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Even the most dedicated gym addicts need to mix up their routine from time to time and find a new way to break a sweat. And rocking climbing might be the way to go!
San Diego has some of the nicest climbing facilities in Southern California, not to mention world-class outdoor options for when you’re ready to take it to the next level. Give the squat rack a rest and hop on a wall — you might be surprised by the challenge.
Mesa Rim is sort of the Globo Gym of San Diego rock climbing gyms. With two huge facilities in San Diego County (Mission Valley and Mira Mesa) and a newly-opened outpost in Reno, Nevada, Mesa Rim is the perfect place to start your climbing career. The Mission Valley outpost rises up at the intersection of the 163 and the 8, so you can conveniently stop by and squeeze in a few bouldering problems between meetings or meet up with your coworkers for an early top-rope sesh on your way to work.
With more than 32 years of climbing experience, the owners of Grotto know what they are doing. There aren’t any top-rope options at this gym, which just means more bouldering routes and more opportunities for newbies to hone their skills. But that’s not a problem because they also offer state-of-the-art training equipment, yoga, and classes — your calluses will have calluses in no time.
Started as a few walls for UCSD students, Outback has quickly become a full-fledged climbing gym. It’s one of the smallest options for indoor rock climbing in San Diego and the hours are relatively limited, but its college student-friendly prices are tough to beat. Plus, you’ll have plenty of collegiates to grab a beer with after you get off belay.
With four locations, stretching from North County San Diego all the way to Bellingham, Washington, the guys over at VITAL are covering a lot of ground. And with good reason—their gyms offer top-notch climbing, are open 24 hours a day, and let members have free access to pretty much anything they need. We know community is huge in the climbing world, but VITAL takes it to new heights (pun intended).
The Wall is another bouldering-specific climbing gym in North County that offers tons of routes for every skill level in a fun, casual atmosphere that’s anything but intimidating. It’s the perfect place to mess around and get comfortable with the idea of dangling by your fingertips 15 feet off the ground. Just count on some forearm burn by the end.
The OG San Diego climbing facility, Vertical Hold is a classic indoor rock climbing gym with plenty of options for climbers of all experience levels. They also offer the most space for kids of any of the gyms listed, so you can bring your more adventurous tykes and get a whole different sort of adrenaline rush watching them attack their own problems.
**Updated by Lauren Keary, November 2018