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Five family trips to consider: Catch an ocean breeze and retro ride on a boardwalk

By Lynn O’Rourke Hayes, FamilyTravel.com
Published: February 24, 2024, 6:04am

Stroll along a historic walkway for coastal views and retro fun.

Here are five to consider:

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk — Santa Cruz, Calif.

Offering affordable family fun since 1907, this West Coast boardwalk features free entertainment as well as the chance to hop aboard 35 rides including two that proudly claim National Historic Landmark status. The Giant Dipper, wooden roller coaster built in 1924 and featured in several films, is a fan favorite. Don’t miss the Looff Carousel, open since 1911, featuring one of few remaining working ring tosses. Riders on outside horses can grab rings from a dispenser as they spin, then toss them into a large clown’s gaping mouth.

New in 2024 is the Dream Wheel, a 65-foot Ferris wheel, and Surge, billed as a unique spin on a classic thrill ride. Take a break from games, mini golf and laser tag to look toward the sea. You are likely to see dolphins, sea lions and otters.

For more: www.beachboardwalk.com

Atlantic City Boardwalk — Atlantic City, N. J.

Stroll along this historic promenade, considered the oldest and longest boardwalk in the country. Since the first wooden planks were placed in 1870, the walkway has served as the centerpiece of this resort city. Today, families can ride bikes in the morning hours, sample an endless menu of confections, and wander through the arcade halls and museums. During warm weather months, family-friendly movies and musical entertainment gets underway. Adjacent to the famed Boardwalk is Steel Pier, home to a flashy amusement park sure to appeal to kids of all ages.

For more: www.atlanticcitynj.com

Myrtle Beach Boardwalk — Myrtle Beach, S.C.

The region’s 60 miles of beaches has long provided a playground for lovers of the sea and sunshine. The 1.2-mile walkway, crafted from recycled plastic boards in nine colors, adds a unique vibrancy to the beach town and provides a hub for entertainment and activity. Expect plenty of dining options, shopping and music as well as views of the ocean and intermittent green spaces for picnics or play. Perhaps the best views can be found from experiencing the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel, an observation wheel with enclosed gondolas, rising 187 feet above America’s Boardwalk.

For more: www.visitmyrtlebeach.com

Ocean Front Walk — Venice Beach, Calif.

Venice founder Abbot Kinney acquired the land that is Venice in a coin toss. Today, travelers skate, bike or simply stroll along its vibrant stretch of boardwalk where beachfront beauty combines with surf-culture commerce and bohemian style to create an eye-popping array of colorful activity. Expect farmers market-style jewelry and art as well as aura readers, tattoo artists and intermittent performances by jugglers, human statues and magicians. Stop for breakfast or lunch in any of the beachfront cafes.

For more: www.visitveniceca.com

Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk — Rehoboth, Del.

Visit this family-friendly beach community for a relaxing seaside getaway. The festive mile-long boardwalk, built in 1873, has not lost its celebrated vintage vibe. After a day on the wide expanse of beach, sample local saltwater taffy, cruise the bike trails and make time for the kids to enjoy the retro amusement center with rides, shooting galleries, pinball and arcade games.

For more: www.cityofrehoboth.com/beach-and-boardwalk