A lot of us have seen parkour videos online and have at least an idea about what it involves. While parkour is a physical discipline there’s also a strong mental and philosophical side that we’re just beginning to scratch the surface of. Understanding the history of parkour is the first step to figuring out exactly what it is and what is involves.
Parkour started out in the South of Paris with a small group of friends training together. They combined various fighting styles, gymnastics, athletics and other disciplines together to form something unique. This began as a training regimen for them but quickly grew into something more.
Parkour has changed and developed over the years and different sects still exist. At its heart there is a core discipline based on creativity and self definition, with a whole community set up to help explore these concepts. Since its inception it’s grown massively with thousands of practitioners (traceurs) around the world now taking part on a regular basis.
Parkour really is an international event with groups around the world taking part every day in training, events and competitions. The use of technology has amplified parkour globally and brought various separate groups together. This has led to a creation of a global parkour community.
What is a Parkour Park?
As this community has grown, dedicated parkour parks and destinations have been set up with the goal of bringing together like minded people with the best talent. These parkour friendly places are where traceurs can come to use the space and ultimately make it their own.
There’s no set design for parkour parks. As parkour is just about moving creatively and intuitively there generally just spaces set up with obstacles, like an urban maze, that you can go to town in. Some are indoor, but generally they’re outdoor which is in keeping with the historic roots of parkour.
Whereas parkour parks can be specifically created, a lot of the best parkour spots are just specific areas in cities or urban areas. Most of these have been explored and mapped out by traceurs around the world and this has been shared online through forums and social media.
These destinations are great places for parkour enthusiasts to get involved and meet other people. Even if you don’t feel like you’re ready yet, you can set a goal to get to these places around the world and do parkour with some of the best.
Top 7 Parkour Parks and Destinations
We’ve had a look round and gathered what we think are the top 7 parkour parks and destinations right now. Let’s take you through the list:
1. Gas Works Park, Seattle
Seattle, Washington, has some of the best places around for parkour and freerunning. Away from some of the urban centres you have Freeway Park. This park was created for activities and specifically freestyle training. There are lots of obstacles to maneuver your way through so you can get creative in an open and dedicated space.
Further downtown you’ll find the Gas Works Park. This is an old production plant which has been converted into a park but a lot of the old parts remain in place. Not all of this is open to the public but it’s a unique space to train in, and well worth checking out.
2. Ala Moana Beach Park, Honolulu
Hawaii is one of the most incredible destinations in the world so it’s not as if you needed another reason to visit but if you did then this park is definitely a good one. In downtown Honolulu you’ll find Ala Moana beach park which has become famous with freerunners and traceurs.
Ala Moana has over 100 acres of space with different landscape to explore.
There’s sand, grass and even some water so you can get out and try something new. This is perhaps the best outdoor parkour area in the world and is absolutely one to visit.
3. Ueno Park, Tokyo
Located in Tokyo, Ueno Park is one of the best parkour parks in the world because of its history and beauty. There’s a lot of space to explore around all the culture and history of this park which dates back to the late 1800s.
This space has long been used for a number of disciplines including Tai Chi and yoga. It’s a great space for freerunning and will make a fantastic place to record some footage of you in action. Make sure you visit during the cherry blossom season to get the most out of this iconic location.
4. Central Park, New York
Maybe the most famous park in the world has one more notch to add to its belt, it’s a parkour hub. With obstacles to overcome, different spaces to explore and trees to climb central park has some rich variety you might not find elsewhere.
New York is one of the most amazing cities in the world and somewhere everyone should visit at some point. With so much culture and style circulating in Manhattan it’s no surprise that parkour is big here.
A lot of parkour practitioners gather in central park daily, generally later in the day when there are less crowds and tourists present. You’ll likely find a lot of like minded people but most importantly you’ll be able to freerun in perhaps the most famous city in the world. Make sure to get some pictures with the iconic New York skyline in the background!
5. Spot Real, Lisboa, Portugal
Spot Real is the first parkour and freerunning academy in Portugal. It allows and encourages everyone who’s interested in these activities to come together, train and share ideas in order to take themselves to the next level.
Portugal is an extremely parkour friendly country and Lisboa is well known for its open parkour spaces. Locals are all extremely friendly and will often share advice and tips to help, so even if you’re still learning this is definitely one to visit.
6. Century Gardens, Calgary Canada
Century Gardens is described as the concrete playground because for a long time it’s been used by traceurs and freerunners to develop and explore their craft. Century Gardens are known for their concrete blocks and structures which you can navigate your way up, over and through.
Century Gardens is well regarded by the locals as a hub for parkour enthusiasts and has been defended by preservationists for years. That being said there has been some pressure from different development groups lately so it might be worth pushing this one to the top of your list in case it isn’t there in the future.
7. Catacombs (Paris France)
Ok so this one is perhaps not for the faint of heart but Paris has a network of underground catacombs for you to explore, and freerun through. The catacombs spiral under Paris like a maze filled with history and even some graves.
This is an exciting alternative for the high rise spots that traceurs are used to but you need to be careful. You need to have somebody really experienced with you who knows the tunnels, because people have got lost down there in the darkness and never been found.
This may be too spooky for you, but don’t be put off. Paris is where it all started and of the 3000 different locations around the world for parkour there are 888 located in Paris. The city is literally teeming with parkour friendly spots with facebook groups set up to help you find them but with so many in close proximity you’ll probably find them without looking!
Finding Parkour Locations
Parkour isn’t necessarily an activity that needs a dedicated space but you need to make sure you’re doing it in parkour friendly zones. Most major cities will have at least a few spaces for it but some have more than others. Nevertheless you’ll find fantastic parkour locations in Europe, Asia and America which give you the opportunity to explore while training.
One of the best tools now for finding parkour locations is social media. Facebook groups will let you link up with locals who know the area and you can share information back and forth. Likewise some of the bigger parkour websites have information which is regularly updated.
One of the best sources of information about parkour is the World Freerunning Federation:
Here you’ll find a wealth of knowledge about parkour, including location information and event details. If you’re looking to compete or get sponsored then you’ll find more about this too.
Hopefully the list above gives you an idea of what type of locations are available and has given you an idea of where you might want to try next. The best parkour locations are almost always parks but keep an eye out for college campuses, abandoned buildings (that are open to the public) and dedicated urban areas.
Parkour is about freedom and creativity so wherever you are you’ll be able to find somewhere to train. Just remember to be smart and err on the side of caution. Make sure you don’t break the law because that can land you in hot water fast, especially if you’re abroad.Continue reading >