On our ever continuing 2011 skatepark tour, we managed to find this gem in Vancouver, WA. Ripzu has been open about a year and a half, but it seems like a brand new facility to me. Everything is in excellent condition with a superior riding surface and one of the nicest layouts for beginning riders in the Portland area.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great beginner-spot, but there is plenty of terrain for intermediate and advanced riders. Trust me, from my own experience, if you don’t drop in correctly on the half-pipe, you will injure yourself! Be careful! Some of the features look deceptively easy, but they are slick and fast.
If you’re bugged by the outdoor skatepark culture, this place is for you and your family. Ripzu is the most family-friendly skatepark we’ve visited. The rules are enforced, people are friendly, and there is skating specifically for kids 12 and under on Saturday mornings (10am – 12pm).
Another thing you’ll enjoy as a parent is the opportunity to move around the space without a skateboard. If it’s busy, you’ll obviously want to use good judgement. Some kids will need supervision while skating, and it’s nice to be able to be out on the floor with them.
Caveats: In terms of a family-friendly venue, I don’t have much to say under caveats. This is a really great place to skateboard. As an indoor skateboarding facility, this is top-of-the-line.
Distance from Portland: It’s about 12 miles from downtown Portland. Their address is: 1417 NE 76th St, Vancouver, WA 98665. Here is a direct link to their “Directions” page.
Recommended Ages: All ages are welcome. You’ll notice on their website there are various times set aside for different groups. If your child is under 12, Saturday mornings from 10-12 is when you’ll want to visit.
Parental Stress Factor: Depends quite a bit. Our visit was very low stress due to the fact that only a few kids were skating at the same time. If the place is busy, it will be more stressful. Overall, the place is low-key. Obviously, some parents are stressed-out watching their kids skateboard.
Physical Difficulty: Skateboarding is physically difficult and serious injury is a constant risk. That is just a fact.
Pet Friendly: N/A
Weather Considerations: Excellent activity for rainy days! During the winter months, you’ll want to dress warmly. They have heat, but it has been pretty cold the two times we’ve been there. I can imagine the building gets pretty hot during the summer.
Insider Info: Besides seasonal camps, Ripzu has private lessons for your child, which can greatly improve their confidence and riding ability. My son took a single lesson at the old Department of Skateboarding (Portland), and it was one of the best things we did for him as a new rider. I have witnessed one of their staff members giving a lesson – it was very good!
Scooters are allowed! No bikes EXCEPT Friday nights from 6 – 9PM (no pegs). The area in the picture to the left is the lounge where parents can relax and watch the skateboarding while cruising the free Wi-Fi!
Family Tips: If your kids are under 12, make sure to visit on Saturday mornings from 10-12. On our two visits, there have been less than ten kids skating. On our first visit, my two kids had the entire skatepark to themselves for the first fifteen minutes. Having plenty of room and some time to figure out the place is important on an initial visit.
Other Posts of Interest...
Rock Climbing at Smith Rock! on August 8th, 2009
Leach Botanical Gardens on May 20th, 2010
Parent & Child Yoga on February 28th, 2012