CapNY boasts a long, vibrant history with skateboarding, turning out more than its fair share of pros and industry icons over the past 35 years including Johnny Schilleref, Co-founder and former president of Element Skateboards, and pro skaters Kenny Reed and Curtis Rapp.
Now is the perfect time to get out and start rolling, no matter your age or experience level.
In this post we highlight 8 skateboard parks in CapNY, along with skate organizations, stores, and influencers. Skating is an individualistic activity and social distancing is embedded in its DNA. Colder weather means way fewer people are at the parks and spots, so layer up and get out there!
Skate Organizations, Stores, & Influencers
Seasons Skate Shop (at 211 Lark Street, nudge nudge) deserves due credit for providing a much-needed home base in downtown Albany since their opening in 2010. Core shops like Seasons exist in towns around the country. They create an immediate link between local skaters and the industry by fostering community, hosting demos, making videos and helping promote hometown skaters with connections to national brands. There’s been a dramatic increase in participation from girls, women and the LGBTQ+ community.
Niche organizations such as Noteworthy Resources in Albany and ON DECK in Saratoga have sprouted up as well. Both provide advocacy, lessons, and outreach to people who want to get into skating but aren’t quite sure where to start.
The Instagram account @albany_flicks is a testament to the lively skate scene here in CapNY. Check out clips curated from the myriad skate videos that have featured out-of-town crews visiting our parks and spots.
8 Skateboard Parks Across the Capital Region
1. The (Blue) Banks
A highly trafficked skate spot since the early 80s (maybe even earlier?), the former tennis courts at the Western edge of Albany’s Washington Park are now an official skatepark. The place features a combination of professionally constructed concrete street and transition features. There is also an ever-growing list of DIY obstacles. The skating area is huge, which means that anyone can find a space to roll around. For a little history, watch this video of some contest footage at the banks from way back in 1988.
CPAP – Clifton Park Action Park — is a free, suburban pre-fab park off of Exit 9 near the mall, and is great for learning the basics, “action” included. Currently closed for the winter, there’s a grassroots effort to keep the park open year-round.
3. Art OMI Bowl
The confluence of art and skating has a long history, and the new concrete bowl at Art OMI in Ghent is a testament to how far this relationship has come. Conceived by artist Chemi Rosado-Seijo, the Mahican Bowl identifies as sculpture, but welcomes (no – begs for) the contact of urethane wheels. The bowl sits in the midst of OMI’s Sculpture & Architecture Park. Whether you’re arting, skating or both, the park and bowl are free and open year-round.
This is oldest municipal skatepark in the state! Saratoga’s skatepark has been around since the late 80s and has had its share of upgrades through the years. Thrasher Magazine dubbed the bowl, “the gnarliest in the northeast.” Composed of a series of pre-fab metal ramps, recently, a smooth concrete slab was poured to replace the former gritty asphalt surface. Design for a new, fully concrete park is underway and a fundraising effort for construction can be found here.
Lake George is Warren County’s lakeside tourist town. Built as phase one of a youth marketing and fundraising effort, the Lake George Skate Plaza is small but fun. While phase 2 may never happen, the plaza is fun and well-constructed in its larval form. On warmer days, after you’re done messing around at the park, walk right across the street and hop in the crystalline waters of the Queen of American Lakes. LGSP is open year-round.
6. This Place
This coveted spot in the woods (known to outsiders as the Albany Bowl) has been in quite a few video parts, and sessioned by many touring pros and teams. The location has been kept under wraps, against the better wishes of outlanders who come to town expecting to be led there. If you can wrangle the whereabouts from the locals, bring brooms and buckets as the condition of its deep end is always in question.
7. The Plaza
A shared history with the Blue Banks has made the Empire State Plaza one of Albany’s key skate spots since the dawn of street skating. Smooth, marble tiles, wide open spaces, photo- and videogenic architecture plus endless ledges, stairs, rails and picnic tables make this a dream spot, even for beginners. Head downstairs to the Vietnam Memorial for more, and hope not to get kicked out. If you do, bomb the hill down State Street to Broadway and hold on tight.
8. Horse’s Balls
Of our 8 skateboard parks the final one is aptly named for the equine undercarriage that looms above this spot. This series of ledges is in the middle of East Capitol Park, right across State Street from the aforementioned Plaza. A wide open run-up leads to this polished, tiered, grindable, slidable platform that starts off around curb height and drops off a bit short of two feet on the far end.
Written by: Benj Gleeksman
Benj Gleeksman is a lifelong skateboarder who lives with his wife and two kids in Saratoga Springs. You can learn more about him at www.mistergleeksman.com.