14 Best Beach Boardwalks in America
Get ready for summer with these fun-filled boardwalks that offer gorgeous water views and plenty to do right next to some of the best beaches in the United States.
Ocean City, New Jersey
Named the Best Beach in America by Coastal Living Magazine, this stretch of boards features fun-packed rides, free entertainment, and worth-breaking-your-diet treats—don’t miss the warm caramel corn at Johnson’s Popcorn and Philadelphia-style, thin-crust pizza served in a converted movie theater at Manco & Manco. Ocean City is a dry town, meaning there are no bars or liquor stores, making this a favorite with families—it’s actually called America’s Greatest Family Resort. Don’t miss these other top beaches in New Jersey to visit with your family.
Coney Island, New York
New York City’s classic beachfront boardwalk is the home of iconic rides such as the slow-spinning Wonder Wheel and the creaking drops of the wooden Cyclone roller coaster. The 2.7 mile stretch of Coney Island Boardwalk is also where to find the original Nathan’s Hot Dogs, and the annual July 4th hot dog eating contest (come any time of year to sample their famous dog, crosscut fries, and lemonade). For a different view of the water, be sure to stop by the New York Aquarium which is opening a new Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit in June 2018, after a five-year rebuild from Hurricane Sandy.
Wildwood, New Jersey
You can ride a tram car to check out the 38 blocks (nearly 2 miles) of nonstop action at this southern Jersey Shore favorite, which took one of the top spots in TripAdvisor’s Most Popular Destinations in the United States. The boardwalk here is legendary, filled with attractions, stores, restaurants, live entertainment, arcades, and water parks all vying for your attention. Morey’s Piers, family-owned and operated since 1969, offers more than 100 rides ranging from a photo-worthy Ferris Wheel to a raging roller coaster to little kid-friendly spinners on three separate piers along six beach blocks in addition to two spotless beachfront water parks. Don’t miss these best beaches in America.
Old Orchard Beach, Maine
Family Vacation Critic named this New England beach its top choice for families in 2018, and its unique boardwalk is one of the reasons. First, there’s a long boardwalk pier that picturesquely extends over the Atlantic and is filled with great boutiques, cafes, and treats. Back on the sand is New England’s only remaining beachside amusement park, Palace Playland, where you can ride a classic Ferris wheel, a carousel, or two speeding roller coasters, all within a few feet of the beach.
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
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Fun food spots line the shore, from pizza to ice pops and more, making for easy eats even for the pickiest kids at this Delaware boardwalk. This is classic beach fun without crowds or high prices, with arcades, mini golf, water slides, and go-carts, adding up to all the ingredients for one of the best family beach vacations within a short driving distance from the Washington D.C. area. Rehoboth is also one of our picks for best family beaches.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Can’t find the boardwalk along the sun-kissed Virginia Beach? Just keep an eye out for King Neptune, a 24-foot, 12-ton bronze statue, and the most popular photo op at the beach. He’ll lead you to the 3-mile boardwalk that stretches a massive 28-feet wide. It features a separate bike path, so rent a bike or a multiple-person surrey to explore any time of day. Live music and entertainment are offered nightly during the summer months at four oceanfront stages, plus there are restaurants with outdoor seating all along the peaceful pathway.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
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The newest boardwalk on our list was built in 2010 for $6.5 million, but it’s lined with all the vintage favorites of beachside fun, including fudge shops and arcades, a family amusement park, plus several Ripley’s attractions and the nearly 200-foot Myrtle Beach SkyWheel, one of the tallest in the country. Myrtle Beach Boardwalk is also one of our favorite summer bucket list destinations.
Hollywood Beach, Florida
It’s actually a “Broadwalk” but we’ll forgive the one letter flip of this sunny east coast Florida favorite. It runs 2½ miles along sun-kissed beach, and you can bike, stroll, people-watch at outdoor cafes, stock up at the popular weekend farmer’s market, or check out the dog beach where part of the movie Marley & Me was filmed.
Atlantic City, New Jersey
For pure history, this is a must stop for all boardwalk lovers: It’s the longest in the world, 5.5 miles of beachfront boards, and also the oldest, first offering Atlantic City visitors the chance to stroll the sand-free walkway in 1870. It was here that Miss America was first crowned, where diving horses thrilled the crowd, and where thrills of other kinds later followed with legalized gambling and also family friendly adrenaline rides. Today, Steel Pier still offers up thrills for kids of all ages, and new casinos and restaurants—including a new Hard Rock Hotel and Casino—are slotted to join classic salt water taffy and fudge shops that line the vintage wooden boards.
Grand Haven, Michigan
The 2.5-mile boardwalk along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan is a favorite of Parents Magazine for its family-friendly vibe. There are myriad opportunities for biking, strolling, and boating here during the day, but in the evening all eyes turn to The Grand Haven Musical Fountain, a synchronized water and light show that’s been an attraction here since 1962. It’s the world’s largest musical fountain of its kind and can easily be seen, and heard, from most of the Grand Haven Boardwalk.
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San Diego’s Ocean Front Boardwalk is a 3-mile boardwalk running along Mission and Pacific beaches. By day, it is a never-ending parade of bicycles, skateboarders, and sun lovers catching some California rays. By night, it becomes a happening scene with clubs coming alive SoCal style. Along the boardwalk visitors will find Belmont Amusement Park which features great views of the ocean from its wooden roller coaster.
Santa Cruz, California
If you’re a movie buff, you’ll probably recognize this beachfront classic from Lost Boys and Sudden Impact, among others. Although Hollywood perfect, this boardwalk wasn’t built just for show; it’s been a northern California favorite since 1924. Don’t miss the classic carousel where you can still grab for metal rings—a rarity in modern versions. Another “only here” feature: the Roaring Camp Railroad steam train that offers open-air rides right from the boardwalk through the soaring Redwood Forest. Find out the top summer vacation spots in America.
Santa Monica, California
Southern California’s favorite boardwalk is really a pier, but we’re not going to quibble since this wooden walkway is a Cali icon. Go old school by fishing, riding the historical Santa Monica Pier Carousel, or trying your luck at one of the 200 games at Playland Arcade, or take a modern ride on the world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel at Pacific Park. Santa Monica is also our pick as one of the best spring break getaways in every state.
Kaanapali, Maui, Hawaii
There are few walkways anywhere in the world with the views you’ll find at Kaanapali’s boardwalk. You can stroll for more than a mile from golden Hanakao’o Beach Park past the sunset diving spectacle at Black Rock all the way to Duke’s Beachhouse Restaurant, our favorite beach front dining spot pretty much anywhere. This is a purely walking, biking, taking it easy pathway, which is exactly what you’ll want to do in this tropical paradise. Next, check out the 12 best island vacations you can take without leaving the country.