Sometimes, the boardwalks are even better than the beaches! An iconic part of summer vacations, boardwalks offer everyone a place to be kids (whether they are or not), with rides, amusements, deep-fried food, entertainment and memories. These are the best beach boardwalks across the U.S.
Virginia Beach Boardwalk, VA
Kids also gravitate toward the Hurricane, Music Express, Comic Storm and Inverter. Families love the four-seat surrey bikes, which can be ridden along a bike path parallel to the promenade to small, peaceful parks off the beach. When you need a bite to eat, sample the local blue crab at Catch 31 Fish House and Bar. Live music venues are also along the boardwalk and beach.
Bonus: Virginia Beach was named one of the 10 Best Family Beaches for 2018!
Recommended Hotel: Comfort Inn & Suites Oceanfront Virginia Beach
Kemah Boardwalk, TX
Young kids especially like riding the Red Baron airplane ride and playing in the Dancing Water Fountains, 75 water jets that shoot water 10 to 12 feet in the air. The summer fair atmosphere runs all year long. When hunger strikes, head to Aquarium -- a themed restaurant that serves high-quality seafood amid large fish tanks.
Recommended Hotel: Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa & Convention Center
Chicago Navy Pier, IL
If you need to get out of the sun, break for a movie in the IMAX Theater or see live performers at the Family Pavilion Stage. Make sure to visit on a Wednesday or Saturday night during the summer to witness a larger-than-life fireworks show.
Recommended Hotel: The James Chicago
Disney World Boardwalk, FL
The Disney Boardwalk features live entertainment, from street performers to dueling pianos, as well as a number of eats. From classic hot dogs, funnel cakes and saltwater taffy to sit-down seafood dining, you'll forget you're about an hour from the closest ocean. But if you want to head to the beach, check out these 5 Family-Friendly Beaches Near Disney World.
Recommended Hotel: Disney's BoardWalk Inn
Mission Beach Boardwalk, CA
Surfers will find an alternative here at FlowRider, a man-made wave generator that is easier for beginners to learn on, and FlowBarrel, with 10-foot waves for pros. Sometimes, after a long day at the beach, you just want to get out of the sun! This is where the Plunge, an Olympic-size indoor pool, comes in hand.
Recommended Hotel: Rancho Bernardo Inn
Wildwood Boardwalk, NJ
Ocean Oasis Waterpark & Beach Club and Raging Waters Water Park are also on the boardwalk for water fun directly off the soft sand beach. More than 100 rides and attractions are available, as well as shopping and dining along the 2-mile boardwalk -- what's not to love?
Recommended Hotel: The StarLux Boutique Hotel
Myrtle Beach Oceanfront Boardwalk, SC
Set off the boardwalk, Family Kingdom amusement park is the area's only seaside theme park, offering more than 30 rides, including a wooden roller coaster, a log flume and a 110-foot free-fall drop. Splashes Oceanfront Water Park is across the street, showcasing waterslides, giant pools, spray features, waterfalls and a lazy river.
Recommended Hotel: Holiday Inn at the Pavilion
Ocean City Boardwalk, MD
During the evenings, the beach comes alive with performers. On Monday and Friday nights, families can watch free movies on the beach in the summertime. Also in the summer, the beach hosts a Family Beach Olympics event on Tuesday evenings. Make sure to try the famous fries at Thrasher's French fries, with a splash of malt vinegar.
Recommended Hotels: Francis Scott Key Resort
Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk, DE
The small boardwalk amusement park features an arcade, midway games and rides, including five original rides that have been in operation since 1962 for multiple generations to enjoy. Throughout summer weekends, visitors can enjoy live music as the sun sets at the beach bandstand. When visiting the boardwalk, be sure to stop at Dolle's, which has been churning out saltwater taffy, fudge and candies since 1910.
Recommended Hotel: Boardwalk Plaza Hotel
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, CA
Families can grab chocolate-dipped foods (even bacon!), make nut clusters and munch on English toffee at Marini's. In the summer, visitors enjoy free concerts on Friday nights.
Recommended Hotel: Beach Street Inn and Suites
Santa Monica Pier, CA
For more energetic families, the bike path just outside of the pier travels all along the beach to Venice Beach about a mile away (the entire path is 8.5 miles long, if you really want a workout!). A small aquarium is also housed on the pier, with touch tanks that will entertain little ones for free. Don't miss taking a spin on the antique, wooden carousel, which has been housed in its Hippodrome location since the 1940's.
Recommended Hotel: Shore Hotel
Coney Island Boardwalk, NY
In 2010, 66 years later, a new Luna Park opened with new thrill rides and old-fashioned fun that harkens back to Coney Island's glory days. Visitors to Coney Island can also enjoy a nearly 3-mile beach and learn the history of the boardwalk at the Coney Island Museum. For lunch, stop at Nathan's Famous and taste some of the best hot dogs in the nation.
Oh, and by the way, Coney Island was named of the 10 Best Beaches for Families in 2018!
Recommended Hotel: BEST WESTERN PLUS Brooklyn Bay Hotel