Few things say summer like the sun, the beach, and a boardwalk. Lined with cotton candy vendors, arcades, and stores full of cheap trinkets, boardwalks are a fixture of the American ocean landscape. Every summer, thousands of people flock to boardwalks to experience the unique sights, sounds, and foods.
As a celebration and salute to all things boardwalk, here are the top 15 boardwalks scattered throughout the United States
15. Atlantic City Boardwalk, New Jersey
First built in 1870 to reduce the amount of sand beachgoers brought into trains and hotels lobbies, the Atlantic City Boardwalk has become a true American icon. At four miles long, those who walk the wooden path will find themselves winding past brightly flashing casinos, large, elegant hotel towers, massive arcade halls, and a neon-lit amusement pier that sparkles in the night like a beacon on the sea.
- Getting pushed along the boardwalk in a wicker chair is a tradition dating all the way back to 1887 and a truly luxurious way to take in the sights and sounds.
- The Absecon Lighthouse is the third-largest lighthouse in America and those on the boardwalk can get a close view of this majestic tower.
14. Coney Island Boardwalk, Brooklyn, New York
Ahh, Coney Island. In the 19th century, this wooden walkway was called “Sodom by the Sea” due to the numerous gambling houses and brothels surrounding it, but in the 1980’s it began to make a comeback. Recently, New York City breathed new life into the iconic amusement park, Luna Park, by installing 19 new rides. Included in the revitalization was the much anticipated Air Race and entertainment shows full of magic and juggling.
- Make sure to grab an ice cold lager at the Freak Bar, which is located directly next to the “freak show”. At the freak show you can take in the sword swallowers, fire eaters, and snake charmers.
13. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Constructed in 2010, the 1.2 mile long Myrtle Beach Oceanfront Boardwalk & Promenade revitalized the Grand Strand beachfront. The walkway is lined with souvenir shops and arcades, as well as beautiful oceanfront park near the 2nd Avenue Pier. Every summer evening, walkers will stumble upon live entertainment, including stilt walkers, jugglers, bagpipers, and a weekly fireworks display.
- If gift shops are your thing, you absolutely can’t miss the “Gay Dolphin Gift Cove” (yes the real name). At 30,000 square feet, this mammoth of a gift shop has 70,000 different items, allowing you to shop to your heart’s content.
12. Ocean Front Walk, Venice Beach, California
The Venice Boardwalk is at the center of the wild, loose, free culture that dominated the 1960’s and continues until this day. Along the three mile stretch, you will encounter fortune tellers, tattoo artists, weight lifters, jewelry peddlers, street performers, and a host of other sights and sounds. If you want a little more culture and class, you can visit many of the upscale boutiques and take in the beachfront properties, much of which is owned by Hollywood starlets.
- Make sure to bring plenty of dollar bills to tip the many street performers along the boardwalk. They work hard to make their living performing!
- If you want to see some massive bodybuilders, don’t miss the famed Venice Beach!
11. Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk, Delaware
This boardwalk was built with the city 1873 as a place to for Methodist camp meetings, and now it serves as a prime attraction for those at the beach. Attempts have been made in recent years to give the mile-long boardwalk a bit of a facelift, with a yellow pine herringbone patterned walkway replacing the ugly concrete. Featuring open air concerts, quaint cottages, and gorgeous scenery, this boardwalk has a distinctly vintage feel.
- Visit Funland and Surfside Arcade for some good old fashioned family fun. Who’s best at skeeball?
- If you’re craving candy, make sure to pay a visit to Dolle’s Salt Water Taffy for some chewy, sticky goodness.
10. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, California
When the West Coast needed an answer to Coney Island, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk was created. A truly vintage location, this gorgeous boardwalk is one of the last seaside amusement parks still standing in the U.S. With its iconic wooden Giant Dipper roller coaster and truly classic Looff carousel, this is a truly historical piece of the country. In fact, the entire stretch along Monterey Bay is an official historical landmark.
- In the summer, make sure you catch the wonderful free concerts on Friday nights.
- If you’re looking for something a bit spooky, check out the Haunted Castle, which opened in 2010.
9. Sandwich Boardwalk, Massachusetts
Although destroyed back in 1991 by Hurricane Bob, this 1,350-foot rose from its watery grave after being rebuilt by locals. Located in Sandwich, which is the oldest town on Cape Cod, the planks feature names and messages from those locals who worked hard to rebuild the boardwalk they so deeply loved. But unlike most boardwalks, this isn’t a commercial epicenter. Rather, visitors are treated to gorgeous glimpses of dunes, marshes, and a creek.
- If you love birding, this is the place to go. The marshes feature a large variety of birds, as well as host of other wildlife.
8. Virginia Beach, Virginia
This 3 mile concrete boardwalk runs along the Atlantic Ocean, and provides a wonderful variety of live music venues, amusement rides, and bicycle rental shops (a separate bike path runs along the boardwalk). The historic Old Coast Guard Station is a fun place to pick up nautical-themed gifts, and the 15th Street Amusement Park is a great place to hop aboard a wild ride.
- Don’t miss all the nautical sculptures standing along the length of the boardwalk. You can get a great photo at the 34-foot (10-meter) bronze King Neptune.
7. Wildwoods Boardwalk, New Jersey
The Wildwoods boardwalk is one of the most “traditional” boardwalks out there. The two-mile boardwalk is brilliantly lit by neon and is full of the most quintessential shore attractions. You can find numerous places to purchase funnel cakes, a variety of game houses, and more amusement rides than Disneyland. It truly is a place for those who love all things boardwalk.
- If you love thrills, don’t miss Great White, one of the tallest and fastest wooden roller coasters on the East Coast.
- If you’re looking to cool down, three amusement piers and two water parks include waterslides and a 500-gallon bucket that soaks the crowd.
6. Hollywood Beach Boardwalk, Hollywood, FL
Created back in 1925, this 2.5-mile-long terracotta-colored path is broad, wide, and perfect for taking a leisurely stroll along the sea. Lodging is available in any of the 28 hotels and the pure white sand of Hollywood Beach is a perfect place to catch some rays. The Art Deco Walkabout Beach Resort is colored pink, while others are painted turquoise to match the color of the sea.
- Make sure to catch the Sunday organic farmers’ markets. You can get an outstanding smoothie made from exotic fruits.
- Grab some bikes at Sun & Fun Cycles and then ride from the north end of the Boardwalk to John U. Lloyd Beach State Park for and take in the glorious nature of Old Florida.
5. Oceanfront Boardwalk, San Diego, CA
If you’re an outdoorsy person, this boardwalk is perfect for you. The three-mile boardwalk runs along Pacific and Mission beaches and has plenty of space for surfing, kayaking, biking, and beach volleyball. Want to rent a fun beach toy? Head over Hamel’s Surf Shop. If you want to catch some entertainment, the Belmont Park amusement park is perfect with the Giant Dipper roller coaster and other terrifying rides, perfect for the thrill-seeker.
- If the heat is getting a bit too much, stop by The Plunge, an Olympic-size indoor pool.
- The FlowRider is a artificial wave pool for beginning surfers and the FlowBarrel is a continuous 10-foot barrel wave for the real surfers.
4. Huron Boardwalk, St. Ignace, MI
Constructed over the past 35 years, this is a gorgeous location, with a boardwalk lined by spruce and maple trees. The boardwalk hugs the scenic shore for a mile, all the way from Kiwanis Beach Park to American Legion Memorial Park. Small shops dot on one side and the majestic Lake Huron sits on the other. In the National Historic Landmark Museum of Ojibwa Culture, you can learn about a birch-bark canoe and handmade Native American crafts.
- The coconut-laced German chocolate fudge at Murdick’s Fudge Kitchen is absolutely to die for.
3. Kemah Boardwalk, Kemah, TX
This boardwalk is a perfect throwback to the sights, sound, and even energy of a traditional carnival. It’s a half-mile-long, family-oriented boardwalk centered around a beautiful amusement park, complete with a thundering wooden roller coaster, a massive 65-foot Ferris wheel, a carousel, and a stunning reproduction of an 1863 Central Pacific train. On top of that, the park includes an African elephant and gorilla animatronics in a rainforest exhibit, a stingray petting tank, a 140-passenger speedboat ride, and an aquarium-themed restaurant.
- If you’re roasting in the heat, you can cool off in the Dancing Fountains, which is 75 water jets that spray water 10–12 feet into the air.
2. Long Beach Boardwalk, Long Beach, WA
This is a nature-lovers, bird enthusiast paradise. A true gem in the forest. The half-mile wooden boardwalk crosses sandy dunes, and careful observers will spot bald eagles, red-backed sandpipers, and rare snowy plovers. If you’re a history buff, you’ll be pleased to know that the boardwalk crosses paths with the Discovery Trail, where the Lewis and Clark Expedition explored.
- Make sure you prepare appropriate food. There is no snack bar, so bring a picnic lunch and enjoy it at one of the many rest areas.
- The World Kite Museum features a dizzying array of 1,500 kites, including military kites from World War II, Chinese dragon kites, and bird- and horse-shaped Indonesian kites.
1. Ocean City Boardwalk, Maryland
Located at the southern tip of Ocean City, Maryland, this three-mile boardwalk is usually packed with people on summer evenings. Featuring a grand variety of shops, eateries, amusements, night life and lodging, this boardwalk is the perfect mix of history, culture, modern convenience, and fun. If you need to stay overnight, there are an array of Ocean City hotels available!
- You absolutely must try Thrashers French fries, complete with a dousing of vinegar.
- Antique rides, like the Herschel-Spellman carousel built in 1902 provide amazing vintage ambience.
- The Life-Saving Station Museum gives you an inside look at the history of shipwrecks and the rescue teams that came to their aid.
Your Next Vacation
Now that we have you craving funnel cake, boardwalks, beaches, and crashing surf, better make your reservations now, as they fill up fast. You can plan a boardwalk trip every year, taking you from coast to coast, giving you access to both beautiful scenes and garish carnivals, and some of the best deep fried treats on the planet!