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One of the best seaside amusement parks in the U.S., the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk lies along the Pacific Ocean on the central coast of California. In operation for over a century now having opened back in 1907, it stretches from the Monterey Bay shoreline from just east of the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf to the mouth of the San Lorenzo River.
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It hosts old-fashioned carnival games and snack booths throughout its 24 acres along Beach Street, along with rides for nearly all ages, including thrills on one of the nation’s oldest roller coasters.
The Giant Dipper is a historic wooden roller coaster that has been rolling since 1924. Honored with multiple awards, not only is it a National Historic Landmark, but it’s received the Golden Age Coaster award and a Coaster Landmark award.
Everyone loves the old fashioned 1911 carousel, where you can grab the brass ring and try and toss it into the clown’s mouth. The Loof Carousel still contains the original 342-pipe organ that was built in 1894 – both are on the US National Register of Historic Places.
From the Sky Glider you can ride across the entire park while taking in breathtaking views of the long sandy beach and the Pacific Ocean.
In the arcade, there are more than 300 of the most popular video and pinball games, laser tag, simulators, games of skill and more that families with older children are sure to love. You’ll also find a variety of shops that sell beachwear, souvenirs, gifts and other items, along with the usual eateries that serve corn dogs, cotton candy, snow cones, pizza and more.
On Friday nights in the summer, you can even catch free live concerts on the sand.
No matter when you’re here, the sea lions that hang out under and around the pier are always a popular attraction. Some will be enjoying a nap on the rafters underneath, while others hangout on platforms along the sides of the pier, and still others can be seen splashing about in the water. The barking creatures always provide plenty of fun, and free, entertainment. Other wildlife can be spotted too, from dolphins and sea otters to pelicans, and even whales.