From the very first skate park, the Carlsbad Skatepark, which opened on March 3, 1976 until now, San Diego has been at the forefront of the skateboard world. While free, public skate parks all but disappeared in the 90s, now there are several dozen located around the county.
It is among these concrete bowls and tabletops where the careers of some of the most influential skateboarders in history - Tony Hawk, Christian Hosoi, Danny Way, Alphonzo Rawls and countless others - were launched. San Diego also birthed the modern skateboard industry. Brands such as Transworld, DC, Toy Machine, Zero and dozens of others have called San Diego home because of its rich skateboard community.
Here is a list of the best free skate parks the San Diego area has to offer.
10. Robb Field
The OG park that started the modern movement. When it was built in 1998, there was only one other park under construction. While not as new as the other city parks, its location and access to all skill levels keep it in the top 10.
2525 Bacon St., Ocean Beach
9. Len Moore
This is Chula Vista’s best skate park. Its bowls and street course make it appealing to all skill levels. There’s nothing too big here to be intimidating, so bring the kids out for a fun day.
1301 Oleander Ave., Chula Vista
8. Lakeside Skatepark
For such a small footprint, this park has an impressive amount of good stuff to offer.
If you walk around the lake you would almost miss it if not for 45-year-old dudes with bad tattoos and the sounds of Social Distortion playing on the ghetto blaster.
12660 Lindo Lane, Lakeside
This is a fun park and was one of the first public, free parks built in the early 2000s. It’s been a community asset for years and is a huge asset to the area’s youth. This park has produced more pros than any other in the county. This is what a community park should be.
702 South 30th St., Logan Heights
6. Alga Norte
This new park opened in late 2013 and is a great community park. It gets really crowded on weekends and there are a lot of little kids to keep an eye on, so be cautious.
2560 Orion Way, Carlsbad
5. Pala Skatepark
Built in 2012, the Pala Skatepark is a transition skater’s paradise and being way out in Fallbrook, it is always uncrowded. It’s worth a look, so grab the family and plan a weekend of wine tasting, gambling at the casino and shredding the park.
12196 Pala Mission Road, Pala
4. Rancho Peñasquitos Skatepark
Local skateboard pro Willy Santos helped get this park approved and built. It has a great layout with something for everyone. This is a great example of a city working with skateboarders to get it right.
10111 Carmel Mountain Road, Rancho Peñasquitos
3. Alex Road Skatepark (AKA Prince Park)
This is one of the newest parks around San Diego County and it straight up rips. It has fun bowls, great transitions and is great for all skill levels. It’s always packed with lots of locals and Oceanside skate pros, so bring your patience and leave the little ones at home.
Northwest corner of Alex Road and Foussat Road, Oceanside
2. Encinitas Skate Plaza
This park was 15 years in the making and it doesn’t disappoint. The 13,000 square-foot skate park is part of the 44-acre Encinitas Community Park that opened at the beginning of 2015. Cheers to local Encinitas skateboarder Tommy Barker for keeping the dream alive and lending a big hand in getting the park built.
425 Santa Fe Drive, Encinitas
1. Washington Street Skatepark
This is the gnarliest park in Southern California. Unlike the other parks in the city, this one was built by a small group of skateboarders who formed a nonprofit, raised all the funds and did all the work themselves. It’s widely known as one of the best skate parks in the world. Caution: Experts only.
West Washington Street under the Pacific Coast Highway bridge
YMCA Encinitas Skate Park
This park at the Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA was all San Diego had in the early 2000s. It’s an amazing park that was home base for many local pros. Rates are $2 a day for members and $10 for nonmembers.
200 Saxony Road, Encinitas. ecke.ymcs.org