When you think of a boardwalk, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? In brief, it’s probably a picturesque beachside community often accompanied by a family friendly amusement park. Of course, that’s why coastal cities rank among America’s top destinations in the summer. In light of this, it’s not too late to start planning for a seaside vacation before summer is over.
Without further delay, here is a look at 15 of the best seaside boardwalks in the United States.
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Even if this list wasn’t alphabetized, the AC’s boardwalk deserves to be mentioned first. After all, it was the America’s first, opened way back in 1870. On top of that, it’s one of the longest and among the East Coasts’ most famous boardwalks. Extending over 4 miles, the iconic pedestrian pathway connects several of the AC’s top attractions, like casinos, retail shopping, piers and the famed Boardwalk Hall. Lastly, if it gets too hot, the beaches are just footsteps away.
Daytona Beach, Florida
It’s not just the historic boardwalk that makes this Florida city so exceptionally popular. For one, it’s home to one of the world’s most famous beaches. For another, there are amusement park rides, arcade games and of course, a legendary racetrack. In addition are lively summer concerts at the time weathered Bandshell. If that’s not enough, head over to the Pier or enjoy an upcoming event in the Festival Capital of Florida.
Hampton Beach, New Hampshire
This beautiful seaside community doesn’t really have a boardwalk. Yet almost everywhere you look, is a business named after it. Moreover, with arcade games, cheap eats and small retail shops, it definitely looks like the real thing. What’s more, events are held all summer, including live entertainment on the Sea Shell Stage, a talent contest and seafood fest. Lastly, Hampton Beach will host a long list of world-class performers all summer at the iconic Casino Ballroom.
Hollywood Beach Broardwalk, Florida
Blessed with summery weather all year long, Hollywood Beach has been drawing visitors since the 1920s. During the early days, a cement walkway was paved as this resort area was emerging as the Atlantic City of the South. With this in mind, Hollywood Beach Broadwalk now extends nearly 2.5 miles and among the best in Florida. Several hotels, eateries and tourists shops line the walkway to complete the total vacation experience. Oh and that’s not a typo, it is called Broadwalk!
Jones Beach, New York
Like New Jersey, the Empire State has an impressive collection of boardwalks. While Coney Island reigns supreme, Rockaway and Long Beach are as scenic as they are as expansive. However, the nearly-mile long Jones Beach boardwalk makes the cut here. That’s primarily because of concerts at the Bandshell and Jones Beach Theater. In fact, aside from Atlantic City, no other boardwalk comes close to this level of world-class entertainment.
Mission Beach, San Diego
Featuring a historic seaside amusement park, Mission Beach has not one, but two seaside boardwalks. The first opened in 1925, around the same time as Belmont Park. Today, the boardwalk runs the length of Mission and Pacific beaches . Unsurprisingly, the walkway is filled people, to enjoy snack shops, nightlife and shops for water activities. Additionally, on the opposite side of the beach is Mission Bay, with its own popular Bayside Walk.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Located along South Carolina’s Grand Strand, Myrtle Beach is among the top beach destinations in the entire South. The top South Carolina boardwalk dates to the 1930s and today runs 1.2 miles long while bustling with activity. The pathway connects visitors to many affordable hotel and attractions, including the 187-foot tall SkyWheel. If that’s not enough, there are arcade games, a wooden roller coaster and even more amusement parks.
Ocean City, Maryland
Located on Fenwick Island, Ocean City is a resort community with a population of barely over 7,000. But in summertime, it’s reminiscent of other popular coastal destinations. The first boardwalk opened in 1902 and now ranks among the Top 10 Best. The 2.25 mile boardwalk is dog friendly and known for its award-winning food options. Even more is Trimper’s Rides, one of America’s best and oldest remaining seaside parks.
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Once named the East Coast’s Best Family Beach, Rehoboth Beach backs up the distinction. Similarly, the mile-long boardwalk has earned its own national awards. The original boardwalk dates to 1873, the same year the town was established. What is more, the contemporary walkway is actually made of wood! In addition, there are family-friendly attractions like Funland and Ryan’s Mini Golf.
Riegelmann Boardwalk, Coney Island, New York
The name might not be recognizable. However, think Coney Island and you will instantly know Riegelmann is one famous boardwalk. Even before the wooden walkway was completed in 1923, Coney Island was by far, America’s largest amusement area. Although many attractions have come and gone, Coney Island continues to draw enormous crowds. A few landmark attractions are thankfully still around, like the Cyclone, Wonder Wheel and original Nathan’s Famous hot dog stand.
Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, California
Like many of today’s amusement parks, the boardwalk here is no longer wooden. However, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk retains some of its oldest rides and attractions. This includes the Giant Dipper roller coaster, Looff Carousel and the Cocoanut Grove. Opened in 1907, the Beach Boardwalk is the oldest surviving amusement park on the West Coast. Even more, the Beach Boardwalk has been named the world’s best seaside park by the Golden Ticket Awards.
Seaside Heights, New Jersey
With so many boardwalks along the Jersey Shore, it’s a shame to leave some out. Of course, there are hotspots, like Long Branch and Asbury Park. That’s also not to mention Point Pleasant. However, there’s something special about the 2.1-mile wooden boardwalk in Seaside Heights. First of all, it connects to Casino Pier, among the nation’s top amusement parks. If that’s not enough, Seaside Heights was also the setting for MTV’’s popular realty TV show Jersey Shore.
Venice Beach, California
It might be surprising to know that Venice Beach is the second largest tourist attraction in Southern California. Of course, there’s Disneyland, but Venice Beach offers a more affordable experience. Attracting all sorts of interesting characters, Ocean Front Walk is lined with souvenir shops, snack shops and more. Also part of the scene are pickleball, weightlifters, basketball players and street performers. Also not to be missed are the world’s only beachside skatepark and the landmark Santa Monica Pier.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Virginia Beach, Virginia
There’s a reason why Virginia Beach is among America’s best summer destinations. There are great hotels, shopping, nightlife and the “world’s longest pleasure beach“. Besides that, the 3-mile long boardwalk has its own share of national recognition. Originally built in 1888, the boardwalk ranks high from sources like the Travel Channel, National Geographic and more. Lastly, for fun, games and thrill rides, head over to Atlantic Fun Park.
Wildwoods Boardwalk, New Jersey
Last but certainly not least, is yet another famous boardwalk along the Jersey Shore. Dating back to 1890, the original wooden boards are obviously gone. However, in its place is an impressive walkway, stretching across 38 blocks. Along the two-mile pathway is everything one would expect in a nationally recognized destination. Indeed, there are souvenir shops, snack bars and Morey’s Piers, one of best amusement parks in the country. What’s more is the Sightseer Tram service, as well as a popular Doo Wop museum.
About The Author:
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS Local from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including CBS New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco.
During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a reported digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS Radio, Engadget and Radio.com. He is a Media Fellow of Stanford University, U.S. Army veteran and lifelong resident of Santa Cruz County, California.