I have lived in California for over 30 years and never went to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The whole experience seemed like a sham compared to giants like Six Flags Great America and Southern California’s Disneyland, but I actually had a blast with my son.
What I love about the boardwalk is its small scale. It is not too big, so adults or small children won’t get worn out. The boardwalk is also little-kid-friendly; there are over a dozen rides for kids under 34” inches to choose from:
Rides for Little Kids at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
- Bulgy – My son was instantly attracted to this little fish. This is a great ride for toddlers.
- Rugged Buggies – This ride offers a collection of beach buggies.
- Red Baron – My son will only ride in the yellow plane!
- Speed Boats
- Sea Dragons
- Jet Copter
There are also Family Rides. These rides allow children between 42-34” to ride with a chaperone.
- Freefall springs rides up and drops them back down.
- Logger’s Revenge – Perm wearers beware. This ride will leave you soaked.
- Rock-O-Place – We avoided these upside-down, spinning carousel cages.
- Haunted Castle
- Sky Glider
- Ghost Blasters
- Ferris Wheel
- Cave Train
Food at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
In addition to the great rides, there is decent food. My son insisted on the Domino’s Pepperoni Pizza, but I tried out some Fried Pickles which were great. They also offer Asian-inspired cuisine, Hot Dog on a Stick, cotton candy, and other typical fair food.The entry fee is not bad either. Here’s my advice for saving money on the boardwalk.
The beach looks great from afar, but I’ve heard some bad things about the beach in front of the boardwalk. Due to tourism and local bums it has turned into a big ashtray. I can see that the sand is littered with cigarette butts and syringes from the boardwalk, and the water is filthy. I haven’t actually checked it out myself, but that’s what I’ve heard. However, I did see plenty of families at the beach enjoying themselves. For a more authentic beach experience, head to more unspoiled beaches a little further South in nearby Aptos or Capitola.