San Diego is home to a healthy skateboard-oriented community that has dozens of city-built skate parks for you to enjoy for free.
That's right, just like tennis courts or soccer fields, you can enjoy the freedom of skating at your own leisure with no hit to your bank account.
While most people are fine with buying a boardwalk cruiser at the local skate shop, some people want to get more out of their experience. Many see the bowls and transitions of the local skate park and want to try it but feel intimidated by the abundance of youth or the difficulty of the terrain.
There is no better time than the present to shake off your phobia and go check out the park in your neighborhood. Before you do, here are some tips that will make your experience much more enjoyable.
Know your limits and make sure you choose a park that will fit your ability. If you're just starting out, you may want to find a park that has low impact features and small transitions. These parks have more little kids and smaller crowds so they're perfect for you to test your boundaries and get a feel for the terrain.
Before you go into any park, even the ones where pads are not required, do yourself a favor and pad up. It doesn't matter if you're experienced or not, a helmet and pads are always a good idea as even the best skateboarders have hit their heads or broken an elbow. Don't ruin your summer by trying to look cool; embrace the safety equipment and you'll be more confident as you avoid those unforeseen injuries.
Free skate parks
Robb Field Ocean Beach
Address: 2525 Bacon St., Ocean Beach
Phone: (619) 531-1563
Rancho Peñasquitos Skate Park
Address: 10111 Carmel Mountain Road, Rancho Peñasquitos
Phone: (858) 538-8131
Charles L. Lewis III Memorial Skate Park
Address: 6610 Potomac St., San Diego
Phone: (619) 527-3419
Carmel Valley Skate Park
Address: 12600 El Camino Real, Carmel Valley
Phone: (858) 552-1616
Bill and Maxine Wilson Skate Park
Address: 702 S. 30th St., San Diego
Phone: (619) 235-1125
San Diego skate shops
Address: 756 Thomas Ave., Pacific Beach
Address: 4645 Cass St. #102, Pacific Beach
Address: 11658 Carmel Mountain Road, Carmel Mountain Ranch
Address: 465 17th St., East Village
Skate parks can get crowded so spend your first 10 minutes watching the flow of traffic and see which people are tearing around the park. This will help you see the spots you will want to avoid or the parts of the park that may be out of your skill level. While there are no written rules for etiquette, fall back to your sense of common courtesy and give small kids or better skaters the right of way if you're in one part of the park learning your moves. Be safe, be patient, and most of all, have fun.
As a lifelong San Diegan, Ken Lewis has surfing and ocean life in his DNA. A 30-year surfer himself, Lewis has worked in the surf and skate industry for most of his career. Send him thoughts about the surfing and fitness worlds to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Instagram @hanger18.