gen 1 grinding location guide
i decided to make this guide as i went through pokemon red. this can serve as a guide for anyone looking to figure out where the hell to grind before a hard gym :)
each section will be titled with the name of the gym leader you're preparing for! links go to serebii.net and bulbapedia for more detailed encounter information.
theres only a few places to even go in the beginning of the game! most reliably, though, i find the best source of experience to be in viridian forest. kakuna and metapod are prime targets for even the weakest babies, even if it takes a million years to actually faint them.
do your best to avoid weedle - their poison sting is weak, but poison status doesn't wear off like in later generations. bring a few antidotes just in case. maybe a paralyze heal in case you run into the rare pikachu.
prime targets: metapod, kakuna
scary enemies: weedle
this is a sort of awkward area of the game to level.
your aim is to get above level 22 in order to shoulder through misty and/or your rival. this is hard if you can't beat the rival to reach the nugget bridge and onward for grinding!
if you haven't gone through mt. moon. B2F (the floor with the fossils) is the one with the highest avg level range - the lowest is 9, highest is 12. (in yellow it goes as high as 13!) it makes for a decent grinding area. avoid paras, because they can learn powder moves.
alternatively you can grind north at the nugget bridge. route 24 has some nice encounters and has slightly higher level targets. bellsprout/oddish also have powder moves, so be cautious.
if you're stuck because you can't beat the rival or misty, route 4 has a nice level range too. if you're playing pokemon red, you may want to be wary of ekans that are level 10 or above, as they can learn poison sting at 10.
prime targets: metapod/kakuna (route 24), clefairy (mt. moon)
scary enemies: paras, oddish/bellsprout, ekans
vermillion city is home to a few pretty good grinding spots. diglett cave is a really risky and rewarding spot for pokemon that are good against ground types, especially if you're really hurting for exp. however, the pokemon here can have magnitude - a die roll of a move to decide whether you live or die - and the dugtrio can range up towards the 30s range. scary, whew!
for the sane of mind, you're best off fighting in the routes north and east of the city. you can use that dig tm you got in cerulean to fight the ekans here :-)
additionally, another awesome venue opens to you post-misty - the daycare man! expensive and time consuming, but may be worth it if you have a dead weight in your party. like the magikarp from mt moon, or abra. and of course, ss anne is great for grinding as well! the highest level you'll fight is 23 (RBG) or 22 (Y), and your rival doesn't go above 20. it's a great place to pad out your experience when your team's properly evened out levelwise.
prime targets: ekans, drowzee, mankey
scary enemies: oddish, diglett/dugtrio
now, there's only one direction to go, the weird side path from cerulean, route 9! though, aside from a few prospective team members you can get, you're best off just passing through the rock tunnel rather than sticking around this route. after going through the darkest cave known to man, you have a few options for grinding for the grass gym.
route 7 and route 8 are probably your best bet. the team rocket hideout in the casino also offers the same level range (aside from giovanni at the end) as the routes (while also giving money!), so you may want to grind just a little in the routes before going into the hideout.
and for the love of god watch out for giovanni's kangaskhan. that thing is level 29 in r/b/g. if you're playing yellow, you'll be facing a team of level 25s, which is much less dire.
parting note, don't really bother with route 16 encounters - spearow has mirror move (can be scary, but also can be harmless) and raticate has fang moves.
prime targets: honestly nothing i can particularly suggest....
scary enemies:growlithe/vulpix (route 7/8, but only because they both know roar), spearow (route 16, has mirror move), raticate (route 16, has fang moves)
this is an awesome section to grind in, because you can subsist - mostly - off of trainer battles! which means free money. not only do you have cycling road (and route 18), but you have route 15, route 14, route 13, route 12... let's face it, there's a fuck ton of trainers. if that's not enough for you, the grass in route 18 is pretty good for encounters.
fuschia city also gives you access to the safari zone. not that you can grind there, but it does give some opportunity for new team members you may not have access to otherwise. exeggcutor (exeggcute's evolution) is pretty fucking OP in gen 1 if you want something that can sweet koga pretty fast (as it's grass/psychic type).
also keep in mind: koga's gym trainers actually mostly use psychic types (for some reason?), but koga himself uses all poison types.
honestly no targets to avoid/not avoid in particular for this stretch. it's kind of smooth sailing here. i guess oddish is something to watch for in route 18. and venonat maybe. other than that you're pretty much solid. LOL
sorry i feel bad having so much empty space so, guide writer's commentary: have you noticed the screenshots im using? theyre the funniest ones ive taken for a given stretch of gameplay. there's a lot of fun dialogue texts in this generation. at the end i will put a bunch of my favorites. stay tuned!
lots of trainers are available on route 19, route 20, and route 21, as well as pokemon mansion, which you'll need to go in to progress anyhow.
there are no trainers in the seafoam islands, but there is a cold chicken there... i guess you could go get that if you want to solve the ice puzzles.
i think the best place to train after you've beaten every trainer is the mansion, as pokemon can range up to level 39 there. there'll be growlithe/vulpix there that know roar, which means you need to be careful or they'll toss you out (metaphorically). the weezing here provide a lot of experience.
and with the arrival of cinnabar, you have access to the fossil reviver, so if you have the old amber from pewter or the fossil from mt. moon, you can wake those guys up. they revive at level 30. for some reason, aerodactyl doesn't learn rock slide (tm or otherwise) in this gen, which kind of sucks ass.
.... if you don't mind risking some strangeness and maybe corruption, and also don't mind cheesing it majorly, you can duplicate rare candies here. i consider this a last resort if you're just fucking exhausted and don't want to grind. but where's the fun in that? :P