One of my kids favorite summer activities is heading over to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. While we enjoy going during the off-season in order to avoid the crowds, there is something nostalgic and fun about going in the thick of summer vacation. Of course, when we go to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk during the summer months, we still know how to avoid the crowds. So if you are planning a trip to the Boardwalk, here a few tips so you can visit and enjoy the area like a local.
How to visit the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk like a local
- Go early: Never ever ever go to the boardwalk after lunch. The whole world shows up between 1pm and 4pm. Always go when they open at 11am so you can hit all the fun rides before the lines get long.
- Get a wristband: Don’t bother counting points, get the all day wristband so you can freely enjoy going on all the rides, and going on your favorite rides multiple times in a row. If you are local and plan to visit multiple times during the year, consider getting the season pass.
- Go on a weekday: If you can avoid heading to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on a weekend or national holiday-do it! The best time to go is on a weekday, more specifically, on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Those are the slowest days, with the shortest lines. If you must go on a weekend, go early at 9am and enjoy brunch at a local spot such as The Picnic Basket or the Beach Street Cafe.
- Take the train: If you can’t go first thing in the morning, or you want to have some fun, take the Roaring Camp Railroad train to the boardwalk from Felton. It’s a fun way to get there, plus you don’t have to navigate traffic during peak hours.
- Rides first, arcade later: The lines for the rides are usually longer than the ones for the arcade or mini-golf. Hit all the rides first, before the crowds arrive, then go inside for the arcade after lunch. You can go inside when the temperatures start to soar, plus avoid all the long lines at the rides. Mini-gold indoors is also quite fun!
- Stay for the show: The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk also has amazing concerts. Enjoy the boardwalk and the games first, then relax on the beach near the stage so you can enjoy the concert at night. You can make a day of it!
- Leave before everyone: If you are not staying for the concert, go back over the hill around 2pm-3pm. Once 4pm hits the traffic builds up and it’s beach traffic galore. Go early, leave early, and you will have an enjoyable ride.
One of the rides you can’t skip when visiting the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is the historic carousel. It’s a beautiful and fun carousel installed in Santa Cruz in 1911. It’s a National Historic Landmark, and it has it’s own Wikipedia page! It’s one of the oldest surviving rides on the west coast, and it’s a must-do! Don’t miss the roller coaster either, it too is historic, and from 1924.
Shop my Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk look:
Enjoy your trip to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk! If you have been before, what is your favorite ride? Feel free to share your tips in the comments below!
Thanks for stopping by!