Skateboarding traces its roots back to the 1950s in Southern California and is as iconic to SoCal as surfing. Skateboarding's history got its start among surfers who wanted a way to surf on land during the times when they couldn't surf the waves. Later, L.A. hosted the first skateboarding championship in 1963, where the distinction between "hotdoggers" (skaters who prefer aerial tricks and stunts) and "hill riders" (skaters who prefer downhill skating) came from.
Finding the Skateparks
As skateboarding started catching on throughout the 1980s, skateboarding pros like Tony Hawk and Rodney Mullen, along with fellow skateboarders in the area, brought more recognition to the sport. In the early 1990s, though, skateboarding started losing the popularity it had gained. However, with the advent of extreme sports and the X Games in 1995, new interest grew.
Before the advocation of building parks just for skaters, many enthusiasts for the sport didn't have many options for skate areas other than street skating throughout different parts of the city. This all changed with the first skatepark, and since then, you can now find skateparks throughout Southern California that can challenge every skill level. Some are open to the public with no entry fees, and some skateparks require a small fee. No matter what you're looking for, though, these 10 skateparks have enough to keep you active all day long.
1. Venice Beach Skatepark
Venice Beach Skatepark sits oceanside and only a short walk away from the Venice boardwalk. This skatepark takes its design from the streets, providing enough rails, ledges, and bowls for you to perfect your skate techniques. Venice Beach skatepark also has a story, its history popularized and brought to mainstream attention through Stacey Peralta's documentary in 2001 titled "Dogtown and Z Boys," making this locale one of skaters' favorites to visit.
Moorpark, or "M.P." to the locals, sits within a section of the Poindexter Park and has a few features that are favorites among skaters. For one, Moorpark has an area solely for the novice to perfect their basic understanding of skateboarding. There's also a pool-style bowl for more skilled skaters with a concrete M at the tallest, steepest point. That's not all, though. With ledges, rails, and more street-style elements throughout the skatepark, Moorpark has enough challenges for every skill level.
3. Arthur Johnson Skatepark (Gardena)
The locals refer to the Arthur Johnson Skatepark simply as Gardena, which sits amid a collection of parks in the neighborhood. Gardena's design is a street plaza, giving skaters elements like rails, stairs, ledges, and banks, which resemble the city structures that street skaters are at home skating on. The 7,000-square-foot skatepark opened in 2012 and also features flat banks for relaxed cruising.
4. Garvanza Skatepark
The Garvanza Skatepark is a smaller locale in northeastern Los Angeles. Garvanza is one of the only skateparks in L.A. that offers a truly vintage-style skate experience with its best feature: a classic pool-style bowl deep and steep enough for advanced skaters to perfect their techniques. This gritty element isn't the only feature Garvanza has, either. More mellow features like flat banks, low rails, and other skate surfaces befit beginner-level skaters.
5. Stoner Skate Plaza
Stoner Skate Plaza (it's named after the street it's on) came to fruition through the continuous advocating of building community skateparks for SoCal's local skating enthusiasts. Inspired by the features of the West Los Angeles Courthouse, Stoner Skate Plaza gives skaters a unique skatepark design modeled after city structures like rails, stairs, ledges, sidewalks, and more.
6. El Sereno Skatepark
The El Sereno Skatepark sits in a picturesque area of Los Angeles in the community of El Sereno. Greenery surrounds this skatepark design, which features elements like stairs, manual pads, hubbas, rails, hips, flat banks, and transitional skating elements. El Sereno has seen many improvements to the park over the past few years, including the new addition of bathrooms so visitors can skate here longer. If you're looking for a scenic spot to rip it up, El Sereno is the place to go.
7. Encinitas "Poods" Park
Encinitas, or Poods, Park (after the skater Ian "Poods" Barry), on Santa Fe Drive in downtown L.A. features a 34,000-square-foot skate plaza home to an open-plan skating design. The park hosts a clover-shaped pool, ledges, rails, hips, banks, and more in its open area. The park is open from 8 a.m. until sunset, which gives you the entire day to explore this favorite skate spot.
8. Redlands Skatepark
Redlands Skatepark is another popular location for skaters to visit. This park features your basic skate elements, including rails, ledges, benches, and stairs, and is home to a large pool-style bowl for more advanced skaters. Beginners mastering the basics will find this skatepark an excellent location for developing their skateboarding skills, as there are plenty of flatter banks for cruising and perfecting balance. Shady areas spot the park and give you a nice area to take a break from the sun, and the posted safety requirements ensure everyone who skates is secure at all times.
Skatelab opened in 1997 and is one of the oldest skateparks in downtown Los Angeles. The members of Team Pain were the original designers of this indoor skatepark, which features fenced-in areas with rails, slides, hips, flat banks, ramps, steps, and more. Several bowls spot the park, too, for skilled riders. The park is also home to the Skateboard Museum and Hall of Fame, where you can learn about the history of the sport and view the 5,000 vintage skateboards that the museum has on display.
10. Vans "Off the Wall"
Vans "Off the Wall" is a skatepark in Huntington Beach and provides a laid-back skating vibe for enthusiasts from all over SoCal and the surrounding areas. Constant sea breezes, scenic views of the coast, and a supportive skate community make this skatepark a must-see for anyone who owns a skateboard. You'll find smooth concrete, dips, bowls, sloped terrain, rails, hips, steps, ledges, benches, and more. Vans H.B. (as the locals refer to it) also has an extensive street-style skating plaza with more features for every skill level. The park's bowls are interconnected, giving skaters challenging transitions to perfect their skills.
Los Angeles is definitely a hub of skateboarding activity, and many skaters who started in the streets of L.A. have been known to frequent many of these spots. For more skateparks, check out Joey Brezinski's skatepark review series, where you'll get intel on the best (and the not-so-great) parks in Los Angeles, San Diego, and other Southern California areas.
Today, you can still see the early fundamentals and vintage roots in modern skating. So if you're looking for a place to rip, grind, and improve your skate skills, these 10 skateparks are excellent places to start. Skaters of all skill levels will find something in L.A.'s many skateparks, and if you're in the mood, take a break and watch the action. You never know: you might just meet the next Tony Hawk.