by Gudrun Enger, of Kitchen Gadget Girl
Before the summer crowds arrive, I recommend a visit to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. It had been years since my last visit and on a recent trip with my family, I remembered all the good things (and some of the bad things!) about this amusement park on the beach in Santa Cruz.
First the good – the park is located right on the beach on the west side of Santa Cruz, and because the park uses ride tickets or wrist bands, you can come and go as you would like. Want to go have a dip in the ocean before tackling the Hurricane? Or how about a round of miniature golf or laser tag? You can bring a picnic lunch, find a sandy spot to stretch out, and while the kids relax, hit the rides.
Another plus- the Giant Dipper. Built in 1924, this wooden roller coaster is a real original. Featured in several movies, including “Sting II,” “The Lost Boys,” “Dangerous Minds,” and Clint Eastwood’s “Sudden Impact,”, the Giant Dipper is an institution in Santa Cruz and at the center of the Boardwalk, defines the shape of the park.
Our other favorites at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk include the 1911 Looff Carousel (with brass ring!), loads of faire foods including hot dogs on a stick and funnel cake, and the Casino Arcade with the special area of vintage games like PacMan and Centipede.
The downsides to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk? During the summer, parking can be a royal pain. The ticketing system can be expensive – each ride is 3-6 tickets, a book of tickets is $39.95. Or, an all-day wrist band costs $29.95. Check out the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk site for discounts, as well as local grocery stores who sometimes offer summertime promotions. And, since the park is open, I don’t really feel comfortable letting my kids run around on their own.
For good family fun, I recommend the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and for the most fun, go during the week or before summer officially starts!