The Santa Cruz Boardwalk is an old fashion boardwalk with old fashion rides including of the largest wooden roller coasters in the country. Don't count on eating anything healthy because this is where you will feel compelled to introduce your child the joy of discovering cotton candy, corn dogs, churros and salt water taffy. Traditional carnival type games and rides with carnival prizes abound on the Santa Cruz boardwalk. The large arcade has many classic and new games and is very busy on the weekends. It also houses a lazer tag arena and a pirate-themed 18-hole mini golf course called Neptune's Kingdom.
Walking the beach boardwalk in Santa Cruz is a nostalgic trip back in time. The sea air, smell of kettle corn and hot dogs, and the coastal breezes mix together to create a magical location to spend an afternoon with your family and friends.
The boardwalk boasts 35 unique rides, including 17 family rides, and 9 rides for the smaller set to enjoy. In addition to rides, numerous souvenir shops, plenty of novelty dining options, a massive arcade, mini golf area, bowling alley, laser tag, and carnival games line the stretch of land just off the sand on the Pacific Ocean. This is truly a one-stop family-fun destination.
The theme park isn’t faking the nostalgia either: their Giant Dipper coaster and the Looff Carousel are both designated National Historic Landmarks by the U.S. National Park Service. The Giant Dipper, the boardwalk’s most popular ride, opened in 1924 and has had continuous operation since. Kids taller than 50” can ride this thrilling old-fashioned adventure. The Looff Carousel, open to children of all ages, opened in 1911. It is one of the few carousels remaining in the US that features a ring dispenser game. This game allows riders to attempt to snag a ring while riding their horse, and then throw it into a clown’s mouth. A perfect shot is rewarded with lights, bells, and whistles. My children were not quite tall enough (or coordinated enough) to attempt this feat- but it did seem to greatly entertain the older kid set. Okay, I will be honest, it greatly entertained me too! I tried every time to make the shot, but never quite made it in.
The boardwalk has some really awesome perks:
• Entrance is free- come and explore, take a walk on the beach, dip your toes in the sand, or listen to a live concert. If you just want ambiance and ocean, this spot is free!
• When riding a ride with small children (toddler size), you only pay for ONE rider! (THANK YOU for realizing that required chaperones hate paying an arm and a leg to ride in a circle ten times!)
• Avoid summer weekends with small kids. The boardwalk is VERY crowded in summer months, especially on weekends. The crowds were a bit much for our toddler and six-year-old and we had to cut our visit short.
• Loads of teenagers spend their summers here: be warned. Or, if you have teens, sit back and let them enjoy the fun!
• The parking lots fill up quickly during summer hours. Parking is $12/car.
• Check the website for coupons and discounts like $1 ride nights and Pepsi ride passes (just $10.95 for unlimited rides!)
Disclosure: I was provided complimentary wristbands and mini-golf for the purpose of this review. I was not required to state any particular view; all opinions are my own.
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is filled with fun memories for me and my family, and has for years.
The Boardwalk is packed on peak days and nights (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), and lines can be long, but in recent years, it seems that the wait times have decreased, even for the more thrilling rides. Before having kids in school, I would often wait until September or October to venture to the Boardwalk, when the weather is still similar to that in the busier summer months.
We took our kids (6, 8, and 12) to a FREE Bands on the Beach performance (Modern English — of "Melt with You" fame), and they sat through the 1.5 hour performance without issue, enjoying the bubbles being blown and the beach ball being tossed around by other concert-goers. We bought dinner at a concession stand behind the concert seating area for less than $25, enjoying the raved-about corn dogs for which the Boardwalk is famous.
Our older two children are almost fearless. The 8-year-old enjoyed the roller coasters, the Pirate (pendulum-type ride), the Fireball, and Cliff Hanger. Our 12-year-old made Double Shot her first stop, and lead the way for all other rides. The youngest, at 6 years, and small, didn't make the height requirements for some rides, and was content to ride Sea Serpent, Freefall, and the like.
Since we were there for only an evening (6:30pm - 11pm), we parked on Bay Street, which was metered only until 8pm, and cost us only about $2. However, if you'll be at the Boardwalk all day, parking in a lot ($12 during summer months, $6 during off-season) is the best way to go since it's a lot closer to the park.
The weeknight Pepsi deal is the best discount, in my opinion. Unlimited ride wristbands are only $10.95 with an empty Pepsi product can or bottle. Even younger children who will ride on fewer rides requiring fewer tickets will benefit from the unlimited ride wristband, provided they're the type of kids who want to experience a ride "again, again!"
We usually visit a few times a year. This time it was a quest for Dole Whips. You know, that addictive pineapple soft serve they have at Disneyland and Disneyworld?? Well Bay Area Dole Whip fans rejoice, because you can get them on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk!!!!! Woo!!
For the 2012 summer season, they have the Emperor’s Imperial Circus acrobats which have two free shows on the beach stage Sundays-Thursdays. There are plenty of good viewing areas. On Friday nights they have free band concerts. This year includes The Fixx, Flock of Seagulls, Modern English, Eddie Money and others.
Wanna go on the cheap? On Mondays and Tuesdays it’s dollar night with dollar rides, hot dogs, soda and cotton candy after 5pm. On Wednesdays and Thursdays you can do unlimited rides for $10.95 after 5pm with a Pepsi can.
Need to go on the busy days? Costco has an unlimited ride 2-pack that also comes with 2 attraction tickets (such as for mini-golf) and some tokens for $54.99.
Wanna park cheaply? I hate paying for parking, so wanted to share my parking tip. We prefer heading north of the pier area where we can usually find a metered space and park for a few hours for just a few dollars. Not free, but better than the alternative. It’s less congested and much cheaper than battling traffic and parking on the south side in a lot for $12-15.
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is the perfect combination of Fun and Sun. The kids love the beach (although it is not one of the cleaner ones). We stay on the beach during the warmer parts of the day then migrate to the boardwalk for the remainder. We love the rides, food, and shops. The dinosaur cave train is my kids' favorite. It's not a disneyland ride, but the animated figurines give a good comparison. Eating garlic fries and dippin' dots are a must if you visit! If you visit during the summer months, they usually have a show playing twice daily on the beach. The Brazilian Mardi Gras Circus was playing in Summer 2010. It's free to watch and good entertainment. The tickets to go on the rides are very pricey, but you could buy an unlimited wristband. They have deals on certain days and times for $5 wristbands (ex. Tuesdays after 5pm with a Pepsi can). Please don't forget to ride the 100 year old wooden roller coaster and the famous old Merry-go-Round. If you go on the Merry-go-round, don't forget to sit on the outer edge and grab a ring to throw in the clown's mouth. It's something fun to do and brag about.
Despite the crowds and the expense, my family somehow regularly ends up at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in the summertime. Perhaps it is the allure of cotton candy and funnel cakes, or the promise of children exhilarated from exciting rides. Who knows, but we are regular customers.
The Boardwalk features all the standard attractions: roller coasters, junk foods, an arcade, a carousel, concert stage, and plenty of kiddie rides. Unless you are the adventurous type, there are probably plenty of gravity-defying rides you will want to avoid. A wristband is the best deal if you plan on riding all day, but those with younger children may fare better with the (still astoundingly expensive) ride tickets.
Enjoy the standard junk food options offered at the Boardwalk, or venture out on the nearby pier for some enjoyable seafood at the restaurants which line the wharf. There are also some cheap and authentic taquerias on the street which runs along the Boardwalk.
This is a wonderful place for you beach lovers, especially during the summer time. Apart from the great rides, they have live music, games, delicious food, a full indoor arcade, not to mention to open beach right there in front of you. A great place for the whole family, as there is something that every person of all age ranges would enjoy. Not to mention, it's a beautiful scenic drive there and back. I guarantee that anybody will love this place.
Our last trip to San Francisco we spent 2 of our 6 days in Santa Cruz because we liked it so well. We sat on the board walk and watched the surfers and the ocean for an hour. It is nice because it is not commercialized but more rugged. Also a great strip of restaurants just off the board walk with lots of outdoor cafes!
My family and I absolutely love Santa Cruz Beach boardwalk. There are a lot of fun rides and games. There is also fantastic food and after walking the Boardwalk and doing all the activities, you can go to the Beach that is right below. The only problem is that the rides are very expensive. My kids ask to go on the bumber cars everytime we are on our way. This is where we start everytime. The waterride is also a lot of fun I highly recommend it. Probably older kids for that one because it can be a little scary. I go here with my family sometimes just to fo to the beach becasue the rides are very expensive. This place is very fun and U really highly recommend it. There are also fun picture places to take pictures as you walk a long the boardwalk so be sure to bring a camera!
I loved visiting Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Make sure you bring sunscreen in the summertime. You can go on lots of rides, eat at some amazing sea food restaurants, or just lay on the beach. There is enough to do to last an entire weekend trip or more. It's usually a very crowded area. There is basically something to do for every price range. The boardwalk has some amazing stores and giftshops, one after another! I can't wait to go back!
Great for a day or two at the beach with the kids. The boardwalk is interesting with the usual stuff, rides, food, games and such but the kids will like the water and sand. People are generally friendly but some are just downright weird so keep a close eye on your little ones. It is an interesting place with lots to do for everyone.
I love the beach and so did our 16 month old son! There is so much to do at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. There is of course the beach, but also there is an amusement park with rides for older kids. Our son really liked walking down the pier and seeing the seals and marine trammels. He also really loved chasing the seagulls which are all over eating the tourist's food. The beach shops have garlic fries, which I have only see in California and my toddler enjoyed. There is also a huge arcade area which is good fun for both kids and teenagers. The beach is not a warm and sunny beach though. It tends to be a bit cool and windy so check the weather report before you go and bring a jacket just in case.
We visit about once a year, and find it very fun for our 3 and 6 year olds. The wristband is your best bet, otherwise you end up paying for each ride, and that can get pricey. A little schetchy after dark, but a great, beach a boradwalk activity for the fam during the day!
This place is great, the best time to go though is early in the day on a weekday or before opening on a weekend. That way you can find parking and get in before the crowd gets to bad. It's fun to have the beach by the rides and attractions but gets a bit rowdy at night when the kids get out of school as this is apparently a local kids hang out.
I grew up there, walking playing and swimming the beaches of Santa Cruz. I honestly have been there in sometime now, but enjoyed every minute of when I was there. Games, taffy, food, beaches, boardwalk where you can see the sea lions basking in the sun. Shops surfers and beach combing lots of fun for all ages.
This is a summer must-do for those who live near. If you're looking to go to a beach, but want more to do than just basking in the sun or swimming amongst the waves, this is the place to go. Just know that it is almost always packed...The boardwalk has everything. Shopping, food, rides, carnival type games, arcade games, miniature golf, and of course the beach. The food, rides, and outdoor games makes this place feel like a year round county fair. Which in my opinion is awesome, because who doesn't love the fair?
This is a wonderful time for all families. The Boardwalk is a world unto itself. There are rides, games, shops, food, a great beach and free entertainment. If you enjoy people watching this is a premiere spot! My kids look forward to our yearly trip here even more than Christmas!
We have been coming here every year for years and it never gets boring. There's plenty to do for my 3 year old daughter. The carousel is a classic as well as the Giant Dipper coaster. And of course the beach is just steps away. They also have lots of good food to eat.
Parking can be a pain. The beach is pretty good, although crowded at times. The boardwalk is fun to walk up and down, but there aren't too many "kiddie" rides. But it's worth the drive to get the ol' time boardwalk feel. Try the taffy shop. Its pretty fantastic!
Lots of rides and "fair" food to enjoy here. There are rides for kids and adults of all ages! Our 2 year old's fav ride was Cave Train, and my husband and I love the old wooden roller coaster. I gave 4 stars instead of 5 because it can be costly (like any typical amusement park). Also be prepared...it can be windy and pretty chilly so bring a jacket.
We just went this morning (Saturday, 6/26/10) with our 3 year old son and loved it! There was lots of kiddie rides that were perfect for him. His favorites were the boats (could ring a bell like a fireman), the helicopter ride (he rode the fire rescue one), and the pepsi trucks. We were worried about the crowds, but it wasn't bad when we were there between 10am and 1pm. We were able to get on each ride in less than 5 minutes each.
Don't bother riding the bumper cars. They make all the cars go in same direction which makes bumping a bit more challenging.