Winter is doin' it's thing. Here's the places you can go skate and their approximate distances from 12th & A.
Below The Bridge - Bayonne, NJ - 13 mi.
9-11 Gertrude St
Bayonne, NJ 07002
Helmet not enforced. +60 points. The "The Berrics" ledge is sick. Everything else is pretty whatevs, but they have an orange plastic jersey barrier for you to do tricks over. Therefore, basically perfect. Place is small and could get crowded easily. Open til midnite Friday and Saturday. That's tight. Totally worth it.
Division East/Gardensk8 - Pine Brook, NJ - 28 mi.
321 Changebridge Road
Pine Brook, NJ 07058
Place is tight. Like, cramped. But lots of cool stuff going on. Thursday nights 6-10 $10 Old Man Jam. A solid "not bad."
Drop In - Hillburn, NY - 35 mi.
143 Rte 59 W
Hillburn, NY 10931
I used to kind of hate this place because the layout is pretty retardo, but it looks quite a bit better with the Miami ledge in place of the old slanty mini-ramp with tremendously weird coping. They are also lax/don't care about forcing you to wear a helmet, so that is enough tip the scale toward "worth it." Tight.
Haven - North Haven, CT - 86 mi.
198 State St.
North Haven, CT
Definitely fun, but a looooong drive. It's a shame that the only truly good park in the Tri-State area, Academy, is gone. Haven is a sub-par replacement that was clearly designed with BMXers in mind. Crash-up derby factor is pretty much on 11.5. You're going to be continuously running into people. Tight? Oh yea, there's also a sick giant vert bowl/full-pipe if you're into that kind of thing.
Oil City - Oceanside, NY - 26 mi.
3565 Maple Court Oceanside, NY 11572
Let us proclaim the mystery of this place still being business...Last time I was there, some skate coach dad was cranking beers and cigarettes inside the place whilst commanding his son to "get gnarly." Wait, that was awesome.
It looks like they're working on the layout. The whole middle section was (is?) a total waste of space. Hm...Well, the mini-ramp is great, nice transitions, wide, weird coping in a fun way. The hip in the back is goodtimes even if it is in a wacky location. New stairs/rail/mini euro looks sick, haven't skated it yet, though. And there's a vert ramp. They used to not care about helmets, but have recently begun to force the issue.
You can walk/skate there from the East Rockaway LIRR.
Shields - Flemington, NJ - 59 mi.
17 Minneakoning Road
Flemington, NJ 08822
Some of the ramps are pretty kooky such as the bank to flat to wheelbase-length wallride, the pyramid/hip is too mellow to actually be used as a hip, and of course, the star of the show, the flat bank with tranny on top that is a speed-disabling miracle worker (transition is shorter than a wheelbase/impossible to pump). Those insane features aside, there are a lot of good things going on. Plenty of ledges/bumps/rails, etc. The new super-tall steep bank is lots of fun. The upstairs manny pad/ledge area is also a favorite, especially if you find yourself in a mixed session with BMXers. Unfortunately, pretty much every sesh is mixed except for Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and weekend daytimes.
Scooters are always allowed for some inexplicable reason.
They're tight about helmets. The floor is menacingly slippery. You will catch accidental powerslides everywhere.
Drawbacks aside, much of the "street course" and the halfpipe are good, so overall, it's worth the trek.
Small Empire - Flanders, NJ - 46 mi.
178 Route 206 North
Flanders, NJ 07836
Small Empire is pretty sick. They have an amazingly fun and super wide mini-ramp and a new double set thing for those of you with cartilage left in your knees.
There you go. It seems like a decently long list, but you realize pretty quickly that they're all still far away and have their own particular disadvantages.
The area could use an all-the-good-elements amalgamation of these places in a location under an hour away by train that stays open until two in the morning. Oh yeah, no helmets and no bikes.
The best bet is probably to go the BQE, roll around in some trash, get depressed, then go drink PBR and eat tacos at Union Pool until spring.