It’s amazing to think the skatepark in a relatively short span went from a few skateparks in a handful of major cities, to now being readily accessible in every corner of the globe.
Here at GOSKATE, we’re committed to highlighting some of the best skateparks, not just in the US, but in the world. And to kick things off, we’re going to start off in the state it all began – California.
The birthplace of skateboarding has since evolved into its own skate ecosystem, with some of the world’s best and most unique California skateparks. However, before we get into that list we’re going to also cover what makes a skatepark a good skatepark.
So when you’re searching our GOSKATE Skatepark Directory, you know exactly what you need to skate at the best skatepark near you. We’ve sourced our skate readership via skate polls and some of our top skate instructors to make sure we’re giving our readers the best of the very best skateparks in California.
In this article, we’re going over:
- What Makes a Skatepark A Great Skatepark?
- Best Skateparks in Southern California
- Best Skateparks in Northern California
Need help understanding skateboarding terms? We have the most comprehensive glossary of skateboarding terminology to help you master skate lingo.
What Makes a Skatepark a Great Skatepark?
There’s more that goes into a skatepark than just the square feet or its location. Skaters look for many different factors when looking at a skatepark, most of which surround how much fun they will have skateboarding there and how the skatepark impacts their ability to get better at skating. The best skateparks have these elements for consideration:
What obstacles are at the skatepark?
Not all skateparks are created equal and the best skateparks feature unique skate obstacles or obstacles that mimic what is found in street skating. While many skaters are vert or transition skaters and favor ramps, mini ramps, full pipes, half pipes, and snake runs, most skaters favor skate plaza-like skateparks that mimic plaza architecture found in street skating. A street course or “street section” is only complete with manual pads, ledges, and stair sets.
Skatepark Design is Everything
Skatepark design goes beyond just what obstacles are at a skatepark but also things like if the skatepark is beginner friendly, with intermediate and advanced obstacles to fit any skater’s skill set. Is there shade? A place to sit that doesn’t leave you in the way? Is there a water fountain? A good parking lot? These are all factors that the average person might not consider when they are passing by a skatepark. Additionally, the cement quality at a skatepark is a huge factor. Many of the new skateparks are very slippery while many of the older skateparks were made of poorer cement that was easily damaged by bmx.
Free Skatepark versus Paid Skatepark
While some of the best skateparks are paid skateparks, it is generally not always a good thing for there to be a financial barrier for skaters to be able to skate at a skatepark. It’s for this reason we’re going to leave off the majority of pay to skate skateparks from this list. That being said, the majority of the best skateparks are free to skate either way. So lucky for you, we’re listing them all right here.
Los Angeles is always going to be a home for skateboarding and some of the world’s best skateparks. It’s also widely credited as one of the first cities to prioritize “skate plaza” like obstacles and other obstacles like full pipes coveted by skaters.
Stoner Skate Plaza: Stoner Skate Plaza made this list for several reasons. The first being it has become a cultural hub for some of skating’s most influential skaters. The average skater can go here a few days in a row and it’s practically guaranteed you’ll see several of the skate industry’s biggest pros skating right alongside you. The park also has an array of manual pads, ledges, and a street section akin to hubbas and rails found in LA. It can get crowded at peak hours but that just speaks to how great of a skatepark it is.
North Hollywood Skate Plaza: North Hollywood Skate Plaza is one of the most notorious skateparks in LA, some of which is not for the best reasons. That being said, NOHO park was one of the first skate plaza skateparks in LA, funded and built by Rob Dyrdek, and has since been seen in television shows, movies, and documentaries. It features a plaza layout with a great mix of ledges, manual pads, and stair sets. However, it is not considered beginner friendly, but that’s partly also why more experienced skaters love this park. They don’t have to worry about newbies getting in the way or mistreating their park and the culture is true to what it means to dedicate your life to skateboarding.
Chevy Chase Skatepark: Chevy Chase, otherwise known as “Chevy,” is one of everyone’s favorite skateparks. While its transition section is limited, the park has a great ledge section with a unique bank to ledge turned manual pad you won’t find at other parks. Slippery ground can help you slide instead of slam and the fresh coping of newer parks benefits anyone trying to better their ledge or hubba game. This park also has lights, a great pyramid, a flat bar, and a table top section for skaters to enjoy for hours on end.
Westchester Berrics Skatepark: The private indoor skatepark of The Berrics, was once one of the most exclusive skateparks in the world, so much so they decided to build a public skatepark all skaters could enjoy. The Westchester Berrics Skatepark is one of the most unique parks in Los Angeles in terms of obstacles and lay out. It features an array of 3 stairs, long ledges, and shoot out rails not typically seen at most LA skateparks. It’s a skatepark worthy of The Berrics name and is also one of the few skateparks to have lights in Los Angeles. It’s location is also a bit out of the hustle and bustle of LA, so it tends to not be super crowded like some of these other parks.
Venice Beach Skatepark: The Venice Beach skatepark might be the most recognizable skatepark in the world given the amount of content produced here. That being said, it has some of the best collections of bowls and pools in the world. Celebrating the pool skating heritage born in DogTown Venice, the skatepark endures as one of LA’s finest. That being said, with so many tourists always present, it can sometimes feel like you’re skating in a fishbowl.
El Sereno Skatepark: El Serrano is one of the newer skate plazas in LA, and because of that it’s one of the most popular. With a great layout, the park has several rail obstacles leading into quarter pipes and manual pads for a flow of lines any street skater will love. The double set with two rails, a euro gap to ledge and it’s infamous text-book spine, are all obstacles you’ll see a host of local pro skaters enjoy daily. This park is also one of the few to have lights and a nearby basketball court turned DIY.
Pedlow Skatepark: Pedlow Skatepark is one of the oldest skateparks in the world and easily deserving of this list for that fact alone. The older skateparks like Pedlow were made with harder cement, built to stand the test of time. But somehow its designers were decades ahead with obstacles akin to today’s skate plazas. With a snake run, a humongous bowl, and an entire street section, Pedlow endures as one of LA’s best skateparks. Not to mention the graffiti here is amazing.
Garvanza Skatepark: You can’t mention a skatepark in Los Angeles and not take into account the skaters who go there. That’s why we included Garvanza skateparks on this list as it is the home park for some of LA’s most famous pro skaters. Known as G-Park, this park has a simple yet Devine layout, with a pyramid, bump to ledge, 6-stair, and flat bar. That being said, what makes this park famous is its pool on the upper deck. Complete with graffiti and pool coping, this bowl even makes the pages of skate magazines like Thrasher Magazine.
Huntington Beach Skatepark: Huntington Beach skatepark deserves an honorable mention of the skatepark that came before it. For most skaters today, the old Huntington Park was gone before we got to skate it, but those who did talk about how Tom Penny, Andrew Reynolds, and other skate greats could be seen there frequently. Today, there are several Huntington Beach Skateparks, all worthy of the legacy the first park created. We recommend the Vans Huntington Beach Skatepark.
Etnies Skatepark of Lake Forest: This skatepark has played host to some of the best GO SKATEBOARDING DAY contest over the years. As one of the most complete skateparks ever built, with over 40,000 square feet of skateable terrain, the Etnies Lake Forest skatepark has every obstacle for your heart’s desire; including an entire street course with eurogaps, bump to rails, ledges for lines of every size, it’s literally impossible to include everything this skatepark has to offer. The only thing is helmets are required and this park is always under supervision. Many parents will prefer such a park and we have taught many students here with great success.
For many skaters, San Diego will be their preferred destination in California as being home to a bounty of great skateparks. They are clean and family friendly, which some skaters will find counter intuitive to more gritty and authentic skateparks. Nonetheless, some of these parks are the best in the world and free to skate. It’s no wonder places like Oceanside and Encinitas produced skaters like Tony Hawk and Christian Hosoi.
Carlsbad Skatepark: There may be a more infamous skatepark than the Carlsbad skatepark when it comes to pro skaters who’ve skated this park over the decades. Not every park on this list has literally skate heritage, and while that is enough on its own to warrant a session when in SD, the park has a unique blend of banks, rails, stairs and curbs, that while although somewhat small, foster in each skater a great foundation to build on as a skater. A great mix of transition and street, skaters who come out of Carlsbad are very well rounded.
Linda Vista Skate Park: Linda Vista skatepark is something out of a Tony Hawk’s video game. At nearly 35,000 square feet, it’s the largest skatepark in San Diego, let alone one of the largest in California. The park has a massive street course, a snake run, several bowls and even a full pipe. It sits upon a beautiful natural landscape of palm trees and with the cool San Diego weather, this skatepark is open all year round. As one of the most progressive skateparks in the world, its helped further the skate skills of thousands of skateboarders.
Washington Street Skatepark: The Washington Street Skatepark appears nearly on every top 10 California skatepark list and almost always as number one for San Diego, and deservingly so. Located under the Pacific Highway, the skatepark is a skateboarding only park run by local skaters, so be prepared to be under the scope when you arrive. The park is continuously evolving as its dedicated builders introduce new obstacles for crazy kink lines, coffin drops, keyholes, and bowls bigger than most traditional skateparks. Skate with caution and observe for ample time before dropping in if you’re a beginner.
Rancho Penasquitos Skate Park: One of the things that makes San Diego skateparks so great is the amount of money that goes into these parks with a more affluent civilization. So parks like Rancho Penasquitos stand out from other parks throughout the world. Built with some of the highest craftsmanship and desirable street obstacles, this skatepark is a must skate when in sunny San Diego. With a mix of terrain, the park has a concrete mini, larger stair sets and hubbas peppered throughout its mix of ledges and pyramids. It truly has everything for a skater to enjoy and is considered more beginner friendly than many of the skateparks on this list.
Encinitas Skate Plaza: Skill level is going to play a factor if you’re looking to skate the pool and bowls of the Encinitas Skate Plaza. Throughout the year, this skatepark plays host to a number of skate contests, and deservingly so. The obstacles here are perfect with some of the best pools and bowls in the world. That being said, the park gets the plaza title nod for also having a complete street section, making for one of the best skateparks on this list.
The Inland Empire is the other main county in Southern California besides San Diego and is home to some of the oldest, most unique skateparks in the world. You can visit every skatepark and no two skateparks are completely alike.
Ayala “Chino” Skatepark: Maybe you haven’t heard of “Ayala” Park but you’ve definitely seen it on some of your favorite skater’s Instagrams. This Chino Skatepark is absolutely huge and features amazing pool skating and street skating obstacles, including an infamous step-up launching you into a huge bowl section, an 6-block handrail, and some of the best pyramids back-to-back for an incredible flow. There’s also a great mini ramp and pool section in the back of the park but it should be known this park can sometimes get crowded with BMX and skaters. Be vigilant and avoid collisions. This park is also known to enforce skate pads(knee pads and helmet) with frequent police encounters but it hasn’t stopped thousands of skaters enjoying this park every year.
Martin Luther King Jr. “Palomares” Skatepark: Palomares skatepark in Pomona California isn’t the largest skate park but it is pretty off the wall when it comes to IE style skateparks. It has one of the most complete street sections for an Inland Empire skatepark, which often sees a priority of pool and bowl skating than street. A Pier-7 style manual pad welcomes you into a street course, leading to a table top funbox and 10 stair handrail. Double sets and hubbas are also throughout the park, flat bars, ledges, and even one large quarter pipe to get your juices flowing.
Upland Skatepark: How many skateparks can say they made the front page of a newspaper when they opened? Well, Upland Skatepark can, they even had Tony Hawk cut the ribbon tape. Upland skatepark is one of the few skateparks that hosts a full size full pipe. It’s honestly a marvel just to visit, with a 13-foot drop in and some of the gnarliest photos ever shot at a skatepark. There is also a complete street section here, with stair sets, ledges and flat bars for all to enjoy.
It feels like the higher up the coast you go, the more unique the skateparks get. Infusing their surf culture roots, the coastal skateparks will be some of the most intuitive parks to skate in the world. The more inland, mountainous and city skateparks do the same, but in a different way. There’s truly not a more unique set of skateparks than the ones found in Northern California.
Mammoth Lakes Skate Park: Mammoth Lakes Skatepark is one of those skateparks every skater should visit. What makes this skatepark unique is its design is something you would find in a skater’s dreams, with wavy and bulbous foundations that lead you into pockets of ramps and downhill jams. The cement is also made extremely well to endure the snow seasons of mammoth and akin to the amazing mountains in the area, the pools, bowls and ramps are mountainous in size.
Granite Skatepark Sacramento: When you think about great skateparks in California, you might not be thinking of Sacramento. And that would be a mistake. Granite skatepark is a sprawling skatepark with an incredible flow that leads you skating from one obstacle to the next with ease. Imagine skating down a six stair, hitting a shoot out hubba then landing into a curved bowl that takes you perfectly into a mini ramp pump section… Yeah, that’s Granite skatepark in Sacramento.
SoMa West, San Francisco: SoMa West is one of the most authentic skate parks in the world. Under a bridge, the local skaters enjoy a plethora of street style skate obstacles with connecting transitions of ramps, pools and bowls as unique as the city of SF. With graffiti and a robust environment of local skaters, SoMa West is a must-see for anyone traveling in the Bay Area.
Bakersfield Vans Skatepark: This skatepark can sometimes feel like it’s in the middle of nowhere, but it has served many local skaters over the years as a great skatepark. With one of the most unique design layouts, the sprawling open park has a great spine to spine section, with huge quarter pipes and banks for you to pump and maintain high speeds. The pool in the back is one of the most realistic pools in the world, made with pool coping and hard cement found only in the backyards of California homes.
Lake Cunningham Regional Skate Park, San Jose: While this skatepark has the obtuse title of “sports park” it is certainly a skatepark to behold. With towering spines, a complex system of bowls, and a street section that can sometimes seem puny next to the transition section, Lake Cunningham is a gem for the local San Jose community. That being said, it doesn’t open to 3pm and seems to be heavily observed by the local ordinance. So skate accordingly.
Potrero Skatepark, Bay Area: Potrero skatepark is a masterpiece to behold in terms of skate history and how skateparks evolved from their earlier days. We have a ton of plaza’s on this list and Potrero is anything but a plaza. Imagine pouring concrete on the hills of San Francisco for some of the most unique transfers and transition skating found in the world. Made especially famous from the late-great Jake Phelps, this skatepark holds a special place in the heart of skateboarding.
Santa Barbara Skatepark: Many people traveling from Los Angeles to San Francisco might just pass over Santa Barbara for the surf town of Santa Cruz, and that would be a huge mistake. This skatepark hosts a unique set of obstacles for local skaters to enjoy, including a hip to 3 stair that appears like something out of a European city. A complex system of pyramids, down ledges and great coping, make this skatepark a great stop on your California tour. Oh did we mention it’s right by the boardwalk?
Did we mention we have the largest skatepark directory sourced from over 3000 skateboarding instructors around the world? We’ve got the most popular skateparks from the most popular states and countries, so no matter what part of the globe you’re in, you’re just a few clicks away from finding your new favorite skatepark. Call up a friend or hire one of our instructors and GOSKATE!