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Locals Only: San Diego Skate Spots

This page was last updated in March 1999. New info is in blue.

Here's where to go skating in San Diego. I know of a few places, but not as many as I'd like. That's where you come in. If you've just found a great bank at the local schoolyard, let us know by sending e-mail to webmaster@nosewheelie.com. If you want to send in stuff on places to skate anywhere, please feel free. What's the point of being on the World Wide Web if you can't take advantage of it.

Anywho, here's what we have so far.

Mission Beach/Pacific Beach Boardwalk

Directions: 8 west to West Mission Bay Drive. Take West Mission Bay Drive to Mission Blvd. From here you can turn either left or right, but there's more parking to the left in Mission Beach. From Mission Blvd. you're a block east of the beach and the Boardwalk. You can't miss it.

Mostly it's just flat sidewalk. There's even an 8 mph speed limit. To the north in Pacific Beach, up north of Crystal Pier, a cliff starts to rise above the beach giving you some mellow, but not too bad hills. To the south in Mission Beach, there are some cool little concrete planter boxes for the trees that are kind of cool for axle grinds. All together, not all that much. What makes it all worthwhile are lots of hard bodies cruising around on rollerblades.

The area in front of Hamel's at the foot of West Mission Bay Drive probably deserves special mention. As skate spots go, it's just a flat area of the street where the cops don't hassle you provided you don't push it. There are almost always some pretty decent shortboarders there, and a handful of longboarders and I practice tricks. Throw in a few bicycle freestylists, and the occasional session of a pro, like legendary freestylist Primo Desiderio, and it's a cool place to hang out and ride.

East Mission Bay

Directions: From 5 north take Sea World Drive and turn right on East Mission Bay Drive. From 5 South, take the East Mission Bay Drive exit. From East Mission Bay Drive, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a parking lot. Finding an open spot, especially on the weekends, now that's another story.

Mostly, just flat sidewalk and an 8 mph speed limit, just like Mission Beach/Pacific Beach. One difference is that the scenery isn't as good. You still get the hard bodies, but you also get the older crowd, who think they have hard bodies. The only real highlight is on the south end, just north of Fiesta Island. There's a cool little bank that's about ten or twelve feet high on one end. The concrete's pretty smooth, just be careful to come back down at an angle. The sidewalk's only about six feet wide and usually covered with sand. You won't make the turn if you push it too hard.

West Balboa Park

Directions: From 163 north, take Quince Street. It will wind up the hill to the west side of the park. From 163 south, take 6th Ave. and stay on it for about a mile. It runs right past the park.

Mostly sidewalks but some of them are pretty cool, winding around the shoulder of the hill above 163. Keep your eyes open though, there's lots of leaves, branches, and other little hazards on some of the lesser traveled walks. You might hit a treacherous patch of squirrel shit and really eat it. On the south end, there's a nice street that has a hill with a hairpin turn at the bottom. It's a one-way street, so, in theory, you only have to worry about cars coming up from behind you. I assume you could be ticketed for riding on the street here, but if you claim ignorance, they might cut you some slack. I'd stay away from the east side of the park (east of the Laurel St. Bridge): there are "No Skateboarding" signs posted everywhere. The Cops are bound to be way more hardline.

The streets in the area tend to have very little traffic, smooth pavement, and nice mellow sloped hills, great for carving. Almost all of the streets go more or less downward from the Balboa Park toward the airport to the west and downtown toward the south. None of the east-west streets between Laurel and Ash go all the way through and most of the north-south traffic stays on First or Fifth and Sixth, so you can avoid the traffic pretty easy. Just take a drive around for five minutes and see what streets look good, and go for it.

Medical Center Drive, Chula Vista

Directions: From 805, take Telegraph Canyon Road. Take a right on Medical Center Drive and go a mile or two to the corner of Medical Center and East Palomar.

From here Medical Center Drive has been extended down the hill to connect with Brandywine. It is currently closed to traffic and is wide a smooth. Great place to carve or practice slides, but don't try to bomb it, because they have the bottom blocked off with concrete barriers. There is a bit of construction debris, but if you have big wheels you should be fine. The road is in the middle of a huge housing development, so I avoid it during the week. They sometimes work Saturday as well, so Sunday's your best bet. It looks like they're developing the whole area, so with any luck, there may be nice new roads with no cars for months to come.

Riley Elementary/Narrow Gate Skatepark

Directions: From 5 take Balboa east or from 805 Balboa west to Mount Everest. Turn south on Mt. Everest. To get to Riley: turn left on Mount Ararat, then right on Mount Abbey. And finally left on Mount Ackerly, and the school will be on the left. To get to Narrow Gate: From Mt. Everest, turn left on Mount Blanca and that will take you straight to the park.

Somebody emailed me about Riley Elementary School about six months ago. When I went looking for it, What I found was a small skatepark in what I guess is a Christian private school, called Horizon School. I went back recently and found Riley Elementary. Near as I can tell, Riley Elementary shares a fence with Horizon School.

As skate spots go Riley has some really nice smooth four-foot banks on the blacktop playground. The gates were unlocked, so I assume it's cool to skate there. I don't know whether it was worth driving across town for. Then again, I did and wasn't sorry. There's something about a good schoolyard bank for practicing new stuff without having to worry about people looking at you.

I don't know much about Narrow Gate Skatepark, because both times I was there it was closed, and all of the ramps were locked up and covered with tarps. Their hours are Tuesday-Friday, 4-6, and Saturday, 10-2.

Bay Park Elementary School

Directions: From 8, take Morena Blvd. (Morena Blvd. splits for a while, but it's probably easier to take West Morena, when it splits). turn right on Kane Street, go two blocks and you'll run right into the school.

The gates are open on the weekends and there's a nice 3 foot bank, next to the blacktop. The transition takes some getting used to on a longboard, but nothing real bad. The blacktop has just been repaved and it is so smooth that it almost feels soft underneath your wheels. The only real drawback is that the blacktop slopes away from the bank, so you have to push real hard to get any speed. Still, a fun little ride.

Skateparks

There have been so many changes to the San Diego Skatepark scene, that it's hard to keep up with it. Over the last year, new parks have been built in Ocean Beach, Imperial Beach, Santee, Vista, Escondido, and Clairmont (see Narrow Gate above). I've heard that parks are planned for Carlsbad, Poway, Scripps Ranch, and La Mesa. What I think I need to do is do a little digging, and come up with a comprehensive guide to San Diego Skateparks. I'll try to get that done next month. For now, here's some links with info various skateparks, and tidbits on certain ones as well.

Escondido Skatepark

Check it out at http://www.ci.escondido.ca.us/sportscenter/skate/

Imperial Beach Skatepark

Check it out at http://ci.imperial-beach.ca.us/IB-SkateBoard.htm

Mission Valley YMCA Skatepark (Missle Park)

From what I understand, Missle Park is closed and looking to reopen in the Stadium area.

Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA Skatepark (Encinitas)

Check it out (courtesy of sKATEBOARD.COM Skatepark Index) at http://www.tumyeto.com/tydu/skatebrd/parks/magymca.html.

Santee Skatepark

Small public skatepark (concrete) with various new school elements, ledges steps, rails, etc. The best thing is a 12-foot diameter 4-foot deep bowl. You have to kick like hell to get enough speed to carve it, but it is a fun little bowl. There are a few nice banks that are also fun on a longboard. Like most public parks, you need to go early in the day during the week, because the place is a zoo on the weekends. There is no supervision, but the signs say full gear is required. The cops will cite you for not having it.

Temecula Skatepark

Check my review here.

Vista Skatepark

Small public skatepark (concrete) with three bowls, a lot of banks, and various new school elements. The main problem is that there's no good place to drop in on a longboard. The first few times are hairy, but the bowls make it worth it. There are a few nice banks that are also fun on a longboard. Like most public parks, you need to go early in the day during the week, because the place is a zoo on the weekends. Even this might not be enough, because they have year-round schools, so at any given time the place is bound to be swarming with younguns. Your best bet is to go weekdays between 8 and 10 am.

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