Sandy beach
Hike-in Required
Snorkeling / SCUBA
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Since 1907, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has attracted tourists from around the globe with a classic blend of California beach culture and an iconic amusement park. Rides such as the historic Giant Dipper will get your adrenaline pumping, and the casino, arcade, and beach volleyball courts are also popular activities along the Boardwalk. Stop by on a Friday night in the summer to catch the free concerts on the beach.

Of course, this isn't the best choice for solitude. While you might find your own space on the Main Beach, crowds are the norm on the boardwalk, and parking can be challenging and expensive. The Santa Cruz Pier is located on the Main Beach, and it offers great opportunities to spot migrating grey whales. Fine dining and gift shops are all available on the pier, and a few motels and restaurants are also close by. Finally, though it may appear otherwise in films and television, the Boardwalk is a safe place to visit, and security is well under control. It's a great place to visit solo or enjoy with the whole family.

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Logistics + Planning



Parking Pass

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Parking


Amusment park. Volleyball nets. Nearby lodging and dining.


Highly congested. Crowded parking. Expensive.


ADA accessible
Historically significant
Picnic tables
Whale watching
Bird watching


Nearby Adventures

San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, California
San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, California


Visiting Santa Cruz really is an all year event. During the winter, you are almost guaranteed a beautiful sunset. Here are a few photos from the other night!
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