Created in the 1950s as an alternative for surfers when waves were flat, skateboarding has steadily grown from its early days. In fact, it’s become popular worldwide backed by a multi-billion dollar industry. Part of the growing popularity of “sidewalk surfing” is attributed to skate parks of all shapes and sizes. Skateparks first appeared in the mid 60s yet with funky wood skateboards. Back then, skateparks typically featured a few ramps made of concrete. However, to meet the demand, many of the best skate parks have evolved to become bigger and better than ever before.
Black Pearl Skate & Surf Park
Grand Harbour, ky1-1201
Red Bay, Cayman Islands
Encompassing 62,000 square feet of skateable area, Black Pearl Skate & Surf Park is one of the world’s largest skateboard parks. Located just minutes from the Cayman Island’s famed Seven Mile Beach, the skate park features both smaller and larger bowls. In addition are a snake run, a street section with ledges and rails. Additionally, there are designated areas for beginners, intermediates and advanced skateboarders. Back when it first opened, skateboard legend Tony Hawk helped open this sprawling park. It may still be the largest skateboard park in the Western Hemisphere.
Update: The North Houston Skatepark and Lauridsen in the United States are now larger than Black Pearl. Read more about these listed below. However, the two skateparks in China also featured below are much larger. Nevertheless, Black Pearl remains one of the world’s top parks for skateboarders.
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218 East Road
Guangzhou University City
Guangzhou, P.R. China, 510006
Located at Guangzhou University in one of China’s most advanced cities, Guangzhou University Town Sports Center is home the world’s largest skatepark. In further detail, it’s more closely identified as GMP Skatepark. In fact, it’s listed in the Guinness Book of Records at 182,000 square feet. In other words, it covers 16,900 square meters. Built for the 2010 Asian Games, the entire facility reportedly covers 4.3 million square feet and features 12 sports venues. To put this in more perspective, this mega-park is nearly 100 acres. Compare that to Disneyland at 500 acres and you get the idea. If that’s not enough, it also includes the 170,000-square foot Extreme Park, which was added in 2014. If you must skate in the world’s largest skatepark, this is it. Moreover, nothing comes close to it.
Lake Cunningham Regional Skate Park
2305 S. White Road
San Jose, CA 95148
Situated eight miles east of downtown San Jose, Lake Cunningham Regional Park (LCRSP) is by far the biggest skatepark in California. Moreover, with 68,8000 square feet of skating area, this very popular community park draws about 75,000 visitors annually. This mega-skatepark also features the world’s largest cradle and world’s tallest vertical wall. If you need more convincing, it also has the world’s largest full pipe. Additionally, it has other popular bowls for skateboards to try out. Among them are the Skull Bowl, Travelodge Bowl and Olympic Bowl. Despite knowing that Southern California is the birthplace of modern skateboarding, the state’s largest is in Silicon Valley.
901 Second Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50309
Since last May, Lauridsen Skatepark is the largest skatepark in the U.S. with 88,000 square feet. It has an amazing riverfront setting too, along the Des Moines River. Among the park’s features are a near-quarter mile Skate Promenade, Amoeba Pool and beginner/intermediate Flow Pool. There is also a WOW skateable art installation that you can actually skate on. Yet with that much space, you know there is a whole lot more. For instance, there are 11 ledge types and 10 rail types and competition stairs. Last year, the mega-park was host to the Dew Tour, which was an Olympic qualifying event. What’s more, it was the only venue to host an event of this caliber.
North Houston Skate Park
12351 Kuykendahl Road
Houston, TX 77090
The familiar saying “everything is bigger in Texas” is altogether appropriate for the Texas-sized North Houston Skate Park. Featuring 78,000 square feet of skate surface, this competition-scale park was the largest skatepark in America until last year. That’s when Lauridsen Skatepark in Des Moines Iowa opened with 88,000 square feet. Nevertheless, North Houston’s skate park is worth your visit. After all, it has an incredible 12-foot vertical ramp and has a bowl shaped like the State of Texas. What’s more are backyard-style pools, a full pipe and a whole lot more. If you come, it’s located about 15 miles from the center of downtown Houston.
Shaw Millennium Park
1220 Ninth Ave., S.W.
Calgary, AB T2P 2C4
Although the new Lauridsen Skatepark is North America’s largest, Canada’s Shaw Millennium Skate Park isn’t far behind. In fact, this mega park located in Calgary is said to be North America’s largest skatepark for skateboarding and inline skating. Also holding the distinction of being Canada’s largest free outdoor skatepark, Shaw Millennium offers 75,000 square feet of skateable area. This mega-park has distinct sections for beginners, intermediate and expert riders. You can find a shallow bowl in the beginner section, along with a bathtub bowl and Clover bowl in the others. This park is west of downtown but a Calgary CTrain light rail route runs right through it. Oh, and you don’t have to worry about park hours as it’s open 24/7.
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SMP Skatepark Shanghai
2100 Songhu Road
Shanghai Yangpu District Songhu Road
+86 21 6590 7290
Up until Guangzhou Town Sports Center opened two years ago, SMP Skatepark was the world’s largest skatepark for 10 years. Despite being surpassed, SMP is still a massive park and worth your while if you can make it to Shanghai. In detail, the park covers over 147,000 square feet of skateable space. This includes over 48,000 square feet of bowl area and a 170-foot long vertical ramp. There are also a ton of bowls, rails and stairs to tackle. Of course, there is a huge full pipe and 54-yard long half vertical. In addition, it has a competition area with stadium seating for up to 5,000. Although SMP is slightly smaller than GMP Skatepark, Shanghai is a more attractive destination to visit.
Unit 23 Skatepark
The Old Bond
45-50 Castlegreen St.
With 56,000 square feet spread across three skateboarding areas, Unit 23 is the largest indoor skatepark in the U.K. and one of the largest in the world. Located along the River Clyde and 16 miles northwest of Glasgow, the enormous indoor skatepark is available for skateboarding, inline skating, scooter and BMX. For skating, Unit 23 has three skatehalls to accommodate all three levels of skill. Also available is an equipment shop, in case you need stuff like new wheels and new boards.
Update: As of June, 2022, Unit 23 remains the largest indoor skatepark in the U.K.
About The Author
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS Local from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including CBS New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a reported digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS News, CBS Radio, Engadget and Radio.com.