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A Gnarly Guide to Skateboarding in California

There’s no sport more closely linked with California than skateboarding. It was first developed by surfers near Los Angeles in the 1950s. Throughout the years, the state has nurtured top skateboard stars, companies and iconic skateparks. Today, California is the undisputed global center of skateboard culture. Visitors can get a taste of the skateboard lifestyle throughout the state at parks, shops and events.

Best Spots to Skateboard

Caldwell Skate Park
Old and new sit side-by-side at Redding’s Caldwell Skate Park. The older course has classic snake runs, while the new section designed by Dreamland and built by California Skateparks debuted in 2022 with obstacles designed to help skaters pick up new skills fast. Get outfitted to skate at Ray’s Board Shop. Owner Ray is a local icon who’s been shredding for 30 years.

Eureka Waterfront Trail
The 6.5-mile Waterfront Trail along Eureka’s Humboldt Bay is a draw for “onewheel” style skateboarders. As a flat, paved trail, it allows for continuous use of the electric skateboards that many skaters have shifted to in the last decade.

Del Norte County
Grab your longboard and skate along the ocean at the Crescent City Harbor Trail or practice your backside grabs at Del Norte Skatepark located within Peterson Park. In downtown Crescent City, swing by Local Boys Surf & Skate for some new gear as a souvenir of your adventures in Del Norte County.

Truckee Time
Kick and push your way to fun by hitting the Truckee Skatepark. With a great layout and flawless transitions, it’s one of the top places to skate in the region. During summer Boreal Mountain turns into a skateboarder’s heaven with three skateparks featuring ledges, wall rides, mini ramps and concrete bowls. In-town skaters will enjoy browsing through Arbor Tahoe, Totally Board and the Truckee Boardhouse shops.

Morgan Hill
In southern Silicon Valley, the focus is on tricks instead of tech at the 15,000 sq. ft. Morgan Hill Skateboard/BMX Park. The park boasts street-style elements and a bowl and flow course. If you’re just getting started, take a lesson from the experts at Goskate.

With its “vert” bowl and rails, the Pacifica Skatepark is a favorite with boarders of all ages and levels in the Bay area. With views of the Pacific Ocean, its setting is hard to beat.

With four skateparks, Fresno has something to offer for all levels of skateboarders. The Lion’s Den Skatepark is the city’s oldest and features 30,000 sq. ft of street and transition obstacles. The Todd Beamer Skatepark sports a multi-level bowl, half-bowl and quarter pipes in addition to a street course. The Romain Park Skatepark is smaller and offers many street-inspired obstacles, while the Clovis Rotary Skatepark has a mix of transition and street obstacles.

Santa Barbara
It’s hard to beat the seaside skating in Santa Barbara. The Chase Palm Park offers a half-pipe, quarter-pipe, “taco” bowl, rails, pyramid and fun boxes, all with a spectacular view of the Pacific. In town, the Lighthouse Skateshop offers unique board designs from local artists.

Morro Bay
Skateboarding has an enduring legacy in Morro Bay. Back in the 1970s, a drainage ditch became such a popular spot to skate that it attracted boarders from all over California. Legendary skateboarder Jack Smith, who skateboarded across the country, opened the Morro Bay Skateboard Museum, which was a staple in the community for 8 years, sharing all about skateboard culture before it closed in 2020. Today the Morro Bay Skatepark is the place to perfect your tricks.

Lake Elsinore
The tiny town of Lake Elsinore is helping boarders serve up big tricks with bowls and a snake run at the skate park in McVicker Canyon Park. McVicker Canyon Skatepark is a 13,000-square-foot outdoor concrete skatepark that includes a bowl, snake run, street plaza and skateable stadium seating.

Santa Clarita
Get ready for a new skate of mind when you drop in at one of the largest skateparks in Southern California. The 40,000 sq. ft. park in Santa Clarita caters to all types of skateboarders with various ledges, stairs, planters, banks and other street obstacles. Experienced boarders can look to grab some backside air on the 9-foot and 6-foot clover bowls or the massive 10-foot square bowl.

With its unique embankments shaped like oranges to pay tribute to Anaheim’s agricultural history, The Palm Lane Skatepark is unlike any other. After catching air, boarders will want to gear up at the local Vans store. The iconic brand got its start in the 1960s in Anaheim.

Costa Mesa
The Los Angeles Times named the Costa Mesa Skatepark one of the best in Orange County. The 15,000 sq. ft. park features a kidney-shaped pool, bowl and street elements. 

Huntington Beach
With over 35,000 square feet of rails, bowls, stair sets, rollers, gaps, and more, The Vans Off the Wall Skatepark in Huntington Beach is one of the most fun places to skate in Southern California. The upper transition area and the lower street plaza are tied together by the iconic Vans checkerboard paving pattern that weaves throughout the entire park. Lessons are available.

When young Olympic hopeful Ruby Lily relocated to Oceanside to further her training, it was clear that O’side was on the inside for skateboarding culture. The Prince Memorial Skatepark is tops in the city for boarders of all abilities. If you’ve always wanted to skateboard but never learned as a kid, the Mission Pacific Hotel has you covered. The hotel offers a lesson where seasoned professionals like Neal Mims teach the fundamentals, from board stance and safety tips to even mastering your first ollie.

Skateboard Culture

Caffeine Fix
Back in the 1990s The Nautical Bean Coffee Co converted a surf shop into a skater punk-themed coffee house. Today the lively café is a staple in San Luis Obispo. Stop by for your favorite coffee drink, soak up the laid-back vibe, and check out the vintage skateboard decks and surfboards that adorn the walls.

X Marks the Spot
Get ready to see the best in the business when the X Games roll into Ventura for finals weekend, July 21-23, 2023. The weekend is jam-packed with competitions, live music and an interactive festival. More than 150 athletes will compete, including living legend and 10-time X Game Champion Tony Hawk.

World WCMX Championship
This December, the World WCMX (adaptive skateboarding) Championships come to Palm Springs. Riders use purpose-built wheelchairs called WCMX chairs to perform various tricks and stunts.

Dogtown Movement
Back in the 1970s a Santa Monica based surf team, known as “The Z-boys” began skateboarding to improve their surf moves. They quickly became full-time skaters, and they helped spark a national skateboard movement. Their old surf shop, The Zephyr, is an official landmark and is now the home of Dogtown Coffee. The café pays homage to the team and is a must-visit in the city for any skateboarder.

California’s First Skate Park
With legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk and newly minted Olympian Bryce Wettstein hailing from the San Diego area, this region is a hotbed of skateboard culture. Head to Carlsbad Skate Park, the state’s first skatepark opened in 1976. Today the facility has an area for beginners and features ramps, ledges, stairways, and bowls.


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