Summer is just around the corner, and what better way to celebrate the weather than spending some time outside on a boardwalk? Some of these may not exactly be old fashioned, but they most certainly are classics that everyone should try and visit at least once! We feel like it’s not so much the boardwalks themselves that are old fashioned, but it’s the idea of them. On most waterfront boardwalks, you’ll find simple carnival rides and the most classic carnival snacks. On others, expect to find an upgraded version with the flashiest additions like luxury shops and fine dining restaurants. Their popularity rose quickly and it’s one activity that has yet to go out of style. Though some boardwalks have definitely modernized, the most simple idea of being with family is still there. Check out the list of our favorite boardwalks below!
Atlantic City Boardwalk-New Jersey
Though this waterfront may be most famous for its elaborate and over the top casinos, its boardwalk is no joke if you want to spend some time outdoors. Surprisingly, the idea of the boardwalk wasn’t named after the act, but its inventor, Alexander Boardman. He developed the idea in the 1870s and since then, it’s been a summer vacation American staple. If you can make it past all the flashy casinos, you’ll find an array of activities once on the boardwalk itself, including tons of family friendly arcade games, carnival rides and the best saltwater taffy around. Of course, some of these aren’t open for the winter, but it’s still well worth the trip, no matter what time of year you choose to visit. You’ll still get breathtaking views of the ocean whether it’s the dead of summer or a chilly weekend of October!
Ocean City Boardwalk- Ocean City, Maryland
Take more of a mystical approach for your vacation at Ocean City Boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland! The boardwalk is home to an arcade, a kite shop, and The Life Saving Museum, where visitors explore information about shipwrecks, mermaids and vintage bathing suits. If you want, have some screams from the lightening fast roller coasters or take the vintage, old fashioned approach and visit the carousel that’s been there since 1902! Once you’ve had enough of the fast rides, take it slow at one of Ocean City’s restaurants where you can dig into a classic Maryland crab cake or try some Delmarva fried chicken. You can’t go wrong in Ocean City!
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk-Santa Cruz, California
Travel all the way to the other side of the United States and you’ll find the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, California. You won’t find any casinos here, but you’ll probably find everything else! Enjoy the boardwalk’s fast-paced rides, amazing funnel cakes and colorful party scene. Spend the night by the sea at one of the beachside hotels, then head to the boardwalk to play a game of laser tag, or stop by the Casino Arcade and get your fill of arcade games. And what boardwalk wouldn’t be complete without a Buccaneer Bay Mini Golf course? And if you think you might be nimble enough, head to the Vault Laser Maze Challenge to put your balance and agility to the test. Do all of this while receiving the best views of the ocean!
Bethany Beach Boardwalk-Dover, Delaware
Travel back to the East Cost and check out Bethany Beach in Dover, Delaware. Take a break from the fast rides and great funnel cakes and relax here on Bethany Beach by starting the morning with a traditional yoga class. Sessions start at 6 a.m., so grab some coffee and bring your own mat. Bethany Beach knows we all can’t be early risers, so they’ve scheduled some free concerts on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 7:30 p.m. Concerts feature a range of music from jazz, military ensembles and people channeling their inner Elvis or James Taylor. Relax even further with Movie Monday on the beach! Family-friendly movies begin at dusk. And on Thursdays, pack up your graham crackers and marshmallows and head to the town bonfire. Bethany Beach is the perfect destination for you if you want to have a more chill approach to a vacation, but still visit a boardwalk.
Virginia Beach Boardwalk- Virginia Beach, Virginia
Similar to Bethany Beach, Virginia Beach Boardwalk is another waterfront destination for those of us that prefer a calm atmosphere. Because the walk is 28 feet wide, it is perfectly ideal for rollerblading, biking and leisurely strolling. Summer nights offer nightly entertainment with four oceanfront stages giving visitors live concerts. On the sides of the boardwalk, there’s a variety of restaurants and shops. It was built in 1888 and is home to several marriage proposals, honeymoon destinations and the first sight of the ocean for numerous children. Many visitors find the Virginia Beach Boardwalk the place to enjoy constantly changing sights and sounds of the ocean.
Navy Pier-Chicago, Illinois
Not all boardwalks are by the ocean! Navy Pier sits alongside Lake Michigan and has a huge 150-foot-high ferris wheel that makes for the most stunning views of the lake, the mini-golf course and carousel. The Pier has everything else you’d ever need in a boardwalk: restaurants, shopping, rides and games and even public art and exhibitions. You gotta check out the Amazing Chicago, a self-paced, full sensory maze where the visitor finds their way through 4,000 square feet of tunnels and mazes!
In honor of its 100 year anniversary in 2016, Navy Pier released plans for a completely reimagined pier. The plan, called the “Centennial Vision,” quickly became a reality and added a Polk Bros Park Fountain and Plaza as the entrance to the pier, and they also enhanced the boardwalk to have a more authentic Chicago food experience. It doesn’t stop there! Navy Pier also plans to add two outdoor performance stages in Polk Bros Park and many other additions.
Kemah Boardwalk- Kemah, Texas
The Gulf Coast wanted to get in on the boardwalk fun, and just 20 miles from Houston is where you can find one! Kemah Boardwalk went from a dining area to a full on travel destination in just a few short years. Though this one hasn’t been around as long as most boardwalks, don’t think it’s not worth the trip! It certainly isn’t all old fashioned, and its attractions prove that. Visit the Stingray Reef where you can touch and feed the stingrays. Navigate through their rainforest exhibit where piranhas, snakes, scorpions and turtles call home.
For that feeling of nostalgia, they have all the classic rides, including a double-decker carousel and Ferris wheel. And don’t forget to check out the Treasure Chest Gift Shop located in the Aquarium Restaurant, where you can pick up souvenirs like t-shirts, caps, cups, games and so much more!