For over a century, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has been a significant attraction in Santa Cruz, California, for locals and visitors alike. It’s the state’s oldest surviving amusement park and spans along Monterey Bay coast to the mouth of the San Lorenzo River.
Its picture-perfect location, dozens of rides and roller coasters, two national landmarks, and plenty of things to see and do are why thousands of people make their way to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk every month.
It’s open year-round, even during the colder months, and has plenty of fun things to do for young and young at heart. Release your inner competitive streak with a game of mini-golf, or scare yourself silly on the Giant Dipper roller coaster.
Visitors can also do a spot of shopping, lounge on the beach, grab a bite to eat, and enjoy the sunshine. Out of all road-tripping destinations, Santa Cruz is up there with the very best.
After a full day or two at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, road-trippers can then set off in search of other fun things to do in this beautiful Santa Cruz County City.
Achieve that sun-kissed look at Sunset State Beach and Lighthouse Field State Beach, or why not go hiking at The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park? An action-packed schedule awaits anyone taking an RV road trip to Santa Cruz, California.
While there is no cost to visit the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, it’s worth saving your pennies to enjoy everything the amusement park has to offer. Season passes from $80 allow visitors to enjoy year-long unlimited rides, but daily tickets can be as low as $40 for rides, games, and attractions. There are also options to purchase boardwalk cards that are a convenient pay-as-you-go option.
From the abundance of national forests and state parks near Santa Cruz to the easy-driving highways from the direction of San Jose and Fresno, travelers will be pleasantly surprised by how memorable the trip to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk can be.
The most direct routes into and out of the city are I-1 and I-17, with a narrow corridor between the Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay. Upon arriving in Santa Cruz, RV-goers should allow time for delays along California’s Pacific Coast Highway. Fortunately, a traffic aid like Caltrans Quick Map can alert any traveler to congestion before they reach it. It’s then full steam ahead to reach Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk at 400 Beach Street.
Several paid parking lots line the Santa Cruz Beach, Santa Cruz Wharf, and San Lorenzo River. Many of these are only suitable for campervans and tow vehicles, which means that anyone traveling in a Class A or an Airstream may not be able to secure parking as close to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk as they may like.
However, a short drive further down near the San Lorenzo River to the River Lot may see travelers with a few more options for larger motorhomes, as this lot offers both motorhome and bus parking near the San Lorenzo River Railroad Bridge.
While RV-goers can find parking near Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, sometimes it can be far more convenient to leave a motorhome at an RV campground nearby, then make use of public transportation.
Bus service is in operation along the beach, and visitors can also rely on taxis and rideshare services in the area. Visitors can even ride their bikes to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, with bike lockers and bike racks at various locations around the amusement park entrances.
Camping beach-side would be many travelers’ idea of paradise, but parking at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is not allowed. Before you hit the road, start looking for the top RV parks and campgrounds near Santa Cruz, California. You might be surprised at what you can find within a short drive of the amusement park.
Given that Santa Cruz is a tourist hot spot, those who take an RV road trip to California may not have too much of a hard time finding somewhere to camp near Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Luxury seekers can enjoy comfort and convenience at Santa Cruz / Monterey Bay KOA within 15 miles of the amusement park.
However, camping is also permitted at Seacliff State Beach, New Brighton State Beach, and Santa Vida RV Park. There are options galore for primitive RV campers and those who prefer service hookups for the duration of their stay.
While travelers may like to turn up to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk after cycling around Wilder Ranch State Park and other nearby state parks, the best way to enjoy the amusement park is on foot. Skateboards and other personal wheeled transportation can be left in your motorhome, and bikes can be secured at the boardwalk’s entrance. Wear your most comfortable footwear and meander around the pathways to get to each of the park’s attractions.
With balmy temperatures throughout the year, visitors can expect to need t-shirts, shorts, and light, breathable layers for a visit to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. However, before setting off from your start destination, check a weather app. Loose clothing may also not be suitable for roller coasters and other rides.
For anyone planning on going hiking or picnicking at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park or similar, think about appropriate garments for comfort and convenience.
The less you bring into the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the easier it will be to take part in games, activities, and rides. Any loose items can be stored in small lockers, including cash and payment cards for purchases, but consider leaving large and bulky items in your motorhome. Items can also be handed to non-riders before taking your turn on thrill rides like WipeOut and Fireball.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is all about keeping its visitors safe, even those who are only visiting for a quick walk along the beach. There’s a drinking fountain to remain hydrated, a foot wash to get rid of loose sand, and even a shower after taking a dip at the beach.
The beauty of traveling in a motorhome is that you get to enjoy a house on wheels, be it your own or a motorhome rental in Santa Cruz. Treat it like a house by making use of the onboard kitchen appliances once you arrive at your chosen RV campground.
Some of the best Santa Cruz RV resorts may also boast communal kitchens and allow the use of fire pits. Pick up supplies for whichever cooking method you choose from the closest grocery store to the amusement park within three miles.
Seafood lovers can take great delight in visiting Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Not only can they enjoy a full day of fun and rides, but proximity to some of the area’s finest restaurants and eateries selling fresh seafood, too. Within short walking and driving distances, there are also cafes, bistros, and even takeout joints to satisfy those hunger pangs.
Don’t feel a need to leave Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in search of a bite to eat. Food vendors are dotted along the entire boardwalk area, with several ATMs for cash withdrawal, as well. All preferences are catered to here, so grab something to eat and sit on the beach and enjoy the beautiful atmosphere.
Visiting any popular tourist hotspots, be it the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park, or any of the local beaches for surfing or fishing, requires vigilance. Never leave your motorhome unsecured, and make sure all valuables are stored out of sight. Visitors to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk may also be asked to leave large bags in their vehicles or have them subject to searches.
If you require assistance at any time, the nearest police station is under two miles from the amusement park.
The warm-summer Mediterranean climate of Santa Cruz is desirable for many visitors and locals. Summers tend to be long and dry, while winters are often cold and wet. Fortunately, weather conditions remain mild throughout the year, and some of the warmest temperatures can occur in fall.
Always check a weather app before venturing into the great outdoors like Coast Dairies State Park, and carry plenty of water onboard your motorhome.
Road-trippers can take care of many of their own minor cuts and bruises by carrying first-aid kits everywhere they go. However, if you find yourself in need of assistance at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, you’re in the right place. There is a first-aid area with trained staff to help.
Travelers can also dial 911 in an emergency or visit the nearest medical center within three miles of the amusement park. Before setting off to explore Año Nuevo State Park or similar, make sure you’ve stopped at the pharmacy within a mile of the boardwalk to stock up your first-aid kit.