Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this

Story by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson and Miriam Raftery 

Photo by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson:  Skaters stay cool with misters at the Viejas outdoor roller rink in Alpine

August 21, 2020 (Alpine) - Looking to change up your COVID-19 outdoor exercise routine? Consider visiting the outdoor roller-skating rink at Viejas Casino Outlets to burn off some of that quarantine-15 extra weight.  Or take a skate at the San Diego Derby United outdoor rink in Encanto to roll those pounds away—and have fun. 

Roller skating outside during the pandemic is trending nationwide.  According to the Washington Post, in an article dated July 8, 2020, “surge of TikTok videos (the #rollerskating page has more than 1.8 billion views) featuring swaying, sun-drenched skaters and a bevy of bold, retro skate brands have helped generate a renewed interest in roller skating.”  

In mid-May a spike in the search for roller skates reported on Google Trends has since remained fairly consistent. And throughout the spring, retailers such as Moxi Roller Skates and Impala Rollerskates have seen sales skyrocket. An executive with Impala Roller Skates told the Washington Post that it sold out the same day after releasing its new Pastel Fade Skate. 

Christian Science Monitor, in a July 16 article titled “When the world stood still, they found freedom on roller skates,” states, “Do pastimes ever really go away? Roller-skating is back again, driven by young people escaping pandemic restrictions and a history that connects it to Black culture.” 

Skates have evolved with the times. Today’s options aren’t your grandparents’ roller skates. Besides being available in virtually every hue of the rainbow with color-coordinated laces, wheels and blingy accents, roller skates range from retro four-wheel styles to sleeker and speedier  in-line roller blades. 

Who knows where this pastime may lead? Former Olympic gold medalist figure skater Tara Lipinski played roller hockey as a child and was a national roller skating champion at age nine, competing in the national Artistic Roller Skating Championships, She twirled and leaped her way across the roller rink before moving on to ice skating fame.

Where to roller skate outdoors locally

Viejas Outlets Center in Alpine offers outdoor roller-skating from 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. daily --- weather permitting and face masks are required.  

Do not let the high temps sway you from going---misters are used on the perimeters of the rink to cool you off. 

The skate office is located just south of the rink in the outlets.  The staff can fit you with sanitized skates.  Skate aids are available as well.  The cost is $10 per session. 

The outlets are just south of the casino and hotel which are located at 5005 Willows Road.

Visit for more information. 

Off of State Route 94 in Encanto is an outside rink, San Diego Derby United, owned by Nili “Isabelle Ringer” Goldfarb.

Built for roller derby teams, the rink opened just before the pandemic shut down, but has since reopened and pivoted to offer recreational roller skating and even socially distanced birthday parties on wheels.

Goldfarb also offers lessons for kids and adults ranging from beginner lessons to jam, freestyle and dance, KPBS reported on August 21.  There’s even a “learn/return to skate” class for newbies as well as those who haven’t been on wheels for decades.

Visit for more information. 

Here are some fun facts about roller skating:

  • John Joseph Merlin, the Belgian inventor of roller skates, planned to debut them at a London masquerade party in 1760 by simultaneously skating in and playing the violin. His dramatic entrance was curtailed, however, when he crashed into a large mirror. 
  • Not until a century later, in 1863, did James Plimpton invent a roller skate capable of turning. The innovation used springy carriages called trucks to enable a skater to lean in the direction of travel.
  • By two centuries later, In the 1950s and ‘60s, carhops wore roller skates to serve up food to motorists at drive-up eateries—a fad immortalized in the movie “American Graffiti.”
  • African-American civil rights advocate Ledger Smith, known as “Roller Man,” skated 685 miles from Chicago to D.C. to attend the March on Washington, wearing a placard that read “FREEDOM” around his neck.
  • Celebrities popularized roller skating in movies, TV and music videos including Cher’s “Hell on Wheels” in a zebra-print body suit and a shirtless Patrick Swayze in “Skatetown USA.”

Find more fascinating facts about roller skating at

Rebecca Jefferis Williamson is an award-winning freelance journalist and photographer who has covered a wide-variety of subjects ranging from civil protests, community news and features to health issues including Covid-19, PFAS toxins, and Newcastle disease. Besides being a part of the East County Magazine team, she has freelanced for the San Diego Community Newspaper Group, Local Web Media, the Chula Vista Star News, San Diego Family Magazine, Military Press, and a number of other newspapers.

Miriam Raftery, editor and founder of East County Magazine, has over 35 years of journalism experience. She has won more than 350 journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, San Diego Press Club, and the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Her honors include the Sol Price Award for responsible journalism and three James Julian awards for public interest reporting from SPJ’s San Diego chapter. She has received top honors for investigative journalism, multicultural reporting, coverage of immigrant and refugee issues, politics, breaking news and more. Thousands of her articles have appeared in national and regional publications.

East County Magazine gratefully acknowledges the Facebook Journalism Project for its COVID-19 Relief Fund grant to support our local news reporting including impacts on vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more: #FacebookJournalismProject and

You can donate to support our local journalism efforts during the pandemic at

Error message

Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.