For passionate beachgoers, summer vacation is synonymous with oceanfront boardwalks that offer stunning views of the dunes, beaches and crashing waves. Featuring fun amusement rides, eclectic shops, cool cafes, live music and carefree summertime traditions, these boardwalks have become popular destinations with their own sun-soaked personalities, characterized by the sweet and salty combined aromas of fresh popcorn, cotton candy, French fries, pizza and other delectable and local treats.
On your next beach vacation, take a walk along these USA boardwalks and enjoy a taste of American summertime fun!
Atlantic City, NJ
Steeped in history, this iconic boardwalk was the first in the US. Built in the late 1800s, it stretches four miles along the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. With its famous casinos, shops, restaurants and beach bars, this boardwalk is always bustling in the warmer months, day and night. Live music and entertainment are a big part of the ambiance – and summertime concerts feature major artists as well as local bands. Music has especially enhanced the scene tremendously within the last year, too, as the newly-opened Hard Rock Hotel and Casino has pumped some much-needed enthusiasm into the scene. Need a rest from all the excitement? Hop on one of the boardwalk’s legendary rolling chairs (or electric tram car) and get whisked away to your next destination.
Venice Beach, CA
Often described as a “circus-like” atmosphere, the Venice beach boardwalk does not disappoint those seeking an over-the-top people watching experience with plenty of surprises along the way. The pedestrian oceanfront walkway is over two miles of sensory surplus…with street performers, shops, cafes, artists, musicians and vendors. Bicyclists, skateboarders and gawking tourists all share the promenade, creating a one-of-a-kind must-see SoCal destination. If you’re a surfer (or a beginner), there are a number of spots to rent boards and plenty of professional lessons available. After an early morning bike ride, one of my favorite places to hang out is the Venice Beach skateboard park to watch the mesmerizing shredders in action.
Ocean City, MD
Succulent crab cakes, thrill-inducing roller coasters and raucous arcades make this boardwalk one of the most popular seaside destinations in Maryland. With an abundance of beach activities – including shopping, restaurants and bars along the shore, this boardwalk offers entertainment for all ages. From art galleries to brew pubs, and amusement rides and live rock bands, the summertime crowd can soak up the thrills from the early morning until late at night.
Hollywood Beach, FL
Situated between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, the Hollywood beach esplanade is a two-mile pathway along the Atlantic Ocean. Family-friendly and convenient, it is open to bicyclists, joggers and those who wish to relax and enjoy the ocean views. Each weekend, the town opens an organic market on the southern end of the boardwalk, offering fruits, vegetables, local artisanal items and an array of healthy snacks. With cafes and small hotels along the entire walkway, it’s no wonder that it is a Florida favorite.
Rehoboth Beach, DE
Known for its friendly atmosphere, this mile-long boardwalk is packed with seaside activities, restaurants and arcades and beachfront action. A stop at the famous Grotto pizza and a visit to Funland amusement park are both essential for an authentic Rehoboth boardwalk experience. Always welcoming and lively, this town’s boardwalk gazebo offers an array of music and entertainment nightly.
Santa Cruz, CA
The Santa Cruz beach boardwalk is California’s oldest amusement park, dating back to 1907. A 24-acre family-friendly destination, the boardwalk spans a sandy beachfront area along Monterrey bay, and showcases several historical rides, including the Giant Dipper roller coaster and the park’s famous carousel, featuring its original pipe organ. An iconic surfing spot and historical landmark, the boardwalk also has an assortment of food concessions, classic carnival games, an indoor miniature golf course, and other beachfront activities.
Ocean City, NJ
One of the largest and most expansive on the Jersey shore, the Ocean City boardwalk offers three major amusement parks, a water park, and all the fast food under the sun -- from ice cream, and pizza to French fries and Italian ice (known as “water ice” in Southern New Jersey). Maritime-themed shops, art shows, sand-sculpting contests, special events, and the town’s renowned music pier all contribute to this classic seaside spot. It’s a popular spot for early morning bicycling, but if you wish to try it, be sure to go early in the morning, as it gets very crowded by 10 a.m. And be aware…this family-friendly destination is ‘dry’ (no alcohol sales) and is not known for late-night partying.
Virginia Beach, VA
With picturesque ocean views, the Virginia Beach boardwalk offers many family friendly activities, such as amusement rides and arcades, miniature golf and sea-themed shops. A number of hotels, inns and various restaurants are all located right on the boardwalk, making it an easy vacation spot for all budgets. In addition, the town offers other educational sites as well, including museums and monuments, such as the Aquarium and Marine Science Center, and Chrysler Museum of Art.
Rockaway Beach, NY
Minutes from Manhattan, this east coast surf town has boardwalk with ocean views along with plenty of people-watching. With a soft, sandy shoreline, the Rockaway Beach boardwalk has undergone a major revitalization after 2012’s hurricane Sandy. Located in Queens, the lively boardwalk attracts a diverse crowd of families, day-trippers, surfers -- and a food-loving crowd that adores the tasty fare, featuring concession stands like gourmet ice cream and fish tacos.
Myrtle Beach, SC
Capturing the classic boardwalk vibe with seascapes, sand dunes and a rustic shoreline, Myrtle Beach offers an assortment of classic and fun activities and a variety of entertainment. This spirited boardwalk features boisterous arcades, trendy (and kitschy) boutiques and thrilling amusement rides, such as the popular Slingshot and the Skywheel, along with many restaurants and beach bars serving up tasty treats.