The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, built in 1907, is a classic seaside amusement park complete with roller coasters, games, and rides. A colorful overhead gondola offers aerial beach views, and there are plenty of indoor activities and food options. One of the oldest amusement parks in California, it is designated as a historic landmark.
Many visitors come to the Boardwalk to ride the Giant Dipper, a nationally recognized, wooden roller coaster built in 1924. The half-mile (0.8-kilometer) track took 47 days to construct, and since then more than 60 million people have ridden it. The park has dozens of other rides and attractions, from thrilling classics like the free fall and Ferris wheel to kid-friendly carousels, mini golf, laser tag, bowling, and the area’s largest selection of video games in Neptune’s Kingdom arcade.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a must for all first-time visitors to the area, especially families with children.
- If you plan to spend some time on the beach, bring sun protection.
- Free shuttles from Downtown to the boardwalk operate on weekends in the summer months
How to Get There
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is located at 400 Beach Street, right on the beach. There is paid parking, but it fills up fast on summer weekends; arrive early for a spot. Alternatively, from downtown you can either walk 20 to 30 minutes or ride the Santa Cruz Trolley to the Boardwalk (summer weekends only).
When to Get There
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is open year-round, but with limited opening times and fewer rides outside of summer months. Neptune’s Kingdom, the Casino Arcade, Buccaneer’s Bay, and the Boardwalk Bowl stay open all year. The boardwalk holds seasonal events such as evening summer concerts, fall festivals, and an annual clam chowder festival. Check the website for up-to-date opening times and an events calendar.
Santa Cruz Wharf
From the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, take an easy 5-minute walk or short drive to the wharf for a distinctly Santa Cruz dining experience. The long wooden pier is lined with over a dozen restaurants mostly specializing in seafood, and ranging from casual to fine dining. The wharf also has stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, a classic sweets shop, a wine bar, clothing and gift shops, and water sports rentals, restrooms, and parking.