There’s a camaraderie amongst skaters — usually a motley crew of young people who exist on the fringes. And having their own space, a skate park, to gather and cheer one another on amplifies those feelings of connectedness. Which is why — skater or not — skateparks are truly a blast to hang at. You don’t have to ever have gotten on a board to feel the energy.
This summer, there are festivals and theme parks and airline tickets clamoring for your dollars. But skare parks almost never cost a dime. You can rock up and share in the creative, communal atmosphere — whether you’re skating or just watching. Here’s a list of places to start.
Burnside Skatepark, Portland Oregon
There are few parks that truly feel as counterculture-y as Burnside. The skatepark was a grassroots effort by Portland skaters who grew sick of waiting for an official skatepark to be built in 1990, so they made one themselves under Burnside Bridge. Illegally. It was built in secret by skaters for skaters.
Burnside may now be recognized by the city, but it’s never lost that spirit of rebellion.
Jack Malmgren Skate Park — Sedona, Arizona
It would be hard to find a skatepark that has a more beautiful backdrop than Jack Malmgren. Stunning canyons surround it, giving a view that’s almost surreal. The juxtaposition of the modern stark concrete with the colorful sheets of ancient red, orange, and green rock feels almost spiritual.
Skating is a freeing sport and watching it at this park only enhances that effect.
Venice Beach Skate Park — Venice, CA
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Want a classic skatepark experience? Head to Venice Beach, where crowds gather to watch skaters perform mesmerizing moves near the mighty Pacific. If you’re lucky, you’ll see surprise superstar guests showing off a little.
You don’t get much cooler a location than this park. It oozes that laid back skater/surfer vibe that makes you want to linger to watch the action.
LES Skatepark — New York City, NY
This lower east side gem is often named as one of the coolest skate parks in the world for a reason. This is definitely a spot to catch some of the bigger names practicing or just fooling around. Nike SB has put some money into the park and so it’s definitely got that shiny new thing going on, with great surfaces to practice on and try new tricks, but at the same time that cool, counterculture factor has never gone away.
This is a classic park with old school vibes that float through the new generation.
Linda Vista — San Diego, CA
This large skate park clocks in at about 35 thousand feet — which allows it to be a space that can welcome skaters of all levels. It’s a gorgeous space that took five years to plan and build and only just opened last year. As such, it still feels like you can break it in and make a name for yourself here. Plus it’s designed specifically to welcome spectators with plenty of cool areas to watch the experts rip.
Lincoln City Skatepark — Lincoln City, OR
If you get bored of the same old features in the parks you visit, you’ll want to head to Lincoln City in Oregon. The unique skatepark is constantly evolving and adding new surfaces and levels to make it more challenging. Designed by Dreamland Skateparks, Thrasher Magazine has called it the gnarliest skate park in America.
This is actually several separate parks in one. Each will give you a different vibe and push your skills in a new way.
North Houston Skatepark — Houston, Texas
Everything is bigger in Texas and that includes this awesome skatepark. With 10 acres of skating surface, the park is one of the largest in the world. Visually, it’s gorgeous in design, with interconnected bowls that allow you to link up your tricks in unique ways. You’ll basically find every kind of bowl surface or depth you’d want to ride on and endless ways to experience them. It’s America’s largest skatepark — most skaters could spend months here and never get bored.
Rhodes Skate Park — Boise, ID
Rhodes has been the site of the X Games multiple years for a reason. It’s one of those formerly under the radar little parks, built under an overpass, that has exploded in popularity due to excellent design. It’s gotten huge since its 1992 debut, built by resident Glenn Rhodes who was frustrated that skating kids didn’t have a safe outlet to hang and practice.
This is a community center of sorts for those who feel a little outside of the mainstream, where you can express yourself freely and become better at the sport. It’s the perfect example of why skateparks are so cool.