Skatepark: concrete, iron, a light or two... pretty basic, right? While it might seem as simple as throwing together a few bowls, ramps, and concrete benches, there is an incredible amount of preparation and effort that goes into designing a good skatepark. And while the behind the scenes efforts aren’t always immediately apparent, well-designed skateparks are a pleasure to use. Any skater will tell you that there are AMAZING skateparks and... not-so-amazing skateparks. To take the guess-work out of it for you, today we'll let you know exactly which elements make up a stellar skatepark!
A skatepark is made of up tons of different kinds of features for different types of skating, some for street skating and some for trick skating. And both kinds of skaters can be equally happy in the same park, so long as it’s designed well. A killer park should feature multiple ramps, bowls, curbs, and rails so that many skaters can be making runs simultaneously. If you can’t count at least two of each of the above features at any given park, move on and look elsewhere. In a recent poll of our Instagram followers, skaters ranked their must-have skatepark features in the following order: #1 Bowls, #2 Ramps, #3 Curbs, #4 Rails. So when in doubt, look for parks with tons of ramps and bowls, and make a secondary priority of curbs and rails. Bonus points if the skatepark has different areas for skaters, scooters, rollerbladers, and BMX. While everyone can coexist in one large combined space, separate areas give each sport a place to practice their unique activity.
If you’ve ever been in-the-zone during any activity and then been interrupted, you know how frustrating that can be! For skaters, a killer run can often be interrupted by a poorly placed skatepark feature. It is essential that the entire park has multiple logical skate routes to it. A skater should be able to start a run and easily transition from bowl to rail to curb without having to stop to run up a flight of stairs or navigate around a poorly placed water fountain. Movements should be natural and fluid, not forced and awkward - any skater can tell you the rush of a run with the perfect flow! If possible, check and see if your park was designed by a skater (many are). Skater-designed parks are known for their smooth and logical flow from feature to feature.
We can’t say enough about keeping yourself safe at the skatepark. Always wear your helmet and safety gear (click here for our recommendations!), and bring along your Board Blazers for extra light during those night skating sessions! But some safety factors are beyond individual control and are left up to the skatepark. In our opinion, every skatepark should have a fence, not just to keep skaters in, but to keep vehicles and danger OUT. A decent lighting scheme is also crucial. Before you settle on a favorite skatepark, make sure to visit at night and be sure the lighting is adequate and well distributed throughout the park – not just at the entrance. The better parks will have attendants on the premises to monitor the grounds, the safety situation, and step in when problems occur. And you’d think it would go without saying, but a trash can is a necessary item at a skatepark. Many parks are without them entirely, or there are too few for the number of skaters. Plus, who doesn’t love to jump a trash can or two?! Lastly, you’ll want a park that is well maintained. Nothing is sadder than a park allowed to atrophy. Cracked concrete and features caked in skate wax are a sure fire way to drive away skaters. Look for a park with a regular maintenance schedule, where necessary repairs are made quickly and completed well.
You’re going to work up a sweat with all that shredding, so make sure your park has at least one water fountain, if not several. Most skaters will bring a bottle of water or an energy drink to the park, but as you start to sweat, you’ll need regular access to water. Vending machines are also a huge plus! Bonus points if they stock a decent variety of drinks and snacks. And while it might seem obvious, make sure your skatepark has a well-maintained and safe restroom. Nothing is worse than having to cut a session short to answer the call of nature.
When you find a skatepark with every one of the above features, you should feel like you’ve found a fantastic place. Success! But if we're designing the skatepark of our dreams, there are a few more things we'd add to our list. Sometimes one of the crew is down for the count, and when that happens, skateparks with proper seating (and we’re not talking about sitting on the features – don’t be that guy!) are incredible. Shade is also at a premium in most skate parks, so shaded seating is the holy grail if you can find it. We also dig parks that have a spot for newer skaters, typically wide open and away from other more challenging obstacles. This way everyone can enjoy the park at their difficulty level without hindering one another. Many skateparks are incorporating signature elements unique to their park, and we couldn’t be more excited about it! Something that sets your park apart can take your shred experience from good to excellent. Lastly, location is often a real barrier due to larger parks often being an inconvenient distance from other amenities in the city. If you are lucky enough to find a large centrally located skatepark, consider yourself blessed by the skate gods!
No matter where you choose to skate, we know you’ll have a fantastic time. But now that you know the ins and outs of amazing skateparks, there’s no need to skate at a bummer park ever again. Where are your favorite parks and what are your favorite features? Hit us up on Instagram @BoardBlazers and let us know. We’re always on the hunt for that next incredible place to shred!