As the weather gets warmer and families seek fun experiences for the whole group, the USA’s boardwalks begin re-opening for the season.
But not all boardwalks are created equal.
For those seeking the best food, rides, entertainment and seaside views in the country, you’ll want to do some pre-trip planning. To help, we’ve rounded up our top five picks for best boardwalk experiences in the United States.
Locally known as the Coney Island Boardwalk, Riegelmann Boardwalk is an iconic symbol of Brooklyn in the summer.
By 1824 Coney Island was a popular paradise for those seeking a seaside resort, though the boardwalk itself didn’t open until 1923. Since then, locals and visitors have descended upon the 2.51 miles stretch in droves during the warmer months, enjoying the beach, the aquarium, the eateries, the shops and the famed amusement park rides. Today, you can still experience all of that today and more.
One must-have experience: Walking with a Feltman’s Hot Dog in hand on the boardwalk. In 1867, a German immigrant named Charles Feltman got the idea to put a Frankfurt sausage on a bun. Thus, the hot dog was born. While Nathan’s Famous put Feltman out of business long ago, a historian named Michael Quinn got the rights to Feltman’s recipes, and now sells their delicious, all-natural, nitrate-free hot dogs in Feltman’s original location, just slightly off the boardwalk.
Walk all the way to the Brighton Beach section of the boardwalk, where you can savor the best of Russian culture and food.
Of course, the country’s oldest boardwalk and the world’s longest would have to make this list.
To put that into numbers, the attraction opened in 1870, and stretches for over four miles. Along the boardwalk, you’ll find shops, bars, restaurants and amusement park rides, as well as Atlantic Ocean views and lots of culture. For instance, after a round of mini golf or an hour of arcade games, you can head over to the Atlantic City Art Center or Atlantic City Historical Museum — both offering free admission!
Got kids in tow? Steel Pier features family-friendly rides, plus a bar and restaurant when fuel is needed. And because this is Atlantic City, you’ll pass by numerous casinos and hotels, each offering their own unique attractions.
Must stop: Tropicana Casino & Resort. Here, there’s everything from gambling to an IMAX theater and even a few Escape Rooms!
Opened in 2010, this 1.2-mile stretch is a great way to experience Myrtle Beach’s warmer months (which extend past summer through October!).
No visit to the boardwalk would be complete without a ride in the SkyWheel, which offers 187-foot-high views over the Atlantic, rain or shine. Another fun feature is Peaches Corner, one of Myrtle Beach’s oldest bars, open since 1937. It’s a chill spot serving up delicious burger and hot dog creations, as well as refreshing slushies.
Or, if you’d rather pair your burger with sushi and pet-inspired art — yes, you read that right — ART Burger Sushi Bar is your spot. House-cut fries with avocado ranch, anyone? Afterward, burn off your calories with some games at the open-air Fun Plaza arcade, or by dancing for hours to live music at The Bowery.
Bonus: The boardwalk is currently being extended, and in the future will include additional restaurants, shops, a beautiful waterfront park and a brand new live music space.
If you’re craving a sunny west coast getaway, the Santa Monica Pier offers one of the best Ferris Wheels in the country — so close to the water you might feel like you’re about to get wet!
Now, this popular pier certainly brings the crowds, but there’s a wonderful sense that everyone is there to simply have a great time in an iconic place. Try your luck at one of the many arcade games to win a prize, or buy a wristband for some rides.
Buskers ranging from dancers to violists and beyond entertain the crowds, while fisherman catch the day’s meal at the end of the pier. Make sure to have a fresh seafood meal at The Albright and enjoy the outdoor seating. Once you’re done, the adjacent sandy beach offers aquatic adventures.
Tip: Just 10 minutes away by car is the Venice Beach Boardwalk if you’d care for a two-in-one experience!
If you’re looking for stunning views of Galveston Bay, this is your spot. Adventure junkies shouldn’t miss the Iron Eagle, a ride taking you 100 feet above the boardwalk — at 30 miles per hour! Don’t worry if speed isn’t your thing, as there are other amusement park offerings like the Ferris Wheel (plus a smaller version called the Wonder Wheel), a replica 1863 train ride and a double decker carousel, to name a few. What’s neat is that unlike many popular boardwalks, where rides can be pricey, they’re only $4-$6.50 here when purchased a la carte.
Kemah Boardwalk is more than just rides, though. Along with shops, restaurants, a Stingray Reef & Rainforest Exhibit, buskers and even a hotel, there are dancing fountains that families can splash in to cool down.
No trip to the boardwalk would be complete without a cone from Sweet Scoops; or, you know, a Strawberry Cheesecake Delight Sundae if you’re feeling indulgent. Yum!
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Jessica Festa is a full-time travel writer who is always up for an adventure. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia and doing orphanage work in Ghana. You can follow her adventures on her travel websites, Epicure & Culture and Jessie On A Journey. You can also connect with Jessica directly on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, or follow her epicurean adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
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