You don’t have to leave Santa Cruz to visit the world’s best seaside park. It’s right here at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk! This amusement park has been delighting visitors with its exciting rides, interesting history, beautiful beach setting and welcoming spirit since it opened in 1907.
The Boardwalk’s Beginnings
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is the only remaining large seaside amusement park on the West Coast. For more than 100 years, the boardwalk has entertained families with their vintage and modern attractions. The park’s roots date back to 1865, when a public bathhouse was constructed for tourists who visited Santa Cruz to bathe in the healing ocean waters. Soon after, other businesses sprang up including photo booths and concession stands. Plans were laid out to build a “Coney Island of the West”, and by 1907, construction was complete.
The Giant Dipper
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk boasts the fifth oldest roller coaster in the US – The Giant Dipper. It opened to the public in 1924, wowing visitors with its red and white structure and spectacular Monterey Bay views. The ride reaches speeds of up to 55 mph, and originally cost 15 cents per ride. Today it’s $5.00 to take a spin on this thrill ride. It’s been featured in many commercials, television shows and films including The Lost boys, Dangerous Minds, and Sudden Impact. To date, more than 59 million people have taken a ride on this legendary coaster.
Touted as the boardwalk’s oldest ride, the Looff Carousel has been enchanting visitors since 1911. Each of the ride’s 73 horses is unique and boasts colorful details from swords to strands of garland. In 1987 the US Park Service declared this gem a National Historic Landmark along with the park’s Giant Dipper roller coaster.
Fun Filled Day
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is an excellent destination for a family-fun day. With over 35 rides, including the newest The Haunted Castle, there’s no end to the excitement that can be had. The park also has three arcades with the largest selection of vintage machines and modern video games in Northern California, a game deck, games of skill, an electronic shooting gallery, a two-story indoor miniature golf course, a laser tag arena and a variety of gift shops to take home beachwear and souvenirs.
There’s plenty to eat at the boardwalk with many delicious food vendors to choose from. Enjoy corn dogs made from a secret family recipe. Or if you’re feeling more adventurous try chocolate covered bacon, deep fried artichokes or even deep fried Twinkies!
Take the kids bowling at the 26 lane Boardwalk Bowl featuring Atomic Bowling, league play, kiddie bumpers, arcade, a cafe and live local music. Frolic in the surf and sand on the mile-long sandy beach that fronts the park.
Visiting the Boardwalk
The boardwalk is open for full operation between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It is also open most weekends and holidays during the year. Admission to the boardwalk is free. Tickets for rides are available for purchase. The boardwalk is located in Santa Cruz at 400 Beach Street. For more information, visit them on the web at http://beachboardwalk.com/.