The Board Blazers Blog


Best Skateparks in the U.S.

Skateboarding is one of the most popular extreme sports in 21st century America. The roots of skateboarding began in California back in the 1950s when young adults used to surf the streets on wooden boards (and there were certainly no skate parks in those days!). Skateboarding really took off in the 1970s and became part of the mainstream in the late 1990s thanks to the success of Tony Hawk, video games and the X Games. Since then, impressive skate parks have been built all over the country (and the world), and here we’ll rank the top 10 skateparks in the U.S.

#1: Burnside Skate Park (Portland, OR)

Located under the east end of the Burnside Bridge in the city of Portland, Burnside Skate Park has been featured in numerous skate magazines, video games and is considered a classic skate park by skateboarding pros.  This quintessential skate park was created in 1990 and features some of the sweetest wall rides, bowls, quarter pipes, hips and bumps. Burnside Skate Park has continuously grown and developed over the last 26 years.

Burnside Skate Park

 

#2: Skate Lab (Atlantic Beach, FL)

First opened in 1997, Skate Lab is considered to be the best skateboarding venue in the state of Florida. Offering a huge collection of ramps, rails and jumps, Skate Lab is known to push skaters to their limits. The finest features of the Skate Lab are huge indoor and outdoor areas so that the weather is never an obstacle.

Skate Lab (Florida)

 

#3: Denver Skate Park (Denver, CO)

Situated along the Platte River, north of Downtown Denver, this skate park offers an incredible view of the famous Rocky Mountains as you grab some air. Sprawling in size and tremendous with its obstacles, Denver Skate Park has something for every kind of skater. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or an expert skater, the extensive street course and the bowls of the park are open late into the night (perfect for Board Blazers we say!).

Denver Skate Park

 

#4: David Armstrong Extreme Park (Louisville, KY)

Formerly known as Louisville Extreme Park, this public skatepark in downtown Louisville features a 24-foot full pipe — one of the biggest for any skateboarding park in the United States. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year — this free entry skate park gained national attention after being featured in Tony Hawk's Secret Skatepark Tour video in 2002. If you like some real challenges, this is one park you just have to ride.  

David Armstrong Extreme Park

 

#5: Lincoln City Skate Park (Lincoln City, OR)

Recognized as one of the largest skate parks in the state of Oregon, Lincoln City Skate Park keeps on getting better and better. This skate park is an collection of five mini parks and was expertly designed by Dreamland Skateparks.  Every year the skate park enters a new phase or gets an upgrade with a new concrete design. Thrasher magazine has even christened it as "The Gnarliest Skatepark in the World” due to its many unique features.

Lincoln City Skate Park

 

#6: FDR Skate Park (Philadelphia, PA)

Similar to Burnside Skate Park, FDR Skate Park was created by a few skateboarders who were hungry for some concrete to skate in the city of Philadelphia. Distinct for being located beneath an overpass of Interstate 95, FDR Skate Park has been recognized by both Thrasher and Skateboarder magazine as “a skateboarding paradise”. This park also features obstacles like the 4-foot “Dome” and the 60-foot long “Bunker”. FDR Skate Park was also featured in the Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground video game.

FDR Skate Park

 

#7: Vans Skate Park (Orange, CA)

Offering indoor and outdoor skateboarding, Vans Skate Park in Orange County is the best place to see veteran skateboarding pros like Steve Salba, Jeff Grosso and Christian Hosoi in action. After making skate shoes for nearly a decade, in 1999 Vans decided to make a premium skate park in California. With the reformation of the famous Upland combi-bowl and an enormous wooden street course, Vans Skate Park doesn’t disappoint in the center of the SoCal skate scene.

Vans Skate Park

 

#8: Lake Cunningham Regional Skate Park (San Jose, CA)

With its plethora of bowls to choose from, Lake Cunningham Regional Skate Park is one of the most unique skate parks in the country, and at 68,000 square feet, it’s the largest skate park in California. The skate park offers the world’s biggest cradle (70 feet long) plus several wide pipes, street courses, thimbles, pools, a mega wall and bowls. If you have the adrenaline, this skatepark has everything to satisfy it!

Lake Cunningham Regional Skate Park

 

#9: S.P.O.T — Skate Park of Tampa (Tampa, FL)

Since hosting indoor and outdoor skate contests since its inauguration in 1993, S.P.O.T have been featured in several skateboarding videos since. The constantly changing world has skateboarding has made sure that S.P.O.T has both beginner and pro courses. The biggest event on S.P.O.T’s calendar is the annual Tampa Pro contest, held annually at the beginning of March.

Skate Park of Tampa

 

#10: Rob Dyrdek/DC Shoes Foundation Skate Plaza (Kettering, OH)

What sets this skatepark apart from most others is that, by incorporating landscaping and art, it resembles a public square and a multi-use park more than a standalone skate park. It is the first major public skate park designed by pro skater Rob Dyrdek in partnership with DC Shoes. Instead of featuring the usual half pipes and bowls, Rob Dyrdek-DC Shoes Foundation Skate Plaza is designed more for street skateboarding and features urban terrain elements such as benches, rails, ledges and vertical ramps.

Rob Dyrdek-DC Shoes Foundation Skate Plaza

 

Hit us up on Instagram @boardblazers and tell us your favorite skatepark!

 

About the Author: John Dev is a professional blogger who loves to write about his passion for skateboarding and longboarding. A big fan of the sport, he is also an in-house blogger for SkatesUSA. In his free time, he longboards on his Loaded Complete Tan Tien 2012 longboard. This is his second guest post for the Board Blazers blog.


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What to Bring to the Skatepark

Nothing beats the wind in your hair as you cruise down the street on your board. But if your skate plans include anything other than a short cruise, you’re more than likely packing up a bag and toting your gear. Today we’re going to help make packing your skate bag a load easier with our picks for skateboarding bag essentials. First and foremost you’re going to need a…

Backpack

Every skater has a solid bag. It's kind of like the first and best dude in your skate crew. He carries all your junk and is super supportive. If you haven’t already invested in an excellent backpack here are a few of our recommendations:

We dig this Element Mohave Skate Backpack for a few reasons. It comes loaded with pockets, and it’s roomy without being enormous. Plus the chest clip is ideal for keeping it in place while you’re en route to the skatepark.

Another killer choice is the Dakine Mission Backpack. Dakine is the gold standard in durability, and this bag might outlive the skatepark itself. It’s got nice cushy straps to lighten the load created by all of the rest of your gear!

Safety Gear

Your body has to be in one piece (or pretty close ;)) to skateboard, so keep it that way with your safety gear. We love this helmet (also multi-tasks as a bike and snowboard helmet!) because it looks cool and keeps your noggin safely attached to your neck. If you’re into trick skating also consider some wrist guards (these are stellar!), and a set of knee and elbow pads. If you’re tempted to think they look dorky, just consider that nothing looks lamer than sitting on the sidelines with a busted elbow while you watch your whole crew skate. Wear the gear and shred all year. #themoreyouknow

Clothing

Spare clothing might seem non-essential, but hear us out. You’ll at least want a hoodie in case your day session turns into a night shred. We have a few favorite skate clothing brands, but you can’t go wrong with a classic Santa Cruz hoodie like this one. Also, consider bringing an extra shirt in case yours rips or eventually gets drenched in sweat. Extra clothing doesnt create too much extra weight, and you’ll be glad you brought a change of clothes. Ever bust a shoe at the skatepark? You’re not alone. Bringing a spare set of laces is another way to add insurance to your skate sesh without adding much weight to your bag. If your skate shoes are getting older, you might also want to carry a roll of duct tape (old school!) or pick up some Shoe Goo.

Busted shoe? No problem, slather some of this paste on it and keep right on shredding. And definitely, don’t forget your sunglasses!

Make sure they have 100% UVA/UVB protection – your eyes will thank you. In case you’re looking for a new pair, we dig these from Bones Wheels.

Skate Gear

Naturally, you’ll bring your board, but what else are you going to need?

ALWAYS carry a Unit Skate Tool. We’ve hyped it before, but it's truly so sick that we mention it a lot. It’ll complete any board-related repair that you have while you’re out, with the exception of a busted deck - can’t help you there. And depending on the age of your gear you might consider bringing bearings and wheels, just in case. Skate wax is a no-brainer, and if you’re in need of a recommendation, we love Shorty’s forever.

Bondo

Bondo is a MUST to create that smooth ride, or prep a surface for a sick grind. Remember that you’ll need a putty knife and a place to mix it up (we like to use a spare bit of cardboard). Check out this video for instructions! 

Lights

And if you're shredding at night, we have to mention Board Blazers! They'll amp up your night skate while keeping your skate bag light; they're a must-pack item for us!

Sustenance


You have to eat and drink, right? Any trip to the skatepark should include water. This Klean Kanteen will keep your beverage cold and looks legit with its matte black finish. Nalgene is also a solid choice; its easy to clean if you decide to fill it with Gatorade. Since your beverage needs are filled, we'll move on to food. Our most essential refreshment is (stick with us here) FRUIT SNACKS.

I mean, sure, we’ll take a granola bar anytime, but have you eaten fruit snacks at the skatepark? There’s something about popping these while you’re perfecting that treflip – it’s fantastic. Bonus points if you FREEZE them before you go. Try it. You’ll love it.

Phone & Accessories

Last but certainly not least, you have to bring a phone. It’s essential for safety but also needed for ambiance. With a sick skate playlist (try this one!), your phone can be your ticket to skateboarding heaven. Of course, you’re going to need a killer pair of headphones to get the most out of the experience.

We love these from Leophile because they look sweet, perform well, and they’re water and sweat proof. Do you want to document your day? Take a camera along as well (don’t forget batteries and memory cards!).

If you want to keep it simple, spring for the AMIR smartphone camera lens kit. These little lenses snap onto the camera on your phone and produce images as high quality as professional DSLR cameras. Bonus: with your pics already on your phone, you’re one step closer to Instagramming your latest moves.

Just in case you missed anything, here’s a quick roundup of everything that lives in our skate bag:

Backpack
Helmet
Wrist Guards
Knee & Elbow Pads
Hoodie
Extra Shirt/Laces
ShoeGoo
Sunglasses 
Unit Skate Tool
Bearings/Wheels
Skateboard Wax
Bondo & Putty Knife
Board Blazers
Water Bottle
FROZEN Fruit Snacks
Headphones
Camera Lens Kit

With all this gear in a killer bag, you should be prepped and ready for an incredible day at the skatepark!

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The History of Skate: From Surf to Street

Picture it: a shabby piece of plywood, roller skates, a few screws and a drill. A dash of Macguyvering later and voila! You have just invented the skateboard. Now, let's be honest, it's hard to determine just exactly when and by whom the skateboard was invented. People have been attaching wheels to objects since the invention of… the wheel! But at some point in the 1950’s a group of SoCal surfers decided they needed a way to “surf the streets” while the waves were flat, bolted the above items together, and modern skateboarding as we know it was born.

We’ve obviously come a long way since the days of metal wheels (can you imagine?!) and rough-cut plywood boards, but how? Today we are bringing you the highlight reel of the history of skateboarding, so pack a lunch and come with us in our time machine, back to 1958…

Surfing culture is booming; The Beach Boys and Jan & Dean are about to be all over the radio; the beach boardwalk is the place to see and be seen. But anyone who surfs knows that you’re always at the mercy of mother nature. Sometimes the waves arrive, and sometimes they definitely don’t. But when the waves don't cooperate, why not surf the streets?! It’s around this time where people start building their own boards to do just that. But of course, the surf shops were watching.

Fast-forward a few years to the early 1960’s: surf shops start to get in on the skateboard action. While the first boards were crude hand-hewn plywood with metal wheels (ouch!), SoCal surf shop icons like Jack’s, Hobie, Kips’ start to manufacture more standardized boards that are slightly longer (the originals were square!), and outfitted with clay wheels, similar to roller skates. Skateboards are promoted right along with surfboards and quickly gaining popularity!


1964 brought the publication of the very first skate mag: The Skateboard Quarterly. Seriously, how legit is that cover? See our favorite modern skate mags here! But despite tremendous positive response, it lasted only four issues. At the start of 1965, a few news organizations began hyping injuries and accidents surrounding the sport. They claimed that skateboarding was inherently dangerous - to be avoided at all costs. The popularity of the sport began to decline, and skateboarding seemed to be a fad that had disappeared as quickly as it began. And yet, throughout the late 60’s and early 70’s there remained athletes faithful to the shred.

Noticing a lingering (albeit small) market for the sport, Cadillac Wheels began manufacturing the first polyurethane wheels in the early 1970s. This innovation was about to make skateboarding far easier and frankly more enjoyable than it had been with wheels of either metal or clay. Their release in 1972 was met with such fanfare that skateboarding began to again rocket in popularity as it had a decade previously - sales were through the roof! And with new wheels, new trucks were needed. It seemed an entire industry was born.

By the mid-1970’s, the sport of skateboarding was here to stay. No longer dismissible as a “fad,” skateboarding competitions were being held at boardwalks and parking lots all over Southern California and Florida. And skaters were looking for a place to gather, a place where they could skate without fear of being run off the property by security. Enter the skate park! Skateboard City (Florida) and Carlsbad City Skate Park were the first two skate parks ever to open. In addition, the mid 70’s in California was an arid time, and as many property owners sadly drained their swimming pools to save money, skaters found an exciting new skate spot, often in their own backyard!

The mid to late 70’s is the first time we see the distinction drawn between “vert” skating (literally from the word “vertical,” using pool walls, ramps, etc.) and street skating. Street skating was more of a mainstream interest, but just as in the previous decade, there began to be major pushback to this new “vert” trend. Cities worried endlessly about the liabilities associated with skate parks, and most of them were shut down over the course of 1976-1980 (If you too find yourself without a skatepark nearby, read here!). Just as it had done previously, skating declined, but it was not forgotten. Street skaters and vert skaters alike were perfecting their skills just waiting for the trend to come around again.

Depending on how you view it, the 1980s was either skating’s darkest hour or its best years. With declining popularity, and skate parks mostly shuttered, only those truly loyal remained in the sport. It’s during this time that some absolute legends of the sport began experimenting with their craft. After all, the 80’s brought us the LEGENDARY Rodney Mullen, who invents the kickflip, the heelie, the 360 flip and innumerable other moves upon which the rest of the sport has been built. Street skaters and vert skaters alike have no place to gather to skate. Parking lots and garages become popular with skaters and UNPOPULAR with property owners. It’s during this decade that skating takes on the “rebellious” culture that in some ways persists to this day. While the general popularity of the sport declined, those who remained honed and sharpened the sport for its rebirth…

With the emergence of the “Punk” scene in the 1990’s, it seemed skateboarding had found its perfect niche. Skateboarding became synonymous with 90’s punk culture and the associated grunge movement. It rose in popularity so quickly that by 1995 ESPN hosted the first ever Extreme Games (X-Games) sparking interest in the minds of kids all over the world and bringing the interest in skateboarding back to the general population.

Over the last 20+ years, skateboarding has only increased in reach and popularity. The industry now fuels several magazines, innumerable clothing brands, an entire niche market of accessories, and much more. Skate parks have reopened and are now more widely available than ever. And while we still like to think of ourselves as a little rebellious (isn’t that part of the fun?), skateboarding is now so diversified that kids as young as 2 or 3 and as old as 90 are taking part just for the fun of it.

From it’s surfing roots to its rebellious adolescence, to its present-day maturity, skateboarding is here to stay. We love that this sport continues to grow, but never ages. You know what they say about skateboarders, right? They never get old; they just shred away. Peace, skaters!

Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4


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10 Sick Skate Spots Without A Skatepark Nearby

It's easy to rock at something with the best equipment, tons of time to practice, and every resource at your fingertips. But it can be frustrating to be so passionate about boarding and feel like you don't have a place to really practice. But that's not what skating is about: working with what you have, hanging with friends, trying that ollie until you've got it perfect, making do with a park bench – that's what makes skating unique! The team here at Board Blazers is passionate about working with what we've got, and that's why we're so pumped to bring you this list of the 10 best places to skate when "there's no skate park near me!"

1. Community college/University campus
Most every city has a community college or even a university nearby. These are killer places to skate because they typically have large paved or concrete areas, tons of benches, parking lots with curbs, big staircases with rails, and loads of other awesome skateboarding opportunities. As a bonus, the campus is usually less busy on nights and weekends so you can really go big! Campus security can be a bust, but be cool to them, and they'll be cool to you. Click here to find a community college in your hood!

2. Malls with large parking lots
Similar to community colleges, malls and corner shopping centers with large parking lots have a ton of opportunities for skaters: lots of curbing, handicap ramps, rails, and open expanses for cruising. Plus, they're usually well lit at night. As always, be safe and look out for cars (and pedestrians) since parking lots can be busy places at any time of day.

3. Parking garage
Take the elevator to the top floor and bomb the ramp all the way to the bottom. The possibilities here are pretty much endless: get some serious downhill speed, curbing, long stretches of sloped concrete, stairs, railing, the occasional bench or garbage can-get creative! However, be EXTREMELY cautious and careful while skating a garage. Cars will not be expecting you. It's best to try for a time at night when the garage near you is less busy.

4. The back of warehouse stores
Make sure you hit these places up after hours, but with multiple loading docks for trucks, plenty of handrails for workers' safety, dumpsters, pallets, and who knows what else on any given night, these places are like Disneyland for skaters. With huge expanses of wide open concrete, and little traffic after the store's closing time, this is a great place to meet up with your friends, bump some tracks, and get to work perfecting your latest trick.

3. Community park
Stuck in suburbia? Don't be too down about it. Almost every community has parks that can be awesome for skateboarding. Every park is different, but most of them have lots of paved paths, benches & railings, playground equipment, shady ramadas with picnic tables, basketball courts and tons of other killer skating opportunities.

4. Large suburban neighborhoods
Are long cruises your jam? Most housing areas provide lengthy stretches of pavement or sidewalk. Use these to take a sweet night ride either alone or with your skate crew. Big neighborhoods provide a sweet cruising spot without having to cross major street traffic. Don't get stuck in the same rut, try different routes through your hood, and take a swing down some new streets!

6. Local attractions
Live near the beach? Cruise the boardwalk and grind on those retaining walls. Got a large sports arena nearby? Go check it out on day where there isn't a game, and you have it all to yourself. Is there a local museum in your city? Might be a killer spot after hours! Anything and anywhere that is paved is your playground! See what kind of awesome local haunts you can find.

7. Bike or pedestrian paths
Loads of cities are becoming more bike-friendly, and while our feelings are a little hurt that they don't always include skaters in their plans, we can forgive them. Especially since those super long (often MILES long) stretches of concrete or paved pathway provide us with ample spots to cruise, practice tricks, meet up with our crew, or whatever that day holds. Look for spots where paths cross under major streets - underpasses can be killer for tricks & jumps. Major bonus if you can find large drainage pipes! Look out for hilly places on pedestrian paths – you're likely to find some stairs and handrails there that would be perfect for grinding! Click here to find a list of bike paths near you!

9. Your own house/street
It's not as fun or exotic as a beach boardwalk or an amazing skate park, but there's nothing like being familiar with a spot to help you improve your consistency, especially when you're trying to master a new skill. If you're short on time or freedom to wander, you can enjoy a great skate on your home turf. Crank some tunes and hit the pavement – you'll be glad you did.

10. Keep your eyes open and look around!
Your new favorite skating spot could be literally just around the corner. Get out there with your friends and go find a great spot! Keep your eyes open while you're driving around town; you might see the perfect place. Get creative – you'll be surprised what you might find. Take a cruise on your board to some new spots and just take it all in. You might just find a sick secret place to grind. Want to share your spot with your crew? Check out these tips for how to best use skateboarding forums online.

As always, remember to be safe while you skate. Always wear a helmet, be careful to obey local laws and look out for vehicles. And, if you're skating at night, Board Blazers are always a good idea. Don't skate in places that are restricted or fenced off. If you're asked by security to leave, just move on and remember that the next best skating spot could be right around the corner.

Image sources: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3.


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