For a true summer adventure, drive south to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk where unlimited fun awaits. This century old amusement park is one of the last remaining seaside amusement parks on the West Coast. There is so much to see and do, either as a romantic date or fun for the whole family.
One of the reasons it so popular is the location at the ocean with a mile-long sandy beach which is cleaned and sifted throughout the year. Sunning, swimming, and sailing activities are popular, and the nearby Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf offers fishing, restaurants, and gift shops. World class surfing at Steamer Lane is also nearby.
The Boardwalk offers thrilling rides and everything in between. One of the favorites is the Giant Dipper, a historic wooden roller coaster first introduced in 1924. This ride has been entertaining people ever since. It has been featured in the following films “Sudden Impact,” ‘The Lost Boys,” and “Dangerous Minds.” Another favorite is the historic Looff Carousel, a National Historic Landmark and local treasure, celebrating its 100th Birthday this year. Look for the special events in honor of its’ century of service.
Today’s Boardwalk offers 35 rides and attractions, three arcades with both vintage machines and hundreds of modern video games, a game deck, 27 games of skill, 36 food vendors, electronic shooting gallery, indoor miniature golf and laser tag, and over 15 gift shops with everything from beachwear to sunglasses and jewelry.
The Cocoanut Grove complex hosts a variety of events: trade shows, conferences, dances, parties, conventions, banquets, holiday brunches, and wedding receptions. The Boardwalk Bowl (just across the street) features 26 lanes, Atomic Bowling, league play, kiddie bumpers, arcade, the B.B. Eats café, and Coasters Bar.
In addition to rides, every Wednesday night through August 6, see Free Movies on the Beach beginning at 9 pm. This year the movies are from the 1980s. Each Friday night the Boardwalk features a Bands on the Beach, a free concert with two performances, 6:30 and 8:30 pm through September 2. Bring your blanket and beach chair and enjoy a free concert on the beach.
Details: Boardwalk rides are open daily Memorial Day to Labor Day and most weekends and holidays throughout the year. Arcades and miniature golf are open daily throughout the year. Admission to the park is free; season passes, all day passes, single ride tickets, group rates, exclusive ride rentals, and corporate events are available.
Read Insider’s Guide to Santa Cruz for suggestions on restaurants, accommodations and things to do as suggested by locals.
Getting there: The Boardwalk is located 70 miles south of San Francisco. Take Highway 1 or 17 to Santa Cruz and follow the signs to the beachfront. It is approximately a two hour drive.
If time isn’t an issue, drive along the San Mateo Coast and discover beautiful scenery and charming towns along the way.
Discover Moss Landing, a coastal town south of Santa Cruz. Should you want to continue your drive south along the coast, visit Monterey and Carmel for more fun things to see and do.
See my Slideshow: Scenes from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
© Karla Erovick 2011 article, photos
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