Vertical Adventures: Introduce youngsters to rock climbing at innovative, indoor facility

Introduce youngsters to rock climbing at innovative, indoor facility

I recently took my two children to Vertical Adventures for a birthday party. And “birthday” is just what I thought when I entered the indoor rock-climbing facility on Columbus’ north side, just off Busch Boulevard.

The interior of the 16,000-square-foot facility looks like confetti exploded all over its gigantic walls. The confetti was actually thousands of colorful hand and foot holds meant for scaling the walls, which reach up to 45 feet.

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My children and I had been never been to an indoor climbing facility, so this was indeed an adventure. Our friends at the party, however, looked like pros, as we learned they’re avid indoor climbers. I had no idea this was such a popular sport in flat Columbus – and one that provides a good physical and mental workout for children and adults.

Vertical Adventures has two climbing areas: one for rope climbing and another for equipment-free climbing on low walls, called bouldering. In bouldering, there’s no requirement for spotters. When you fall, you land on a thick, spongy pad.

The birthday party focused on rope climbing, which involved a climber and a spotter. The climber wore a harness that was tied to a rope that passed through an anchor at the top of the wall and led back down to the spotter.

My children joined other guests in donning harnesses that were tied to ropes by staff members, who served as spotters.

Climbers chose a path to climb depending on their skill level, which went from easy to expert. My daughter chose a route marked with color-coded holds of various sizes and shapes, including a puppy and an alligator. Some holds were tiny and barely protruded from the wall.

The party offered us a great introduction to the sport. But how might others do it?

One way to learn the ropes of climbing is to take an hour-long “Indoor Rope 101” class for $39, available for ages 14 and older. Parents can take the class to learn how to be spotters for children as young as 2. Spotters must be at least 14 years old.

Another way is to visit during open-climb hours from 2-6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, when participants as young as 5 can experience five climbs with a staff-person spotter for $25. Reservations are not required, and a parent or guardian must sign a waiver for participants younger than 18.

Vertical Adventures is open daily and, unlike outdoor climbing, doesn’t waver upon on the weather.

Vertical Adventures is located at 6513 Kingsmill Ct., Columbus. For more information, call 614-888-8393 or visit

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The Orchard and Company: Come for apples, stay for fall festival

Come for apples, stay for fall festival

Time is of the essence at the Orchard and Co., 30 minutes northwest of Columbus in Plain City. This apple orchard and fall-festival destination is limited to August through October.

Go for their apples – a dozen varieties are available for picking, including sweet and juicy Honeycrisp, which ripens in early September.

And go for fall festival days, on Saturdays and Sundays in September and October. They’ve got pumpkins and hayrides – and plenty more attractions.

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Our kids found extra fun in an indoor box filled with corn kernels and Tonka trucks, so deep they could bury them. They also enjoyed riding in a tractor-pulled train of connected barrels called the “Moo-Moo Express,” which wound through the orchard. They even jumped on a giant, inflated vinyl pillow.

Other unique attractions include a castle made from straw bales, a racetrack for pedal cars that parents can ride, too, and lots of friendly farm animals. We visited a miniature horse family, miniature goats, pigs, sheep, a cow and rabbits in their own area called Bunnyville.

If you get hungry, visit the Pigadeli Cafe for slow-cooked, pulled-pork sandwiches, sloppy Joes and soup. Or just refuel on fresh pumpkin doughnuts and apple cider.

The Orchard and Co. is located at 7255 US Hwy. 42, Plain City. For more information, call 614-873-0510 or visit

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