There are over 60 boardwalks dotting America’s coastlines that have lured seaside-goers for more than a century. Whether visiting an iconic summertime destination like Coney Island or a quaint Cape Cod oasis like Sandwich, boardwalks offer both a quintessentially American summer experience and a time-honored way to experience classic seaside pleasures like vinegar fries, carousels and saltwater taffy. Here are some of the top U.S. boardwalks to visit this summer and B&Bs offering a cozy place to retreat after a day of strolling.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, California
Stroll along the historic Santa Cruz Boardwalk and you’re sure to find postcard-perfect views of the sand and sea. Slip back a century listening to the original Ruth & Sohn band organ play alongside the classic Looff carousel or climb aboard the Giant Dipper, California’s oldest wooden coaster circa 1924. The Santa Cruz Boardwalk was created more than a century ago as the West Coast answer to Coney Island. Which holds fairly true-if Coney Island had palm trees, balmy breezes, and Monterey Bay. The Boardwalk — named the No. 1 Boardwalk on USA Today’s 2016 Reader’s Choice list –has attracted scores of beach-going tourists. For true seaside serenity, check in to the West Cliff Inn, a distinctive Santa Cruz bed and breakfast perfectly placed on a bluff across from Cowell’s Beach and the famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. “West Cliff Inn’s perch down the street from the lighthouse gives guests a splendid view of the beach below, and famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk beyond. We’re only a mile from the Boardwalk’s classic 1924 wooden roller coaster and other attractions, a nice stroll for those who want a little exercise before enjoying the rides (and indulging in seriously yummy garlic fries). There is so much to do in this area, from local wine tasting to visiting the Surfing Museum, but spending a day on the Boardwalk is still on everyone’s must-do list,” Four Sisters Inns President Shelley Post says.
Sandwich Boardwalk, Massachusetts
Nestled on the bay side of Cape Cod, the Sandwich Boardwalk offers visitors postcard-worthy seascapes in lieu of Ferris wheels and cotton candy. Originally built in 1875, the Sandwich Boardwalk, sometimes called the “Plank Walk,” is about 1350 feet in length, crossing Mill Creek and the marsh before leading to the Town Beach on Cape Cod Bay. Destroyed in Hurricane Bob in 1991, the boardwalk was rebuilt with support from locals whose names and messages are now inscribed on the wood planks leading out to the beach. Stretching over low windswept dunes flecked with rugosa roses, the Sandwich Boardwalk offers some of the most coveted views of Cape Cod Bay. Watch the marsh grass sway against a hazy summer backdrop. Toward the end, you can look out over the bay as it winds around the beach with views of Sandy Neck, Wellfleet beyond the stone jetties and canal entrance. When visiting the Cape’s oldest seaside village, head to the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, which is just a short stroll away from the Sandwich Boardwalk. “Guests at our inn love the fact that they can walk to the Sandwich Boardwalk. The walk there winds through the marsh where the warm, salty breeze carries the scent of beach roses. The boardwalk itself crosses Mill Creek and leads over to the dunes of Cape Cod Bay. It is a magical place,” 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center innkeeper Jan Preus says.
Wildwoods Boardwalk, New Jersey
A true sensory overload of tantalizing sights, sounds and smells, Wildwoods Boardwalk hosts one of the kitschiest boardwalks in the country. Stretching two and a half miles of neon splendor, the boardwalk packs in all the shoreline classics from funnel cakes to arcades. There’s also the famous Wildwoods Boardwalk Sightseer Tram Cars – known for the phrase “Watch the Tram Car, Please!” A playground for adults and children alike, the Wildwood Boardwalk has often made the travel Top 10 lists and Trip Advisor offering visitors some of the best seaside entertainment on the East Coast. Just blocks away from the beach, boardwalk, and amusement parks, The Sea Gypsy bed and breakfast offers a romantic getaway in the heart of the Wildwoods.
Myrtle Beach Oceanfront Boardwalk & Promenade, South Carolina
New to the boardwalk scene, the palm-lined Myrtle Beach Oceanfront Boardwalk & Promenade has brought new life into the Grand Strand beachfront since opening in 2010. With a myriad of souvenir shops, arcades and an oceanfront park near the 2nd Avenue Pier, the 1.2-mile walkway plays host to live entertainment each summer evening. On any given night you’ll enjoy the tawdry sideshows of roaming stilt walkers, jugglers, bagpipers, and a weekly fireworks display. Still, the overwhelming favorite is Peaches Corner, a Myrtle Beach institution since 1937. Head there for beloved for root beer floats and foot-long hot dogs. With its close proximity from Myrtle Beach entertainment, shopping and, of course, the beach, the Serendipity Inn offers a quiet retreat and a convenient locale. “Folks enjoy staying here because it’s quiet and close to the beach, but far enough away for some privacy. There’s plenty of entertainment, lots of nice restaurants and the boardwalk is about four miles south of us,” Serendipity Inn innkeeper Phill Mullins said. “People love to go for walks along the boardwalk and finish the day with an ice cream cone.”
Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk, Delaware
A mid-Atlantic beauty first built in 1873, the mile-long boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach has recently undergone a facelift. Lined with yellow pine herringbone planks, the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk itself might be new, but the vintage feel remains the same, with throwbacks like Funland, Surfside Arcade, and Dolle’s, a favorite for caramel corn, chocolate-covered pretzels and saltwater taffy since 1926. Located right in the heart of Rehoboth Beach, the Rehoboth Guest House offers a romantic retreat in a charming Victorian house just steps from the Atlantic. “With our location being close to the boardwalk plus being close to the beach—guests just love it,” Rehoboth Guest House Innkeeper Tom Napier-Collins says. “And guests just love our gardens. When you walk outside here, you’ll think you’re stepping into Key West.”
Ocean City Boardwalk, Maryland
Thronged with beachgoers on summer evenings, the three-mile promenade at the southern tip of Ocean City, Maryland is considered one of the best boardwalks in the country. Thrasher’s, a perennial favorite since 1929, serves up twice-fried French fries doused in apple cider vinegar while Mug & Mallet dishes up terrific Maryland blue crabs by the bucket, just steps from the beach. With so much packed into this wooden boardwalk, you’ll find visitors queuing up for a spin aboard the Herschel-Spellman carousel built in 1902, indulging in hand-dipped doughnuts at Fractured Prune and revisiting shipwrecks at the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum. Just one block from the Ocean City Boardwalk is the Atlantic House Bed & Breakfast. While 10 miles of a beautiful sandy beach is only a short stroll away, you enjoy still enjoy your morning coffee in privacy in the inn’s sunroom, where a delicious home-style breakfast buffet is served daily. “The Atlantic House is a historic building, it’s super homey, and we are only one block from the beach and the boardwalk. It’s a one stop place for the beach, the boardwalk, the food, and the sunsets,” Atlantic House Bed & Breakfast innkeeper said.