Best of Bethesda 2019 - Best Places for Kids to Defy Gravity | Bethesda Magazine

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Best Places for Kids to Defy Gravity

Editors' Pick


Photo courtesy of the Adventure Park at Sandy Spring.

Climb the Walls

Kids climbing the walls at home? Take them to Earth Treks, the indoor rock-climbing gym in Rockville, where they can scale more than 38,000 feet of climbing terrain up to 43 feet high. Climbers strap into a harness—gear rental is included for all classes and open climbs—and learn about knot-tying, belaying and climbing techniques. Instructors also offer coaching and encouragement to help climbers reach the top. There are lower walls for beginners, higher and more challenging routes for experienced climbers, and an area for bouldering (climbing minus the ropes and harness). The facility offers several options for kids as young as 5, including open climbing sessions for $30, weekly after-school clubs ($89 for a four-week session) and even Friday night drop-off events for $29, when kids can climb with instructors while parents get a night out. Memberships and day passes are also available.

725 Rockville Pike, Rockville; 240-283-9942; earthtreksclimbing.com

Float on Air

There’s no jumping out of a plane and no parachute involved in the “skydiving” experience at iFLY Montgomery, the indoor skydiving facility that opened in Gaithersburg last May. Instead, participants are lifted into the air by strong currents inside a giant wind tunnel. Flyers feel the exhilaration of being airborne without the stomach-churning drop. First-timers get a brief safety lesson, gear up in a flight suit, helmet and goggles, and then, guided by an instructor, fly from about 3 to 5 feet high. Packages start at $79.95 for two flights. For an additional charge, fly to the top of the tunnel during a “high flight.” Children as young as 3 can participate. In Flight School, kids ages 4 to 16 can take a series of lessons on how to perform different moves, stunts, twists and formations.

9400 Gaither Road, Gaithersburg; 202-883-4359; iflyworld.com

Swing through the Trees

Climb ladders, cross swinging rope bridges, and zip-line through the trees at The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring Friends School. After buckling into a harness and getting a safety briefing from staff, participants choose from 13 different obstacle courses that take them through the treetops. Groups of various ages and abilities can participate, making this an activity that parents and kids can enjoy together. Climbers advance along a series of elevated platforms ranging from 12 to 65 feet high by crossing various types of suspended bridges and zip-lining across cables. It’s a bit like American Ninja Warrior meets Swiss Family Robinson. There are courses for children ages 5 and up. General admission includes three hours of climbing plus a 40-minute orientation and costs $12 for ages 5 and 6, $47 for ages 7 to 11 and $56 for ages 12 and up. (There’s no charge for observers who aren’t climbing.) Special events include nighttime climbs illuminated by string lights, and glow-in-the-dark climbs with music and campfires.

16701 Norwood Road, Sandy Spring; 240-389-4386; sandyspringadventurepark.org

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