Monday, April 21, 2014

Spinning at the Boardwalk!

The black sneakers and white socks belong to my daughter

 Recently, my daughter and I enjoyed a wonderful mother/daughter day trip to the Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk. Now this isn't exactly a budget trip. The only way it could seriously be a budget trip would be to stroll along the boardwalk, soaking up the sights and sounds of all the fun everyone is having - except for your kids who are being tortured! So I don't recommend that. But I can recommend a few ways to save money. I will list them at the end of this blog.

We got to the boardwalk right when it opened. It was foggy but we didn't mind, and the best thing was, it was wide open. We were the first at the ticket booth to buy our season passes so it went quickly. Later in the day, there is always a long line to get tickets because their process is very cumbersome. You have to fill out a form, get your picture taken and put on a wristband, all of which takes time. Get there early if you can, to get that out of the way. Anyway, because the boardwalk had just opened (10AM) there were no lines at any of the rides and we even had some to ourselves. 

So peaceful in the morning

One of the first rides we did was supposed to be a gentle kids ride. It's called the Cave Train and features a slow train ride through a long dark cave with neon lit "cave people." They look like Neanderthal Apes and reminded me very much of this terrible driver's ed movie I saw back in the 70s, that starred monkey masked people who would do really stupid things and get themselves killed. So I can safely say, the cave people creeped me out! And even my daughter, who was initially amused by the cave people and their antics (playing jazz, riding a dinosaur, etc.), ended by thinking they were too freaky to be funny. So go at your own risk.

Luckily there are a lot of rides to choose from. Mild spin rides, crazy spin rides, up and down and round about rides . .

Notice she's riding and I'm photographing. Round and round is not for me!

 My favorite is the Giant Dipper roller coaster.

The Giant Dipper

It's the 5th oldest coaster in the United States (but well maintained!) and is also a classic wooden coaster. I LOVE this coaster. It's non-stop excitement but not crazy scary. My daughter however, has to force herself to ride it (she won't let a ride go unchallenged), and yet she LOVES the crazy swing rides, like the Fireball, that swoop and twist you up into the air until you're practically hanging upside down. Run away!!

The Fireball - It was hard for me to even watch it!

 Neither one of us had the courage to ride the Undertow. Shudder . .

The car spins at the same time it's traversing the track!

Moving away from the rides, there are many fast food places along the boardwalk. Two of my favorites are Surf City Grill, where you can buy delicious clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl or deli sandwiches and Whiting's Foods where you can buy soft serve ice cream in chocolate or vanilla (or both). We took our lunch and ate it on the beach; it was good to get away from the noise of the boardwalk for a bit.

View from the sky buckets

Speaking of the beach, the boardwalk beach is broad and white and large, with beautiful views, plus a long pier (Santa Cruz Wharf) where you can always see and hear sea lions cavorting below. There are so many fun things at the boardwalk and beach - I think I'll let you discover the rest for yourself.

Taking more pictures? I'm on to you Mom . .

If you go: the beach and boardwalk can be freezing in the morning because of fog and wind. The sun usually comes out very bright in the afternoon. Of course, it all depends on the season and the moods of the ocean. So bring clothing for cold or hot weather. 

Pre-operating Hours

To save money: 

  1.  If you live locally, buy a season pass
  2.  If you are a Costco member, you can buy 2 all day ride wristbands for just under $60.00 (vs. $80)
  3.  Between June 13 - August 26, visit after 5pm on Mon & Tues nights and tickets per ride will only cost $1.00. They call this 1907 nights. 
  4. Between June 13 - August 29, there will be free Friday Night Beach Concerts.
  5. Between June 25 - August 13, there will be free movies every Weds at 9pm, on the beach.
Have fun!
P.S. for a calm ride with beautiful views, ride the Sky Buckets.


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