From Barcelona to Los Angeles to Tel Aviv, skateboarding has always been a sport unique for its emphasis on creativity and evolution.
Wherever you can find concrete, a ledge, a steep incline, or a handrail, you can bank on finding groups of skaters there, basking in their natural urban habitat. It’s a sport that, more than most, thrives on adaptation to environments and infrastructure, without uniform rules (or rules, period).
Over the past decade, Buenos Aires has taken major strides toward becoming a premier city for skateboarding – certainly in Latin America, and arguably around the globe. With the completion of several new government commissioned parks in just the past year, the future of skateboarding in Argentina appears incredibly bright.
This week’s Top 5 offers up the best skate parks in Buenos Aires, all of them public, free of charge, and each ideally suited for a particular style of skating. No police officers, cranky neighbours, or legitimately irate property owners to breathe down your neck, either.
Close to Facultad de Medicina, and only a short walk from the D-line subte station, an enormous plaza awaits with all the customary life and hustle of Buenos Aires.
Plaza Houssay is a favourite place for skaters to gather and practice some of the more technical and “street” aspects of the sport. With at least half a dozen waxed benches positioned in strips on either side of the plaza, there is plenty of space to work with.
The plaza is also home to an empty fountain – great for sequences of in-and-out tricks and practicing your ollie. In addition, there are several manual pads (circular benches), a few daunting ledges, and two or three small stair sets. The plaza even has some goodies—a small wood ramp, a big grind box—that other skaters have brought and left there for everyone to use.
The advantages of Plaza Houssay are its sprawl and conduciveness to tech style runs, making it a place that, despite the presence of foot traffic, you’d either have to be malicious or a hopeless case to hit someone.
Plaza Houssay, Av. Córdoba 2100. For more information visit the park’s Facebook page
Tucked along Avenida Sarmiento in Palermo, close to the US embassy and the Buenos Aires Zoo, the mini park at La Rural is a hidden gem.
With a 1.65m half-pipe, La Rural sets itself apart for being the only public place in Buenos Aires with a true half-pipe. Covered with cryptic and kind of depressing-but-vibrant graffiti, the half-pipe is situated against one of the walls of the Rural Society of Argentina.
Parallel to the half-pipe is a long runway that approaches a ramp about a metre or so high. This is one of the best set-ups in the city. With a kicker (speed bump) halfway into the runway, the ramp ahead provides for an exhilarating flight that can be very hard to find elsewhere without building up sufficiently blazing speed. In fact, plenty of skaters use the kicker itself as a launch pad for tricks.
Similar to some of the other locations, La Rural is also a popular place for bikers and rollerbladers to practice their respective crafts. At times, it can get awfully crowded, but here, as elsewhere, people generally respect each other across sports and take turns using the set-ups at their disposal.
One last thing to note is that this is just a beautiful stretch of road in Buenos Aires. Tall, bright trees and a long bench running parallel to the skate park make it both lively and tranquil all at once, particularly on a mild, breezy afternoon.
La Rural, Av. Colombia and Av. Sarmiento. For more information visit guiaskater.com
As indicated by its name, Parque Centenario has the great advantage of urban centrality. Several colectivos (15, 141, 92, 36, and 110) and subte lines (Line B, at Angel Gallardo station, and Line A at Rio de Janeiro) will drop you off either right outside or within walking distance of this gigantic circular park.
Though small and sometimes crowded, the skate course is easily the best place to practice flip tricks and work on mechanics. With a pyramid, two stair sets of three and four stairs each – along with handrails for grinds – and an overall very tight circuit, there is no better place in Buenos Aires to warm up for a full day of skating.
Situated at the south end of the park, the course is also near to plenty of places to grab lunch or a beverage. It makes for an excellent hangout and leaves the exhausted skater with a full, bright green park to relax once sore or tired.
It may not be the most spectacular or spacious place, but Parque Centenario has perhaps the most character of any of the spots in this list. Constructed in 2006, the skate course marks an important point for Argentina’s recent boom in skateboarding and fits nicely into the historic ambiance of the park.
Parque Centenario, Av. Patricias Argentinas. For more information visit the park’s Facebook page
Converse Skate Plaza (Norte)
Located at the junction of Avenida Figueroa Alcorta and Juramento in Belgrano, the Converse Skate Plaza is both the biggest and most spread out of Buenos Aires’ skate parks
Built with mid-size to high ramps at either end and a quarter pipe on one side, this is hands down the best place to get creative and enjoy a mix of park, flatland, and classic freestyle skateboarding.
Built in 2011, the Converse Plaza is a bona fide breeding ground for what promises to be a generation of talented kids. Already, serious skill and potential are on display here from kids as young as 12 or 13. It’s almost scary to think about where they could be five years from now, particularly as professional skaters often make appearances here and surely have their eyes open for talented youngsters.
In terms of layout, there are two stair sets—one of four stairs, the other with seven stairs and a handrail. At the centre, and coming from either direction, are two ramps that form a gap over a patch of grass. Skating this takes unbelievable nerve and represents the best thing about this park: you can do everything from basic to berserk, observing and practicing all levels of skill.
The best time to go is during the week, as the park can get crowded on weekends with very young children still figuring out if they are “regular” (left foot first) or “goofy” (right foot first) skaters. Fortunately, it’s open day and night, well lit, and easy to find.
Converse Skate Plaza, Av. Figueroa Alcorta and Juramento. For more information visit the park’s Facebook page
Converse Skate Plaza (Mataderos)
Our final stop is another Converse skate plaza, located in the bustling southwest barrio known as Republica de Mataderos.
Similar to La Rural, it is one of very few places you’ll find a circuit with a bowl, let alone two. Here, skaters more inclined to a vert style will find exactly what they are looking for, with excellent outlets for transitions that lead to flatland obstacles, boxes, and rails.
In addition to the bowls, there’s a four-stair with a handrail, a large manual pad in the far corner of the park, and a splendid wall of graffiti that emphasises the neighbourhood’s local and national pride. Also constructed in 2011, Mataderos Skate Park is the most visually appealing of the five on our list and is a welcome getaway for those looking to see the provinces at a convenient distance from Capital Federal.
A recommended day of skating might include a start at Parque Centenario to warm up, and then a thirty-minute bus ride on colectivo 92, dropping you off right across the street from Mataderos Skate Park, on Directorio. The two parks compliment each other well and, with a reasonable distance between them, offer a great way to rest between sessions.
When you finish up skating for the day, make sure to check out the town of Mataderos. The streets are lined with locals and parillas, filling the air with a hypnotic aroma and the sounds of a distinctly Argentine community.
Mataderos Skate Park, Directorio 6500. For more information visit the park’s Facebook Page