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OC Aerial in Durham, NC: Everything you need to know

If you’re looking for some high flying adventure in Durham, you need to check out OC Aerial: an adventure park and ninja warrior gym.

For more help planning your trip, check out all of our travel posts.

A woman on an American Ninja Warrior obstacle course called OC Aerial in Durham, North Carolina.

When I’m planning a trip, I try to find really fun and unique things to do, things you wouldn’t find most other places, and I make sure to add them to our list.

That’s how I found OC Aerial in Durham, NC.

It’s an adventure park and ninja gym and something I decided we had to try when we were in Bull City.

I showed Pete and he was in. I packed sneakers and yoga pants, all without thinking that I have very little upper body strength and the last time I stepped foot into a gym that wasn’t in a hotel was before we moved to North Carolina.

So, my body was absolutely not prepared to do ninja courses or rock walls or rope courses. And yet, I did it all. My body was, however, prepared for the gigantic slick slides, which were absolutely the best part of the entire day.

So, if you’re in Durham and you’re looking for something to do, definitely check out OC Aerial. No matter what your skill level is (or isn’t). I promise you it’s so much fun. Even if you’re not in the best shape, even if you’re nervous. Do it scared. You’ll be so happy you did.

And, if you are in shape and you’re looking for a fun way to get in some exercise, you’ll absolutely love it and get so much out of it.

A woman on a treadmill in a hotel.

This all-in-one indoor adventure park is such a unique way to hit your fitness goals when you’re traveling. For more ideas, check out our list of Ways To Exercise On Vacation.

OC Aerial in Durham, NC: Everything you need to know

I’m not going to be on American Ninja Warrior anytime soon. Let me start there. I go walking at night and play Pokémon Go and that’s the extent of my fitness. Pete is the opposite. He wakes up at 3:15 every morning and goes to the gym before work. He’s super strong and in really good shape.

So, two totally different fitness levels. Keep that in mind.

An American Ninja Warrior course at OC Aerial in Durham, North Carolina.

We got to OC Aerial a little after it opened on a Saturday morning. We didn’t book tickets online ahead of time, which you can do, but the check-in process was super easy anyway.

There are kiosks at the entrance where you can sign a waiver. Then, you head to the check-in counter and pay. The only option is a three-hour pass. The website calls them all day passes, but it’s really a three-hour pass.

We originally thought that we would stay as long as we wanted and not worry about the fact that we paid for three hours. When we were done, we would be done, whenever that was. We ended up staying just about two-and-a-half hours.

So, you pay and get a wristband with your three hour time block written on it.

You turn around, behind the kiosks, and put your belongings into one of the complementary lockers. Then, it’s off to a shoe wash, which you just walk through, and you’re let loose on the course.

When we arrived, the only people in the gym (besides the staff) were two boys (a teen and a tween) and their parents. So we basically had the entire gym to ourselves.

Quick note: The parents were spectators. There’s a kids pass for kids ages 3 to 5 and that requires guardians for some activities, but other than that, parents of kids 16-and-under need to remain on premises, but they don’t need to participate.

The first element you hit is a peg board. It’s a subtle introduction to all the grip strength you’re gonna need. You just don’t know that yet.

A woman on a rock wall at OC Aerial, a ninja warrior gym in Durham, North Carolina.

The left side of the downstairs area is filled with rock walls to test your climbing skills. There are some that are much easier than others because they have carve outs for your hands. Others require you to have a ton of grip strength and, honestly, that’s foreshadowing for the rest of the downstairs.

You can spend a lot of time going up and down the short walls, getting to the top and then finding your way down. I don’t suggest jumping down.

Some pieces of the wall jut out and some of the rock paths force you to contort in a way that is really unfamiliar. I did the best I could; Pete did better than me.

A man on a bouldering wall at OC Aerial, a ninja warrior gym in Durham, North Carolina.

At the end of the tunnel of rock walls, there are actual to-the-ceiling bouldering walls, which are 3,000-feet high, and require a harness, a spotter, and more rock wall skills than I have.

You will need a staff member to get you into the harness to assure you’re in safely.

You’ll also need the harness if you want to try the 25-foot salmon ladder. Pete tried it and I was so impressed. I didn’t even look at it. I mean, I looked when he was doing it, but I didn’t try it.

A man on the warped wall at OC Aerial, a ninja warrior gym in Durham, North Carolina.

And next to that is a cargo next that goes up to the ceiling and the warped wall. Well, three warped walls that are 10-, 12-, and 14-feet high. When you get to the top, there’s actually a button you can push that blows a horn and shines a spotlight on you.

The warped walls are actually at the back of the ninja course. You don’t have to follow anything in an order, but if you do, the ninja course technically starts near the check-in desk and ends at the warped walls. But there’s no actual directions and you can try any obstacle in any order.

With the ninja course, it’s a 24-element course that’s split into four tracks of eight obstacles. In theory, there’s a beginner, intermediate, hard, and extreme lane. But, I honestly can’t tell you which was which because they were all hard for me. I was able to get from the platform to the first element in each obstacle — and very, very rarely was I able to get to the second step. Pete was able to get through every element every time.

Maybe I should start doing more than just walking.

But, honestly, I had so much fun trying. There’s all elements that you see on American Ninja Warrior and it’s really fun to attempt them all. Even if you’re not strong enough to do them. It’s fun to just try.

So, that’s the downstairs.

Upstairs is a ropes course that’s suspended above the ninja course.

At first, it made me very nervous because, as I’ve established, I have very little upper body strength. It was my first time doing anything like that, so, I was nervous that I would get stuck on the ropes course. It’s 34 elements that are 19 feet each, suspended 16 feet off the ground.

You have a safety harness that has lobster claws that you hook up to the safety cable above you. It’s impossible to open both lobster claws at once, so you really are safe up there.

But, I was worried I’d get stuck.

I asked numerous times if someone would come rescue me if I got stuck. There is staff on the ropes course, and sure, that staff could help you if you needed it. But the staff member who was fitting me into my safety harness assured me I would be fine.

I made it through the first three or four elements just fine. Pete went ahead of me and really coached me through them.

Three boys on the ropes course at OC Aerial, a ninja warrior gym in Durham, North Carolina.

And then I got to an obstacle that worried me. It was four netted bags, filled with plastic balls. You had to grab onto them all to get from one platform to another. I didn’t think I had the grip strength to hold myself up and get from one to the other, three times.

“I can’t do it,” I said to Pete. “I need to go back.”

He looked behind us. “You can do it,” he said. “Plus, you can’t go back.”

He went first and made it look so easy. And then he coached me through it. He told me I could literally just sit down, taking all the weight off my arms and putting it all onto the safety harness. Then, I just had to kind of push myself from one netting bag to the next.

That worked.

And once I got through that, I was done being scared and really just enjoyed myself.

After the ropes course, we sat upstairs and had a cup of well deserved soft serve ice cream.

That’s funny. When I was reading about the site on the OC Aerial website, it said there was free popcorn, free coffee, and free frozen yogurt. And I thought that was silly because you’re attracting a very fit crowd to the all-in-one adventure park — and then boasting about snacks.

But, after I used all my remaining arm muscles to finish the ropes course, that ice cream (or was it froyo?) was well deserved.

Two giant slides at OC Aerial, a ninja warrior gym in Durham, North Carolina.

My favorite part of the entire place was the slick slides. 

There are two slides (18-feet and 21-feet). I saw them when we got to the end of the rock walls, and I thought it would be so fun to slide down giant slides. So, when we went to explore the upstairs portion of the venue, before we did the ropes course, I wanted to try the slides. We had just finished the ninja course and I thought the slide would be a good break.

The slides had a sign on them to ask a staff member to open them. I thought that was a little wild because a slide is a slide is a slide, right? No.

The staff member told us to grab a mat, then we walked to the slide.

He showed us that you had to grab the handles on the mat, then go down the slide head first. Part of me freaked out a little bit because, well, this was not a regular slide.

Pete went first and I watched as the curve in the slide launched him into the air then down into a 4-foot mat filled with air.

“I think that just traumatized me,” I joked to the staff member. He assured me that I would be fine and down the slide I went.

I can’t even begin to explain to you the absolute pure joy you feel going down that slide and soaring into the air. It’s absolutely worth every penny you pay.

The ropes course at OC Aerial, a ninja warrior gym in Durham, North Carolina.

The only little bit of a bummer was that we didn’t get a chance to do the 165-foot zip line that goes across the entire facility.

It was open when we were on the ninja course. When we got upstairs and were on the ropes course, there was an announcement that the zipline would be closing in 10 minutes and the leap of faith would be opening.

Eventually, the leap of faith did close and the zipline opened back up. But, by then, we had already been there for two and a half hours, had a sweet treat, and mentally decided it was time to go home. So we missed out on that, which is a bummer because we did a full zipline course in Fayetteville a few years ago and it was so much fun. So I know this would have been great.

But that’s just an excuse to go back.

I need to do the zipline and Pete needs to conquer the highest warped wall. So yes, anytime we’re in Durham, we’re going to OC Aerial. For sure.

A man on an obstacle at OC Aerial, a ninja warrior gym in Durham, North Carolina.

OC Aerial: Frequently Asked Questions

​Address:

3463 Coates Industrial Blvd Suite 200, Durham, NC 27705

Phone:

919-351-6260

Hours:

Monday and Thursday: 3 pm to 9 pm
Friday: noon to 9 pm
Saturday: 10 am to 9 pm
Sunday: 10 am to 6 pm
Closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

The park hours are subject to change, so definitely check out the park’s website for the latest updates.

How much is OC Aerial?

It’s $58 for a three hour pass for ages 10 & up, $49.50 for kids ages 6 to 10, and $33 for kids ages 3 to 5. That’s for the three hour all access pass (includes all attractions). *As of May 2024

For $18, you can purchase a rock climbing pass, which is limited to the climbing area only.

Spectators are free and have access to the snack bar, where they can sit and sip on complimentary coffee while waiting for their adventure seekers. We actually saw a father working remotely in the snack bar area while his kid was on the course.

​Where can you buy tickets?

You can purchase tickets ahead of time online or at the park itself. Ticket sales stop three hours before close.

How large is OC Aerial?

It’s 16,000 square feet.

It’s in a large building in an industrial park, but you don’t really understand the size and amount of elements and apparatus until you’re inside.

What should you wear to OC Aerial?

You’re required to wear closed toe shoes and some form of pants (so no dresses or skirts allowed). If you don’t have proper footwear, you can rent shoes for $5.

We suggest wearing clothes that you can easily move in, like yoga pants and a workout or loose fitting top.

If you have long hair, it must be tied back.

Are there any age/weight restrictions?

There are some requirements and restrictions for age and weight depending on the apparatus. You can see the full list of those here.

Can you host parties there?

OC Aerial is available to rent for birthday parties, corporate team building, or special events. We saw a large party room when we were there, but there weren’t any events happening when we went.

There’s a group discount if you purchase four or more tickets. So, if you’re on vacation in Durham like we were, but you’re traveling with a larger group than we were, you can get a discount.

Have you been to OC Aerial in Durham? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.