Summer Guide to the Beach Boardwalk

Summer Guide to the Beach Boardwalk

Is there any purer expression of summer than a day at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk? For over 100 years, the seaside amusement park has thrilled all ages with its festive mix of sun, fun and nostalgia. It’s just as enchanting today as the day it opened in 1907 and it continues to delight with new rides, treats and events. Here’s a handy guide to all that’s happening this summer at the Boardwalk.

Beach Boardwalk



Boardwalk Magic
This shop recently opened inside Neptune’s Kingdom arcade. Budding magicians will find it stocked with toys, pranks, gags, special effects, instructional videos and other tricks-of-the-trade. The tiny magic shop is operated by magicians Doug Hofkins (aka The Surfing Magician) and Josh Logan.

Tater Twist at the Beach Boardwalk



Tater Twist

Whether it’s frozen or fried, the Boardwalk delivers with over-the-top treats. Don’t skip out on an opportunity for deep-fried PB&Js and rice crispy treats. And these aren’t the only fried eats to be tried – artichokes, Oreos and Twinkies to name a few can also be found at the Boardwalk. Sweet tooth? No problem. This magical place offers an ice cream sandwich made with Santa Cruz’s favorite cookie – Pacific Cookie Company. Cruzin’ Crepes offers delicious made-to-order crepes filled with sweet or savory fillings and fresh-brewed, flavored teas. Wash these treats down with a Giant Dipa from local organic brewery, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing. Click here for more information on some of the Best Bites at the Boardwalk.

Free Concerts at the Beach Boardwalk



Free Bands on the Beach

A summer tradition since 1988, the Boardwalk hosts free bands on the Beach Bandstand every Friday night from June 15th through August 31st. There are two shows each night: 6:30pm and 8:30pm with preferred seating made available at 4pm. Grab a blanket — and a beach ball — and hit the beach for artists like Berlin, Smash Mouth, The Motels, The English Beach, Papa Doo Run Run, and more. Click here for a full list of performers.

Free Movies on the Beach
What’s better than free summertime movies on the beach? From June 22 through August 17, each Wednesday night at 9:00pm, the Boardwalk screens popular classics on a giant screen set between the Monterey Bay and the twinkling lights of the Boardwalk. This year’s killer line-up includes The Lost Boys, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and The Wizard of Oz (see here for the complete list). Grab a blanket or low-profile chair and reserve a spot an hour or so in advance. Or better yet, get there at 5pm and take advantage of Pepsi Nights (see below).

Prepare to Be Entertained… Daily!
From June 18 – August 17 the Boardwalk will offer free daily shows with performers interacting with park guests on two new small stages. Scheduled performers include pirate Capt’n Jack Spareribs, magician Ryan Kane, comedian Greg Frisbee, jugglers Scotty & Trink, skilled balancer, unicycler, and juggler Bob at Large, the Surfing Magician, and more. Click here for the full schedule.


Giant Dipper at Sunset


Although the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster and the Looff Carousel are still Boardwalk favorites, the spins and wave-shaped track of the 65’ Shockwave keeps its 24 riders thrilled every second, on individual motorcycle-style seats facing outward around a large disk.

And classic thrill ride Typhoon swings riders upside-down on two spinning arms, reaching a height of 60’ over the Boardwalk. Conveniently located just inside the newly designed Main Entrance which debuted in summer 2017, Typhoon is easy to find – and an Instagrammable visual too!


Retro Nights: June 18 – August 14, 2018
Boon for bargain-lovers: Each Monday and Tuesday evening starting at 5pm, you can enjoy Boardwalk rides for just $1.50 each. This is your chance to ride the Giant Dipper and the Undertow for a whopping 80% less than regular price!

Coca-Cola Nights: June 20 – August 16, 2018 (not valid July 4, 2018)

Bring a Coca-Cola brand beverage container on Wednesday and Thursday evenings after 5pm and get unlimited rides for just $14.95+tax. The Boardwalk stays open until 11pm for most the summer, so there’s plenty of time for fun. And don’t forget, Wednesday is free movie night. Cheap date alert: A movie and unlimited Boardwalk rides for fifteen bucks is officially the best deal in town!

  • Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
  • Pacific Cookie Company
  • Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing