I knew from the moment we walked in that we wouldn’t be disappointed. One look at the enormous facility filled literally floor to ceiling with colorful themed climbing walls and moon bounces, and we were ready to get in on the fun. I had booked and paid for our session and filled out waivers in advance online (which I highly recommend), so check-in was quick and easy. We stashed our coats and bags in an area of tables (there are also lockers where you can store things securely), then got help with our harnesses and a quick orientation on clipping in and rappelling. After that, we were free to play.
You really have to experience ClimbZone for yourself to fully comprehend just how unique and impressive it is. The walls are equipped with all kinds of cool and whimsical themes that make getting to the top even more thrilling than your usual jaunt up a wall. Climbers can ascend Mt. Rushmore, reach the Jolly Roger on a pirate ship, conquer a game of Tetris, shimmy up a giant guitar, scale Jack’s bean stalk, negotiate a rope wall, and experience peak fun on a variety of other climbing areas.
Climbzone uses a state-of-the-art hydraulic auto-belaying system, so guests can climb on their own (read more about it here). The kids did need some help clipping in and out at the beginning, but they were going it alone by the end of our visit. Another great feature of the themed walls is that the hand and foot holds are part of the design, so most are easier to grasp and step on than a regular climbing wall. The climbs are still quite challenging, though; there were only a few that the kids ascended completely (and I often rappelled down at 3/4 of the way when acrophobia started kicking in).
When kids need a break from climbing, there are a few moon bounces for jumping around. There’s also a section with tables for when you want to hang out and have a bite — bring along a picnic lunch or buy snacks and drinks there. They also have special areas that you can reserve for birthday parties. And to round out an already awesome experience, the staff is great. From check-in to gearing up and orientation to assistance on the walls to packing up, they’re all very friendly and helpful.
ClimbZone is located at 13200 Mid Atlantic Boulevard in Laurel, Md. Sessions are three hours long (we used up just about every second of ours) and cost $25/ages 6 and up, $12/ages 2-5, free for 2 and under (also free to spectate). The rate is a little steep, but worth every penny, especially on a foul weather day when we were all itching for some active fun. Walk-ins are welcome, though booking climb time is recommended. Parent supervision is required for all children 12 and under. Hours vary a bit throughout the week, so check the schedule before you go.