9 of the world's most amazing skate parks
These skateboarder havens defy the laws of gravity.
A few decades ago, when skateboarders had to seek out drained swimming pools if they wanted to skate somewhere besides the street, no one would have guessed that the skate-park phenomenon would soon sweep the globe. Today, newly minted collections of rails and ramps can be found in every major city and in many suburbs and small towns.
A few of these concrete paradises stand out above the rest because of sheer size, extreme features or strong history within the skating world. Take a tour of the best skateboard parks on earth.
1. Burnside Skate Park, Portland, Ore.
Burnside Skate Park, Portland, Ore. (Photo: Evan Lovely/Flickr)
Burnside Skate Park gets its name from Portland's Burnside Bridge, which crosses the Willamette River. The park sits directly under the bridge – a practical location, given the Pacific Northwest's wet weather.
Skaters first constructed Burnside without approval from the city of Portland. However, after they convinced authorities that the site was good for the community, it was officially sanctioned and went on to inspire the creation of skate parks in other communities. It has been featured in films like "Paranoid Park" and "Free Willy" and in more than one skating video game. Because of its high profile, some of the best skaters in the world come here to perfect their tricks.
2. Marseille Skate Park, Marseille, France
Marseille Skate Park, France. (Photo: Robert Cudmore/Flickr)
Thanks to a variety of features and a very expansive layout, Marseille Skate Park, in Southern France, is often considered one of the best parks in Europe. Even the graffiti here is of the highest quality. Deep bowls, multiple vert ramps and unique “terrain” elements make this a must-stop park for skaters from or visiting France. Though it is known for its welcoming locals, Marseille's steep features and the abundance of skilled riders can be intimidating. However, there is also a smaller area for less-experienced skaters.
3. Louisville Extreme Park, Louisville, Ky.
Louisville Extreme Park in Louisville, Ky. (Photo: sk8mama/Flickr)
Louisville Extreme Park sits in a central location near the Louisville Waterfront. Unlike many similar city skate parks, this one is open 24 hours per day. Owned and operated by the city of Louisville, the massive park is easily recognizable thanks to a 24-foot full pipe. Additional vert ramps, a street-style area and transition sections mean that any skater can find exactly the kind of feature they like. Though inline skaters and bikers also use the park, the 40,000-square-foot area usually allows enough room for everyone.
4. Skate Park Galit, Tel Aviv, Israel
Skate Park Galit, Tel Aviv. (Photo: David Shay/Wikimedia Commons)
The first concrete skate park in Israel, Skate Park Galit was built by a local skater with the help of landscape architects. Its bowls, ramps and street-skating section were an instant hit with local boarders. The success of Galit actually spawned a nationwide trend, with several other parks being constructed in a similar style. However, this 20,000-square-foot Tel Aviv park, located in the shadow of the Nokia Arena where the famed Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team plays, remains the best skate park in the country and one of the finest in the region.
5. Shaw Millennium Skate Park, Calgary, Canada
Shaw Millennium Skate Park. (Photo: Thank you for visiting my.../Flickr)
Calgary's Shaw Millennium Skate Park, sponsored by Canadian telecom giant Shaw Communications, is run by Calgary's recreation department. Like many other recently built parks, its most noticeable feature is a towering full pipe. Shaw also boasts rails, transitions, stairs and bowls. The skate park is the main event here, but Shaw and its surrounding areas are about more than skating – Calgary's popular ReggaeFest takes place on the grounds annually.
6. Skatehalle Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Berlin's Skatehalle. (Photo: Floriana/Flickr)
Located in the Berlin borough of Friedrichshain, Skatehalle Berlin is an indoor skate complex that is arguably one of the most impressive places to board in the world. Its 10-foot wall ride and massive half pipe (the largest in Germany) draw serious skaters from all around the continent. Skatehalle even hosts pro contests and photo and video shoots. In addition to its towering vert ramp, there is a street course with rails, stairs and a number of other features. Despite its impressive (and intimidating) design, this is not a bad place for the inexperienced to learn to skate. Workshops are hosted regularly for novices, with both German and English options available.
7. Venice Beach Skate Park, Venice Beach, Calif.
Venice Beach Skate Park sits on the edge of one of America's most legendary beaches, but the unbeatable location is only a part of its allure. This multi-million-dollar facility covers 16,000 square feet. It has two bowls, a snake run and a large street course. Venice draws serious skaters, and spectators are on hand most of the time. Helmet and pads are required for all skaters, but there is one major advantage: unlike many skate parks, bikes are not allowed here.
8. FDR Skate Park, Philadelphia
A Philadelphia original: FDR Skate Park. (Photo: MaryJanePoppins/Flickr)
FDR Skate Park was first built as a place to keep skaters "out of the way" of activities in nearby Love Park. The city set aside 16,000 square feet of space under an interstate highway bridge. However, the original layout did not appease skaters, who eventually took over the design process and created more challenging features, including deeper bowls, higher ramps and a better atmosphere (thanks to some quality graffiti). Having hosted major events like the Gravity Games skate competition in 2005, FDR has become much more than the “out of the way” spot it was first meant to be.
9. Lake Cunningham Regional Skate Park, San Jose, Calif.
Lake Cunningham Regional Skate Park, San Jose (Photo: Miles Gehm/Flickr)
Lake Cunningham is the center of San Jose's skating scene. This 68,000-square-foot skating space is the largest skate park in California, by a wide margin. It boasts the world's tallest full pipe, as well as one of the tallest vert walls and largest cradles on earth. A number of bowls and street features are also on the menu, and the park is designed so you can skate into different sections without losing your flow.
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