Skating is a whole new animal once the sun goes down--and if you've ever done it, you already know that. Without natural sunlight to show you what's beneath your wheels, all those tricks you mastered during your midday runs become nightmares that have to be relearned.
Depending on where you go and how late you choose to be there, you'll have a different set of worries. Late-night partiers, homeless people who might become dangerous obstacles, and a small handful of police and security guards who simply don't want you around.
But that's the thrill of night skating. And if you're willing to keep looking until you find the perfect spot, the ride of your life is waiting for you somewhere.
To get you started, here are some of the best spots for night skating (in our opinion):
Hollywood High School – Hollywood, CA
What's more important when skating at night--good lighting or open spaces? Neither one is a problem at Hollywood High. State regulations require ample lighting on all public property, just to avoid lawsuits, and almost every high school in California offers plenty of wide-open spaces.
Hollywood High is noted for its 16- and 12-step stairways, complete with rails. You'll also appreciate the parking lot on the east side of the building.
The only thing to worry about is when school events run late--but other than that, you're golden.
Hamilton Bridge Skate Park – New York, NY
Hamilton Bridge is located on a plot of land between I-95 and the Washington Bridge, in New York's area of Washington Heights. The beauty of this park is that it is officially open until 11 PM and provides more-than-adequate lighting. It is also a relatively new park, which means it has everything you're looking for, including slopes, rails, steps, and ramps.
Be advised that you're taking a chance if you intend to skate after the park closes. You may get run out by security.
Braeswood Trail – Houston, TX
On the south side of Houston is a walking and biking trail known as the Braeswood Trail. It's a 9-mile asphalt trail that covers some pretty, scenic locations. Near the eastern terminus, just before the trail passes under the 610 Expressway, you'll find a drainage ditch with a concrete spillover.
This is a great place to skate as long as it's dry. It's adequately lit, it's far enough away from residential neighborhoods that you won't disturb anyone, and when you get tired of the ditch, you are just a short ride from a large retail complex with plenty of flat parking lot space.
The icing on the cake? Not a lot of skaters know about it.
Central Library – Los Angeles, CA
Another great Los Angeles-area skate destination is the central library on 603rd St. in downtown L.A. Talk about wide-open spaces with plenty of lighting! This pad has it all. You'll enjoy hour after hour of challenging skating under the shadow of some pretty iconic architecture.
However, skating here is risky. L.A. police don't love people poking around the library after it closes at 8 PM. The local drug scene isn't too far away, either. That said, it's a great experience if you're willing to keep your eyes open and be aware of your surroundings.
San Francisco, CA
It's hard to pick a single location in San Francisco for night skating. Some of the more legendary spots include the Embarcadero Center and Pier Seven. However, we have chosen to list the entire city as one big, happy skate park.
The hills of San Francisco provide some of the biggest rushes you'll ever experience--just be careful not to spend too much time on one street. Local residents don't take kindly to legions of skaters interrupting a good night's sleep. Instead, skate a street and move on. There are enough to keep you busy all night.
Pecos Skate Park – Phoenix, AZ
It's off to Phoenix, Arizona for our final nighttime skating destination. Pecos Skate Park is a public park owned by the city of Phoenix, located at 48th St. and Pecos Parkway. Because it is part of a much larger park complex, the facility is fully lit 24 hours a day. That said, it officially closes at 11:45 PM every night.
Pecos is one of the best modern skate parks in the world. It offers plenty of features for skaters of all levels, including grinding ledges and blocks, flat bars, street plazas, ramps, bowls, and pump bumps. The only downside is that you might have to compete for space with in-line skaters. But that's okay--they deserve a great park too!
There's no shortage of great places to skate at night, if you're willing to look around. Whatever you do, remember to be courteous at all times. Steer clear of residential areas, don't disturb businesses and don't do anything that could be considered criminal. You can still have plenty of fun without causing trouble.
About the author: Dorian Hill is a professional blogger, content curator, photographer and skateboard historian. Currently obsessed with old school downhill skateboarding, he rides long boards by GoldCoast skateboards. This is his first guest post for the Board Blazers blog.