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Best Beach Boardwalks for Summer Family Vacation Fun. A family vacation at the beach is always better when it includes time at the boardwalk where sun, sand, and surf align with entertainment and classic, often funky eateries. The best boardwalk options anchor both coasts providing family vacation choices from New York and New Jersey to Virginia, South Carolina, and California. Virginia Beach Boardwalk Summer Fun 

Fortunately there are more than 50 boardwalks throughout the US each offering its own local charm and providing a sense of place with a glimpse of decades passed. Some have amusement parks which provide extra thrill s while others are anchored by a classic fishing pier and oodles of great fish stories. Time on the boardwalk, any boardwalk is a quintessentially American beach experience.
Our beach folder highlights the best of American beaches featuring more than 50 great family vacation spots. Our list below reveals the best beach boardwalks guaranteed to provide a rich menu of family activities. I suggest you make plans and let the summer unfold at the beach with hot dogs, soft serve ice cream, and perhaps a double order of curly fries. Santa Cruz Boardwalk Dipper Thrills and Sea Views 
Santa Cruz, California – Home of the Giant Dipper. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is perhaps one of the best seaside amusement parks in the US. The world-famous Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster which began thrilling visitors in 1924 still holds an attraction for many. Add to that assorted thrill rides and classic midway games.  Bonus Points: Often dubbed the "Coney Island of the West," offers a classic California-style beach experience which includes the Looff Carousel, a free-fall ride, and the Haunted Castle. This is the place to sample chocolate-dipped foods and munch on delightful English toffee at Marini's Candies. Here’s the deal. The 2013 line-up for Free Friday Night Bands on the Beach looks promising. (Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is located at 400 Beach Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 or Beach Seaside Boardwalk

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina – Boardwalk amusements and a waterpark. Smack dab in the center of the Grand Strand, Myrtle Beach provides a fun-packed 1.2-mile long boardwalk. It is home base for entertainment and family-friendly festivals during the summer season. Family Kingdom Amusement Park attracts kids of all ages for the carnival-like atmosphere and the largest Ferris wheel in South Carolina plus more than 30 rides including an all-wooden roller coaster, and a historic carousel. Add to the fun at Ocean Front Water Park with three wet-and-wild water flumes, one with a 185-foot drop, two exhilarating speed slides and many other water-themed rides and attractions. Bonus Points: During the summer months Monday nights are dedicated to family fun with bouncy houses, face painting, juggling, stilt antics and balloon artists plus live entertainment.  Here is the deal. From the Myrtle Beach website print coupons to redeem on your vacation. (Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.  1200 N. Oak Street, Myrtle Beach, 29577 or Beach Boardwalk Fishing Pier
Virginia Beach, Virginia - Classic American Beach Vacation. Deemed the world’s longest pleasure beach by the Guinness Book of World Records, the “Big Beach” project extended the shore’s width to more than 300 feet with the addition of 3.2 million cubic yards of sand. The result is more beach blanket space with more room for games on the sand. The 2.6-mile boardwalk is no longer made of boards, but the improved version is terrific for walking, biking, and roller skating. It’s the place to rent a surrey bike for some family pedaling, or create a caravan and get everyone their own pair of skates.  Bonus Points: No need to bring your own wheels, rent surreys, bikes and roller blades at stands along the Boardwalk.  (Anchored in the southeastern corner of the state where Virginia meets the sea, Virginia Beach is four hours southeast of Washington, D.C. by car. Toll-free 1- 800-822-3224 or

Wildwood New Jersey - FREE summer concerts. Go for the music and hang around for the fun of which Wildwood has plenty. For beach fun the area has been dubbed # 1 in the state of New Jersey. Add to that the famous Wildwood Boardwalk (see American kitsch in the dictionary) spans 38 blocks (about two miles) with its carnival-like atmosphere helps anchor the area symbolizing the “Good Old Days” yet connecting with the today. It’s the place to find yummy funnel cakes, cotton candy, and salty curly-fries. Three amusement piers divide the oceanfront providing thrilling roller coasters with ocean views; three waterparks mark their places in the sun; the in between space is filled with shops, arcades, and plenty of eateries. Bonus Points: All summer long Every Thursday is Family Fun Night and a family-friendly tram makes getting from one end of the Boardwalk to the other easy. (Morey’s Piers 3501 Boardwalk, Wildwood, NJ 08260. (609) 522-3900, or Wildwoods Tourism Authority call toll-free 1-800-992-9732 or
Coney Island Boardwalk, New York - Coming back strong. Hurricane Sandy devastated Coney Island but the iconic landmark is rebuilding and will be ready for summertime family fun by Memorial Day weekend so I am keeping it on the list.  Coney Island Boardwalk and the legendary Luna Park with more than 19 thrilling rides including the innovative aerial inspired “Air Race” make any day an adventure. Add to the fun entertainment which includes plenty of magic and juggling. Up and running for the summer the “Scream Zone” will offer new thrills. Good news for aquarium goers. Part of the New York City Aquarium will be open by the end of May. Bonus Points: Look for “Magic at Coney – Vaudeville Revisited” which offers a family vaudeville show typical of the turn of the 20th century. Entertainers dressed in period costumes, transport audience members back in time engaging them in mind-reading, comedy, musical and sleight-of-hand acts. (Coney Island USA 1208 Surf Ave. between Stillwell and 12th Street. Brooklyn, NY 11224. Details at or 

Content by reserched and posted by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files. Images by Amanda Nelson-Duac, Myrtle Beach CVB, and Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Copyright updated 2017. 

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