Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

#6 in Best Things To Do in Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk picture
Courtesy of Visit Santa Cruz County

Key Info

400 Beach St.

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Amusement Parks, Sightseeing, Free Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.2

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a mile-long boardwalk and amusement park just south of central Santa Cruz. Operating for more than a century, the boardwalk boasts a plethora of rides, two of which – the Giant Dipper and the Looff Carousel – are National Historic Landmarks. The boardwalk also touts a bevy of carnival fare, including corn dogs, deep-fried artichokes and deep-fried Twinkies. You'll also find an arcade, a two-story miniature golf course and a laser tag arena, among other attractions.

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a favorite among both locals and visitors, who comment on its old-timey charm and Americana appeal. Some travelers recommend visiting on Friday nights in the summertime when the boardwalk hosts two free concerts at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Others appreciated the ample parking across the street.

The rides at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk are open seven days a week, from April to August; they're usually open on weekends during the fall and winter months. Although the rides close at various times, they usually begin operation at 11 a.m. Admission to the boardwalk is free, but its rides and attractions will cost you. For instance, mini-golf costs $6 per round and bowling costs $5. An all-inclusive day pass that covers all rides and attractions costs $42.95 if purchased online (expect to pay $6 more if you buy on-site). You can also purchase an all-day ride wristband for $36.95. If you're planning to park at the boardwalk, you can expect to pay between $10 and $15 per vehicle. You can also take a free shuttle from the Government Center on Ocean Street directly to the boardwalk; parking at the center costs $10. The boardwalk is located right along the water on Beach Street. For more information, check out the boardwalk's website.

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This 3-mile walking and biking path offers some of the best views of the county – and it's a great workout too. Along the way, you'll be treated to pristine vistas of the Pacific Ocean and you might even spot some surfers riding the waves at Steamer Lane or whales and dolphins cresting the water at Lighthouse Point. You can also stop in to the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum along your stroll, which is stationed inside the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse.

Recent travelers and locals said West Cliff Drive is a must-do. According to reviewers, the beauty is unparalleled, and the benches that line the path are a nice pit stop along the 6-mile round-trip walk. To avoid crowded paths, some travelers recommend visiting on a weekday and also note parking can be difficult to come by on weekends. 

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Courtesy of Visit Santa Cruz County and Paul Schraub
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