Written for Daily Hive by Carla Smith of Vancouver’s Rolla Skate Club.
Roller skating has taken over social media in the last two years, and it’s easy to see why. If you’ve seen graceful roller dancers on TikTok lately and wanted to learn how to move like that on eight wheels, then there’s never been a better time to roller skate in Vancouver.
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Whether you’re an absolute beginner or you’re already roller royalty, here are the best places in Vancouver to go roller skating:
If You’re New to Roller Skating (No Skates, No Problem)
Rolla Skate Club runs classes for adults five days a week in East Vancouver, including classes for the complete beginner. Expect a buttery-smooth skating surface, an approachable and encouraging atmosphere, and qualified instructors to help get you rolling safely and confidently. They’ll take you from zero to roller skating hero with their feminist, empowering vibe. Rental skates and safety gear are always included.
Pro tip: Try their roller skating 101 four-week course to get your skills fully nailed.
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If You’re New to Roller Skating Outdoors
If you’ve skated indoors, you’ll find that taking your wheels to the street is a big adjustment. Uneven pavement, hills, gravel, and street crossings can all be treacherous, even for experienced indoor roller skaters. It’s a great idea to start with a court surface to get the feeling in a safe and contained environment before you go further afield. The lacrosse boxes at Queen Elizabeth Park (tucked in with the tennis and basketball courts) provide a safe, clean, flat (we can’t emphasize enough how important flat will be) space to try your skills!
Any tennis court can fit the bill, but this spot is often empty, and you get the bonus of being at the high point of the city.
Pro tip: Wear knee pads, wrist guards, and a helmet at a minimum.
If You Want the Best View
Nothing beats Vancouver’s iconic seawall for an outdoor roller skate. It’s truly one of the world’s best spots to skate. Take advantage of this legendary path by making your way all the way around Stanley Park. Start at Second Beach and head counter-clockwise. Stop for water fountain breaks at the lighthouse, Lumberman’s Arch and Third Beach.
Pro Tip: It’s a 10-kilometre journey, and it’s one-way only, with a couple of hills to contend with. Only attempt this if you’ve comfortably skated shorter distances already. Try the False Creek Seawall between Granville Street and Marinaside for more beginner-friendly terrain.
If You’re Ready to Drop-In
Ready to take your skates to the park? There are dozens of skate parks waiting for your sick moves, and every roller skater has their favourite. We’re partial to UBC’s Skate Park for smooth concrete and variety, Confederation Park in Burnaby for beginner to intermediate options, and Chuck Bailey in Surrey for the best of everything. Go early in the day to avoid crowds of skateboards and scooters, and wear the best safety gear you can afford (including a helmet).
If You’re Looking for a Workout
For a linear skate that will get your heart pumping and put some miles on your wheels, check out the Arbutus Greenway. From Broadway to South West Marine Drive, it is just over six kilometres one way, or choose any segment along the route. The slopes will make you work for it, but they’re modest enough to be approachable for most intermediate skaters.
Pro Tip: To make an afternoon of it, grab a buddy, throw your flip flops in a backpack, and work up an appetite for lunch and java at Honolulu Coffee, just across the street from the path at 41st Avenue and West Boulevard.
If You Want to Groove
Roller dance is all about feeling the music and practicing or showing off some cool moves. You need a great surface for your spins and “crazy legs” though, and there’s no outdoor space more silky-smooth than the paved area surrounding Science World. Pack a mini speaker or your earbuds and go with the flow.
Pro tip: A guerrilla group calling themselves Sunset 54 has been staging informal rink-style skate nights at Sunset Beach in the hockey rink area (a decent asphalt surface with a slight slope). Follow them for fair weather dates as they happen intermittently.
When heading out for a skate, no matter where you end up, always remember to check your gear. Wheel nuts, wheels, trucks, and toe stoppers should all be secure and adjusted properly. Rolla Skate Club has a quick video here to help you understand how. A helmet is always a good call, and knee pads and wrist guards will give you the confidence to try something new.