The Board Blazers Blog

Skateparks: Indoor or Outdoor?

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!

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Skateparks: Do's & Don'ts (feat. Tech Na$ty!)

Headed to the skatepark? Like any social setting, the skatepark comes with its own set of spoken and unspoken rules and social codes. If you aren’t in the know, you could land yourself in some hot water. But never fear! Board Blazers has enlisted the help of our favorite pro skater, Tech Na$ty, to unlock the mystery of the skatepark social scene. Read on to find out what to do and what NOT to do at the skatepark!

DO go to the skatepark. This tip might seem like a no-brainer, but cities and municipalities don’t want to waste care and upkeep on a park that no one is using. The more demand there is for the parks, the more likely the city is to keep your park in good repair. Show up, skatefam!

DON’T over-wax the ledges. Over-waxing leads to super slick surfaces, and that leads to dangerous falls. You can apply some to the coping to smooth out the run (after all, rain and weather can cause rust & cracks), but only if you need to. If you’re worried about a smooth grind, just up your confidence and make your approach faster – it’ll result in a slicker ride. Or consider applying the wax to your board instead of the spots at the park.

DO respect people’s stuff. Another no-brainer, but lots of people at skateparks and guilty of this one. Don’t take things that aren’t yours; respect other people’s property. If someone’s gear is in your way, politely ask them to move it. Being courteous is a sure fire way to make sure your day stays rad.


DON’T snake/tailgate people! Snaking and tailgating is crazy annoying and can also be dangerous. In case you need a little refresher, snaking means cutting another skater (yes, just like cutting in line) and taking your run in the bowl or on the ramp before them. Be courteous and take turns; try to be aware of the order and your place in line for each obstacle. Wait and be patient. Tailgating is the same at a skatepark as it is in your car. Riding too closely behind another skater isn’t just a major eye roll. When you don’t leave appropriate distance between skaters, you’re just asking for an accident. All it takes is one stumble, and both skaters are down. Snaking and tailgating waste people’s turns and cause accidents. You might do it unintentionally, but it’s still rude. Ultimately, always be aware of who and what’s around you.

DO pick up your own trash. If everyone left their trash on the ground, we’d all be drowning in litter. Do your part and pick up after yourself. If your skatepark has no trash can, or you’re not skating at a skatepark, pack out what you pack in. At the very least, make one pile of trash so that litter services doesn’t have to run around chasing your garbage. Being kind to the places where you skate ensures that they last!

DON’T graffiti. It might sound fun to tag your park, but it creates a major headache for you and anyone else who uses the park. Cities typically have a zero-tolerance graffiti policy. This means that as soon as it’s reported, the city has to come to sandblast the graffiti off the surfaces. Then the park has to close for a day (lame!), and the residual sand makes the ledges lose their wax, plus the grit gets in everyone’s bearings. Don’t tag, guys – it hurts us all.


DO vibe it out. Every park is a different community. Just because you know your park’s unspoken rules doesn’t mean it’s the same at the park 5 miles down the road. When you arrive at the skatepark (especially if it’s a new haunt for you), vibe it out - get a feel for the place and don’t rush people. Once you’ve got a read on the situation, find an opening in a run or wait in line at an obstacle to join in the fun.

DON’T Bondo or change a non-skatepark skate spot. While this isn’t specifically skatepark related, it bears mentioning. When you permanently change a surface (like when you use Bondo) people are more likely to notice the presence of skaters. Lots of rad skate spots don’t really want us around, you feel? The more attention you attract, the more you ruin it for the rest of us. Don’t give them a reason to hate. Skate it, love it, and then move on. Don’t mark it permanently and ruin it for everybody.

DO use a spotter – be safe, bros. When attempting crazy stunts, you put yourself, pedestrians, and vehicles around you at risk. Not only can you take a good stumble, but your board can shoot out and cause an accident with other people or a vehicle. Skating is risky and fun - definitely try the crazy rad tricks! But don’t do it without another skater spotting you and your board – just in case.


DON’T sit on ledges. DUDES, this is the worst. The right place to relax at the skatepark is on a bench. People come to skate the obstacles, so don’t park yourself on them. Sitting on rails & ledges is the ultimate in very lame. If you’re waiting for your turn, don’t sit on a ledge, bro.

DO play it safe. Come to the skatepark fully prepared (see our article on what to bring to the skatepark!). At the very least, bring your helmet & safety gear, snacks, and your Board Blazers!

DON’T play S.K.A.T.E. at a small skatepark. While it’s a rad game (see our article full of tips and tricks for S.K.A.T.E.!), it takes up a ton of space, and you’ll want to leave yourself some room. Either choose a park with enough flat skate space that you aren’t taking over all of it or find a parking lot - someplace with enough space for you and your homies. If your park is super crowded, consider heading to a different spot.

While there are lots of unspoken social codes in the skater world, Tech Na$ty’s above rules should help you win friends and respect at any skatepark. Now that you’ve got all this new knowledge, grab your board, your Board Blazers, and a few friends – get out there and shred!

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Philadelphia’s Skateable Sculpture Park (And Other Ways Skaters Have Changed Cities)

Did you know that until the last decade, it was completely illegal to skate in Philadelphia's city parks? But today, Philadelphia is home to a bygone skateboarding mecca (LOVE Park) and a park filled with intentionally skateable sculptures (Paine's Park).

What changed?

When you see a group of kids carving concrete at a skatepark, the phrase "city-transforming potential" might not cross your mind. But those who skate hold enormous power in their hands.

Need proof? Here are 3 specific examples of the transformative effect skaters can have.

1. LOVE Park: From Plaza To Skateboarding Mecca (And Back)

Just as skate videos started to pick up in the early '90s, local skaters took one look at the granite-slab benches in Philadelphia's JFK Plaza and decided they were the perfect place to do some sweet tricks and catch 'em on film, despite the fact that it was totally against the law.

Nicknamed LOVE Park after the iconic Robert Indiana sculpture in the heart of the plaza, this little square quickly became a skateboarding hotbed--particularly once the California skate scene caught wind of the Philly films.

Suddenly, professional skaters were relocating to Philadelphia just to skate in LOVE Park every day. The location even made it into Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2. It was a veritable skateboarding destination.

Then, the city decided to crack down on the sport. In 2002, they spent $1 million to remove the skateable granite benches.

That's not to say that the park went down without a fight. In fact, the founder of the park, Edmund Bacon, got on a skateboard at LOVE Park (at the age of 92!) to protest the loss of the skateboarding legacy. At the time, he reportedly proclaimed, “Thank you! My whole damn life has been worth it, just for this moment!”

Even though they didn’t win this one, skaters turned an unassuming park into a hotbed of debate. 


2. Burnside: From Sketchy Bridge To World-Renowned Skatepark

If skaters essentially "built" LOVE Park into a skating mecca, they upped the ante with Burnside in Portland, OR. Named for its location under Burnside Bridge, a group of dedicated skaters in the '90s literally built the park. With a crew including Mark Hubbard, Mark ‘Red’ Scott and Bret Taylor, these tenacious skaters took on the challenge of rehabbing a "wasteland beneath a road bridge."

Over time, they upgraded from sneaky (and illegal) concrete banks to hardier skating platforms, and eventually got city approval to turn it into a full-blown skate park. Today, Burnside is internationally recognized as one of the most challenging skateparks in the world.

Furthermore, Burnside is also credited with improving the city, in that they displaced the bridge's original seedy crowd, and replaced them with a skatey crowd.


3. Paine's Park: A Space Designed For Skaters

Finally recognizing the tendency of skaters to scope out and take over spaces, architect and skateboarders' rights activist Tony Bracali worked with local skateboarders to design Paine's Park.

Bracali argues that skateboarding improves the life of public places, and this Philadelphia space has plenty of space for skaters and non-skaters to mingle and enjoy themselves. 2.5 miles of landscaping, walkways, and skateable architecture abound.

Aside from the skateable benches, Paine’s Park was also home to a public outdoor-arts exhibition called Open Source: Engaging Audiences in Public Space that featured skateable sculptures by artist Jonathan Monk. And they really are meant for skaters; he insisted that his exhibit wouldn’t be complete until skaters began to actually use his sculptures.


When skaters are practicing their moves, they're not only changing their brains and the local skate scene; they just might be changing the city on a deeper level.

Skaters—what other examples can you share of skateboarders changing a city? Comment below!


Other Sources For Continued Reading 


Photo credit: AI R//Lindsey B//Beth Olson//Johnny Gee Photography//Robert Francis

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