Walking the Planks: Boardwalks Across America
June 7, 2011 | Permalink
The scent of tangy, salty air and spun sugar and the sounds of seagulls and excited kids... Yep, we’re talking classic beach boardwalks. Whether you seek the thrills and chills of roller coasters and tilt-a-whirls, the delectable tastes of saltwater taffy and boardwalk fries or simply experiencing American history, boardwalks are the summertime place to go.
Commencing at Coney
Of course, Coney Island and Atlantic City Boardwalk are classics. Coney Island’s amusement park section, Luna Park, underwent renovation just a year ago, and visitors can now get their thrills on over a dozen new rides, including the Tickler, a spinning roller coaster, as well as on the NYC Historic Landmark Wonder Wheel. And, if you’re not too queasy afterwards, Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs are the must-have cuisine, just as they have been since 1916. The four-mile-long Atlantic City Boardwalk in New Jersey was constructed in 1870. Besides its dozens of rides, arcade games, shops and snack bars, sightseers can visit the Absecon Lighthouse, just three blocks away. Built in 1857, it’s the third tallest lighthouse in the country, and from the top (228 steps up!), you get a fantastic skyline view.
A bit farther south are three more top choices, with all the usual fun and games, plus their own unique extras. At Maryland’s Ocean City Boardwalk, you can take a whirl on one of the painstakingly carved and painted horses, zebras or other creatures of Trimper’s renowned 109-year-old carousel. Virginia Beach’s boardwalk boasts evening street performers, and day or evening, you and your friends can rent a four-person surrey bike to pedal along its three-mile expanse in style. Myrtle Beach in South Carolina is a popular vacation spot for any number of reasons, not the least of which is its boardwalk, which combines all the expected boardwalk amusements with jetty extensions for visitors to meander down when they want a bit of a breather from the hustle and bustle of this happening location.
Texas may not be a state you’d associate with beach boardwalks, but Houston’s Kemah Boardwalk was named one of the top ten American Boardwalks by Forbes Traveler in 2009. Located on Galveston Bay, the boardwalk was built in 2001 with history in mind, and so it includes all the standards: a 65-foot Ferris wheel and wooden roller coaster, midway and arcade games, souvenir shops and restaurants. It also features less common attractions like a stingray petting tank, a rainforest exhibit and the Boardwalk Beast speedboat ride out into the Bay.
The West Coast also has some top destination boardwalks. Sometimes called the “Coney Island of the West,” Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk boasts two national Historic Monument rides: the Giant Dipper roller coaster, built in 1924, and the Looff Carousel (1911), one of the few carousels that still includes the grab-the-ring feature. On Fridays in the summer, finish off a day of rides, games and playing in the sand with a free evening concert at the beach bandstand.
At the other end of California is San Diego’s Ocean Front Boardwalk (actually in Mission Beach). If you’re a classic rides fan, the Big Dipper roller coaster at Belmont Amusement Park is a must.And, for a real So-Cal experience, visit the Wave House Bar and Grill to grab a plate of nachos and watch surfers ride the simulated waves on the FlowRider and Bruticus Maximus.
If all this has whetted your appetite, consider picking up one of the many great books on America’s boardwalks, like America's Boardwalks: From Coney Island to California, The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk: A Century by the Sea or Boardwalk Memories: Tales of the Jersey Shore.
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Walking the Planks: Boardwalks Across America: