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2011 Top 10 Boardwalks in the U.S.

Updated on September 11, 2012

What is summer without beaches and boardwalks, and what justifies a boardwalk to be rated ‘best’? Is it its length, its age, or the attractions around the location? For those of us who have experienced a jaunt along the beach boardwalk style I believe it is personal preference. However, when enough folks have the same consensus the surveyors sit up and take notice. Although the selections may vary slightly each year, what makes these boardwalks stand the test of time is what got them rated in the top of their category in the first place: a great experience.

A comparison between National Geographic’s list for the top 2011 boardwalks and that of other travel agencies, like ‘IgoUgo’, are similar in many ways. First, everyone seems to agree that Atlantic City Boardwalk is the number one pick for all time favorites. Second, more than half of the other selections between National Geographic’s choices and other ratings matched. Third, many of the same boardwalks show up year after year. An exception this year is the newly constructed Myrtle Beach, South Carolina boardwalk: Oceanfront, opened in the spring of 2010.

Rating process

There are a number of factors that rate a boardwalk as being one of the favorite places to visit. First, the history of the original structure is a key factor. For example: Atlantic City Boardwalk is recognized for being both the oldest, (built in 1870), and the longest, (5.75 miles long).

Second, the ambience will push one boardwalk on the list of favorites above others. This brings to mind the pristine South Carolina coast at Oceanfront. Divided into three areas, the boardwalk may not be the longest; is certainly not the oldest; but, it offers a distinctly Southern touch. One way it does this is by providing the strolling Dixieland band.

Third, it provides something unique to the area that will bring people coming back for more. In most cases the advantages of a boardwalk is that everything is within a short stroll, is full of a promise for excitement, i.e. rollercoaster rides or other amusements, and may have tempting foods that you won’t find elsewhere.

A healthy dose of summer fun!

Amusement rides are fun for all ages
Amusement rides are fun for all ages | Source

First Five 'Top Boardwalks'

1. Atlantic City, New Jersey was rated the ‘Best Boardwalk for Partying’ according to IgoUgo Travel Agency. It’s easy to understand why-it has all of the casinos!

2. Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York, has the most famous wooden amusement ride: the Cyclone, built in 1927. It travels at speeds up to 60 mph and completes the circuit in less than two minutes. Wow! That’s some speed.

3. Oceanfront, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina was opened May 15, 2010. It’s the new kid on the beach boasting a music festival and promenade. IgoUgo awarded this the ‘Best boardwalk for a new attraction”.

4. Ocean City, Maryland was built in 1902 and Gillian’s Wonderland Pier is the home of the 140 foot Ferris wheel and the Trimper’s Carousel-the oldest running carousel in the U.S. According to IgoUgo’s polls this boardwalk gets the award for the ‘Best Boardwalk Food’, and Thrasher’s French fries tops the list.

5. Ocean Front, Venice Beach, California, has the reputation for the ‘Best Boardwalk for people watching’. It takes all sorts of people and the famed ‘Muscle Beach’ where Arnold Schwarzenegger used to work out is one of the popular areas for tourists to observe the guys and gals pumping iron in the outdoor gym.

"Hold on tight, we're hitting some rough water!"
"Hold on tight, we're hitting some rough water!" | Source

Second Five 'Top Boardwalks'

1. Rehoboth Beach, Delaware has acquired the nickname, “the Nation’s Summer Capital” because of the frequent visits from residents of Washington D.C. It has a small town atmosphere with an eclectic flair, and the exciting nightlife is filled with festivals and music.

2. Santa Cruz, California was rated the “Best Boardwalk for History” by the IgoUgo judges. This is because Santa Cruz is the oldest surviving amusement park in California. The park itself is a State Historic Landmark; and the rollercoaster and Looff Carousel are National Historic Landmarks. In 1924 it was the location for the Miss California Beauty Pageant.

3. Sandwich, Massachusetts is decidedly different from the other boardwalks that have found themselves on the National Geographic list of ‘Top Ten’. It doesn’t offer carnie rides or amusements; no loud music is heard along its 1,000 feet of rebuilt planks, nor is there concession stands enticing the traveler to taste its wares. No, the appeal of this boardwalk is the natural beauty and simplicity with views of the marshes and public beach.

4. Virginia Beach, Virginia, built the three mile boardwalk in 1888.Now it is one of the East Coast’s most popular vacation destinations. It has even been part of the Guinness Book of World Records for being ‘The world’s longest pleasure beach”.

5. Wildwoods, New Jersey boasts more rides than any N.J. boardwalk, and it may be right. It has five amusement piers, two water parks, and the best roller coasters, including, ‘The Great Nor’easter’, which has over 2100 feet of looped tracks. Additionally, it has numerous other outdoor water activities including parasailing and speedboat rentals.

A stroll along the boardwalk

If you’ve never strolled a boardwalk put it on your bucket list. For those who are experienced ‘board walkers’ take a trip to visit one you are unfamiliar with and see how it compares to your favorite one. You may be pleasantly surprised. On the other hand-you may be more convinced when you return that your boardwalk is by far the best, no matter what the experts say.


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    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      I'm delighted, Vickie, that the hub has inspired you to check out the boardwalks. Great!

    • Vicki99 profile image


      8 years ago from Meridian Idaho

      I have never been to a boardwalk. I read your article to my husband who has been to every boardwalk in the NE and he is in total agreement with you. I can't wait to go now. Thank you.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks SammyS for your comments. Whichever happens to be your favorite boardwalks are so much fun.

    • SammySammo profile image


      8 years ago from Boston, MA

      I love your Hub. Ocean City will always rank as my favorite though

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Flora for reading and commenting. Glad you enjoyed the drifter song. :)

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image


      8 years ago

      Waht a great list. I have not seen any of them. Unfortunately. Love The Drifters song, and well, anything by The Drifters.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Cassidella. I'm closest to VA Beach, so that is my stomping grounds, although it was Santa Cruz when I lived in CA. Thanks for your comments.

    • Cassidella profile image


      8 years ago

      Denise this is a hub that generates happiness just thinking about the subject, US boardwalks:) Because our family has traveled the East Coast quite a bit, we have enjoyed time at VA Beach, Ocean City, Atlantic City, and Myrtle Beach. Of those, Ocean City has all the elements that keep you coming back time and again! I like this hub a lot and hit all the best buttons on this one!!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Cara-welcome back. :) Come on down to visit me with those cuties and we'll go to the Virginia Beach Boardwalk.

    • cardelean profile image


      8 years ago from Michigan

      So many boardwalks, so little time! Great list. I'm sure that one day we'll make it to one. And there are those darn cute kids again! :)

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Susan-I have never visited either of those b.w.'s but, maybe one day I will be up in Atlantic City. I'd love to experience it just once. Thanks for you comments.

      Rose West-glad to know you are a fan. I love boardwalks-so much fun! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)

    • Rose West profile image

      Rose West 

      8 years ago from Michigan

      I'm a big boardwalk fan! When I was a kid, we went to the one in Ocean City - and I still haven't forgotten the delicious french fries with malt vinegar :) We don't have any boardwalks here in Hawaii, but I guess it's just a different kind of shoreline. Thanks for bringing back good memories!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I do love boardwalks and I have been to Atlantic City and loved the boardwalk there as well as the one in Venice Beach. Awesome hub Denise!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Alicia-for your comments. The drawing was a total surprise!

      Hi Bud-there are tons of boardwalks I have never even heard about before...found out in my research. How are you doing?

    • Bud Gallant profile image

      Bud Gallant 

      8 years ago from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

      Very cool. I don't think I've ever seen a boardwalk in person. That sure is a big list. You did very good with this. I can tell this one is going to be very popular!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Voted useful and interesting, Denise. I've never considered the attraction of boardwalks before, since I haven't encountered many of them. Thanks for the information. Congratulations on winning the daily drawing prize!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Gail-what a kick, huh? Sweet. I'm all smiles right now-tomorrow I'll be with H.R. signing my paperwork and getting my employee physical done.

      Hi Kath-I don't do roller coasters, LOL but I did enjoy Santa Cruz! Thanks for dropping by.

    • Chatkath profile image


      8 years ago from California

      What a fun hub Denise! The only one I have visited (often) is in Santa Cruz. They used to call the scary roller coaster the wild mouse but I am not sure if it is even still there! Perfect timing on this one!

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      Yeah! Congratulations on winning day 17 daily drawing prize with this delightful hub!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Ann-thanks for your comments and I say, "Good!" my job is done if you are walking around w/that stuck in your head, haha. It means you hit that 'view' button. I sort of liked that hot picture of the couple on the beach as know the one I mean, LOL

      K9-thank you so much for your comments. Ahhh, 'history' Isn't it romantic? I was at the S.C boardwalk a few times during my short year living in CA It has an energy of its own.

      Hi Simone-got your email and I was thrilled to read that! What a nice surprise. Oh, btw-I'm not sure if those are the criteria that is what surveyors judge the bw on, I came to that conclusion thru analyzing them from a few sources.

      Oh, and I also had no idea how many (there are tons more actually that I did not include here) bw's there are. And the bits of info...well, it went on and on. It took three days to do this hub b/c I kept getting sidetracked reading all the bits of info on each one, LOL

      It was fun though!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      I had no idea that there were so many boardwalks in the States, and I also had no idea that they were subjected to such rigorous judging! I am, however, very pleased to see the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk made the cut. Much like K9keystrokes, I have many fond memories of the place. Great Hub!

      Oh, and congrats! This Hub won the Day 17 Daily Drawing prize in the HubPages Share and Share a Like contest!

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 

      8 years ago from Northern, California

      How fun is this hub!? VERY! My first date with my spouse was to the Santa Cruz boardwalk in California, MANY years ago. It was fun, goofy, and the view, well...hard to beat an ocean view! I really enjoyed the hub and your informational tid-bits on each boardwalks history is delightful! Thanks for sharing with us DH!:D

      Big HubHugs~


    • annmackiemiller profile image


      8 years ago from Bingley Yorkshire England

      Loved it - I have the song running through my head now. Voted up across the board.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Gail. I knew you were near the beach, but didn't realize exactly how close. Yes, you are blessed. I would love to live that close to the ocean. I've always dreamed of retiring on the ocean, since I first saw Virginia Beach. :)

      My goodness, what in the world are you doing awake at this hour? It's almost 3 a.m. girl! I myself am wrapping things up and heading off to bed. 'Night.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      Great hub. I'm blessed to live within a half hour of Rehoboth Beach and love the free summer concerts at the new bandstand.

      Loved this hub. Am voting it up, useful, beautiful, awesome and interesting.


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