Skateboarding is as iconic as surfing in southern California. In fact, you can trace its roots all the way back to the 1950s when surfers tried to find a way to “landsurf” while the tide was flat. This gave birth to modern day skateboarding. And the sport just continued to grow and evolve from there with the Golden State, and Los Angeles in particular, at its center.
In 1963, the first Skateboarding Championships were hosted in L.A. These championships distinguished between the “hotdoggers,” who loved to perform tricks and the “hill riders,” who preferred to ride down hills at high speeds. These two skateboarding distinctions can still be seen today in the popularity of skateparks and the emergence of longboarding, which branched off the hill riders. As the skateboard improved and became easier to maneuver, the sport became increasingly popular, and led to skateparks popping up all around the nation.
It was during this time that skateboarders like Martin Potter and Tony Hawk brought skating into the mainstream, and competitive skating, like the X Games, exploded on to the scene. Throughout all of this, Southern California, and more notably, Los Angeles remained on the center stage and had skaters flocking in from around the world to skate at the famous skateparks where the sport began.
Los Angeles alone has 21 city skateparks, and out on the streets, it’s quite the norm to see skaters weaving through traffic and around pedestrians. Here are the top five L.A. skate parks that have amp in their ramp and shouldn't be missed on your next visit—even if only to watch.
1. Venice Beach Skatepark
A quintessential, oceanfront skatepark, Venice Beach Skate Park is always packed with skateboarders young and old, rookie and seasoned. While the views outside the park are pretty amazing to behold, the ones you catch in the park will often take your breath area. With a variety of features from concrete stairs, snake runs, and deep pools, this 20,000 square-foot park is just calling out for skateboarders to perform all kinds of tricks. Best people watching place around. If you want to try your hand at skateboarding, just don’t forget your helmet!
You’ll find skateboarders like Matt LeMond, Blake Johnson, and Leandre Sanders practicing here. Stop by for a ride so you can watch them live instead of on your YouTube channel.
2. The Cove
At 20,000 square-feet, the Cove is the perfect spot for skateboarders to drop into a deep bowl and reach optimum speeds to grind, flip, slide, shove, and pop up on the lip. Even if you are not a skateboarder, it’s fun to go down and watch. The tricks are quite impressive to bystanders. This Santa Monica skate park boasts not only bowls, but ramps, stairs, and room to move as well, which makes it must-visit destination for any skateboarder in L.A.
Skatelab makes you feel like you just stepped into one of Tony Hawk’s Underground video game series, but it’s actually real life. The park, which opened its doors in 1997, was originally designed by Team Pain and built by local volunteer skaters. It’s now one of the oldest skateparks in the region, and home to the Skateboard Museum, the Skateboard Hall of Fame, and an indoor skatepark, which has four, fun, and different sections for skateboarders to explore. Get inspired to hit the park by purusing the museum's 5,000 vintage skateboards and learning about the sport's legends. Located in Simi Valley, the park offers day passes for $17.00 and annual passes for $49.00. All safety gear is available for rent.
4. Belvedere Skatepark
At first glance, this skatepark may not seem as impressive as the iconic parks of Venice Beach or Santa Monica. But this East L.A. community skatepark has some tricks up its sleeve. Upon skating it, skateboarders realize the joys of wide wall rides and playing on the ample street course sections. If you are looking to improve your transition game, this is the spot. It’s a fun concrete jungle and one of the best skateparks in East L.A.
5. Culver City Skatepark
Culver City Skatepark is slightly smaller than the other skateparks, ranging from 10 to 15,000 square-feet, but boasts one of the best skatepark pools in Los Angeles. It's clover-shaped pool has two six-foot pockets that make tricks here challenging and fun. The park also has a semi-half pipe, and a variety of obstacles—rails, stairs, and ledges—along their street courses. The park is usually open until sunset and has staff members on duty. Helmets and pads are required within the park.
Originally written for Discover Los Angeles.