Ride the Rails: A Guide to Skateparks

If your child is a “skater,” and no, that’s not a pejorative, they can find plenty of places to ride on in Chicago’s northern suburbs.

Unlike so many of our children’s passions that come with a hefty price tag and a stratifying system that forces them to play within a certain age group and skill level, skateboarding is relatively inexpensive. Plus, boys and a growing number of girls of all ages can ride together.

While the initial equipment costs may seem steep, according to Matt Barton, of the Shred Shop in Skokie, there’s no such thing as a beginner skateboard. “You never outgrow the performance of a skateboard, your kids will just wear out the pieces and parts,” says Barton. Basic boards start at around $115.

Of course, you’ll need to buy your child a helmet and you should encourage other protective equipment. For the de rigueur elements of skater fashion including the purple skinny jeans, obnoxious patterned hoodies and green platform gym shoes, that’s your parental choice.

For the avid skateboarder wanting to learn an “ollie” or the eager beginner trying to ramp up their learning curve, members of the Grind Gear Skate Shop Team in Glenview, offer private lessons and will come to most area parks.

But at most North Shore Parks, riding the rails and dropping in the half-pipes won’t cost your kid a dime. But remember most parks do require helmets. Here’s the down low on skateparks, some of it given to us by the boarders, in their own interesting lingo.

Buffalo Grove

“Rippin’ street course and a sick half-pipe. Two big fun boxes, a few roll-ins and a sweet staircase from the pipe.”

Community Park West and Swenson Park

Great for riders of all levels. “There’s room to throw sick air and not crash into a newbie.”

Jewett Park

One of the first parks built in the Northern suburbs. “The park is located on a downward slant which enables you to hit most of the obstacles with decent speed.”

Techny Prairie

A 22,000 square foot concrete “beast,” considered by many diehards to be the ultimate area skatepark.

Warp Skatepark
Lake in the Hills

Your kid wants to skateboard and there’s 3 feet of snow on the ground? Make the drive up to this “gnarly trickster” indoor facility.

Thanks to the collective lobbying of local teens, Wilmette got a “totally rad” new concrete skatepark in 2008.

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