Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Coordinates: 36°57′51″N 122°01′04″W / 36.96417°N 122.01778°W / 36.96417; -122.01778
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
LocationSanta Cruz, California, United States
Coordinates36°57′51″N 122°01′04″W / 36.96417°N 122.01778°W / 36.96417; -122.01778
Opened1907; 116 years ago (1907)
OwnerSanta Cruz Seaside Company
Operating seasonYear-round (limited operation November–early February)
Roller coasters3
Water rides1
Reference no.983

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is an oceanfront amusement park in Santa Cruz, California. Founded in 1907, it is California's oldest surviving amusement park[1] and one of the few seaside parks on the West Coast of the United States.


The boardwalk extends along the coast of the Monterey Bay, from just east of the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf to the mouth of the San Lorenzo River. At the western edge of the park lies a large building originally known as The Plunge, now Neptune's Kingdom, a pirate-themed recreation center which contains a video arcade and an indoor miniature golf course. Next to this is the Casino Fun Center which includes a laser tag arena and next to that is the Cocoanut Grove banquet room and conference center. A Laffing Sal automated character, from San Francisco's Playland, is viewable near the miniature golf course.

The main beach and boardwalk

East of the casino, the boardwalk portion of the park stretches along a wide, sandy Main Beach visitors can access easily from the park. The eastern end of the boardwalk is dominated by the Giant Dipper, a wooden roller coaster that is one of the most visible landmarks in Santa Cruz. The Dipper and the Looff Carousel, which still contains its original 342-pipe organ built in 1894, are both on the US National Register of Historic Places. They were, together, declared to be a National Historic Landmark in 1987[2] and the park is California Historical Landmark number 983.[3]

There are old-fashioned carnival games and snack booths throughout the 24-acre (9.7-hectare) park. It is located at 400 Beach Street in Santa Cruz, 36°57′51″N 122°01′04″W / 36.96417°N 122.01778°W / 36.96417; -122.01778 south of the Ocean Street exit of California State Route 1, which is the southern terminus of California State Route 17.


Santa Cruz Swimming Baths at the Boardwalk, Pacific Novelty Company Postcards, circa 1910.

Fred W. Swanton formed the Santa Cruz Beach, Cottage, and Tent City Corporation in 1903 and the following year, the City of Santa Cruz granted permission for commercial buildings to be built. On 14 June 1904, the Neptune Casino opened with an arcade, grill and dining room, and a theater.

The beach was a destination for railroads and trolleys from 1875. From 1927 to 1959, Southern Pacific Railroad ran Suntan Special excursion trains to the beach from San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose every summer Sunday and holiday.[4] A short passenger service to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park was restored in 1985. The Santa Cruz, Big Trees and Pacific Railway stops in front of the park.[5]

As of 2011, the park is headed by Charles Canfield, the son of Laurence Canfield, the president of the park from the 1950s until the early 1980s. It has won the Best Seaside Amusement Park Award from Amusement Today every year since 2007 except for 2015.[6] Although there is no admission and the beach is public, a parking fee is charged when the rides are open. Season or day passes can be purchased or tickets for $1; each ride costs between 3 and 7 tickets.[7][8]

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the park shut down in mid-March 2020. The park reopened on November 7, 2020.[9] The park then subsequently shut down on November 10, 2020, due to Santa Cruz County re-entering the Substantial tier of the California Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The park then re-opened select rides to California residents on April 1, 2021.[10]

Boardwalk's Cocoanut Grove[edit]

The Boardwalk's Cocoanut Grove conference center includes banquet rooms and a performing arts venue. Food, drink, and theater were profitable aspects of the resort since the original Casino of Swanton in 1904. Although gambling was never legal, it was generally known that guests could take boats from the "pleasure pier" to a ship in the harbor to play games of chance in the early days. During Prohibition from 1920 to 1933, serving alcoholic drinks was also outlawed and the casino changed its name to Cocoanut Grove. The name includes an old spelling of Coconut, Cocos nucifera, which was used in the popular Marx Brothers movie The Cocoanuts of 1929. The name was also used by a number of popular nightclubs of the era, including one in The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California.[11]

In the 1930s and 1940s, Cocoanut Grove was a popular spot for major big band acts, including Stan Kenton, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton and Tommy Dorsey.[12]

Today, Cocoanut Grove rarely hosts musical acts. It is a venue for weddings, banquets, school formal occasions and reunions, and corporate events. The Grand Ballroom and Sun Room complexes include over 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2) of space and commercial kitchens.[11]

A panoramic view of the Boardwalk from the pier


Current roller coasters[edit]

Coaster Opened Manufacturer Model
Giant Dipper 1924 Designed by Frank Prior & Frederick Church;
Built by Arthur Looff
Wooden Roller Coaster
Sea Serpent 2000 E&F Miler Industries Family Coaster
Undertow 2013 Maurer Söhne Spinning Coaster

Thrill rides[edit]

Ride Opened Manufacturer Model
Crazy Surf 1998 Wisdom Rides Genesis
Cyclone 2004 Hrubetz Round Up
Double Shot 2005 S&S Worldwide 125 foot tall Double Shot drop tower
Fireball 2003 KMG Revolution 20
Rock-O-Plane 1954 Eyerly Rock-O-Plane
Shockwave 2017 Zamperla Disk’o
Typhoon 2017 ARM Rides Typhoon
WipeOut 1998 HUSS Breakdance

Family rides[edit]

Ride Opened Manufacturer Model
Cave Train 1961 Arrow Development[13] Cave Train
Freefall 2002 Moser Freefall
Ghost Blasters 2001 Sally Corporation Shooting Dark Ride
Haunted Castle 2010 Sally Corporation Dark Ride
Lighthouse Lift-Off 2021 Sunkid Lift Tower
Logger’s Revenge 1977 Arrow Development Log Flume
Looff Carousel 1911 Looff Carousel
Pirate Ship 1984 Chance Rides Pirate Ship
Riptide 1993 Larson International Tilt-A-Whirl
Sea Swings 2008 Bertazzon Swing Carousel
Sky Glider 1967 Universal Mobility Chairlift
Space Race 2000 Space Race Inc. Space Race
Speed Bumps 1996 Majestic Manufacturing Bumper Cars
Tornado 2000 Wisdom Rides Tornado
Tsunami 1999 Moser Music Express
Twirlin Teacups 2019 Mack Rides Teacups
Wave Rider 2021 Battech Enterprises Permanent Dry Slide

Kiddie rides[edit]

Ride Opened Manufacturer Model
Beach Swing 2013 Zamperla Happy Swing
Bouncin’ Buggies 2016 Zamperla Jump Around
Bulgy the Whale 1960 Eyerly Bulgy the Whale
Convoy 2000 Zamperla Convoy
Jet Copters 1990 Zamperla Helicopter ride
Sea Dragons 1976 Zamperla Sea Dragon
Speed Boats 1960 Venture Speed Boats
Speedway 2002 Zamperla Speedway

Former rides[edit]

  • Hurricane (replaced by Undertow)
  • Videostorm (replaced by Tsunami)
  • Whirlwind
  • Chaos
  • Paratrooper
  • Wave Jammer (opened 1986, replaced by Rock & Roll)
  • Bermuda Triangle (Scrambler)
  • Spider
  • Spin Out (Tea Cups)
  • Artic Flyer (opened 1973, replaced by Videostorm)
  • Wild Mouse (closed 1975, replaced by Logger's Revenge)
  • Crazy Surf (KMG X-Factory), Sold to UK showman Joseph Manning in October 2018, converted from park to travelling model by Eagle Fabrications.
  • Cliffhanger (closed 2023) To be replaced by Surge (Chance Rides Freestyle) in 2024
  • Rock & Roll (closed 2023) To be replaced by Dream Wheel (Chance Rides Century Wheel) in 2024



  1. ^ "Santa Cruz Booardwalk class amusement park". Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  2. ^ "NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARKS PROGRAM" (PDF). Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  3. ^ "Santa Cruz County". California Historical Landmark web site. State of California Office of Historic Preservation. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  4. ^ "SP and the Suntan Special" (PDF). History of in Santa Cruz County. Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  5. ^ "Roaring Camp Railroads -— Santa Cruz Beach Train". official web site. Santa Cruz, Big Trees and Pacific Railway. Retrieved May 2, 2015.
  6. ^ "All-time Winners By Category". Golden Ticket Awards. Amusement Today. January 8, 2014. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  7. ^ "Ticket Information". Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk web site. Santa Cruz Seaside Company. Archived from the original on June 8, 2010. Retrieved June 12, 2010.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Fernandez, Ryan (November 4, 2020). "Coronavirus roundup: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk sets reopening date – it's very soon". Silicon Valley Business Journal. Archived from the original on June 12, 2023. Retrieved June 12, 2023.
  10. ^ "Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk to reopen rides on April 1". SFGATE. March 29, 2021. Retrieved April 5, 2021.
  11. ^ a b "Frequently Asked Questions about the historic Cocoanut Grove". Cocoanut Grove website. Retrieved June 10, 2010.
  12. ^ Valerie Gladstone (May 14, 2000). "DANCE; They Come to the Dance Floor Bearing a Gift: Jazz". New York Times. Retrieved June 10, 2010.
  13. ^ "The Dawn of the Cave Train".
  14. ^ "The Legacy of the Wild Mouse Lives On!".

Further reading[edit]

  • Santa Cruz Seaside Company (April 1, 2007). The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk - A Century by the Sea. Ten Speed Press. ISBN 978-1-58008-814-5.

External links[edit]