Where can I skate? This question pops up quite a lot from skaters who don’t live in major cities or don’t live near a skatepark. Luckily, you can skate almost anywhere if you’re willing to put in the effort to find some spots.
I’ll go over some of the easy places to skate in your city and the pros and cons of each. Then, I’ll teach you how to recognize a good street spot. At the end of the article, I’ll talk about great cities to travel to and skate as a little bonus.
So let’s get started.
Your Neighborhood Street
This is an easy place to first get rolling. It depends on how much traffic your residential street gets or not, but nothing beats the proximity and accessibility of your own street. There should also be enough space to start actually riding and turning.
Just be careful of parked cars as your board might fly off when you fall. Also, your neighbors will likely see you skate as a total beginner adult. Some people will be self-conscious of this. No worries, you’re only human.
Using these factors, you can make the decision if your neighborhood street is right for you.
If you’re an adult beginner, check out our guide to skating as an adult with a reality check here.
Parking lots are great for beginners.
They are flat ground, usually have smoothish pavement, and are often empty of witnesses so there’s no pressure to look cool as you first get started.
They are also simply everywhere. You can hop in a car and find a parking lot that you’ll be able to skate somewhere in your city/town guaranteed.
The only downsides here are that you might get kicked out for skating there. This can happen, but don’t worry. You’ll just be asked to leave which you will. Don’t argue or complain. You’re an adult and can get arrested.
Parking garages are almost identical to parking lots, but there is cover from the rain and often you can carve down to different levels.
I find that I’m more likely to get kicked out of a parking garage than a parking lot. Also, pop tricks tend to echo inside and make a lot of noise. Parking garages might be your only respite when it rains so you might end up seeking one out anyway.
Parks are also great spots to skate around. There are no cars, usually smooth pavement, and lots of natural obstacles to learn to turn around. Usually, you’ll find a lot of bystanders, but most people won’t pay any attention to you. There also likely won’t be other skaters at a normal park if that’s something that makes you anxious.
There is also a small chance you’ll get asked to leave when skating in a pedestrian park. Unfortunately, this happens.
People get a bit weird when you mention skating in a garage, but many people started skating in their garage. Alexis Sablone, for instance, is now an Olympic skateboarder who started by skating in her garage because there was no one to skate with in her small town.
Your garage isn’t perfect by any means, but you can practice flat ground tricks in there. The big pitfall is you don’t have room to actually move around and so you usually practice your tricks while not moving. This doesn’t always translate well to doing the trick while moving. I learned a standing still ollie at first, but had to relearn it while moving.
That being said, if it is brutally cold outside, your garage will often be a bit warmer and some people have heated garages. There is also no wind chill in your garage and you’re just a few steps away from warmth and comfort. That is attractive.
So yeah, just don’t exclusively skate in your garage, but for brutally cold days, it is an option.
You already know that skateboarding is the best hobby, but if you want to confirm your bias, check out our 9 reasons why skateboarding is the best hobby article here.
Miscellaneous Spots (How to Recognize a Good Skate Spot)
There are likely countless spots near you that don’t fall neatly into the categories that I mentioned. These could be the stairs in front of an abandoned factory, a concrete pedestrian bridge that is relatively unused, or the docks downtown.
These spots are all over the place and can’t be neatly categorized. You could even find a great spot that’s never been skated before. The key is to be able to recognize the elements that make up a good skate spot.
The requirements for a good skate sport are as follows:
- Flat Ground
- Smooth Pavement
- Skateable Obstacles
- Public or Abandoned Property
This isn’t always necessary to be a decent spot, but if the incline is too steep, you’ll get exhausted always pushing back up to the top. So, make sure that the pavement at the spot has at least has one large flat ground section.
Sometimes the spot is close, but not quite flat and this is ok. Street spots are never perfect and you’ll need to learn to adjust your skating to skating on an inclined surface. This is a skill you’ll learn at some point anyway.
If the pavement is too rough, it will kill all of your momentum and cut you up badly when you fall. This really can make or break a skate spot. It has hurt my soul before to find an otherwise perfect spot with awful, rough pavement. If you find a spot like this, just let it go. You’ll just get frustrated while trying to skate it.
Again, the pavement doesn’t have to be perfect like a skatepark and usually, no street spots are. It just needs to be smooth enough that your momentum doesn’t immediately die when you push. There’s a very cool park with some ledges in Seoul here that has these large tile slabs. It is slightly bumpy when you ride, but is one of the most popular skate spots in the city. It’s called Cult Park in Seoul, Korea if you wanna look it up.
This is nice to have but isn’t required. I usually like to find at least something like a manual pad and maybe an incline for a skate spot. Really all you need is flat ground, smooth enough pavement, and no one asking you to leave to skate somewhere.
That being said, having skateable obstacles makes a spot so much more fun and really lets you be creative when you skate. Flat ground can get boring after a while.
Public or Abandoned Property
There are many amazing skate spots that are unfortunately private property and the owner(s) isn’t willing to let people skate there. You can try to skate on private property anyway, but you’re asking for a confrontation and you’ll get kicked out from time to time.
Sometimes you can find private property for a business that is empty on weekends and you can skate there. Sometimes there will be a cool security guard who simply doesn’t care or is a skateboarding fan. You just have to try and eventually you’ll get a feel for what spots will cause trouble and which ones won’t.
So, try to find a spot to skate that is public property or abandoned property. That is the easiest way to go. If someone asks you to leave, then I would just leave. I really am not the type of person who will argue or fight someone and ruin my day.
Another thing to look for is how close is it to your home. You don’t really want to go more than 20 or 30 minutes out of your way to skate unless it’s an amazing spot or you have no other option. Search locally for these spots first. There is always something. It might not be perfect, but there is always a spot.
Going to the skatepark should be your first choice. If there is a skatepark near you, then hop in your car and go.
The benefits of a skatepark include smooth pavement meant for skating, usually no bystanders to stare, and the potential to meet and get tips from other skaters.
As a beginner, you will want to steer clear of any bowls, halfpipes, stairs, or even inclines at first. You want to start on flat ground and get a feel for riding your board. Don’t be nervous about what other people think of you as a beginner. Most people don’t care.
You will feel a little conscious if you are just starting off but just go for it. You have to suck to get better. Before other skaters see you skate, they will likely think you’ve been doing it for years simply because of your age. Again, don’t worry and have fun.
If you truly are very self-conscious then it’s ok to practice flat ground at a more secluded spot first to get some basics down. Keep in mind you will end up feeling self-conscious as a skatepark beginner at some point so there isn’t too much a reason to postpone that.
Best Cities to Skate In (Travel Guide)
Traveling with a skateboard is amazing. It really helps keep you grounded by bringing something familiar to a new place. Also, you can connect with and meet locals in a way you likely won’t do if you just go to touristy spots on vacation.
There are so many great cities to visit and skate when you travel, but for the sake of brevity, I’m going to focus on American cities.
Let’s go over a few iconic skate cities for you to visit.
New York is the quintessential American city and has dominated the East Coast skate scene. Lower Manhatten and Brooklyn Banks are must visits on a skating tour through the city. Manhatten boasts a large number of skateparks including the famous “Chinapark” and Pier 62.
New York is a great melting pot and the local skating scene shows that diversity. There are many locally started brands, womens and LGBQT groups and a host of legendary spots you’ll recognize from some of your favorite skate videos.
New York is also such a cultural hub that even if you were completely barred from skateboarding, it would be worth the visit. The differents sections of the city takes weeks or months to explore and natives are often still surprised by their city. New York is a special place that you need to put on your vacation list.
Los Angeles is near where skateboarding all began on the Californian coast. The first skateboarding championship in the 1960s was held in LA. The phrase “just another sunny day in LA” summarizes the weather as it is often sunny and clear. The ocean usually keeps the city decently temperate as it cools the city.
Cruising along the boardwalk by the beach or riding along palm-tree-lined boulevards, LA is filled with iconic skate spots. Venice Beach Skate Park is a classic beachside skate park where you will see beginners and amazing talented strangers skate. The sunset view has made it a great place to take wistful skating pictures. You’ll also be likely to see some famous skaters gracing the park with their presence.
The cherry on top of this is that Los Angeles is also a great city to visit so your trip won’t have to be completely about skateboarding. There is plenty of amazing music, art, and comedy venues to check out. You won’t be bored coming here. Also, check out the skateboarding museum and hall of fame. Some people consider it the best skateboarding museum out there.
San Fransisco boasts the home of Thrasher magazine and Spitfire Wheels, is famous for hill bombing and has more than a few legendary skate spots.
Embarcadero was an international skateboarder meet-up spot in the 90s that lies on the eastern waterfront. This spot is still a popular skate spot with a lot of history. There is the “Gonz Gap” that Mark Gonzalez first ollied in 1986 and then first kickflipped in 1993. The spot is a notoriously rough area but has calmed down since the late 80s and 90s. (source)
San Francisco also holds an annual “Hill Bomb” in Dolores Park in July. The energy is incredible and some people inevitably end up taking a trip to the hospital. Try and plan your trip around this time as the San Fransicso weather is perfect and you don’t want to miss a skating event like this. It’s truly one of a kind.
Atlanta has a bigger reputation for hip-hop than skateboarding, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a thriving skate culture blossoming in this southern city. Atlanta is big and sprawling and some people call it the “New York of the South”.
Atlanta features some locally famous spots such as the Black Blocks, which was made for the 96′ Olympics to beautify the city, and the Historic 4th Ward Skatepark which was partially funded by the Tony Hawk Foundation.
Other than skating, Atlanta has a lot to offer in terms of nightlife, music, and comedy. Take a road trip.
If you’re interested in getting a new skate shoe, check out our Vans Old Skool product review here.
Where is the best place to learn to skateboard?
As a beginner, you should start to learn on flat ground with smooth pavement and no obstacles around. Remember when you learned to drive? You went to an empty lot, not a busy freeway.
The best place to learn to skateboard is somewhere with a large, open flat ground area. The pavement should be smooth enough not to limit motion and there shouldn’t be any pedestrians around. An empty parking lot, quiet residential street, or skatepark are the best places for a beginner to learn to skateboard. Having a large open area is important because a beginner will likely fall a few times and falling onto an obstacle can result in injury.
So, just don’t start in your garage, because to get comfortable on your skateboard, you need to cruise around for a while. You need to get comfortable on your board before you practice something like an ollie and you can’t cruise in your garage. Go find an open space with little traffic and few people. Also wear a helmet.
There is somewhere to skate in every city, town, and country area. You just need to be willing to find the skate spot and maybe put up with some imperfections.
Recognizing good skate spots will really open up the world of street skating for you and can lead to some great adventures as you find and skate in new places.
Anyway, thanks for reading, and look out for more articles from Board and Wheels.