A Day-Tripper's Guide To The Great EsSkate
In Germany, in Texas, in Montreal and New York, skaters eagerly await the announcement of the exact dates for the annual long weekend of skating in South Beach every February. They plan vacations around the Great EsSkate (GES). They make hotel reservations and get plane tickets well in advance. They eagerly dig out their summer skate clothes and pack their skate bags.
The Great EsSkate was especially designed for them. Even our name alludes to escaping to skate, offering the sun and warmth of South Florida to lure all those people who had to put away their skates and bikes and shiver in the cold.
But what if you live in West Palm or Sunrise or Miami? What if you don't need planes and hotels to enjoy skating in South Florida in February? Is there a place for locals at the Great EsSkate? Only if you like the idea of skating (or biking) in a police-escorted entourage of 300 friendly, happy skaters from all over the world through the streets of South Beach and Miami. Only if you're interested in meeting new friends, challenging your body, learning some techniques and going back to work on Monday boasting that you've skated 75 miles since Friday evening. Only if you'd like to be part of the Great EsSkate 2015, a charity fundraiser guaranteed to be the most fun you've ever had on wheels.
What do day-trippers need to know? Lots of the answers are found on this website, but the following four tips are just for you:
- The cost to register is the same for all who attend, whether you come from afar and stay at the host hotel or skate over from your condo in time for each skate. With registration you get identification that gives you access to the social events, picnic, nightclub, skate tours and other GES events that weekend.
- Staying at our host hotel, the recently remodeled Kimpton Hotel, The Surfcomber in South Beach, is the most convenient way to participate, because more than 90 percent of the skaters will be in the hotel. The registration area is where announcements are posted and skaters meet and greet on Friday. Skaters who are guests there hang out together when they're not skating; share information; run up to their rooms to shower, change or get something they forgot. And the Surfcomber is offering an excellent GES rate for February in South Beach. But there are always skaters who stay in nearby hotels and don't miss a thing. The same is true of the day-trippers.
- Parking is one issue the out-of-towners don't face; most take a taxi from the airport and walk when they're not skating. Visit the links below to scope out parking options in the city. A couple of hints: Parking close to the hotel, which is at 18th Street and Collins, makes it easier to return to the car to change clothes or stash belongings. Parking where you can buy all-day parking rather than running back to the meter to add more time is a must. One of the closest garages is on 16th and Collins. One of the largest garages is at 17th Street and Convention Center Way. Plan to spend $25 and up for anything over 5 hours of parking per day. Hotel Valet parking is also available but more expensive. Credit cards are good at most city garages and lots.
- The Miami Beach government website parking page
- Find an interactive parking map here.
- Find a static parking map here.
Here's a day-tripper's time frame:
Whether you pre-registered or will register on site, check in at the registration room in the hotel sometime between noon and 6 PM Friday (or at 7:30 AM Saturday for those not skating Friday) to get your goodie bag and ID for all GES events.
The weekend warms up
The weekend warms up Friday with the Art Deco skate (not fast, but fascinating and funny) for those who are in South Beach by 1 PM. A meet-and-greet reception starts at a local pub on Lincoln Road Mallat 4 PM for registered attendees. The police-escorted Kick-Off Skate begins with an official welcome; roll-out is at 7 PM. You could be back at your car by 9:30 PM if you don't linger for dinner along the way. If you choose to skate one of the late-night skates on Friday, don't plan to be back to your car until after 1 AM Saturday.
Saturday morning arrive in time to visit the registration table at 7:30 AM. Get any updates and be ready to roll at 9:30 AM for the mystery skate. We end at lunchtime for a picnic. You could be back at your car by 3 PM—or 3 AM! You could spend the rest of Saturday with your newfound skating friends, sleep on the beach, explore the shops and restaurants of Collins and Lincoln Road Mall or just hang out. At 9 PM we all put on our club duds and go to a reserved night spot for free admission to a stage show. Note: “club duds” means no sneakers, jeans or collarless shirts. Anything outrageous or over the top is welcome, and you can't go wrong with black.
Sunday morning arrive in time to roll out at 9:30 AM. Choose from two planned skates: a repeat performance of the Art Deco Skate or the now infamous Skatenger, a scavenger hunt on skates. Both are over about noon. Then many of the out-of-towners will be packing and heading for the airport. Those who planned to stay longer (and those lucky enough to live here!) can find someplace for lunch and get ready for the Last Skate at 3 PM. By 5:30 PM we're back at the hotel, saying our goodbyes... don't forget to get that cute skater's e-mail address