Is there a global past time so enduringly, undeniably cool as skateboarding? If there is, we haven’t found it. Channeling a rebellious, daredevil streak, but also requiring great strength and skill, and as comfortable playing out to a soundtrack of punk as it is to hip hop, this is one versatile, veritable hobby. So, whether you’re confident on deck or you haven’t made your first ollie yet, or you’re happy watching from the side of the ramp and simply want to get immersed in the culture, there’s something here for you; our 5 IDEAL skating locations around the world.
We had to start here, just as the modern skate scene did. Los Angeles is the spiritual home of the sport (we can call it that now; the Tokyo Olympics 2020 is set to feature skateboarding), where bonafide, household name superstars like Tony Hawk emerged, channeling the street style and tricks of the Z-Boys and Dogtown area of the city, in the 1980s. Now, Venice Beach is the heart of the action, with the £3 million Venice Skatepark celebrating its tenth anniversary this month.
And though that particular spot is one of the world’s only (and largest) skateparks housed on a beach, it shouldn’t be the only place you head to pull tricks. The Garvanza Skate Park in the north of LA offers an enormous bowl perfect for experienced heads looking to extend their game, and the Vans Off The Wall Skate Park at Huntington Beach houses a combi which even raises the pulses of the pros. Simply put, this city is still the mecca for skaters.
Though late to the party and still playing catch up, London has become a hugely popular, influential destination for skaters in recent years. This is shown by the flipped fate of Southbank Undercroft. The unofficial skateboarding venue was for years under threat of expulsion, but a one and a half year campaign from charity Long Live Southbank and a crowdfunding campaign to the tune of £800’000 later, and the site has been saved, upgraded and restored. The city has followed suit, with skateparks springing up all over town, from Acton to Deptford and beyond, and we can’t get enough of it. There’s just something about the sometimes gloomy, gritty urban backdrop that so succinctly suits the scene’s ubiquitous videos of tricks landed and lost.
It’s not just boarding whose popularity is rising exponentially in the capital. The street skating nature of the city’s skateparks also lends itself to inline skating and roller blading. Check out the famous South Kensington skate shop Slick Willie’s guide on How To Use Inline Skates here, if you’re looking to expand your repertoire on wheels.
We couldn’t mention street skating without bringing up Barcelona. To say the city’s skate scene is iconic would be to put things mildly; some even go as far the say the epicentre of world skateboarding is here. That special place is out front of the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, affectionately known as MACBA, and the scene of some of the most amazing tricks ever pulled off. It’s also a modern day meeting point for skate culture in general. What’s not to love, hey? Though the famous spot has just two dedicated days where skating is ‘permitted’ (that’s Tuesdays and Sundays from 2:30pm), it’s busy every day and at any time. Just ollie over the cops if they give you hassle.
Don’t stop there though; head to Parc del Forum close to Barceloneta and the city’s beaches, where there’s a lively skate scene, too. And the Skate Park De La Mar Bella offers a more conventional opportunity to board, with ramps and bowls and plenty going off here.
From truly established to something a little more up and coming, we think. Tel Aviv is a city which is pedestrian friendly, to say the least. Equally, cycling and greener modes of transport are actively encouraged. There’s plenty of flat terrain (and just the right amount of steep downhills, too) and all of this has led to a thriving skating community. The beach boardwalk, in particular, is a magnet for skateboarders looking to give a few tricks.
To get immersed in this burgeoning scene, your first stop should be Galit Park, in Tel Aviv-Yafo. Close by is the influential skate shop and hangout Noiz if you’re looking to make friends or upgrade trucks. Though not as fully fledged as LA or BCN, it’s exciting to get amongst something on the rise, right?
Three years ago Melbourne City Council spent $450’000 on resurfacing popular skating spot Lincoln Square to make it inhospitable to the city’s many, many skaters. But rather than capitulate and abandon the sport, the city bounced back, and the skate scene here has gone from strength to strength since in reaction.
The Skate Melbourne Plan is a foundation dedicated to making the city a destination for board enthusiasts, and they’re doing great things getting public recognition for spots previously devoted to more mundane use. The focus here is on street skating, and some of the best places to catch a glimpse (or trick, if you have the skills) include the Refo Stairs in Market Street and Flagstaff on Melbourne Street. The dedicated parks here are pretty amazing too; check out Frankston for the best bowls in the Southern Hemisphere and Geelong for a great mix of street and park rails and ramps.