Skateboarder (credit: David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

The secret to a great skate park is its location, as its site is crucial to its continued ability to draw in skaters. Also important is the site’s visibility, so skaters, parents and law enforcement can check in and patrol for safety and accessibility. Having a skate park centrally located and near public transportation and sidewalks for walking is also a major plus. Read on for Bay Area skate parks that deliver terrific experiences for skaters of all levels.

Berkeley Skate Park
5th St. and Harrison St.
Berkeley, CA 94710
www.ci.berkeley.ca.us

Located in Harrison Park, Berkeley Skate Park offers a huge oval skate bowl, fun box and even an area for beginners. What makes Berkeley Skate Park special are the skateboard programs available for a safe, fun sport and to improve skating skills. There are several skateboarding programs or activities at different times during the year, including Skate Club ($80/month). This ongoing 3-hour club meets each Saturday for a super way to improve skating skills, with mentoring and training provided by experienced, qualified skateboard instructors. Get additional details on Skate Cub and other events at the Skate Park Program, here. Note: no bikes allowed.

Balboa Skate Park
San Francisco, CA 94112
sfrecpark.org

Opened in September 2012, Balboa Skate Park, located across from City College of San Francisco, is a partnership with the Trust for Public Land and part of a large park renovation that included a new playground, resurfaced tennis courts, new picnic areas and upgraded pathways and landscaping. The skate park offers a variety of terrains for all skate levels, and according to a devoted fan, is “an amazing place to skate and meet people.” This all-wooden skate spot is a great little park that has a bit of everything, and is an easy commute from the Balboa Bart station.

Portrero del Sol/la Raza Skate Park
25th and Utah Streets
San Francisco, CA 94103
sfrecpark.org

This beautiful park, opened in 2008, is still San Francisco’s largest skate park and best suited to experienced skaters intent on doing their thing. Built by Dreamland Skateparks, Portrero Del Sol is 16,000 square feet of advanced terrain. Not much of a chit-chat spot or a place for moms to drop off the kids, but for serious skaters, Portreo del Sol/La Raza is a great option. Truly skilled and fearless skaters will find their matches here, but moms and dads also bring their kids here, at least for a while. Suggestion: Consider taking a few lessons at another skate park or skateboard shop that offers lessons, such as San Francisco Skate Club.

Sunnyvale Skate Park
540 N. Fair Oaks Ave.
Sunnyvale, CA 94085
(408) 730-7751
sunnyvale.ca.gov

Sunnyvale Skate Park at Fair Oaks Park is a fun spot for just about every skater. The wide sidewalks around the park perimeter are perfect for warm-ups before rolling into a bowl or hitting a rail. The smooth concrete throughout allows skaters a very nice cruiser feeling while skating, and the bowl has you continuously gliding without losing speed. Note: no scooters, bikes and other wheeled devices.

Greer Skateboard Park
1098 Amarillo Ave.
Palo Alto, CA 94306
(650) 329-2487
www.cityofpaloalto.org

Greer Skateboard Park is a small but mighty popular spot for skateboarders, and bike riders have a good time, too. One of the earlier skateboard facilities built in 1991, it immediately attracted skaters from all over Northern California. The tri-bowl skateboard complex is a distinctive design, and is basically a massive bowl recommended for all levels of skateboarders, though particularly suited for beginner and intermediate skaters. It’s not the best match for experts, but good fun for kids aged 6 and up, with an average age of 12. Note: there is a lot of graffiti here that adds to its slipperiness, so use caution.

Melanie Graysmith is a writer, artist and educator based in San Francisco. She writes on adult education, art, culture and lifestyle topics, and enjoys writing short stories and poetry. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.