Skateparks: History, Features, and Best Locations

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The very first skatepark was Surf City, in Tucson, Arizona.

It opened in 1965 and had series of concrete ramps.

A year later, a skatepark opened in Kelso, Washington.

It was another 10 years (in March 1976) before California received its first skatepark, the Carlsbad Skatepark.

A year later, the same location staged the World Skateboard Championships.

Throughout much of the sport’s history, skateboarders used streets and empty swimming pools to practice their tricks and skateboarding was frowned upon by the authorities.

It wasn’t until the 1980s and 1990s that they became commonplace all over the world.

Where are the Best Skateparks in the United States?

A skatepark is not just a great place to practice some tricks.

It’s also where you can meet the local skateboarders and immerse yourself in the skating community.

If you’re traveling the US, make sure you take your board with you and drop by these great skateparks if you find yourself nearby:

Burnside Skatepark in Portland, Oregon

Portland is famous for its hipster, artistic, and skater communities and the Burnside Skatepark is a perfect example of everything that this city has to offer.

It has stood for over 3 decades and attracts visitors from all over the world.

Vans Skatepark in Orange, California

An indoor and outdoor skatepark that is frequented by pro skateboarders and spans a variety of features and ramps to suit boarders of all skill levels.

Denver Skatepark in Denver, Colorado

A massive park that spans over 60,000 square feet and covers everything from concrete bowls to handrails and stairs.

It opens 7 days a week and is completely free.

Lake Cunningham Regional Skatepark in San Jose, California

One of the best skate spots in California and one of the biggest of this list, with close to 70,000 square feet that includes pools, pipes, and a huge vert wall.

There is no charge to visit this skatepark, but it’s not open 24/7 and so you’ll need to check the website for the opening times.

Les Coleman Skatepark, New York City, New York

Also known as the Chinatown Skatepark, this skatepark was founded by local skaters before Nike SB injected some cash into a complete remodel, turning it into one of the best skateparks on the east coast.

FAQs About Skateparks

Still got a few questions about skatepark features and the communities built around them? Take a look at these FAQs:

Is it Skatepark or Skate Park?

Both skate park and skatepark are frequently used and there doesn’t seem to be a universally accepted option.

You can use both without issue but we have used “skatepark” more than “skate park” simply because it’s more commonly used by actual skateparks and those who write about them.

What Should You Not Do at a Skatepark?

There are a few rules of etiquette when you’re at a skatepark:

  1. Be considerate of other skaters and try not to get in their way.
  2. If you are new to skating and/or a particular skatepark, don’t try and figure things out during rush hour.
  3. Don’t do ground stunts in the middle of a bowl.
  4. Don’t mirror another skateboarder—it’s weird and will likely annoy them.
  5. Always wait your turn.
  6. If your board runs away from you, yell “Board!” to warn others and reduce the risk of accidents.

Why Are Skateparks so Expensive?

There are many reasons why it can be expensive to build and run a skatepark.

Firstly, you need to think about the land, and as skateparks are often located in major cities and span large areas, that land doesn’t come cheap.

Secondly, you have to plot the park itself, making sure that everything is designed and prepared and that the actual equipment is purchased.

You can’t simply throw a few pieces of wood together and then hope for the best.

Finally, if you’re trying to profit from owning a skatepark, you’re going to be very disappointed.

Many skateparks are available free of charge and so it won’t make sense to charge a lot of money.

You’ll also have to account for maintenance costs and for lawsuits and settlements that result from injuries sustained in your park.

What City Has the Most Skateparks?

Based on the ratio of skateparks per 100,000 residents, the towns of Laredo in Texas and Sacramento in California have the most in the United States.

Other cities that love their skateparks include Reno, NV, Henderson, NV, and Chula Vista, CA. Speaking of which (Chula Vista, that is) The Grom Life was featured in the Red Fin article, Is Chula Vista, CA a Good Place to Live? in which we give our 2 cents about the pros and cons of living in Chula Vista as it pertains to hiking and surfing.