Back in the old days, it used to be that you had to sneak by security and risk arrest to find the best spots to skateboard. But with the growth of the sport into an international industry, skaters are overwhelmed with choices: longboard or skateboard, street or vert, commercial or hardcore? And just like everything else in the world of skateboarding, we’re now faced with a choice on WHERE to skate! If you want to cruise down any given street, that’s just fine. But if vert skating is more your jam, you must decide: indoor skatepark or outdoor skatepark? We can’t choose for you, but we can make sure you’ve got all the information you need to make the best decision for your skate style!
When you envision a skatepark it’s probably outside, right? With features like a large concrete pad with ramps, stairs, boxes, and rails, maybe it’s fenced, and it’s lit for night skating. And you wouldn’t be wrong! The very first skate parks were outside since skateboarding is primarily an outdoor sport. And you probably won’t be surprised to know that the first of these parks were in locations like Florida and California. While these places were (and in some ways still are) the epicenter of skateboarding culture, it’s not by random chance. Skateboarding grew naturally out of surfing, and surf culture (read more about the history of skateboarding here!), and climates that support surfing are usually temperate – meaning the weather is great year-round! Why did it take longer for Minnesota to jump on the skateboarding bandwagon? Weather! The invention of indoor skateparks evolved from the need to spread the love of the sport to places where skating outdoors just isn’t possible for much of the year.
Now not all indoor skateparks exist just because of bad weather. In fact, some of the most famous indoor skateparks in the world were built in southern California and Florida! As skate parks emerged and tried to distinguish themselves from one another, some chose to become more about group skating. Some became primarily bowl focused or filled entirely with ramps and rails. Like most industries, its expansion and popularity brought different desires from riders and parks aimed to meet those needs. So if you’re lucky enough to have the choice between indoor and outdoor parks in your area, here are some things to keep in mind.
COST: Most indoor parks will charge an admission fee. And as unfair as that seems, they need to because it quite literally costs money to keep the lights on and cool/heat the room. If you’re short on funds, look for an outdoor park which is most often a city park, kept up by taxpayer dollars or federal funds. City parks mean it’s free to you!
QUALITY: On the flip side of the cost coin, you will almost always get better quality ramps, rails, etc. at an indoor park. Since your admission goes to upkeep, owners and operators have an incentive to keep the park in peak condition. While outdoor parks aren’t necessarily poor quality, at an indoor park you’re almost always guaranteed to get the best of the best when it comes to equipment.
SAFETY/SECURITY: While many outdoor parks do have floodlights and sometimes safety patrol, if you choose to skate outside at night you choose to assume a certain level of risk. Indoor parks can sometimes be a better choice for skaters who are younger or just not as secure about being out alone after dark. If you are out there night shredding though, make sure to bring your Board Blazers along!
CROWDS: Nobody wants to wait in line for their favorite skatepark feature, yet it’s a sad reality of this sport. If you’re not into lines or waiting your turn, definitely don’t visit an indoor park on the weekend. Because these parks tend to be limited in size (although some super rad indoor parks are HUGE!), you’ll end up with more people, and that means more waiting in line. Outdoor parks still have their crowded moments, but you’re more likely to get to ride your route without a wait if you skate under the stars.
To skateboard or not to skateboard? That choice is easy. But when you’re deciding where to skate it can be a bit trickier. As you make your decision, consider the weather, your distance to each park, your finances, your safety, and your patience for waiting in lines. It’s hard to make a wrong choice because either way, you’re going to spend your time shredding. Give each type of park a try at least once. Find out what you and your crew like about each place and then decide on your home turf. And if a new park opens up, absolutely be the first in line to check it out. Whether outside or indoors, get out and skate every day!