Find Affordable Family Fun in Santa Cruz
By Kathy Chin Leong

As a child, every summer we would leave escape San Francisco for a day in Santa Cruz. Dad would traditionally tan himself on the sand while we kids would play with shovels and buckets, and run into the waves to catch water while getting doused with a big one every once in a while.

Today , historic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk continues to cast its charming spell, helping media-addicted families get out to see the sun. In tight economic times, a jaunt to S.C. is an excellent way to spend summer days and nights and stretch the ol’ dollar while being in the outdoors.


Admission to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk continues to be free, and 2009 ride ticket prices remain the same as 2008:    

Individual Ride Tickets: $2.25 - $4.50
· All Day Unlimited Ride Wristbands: $29.95 + tax
· Season Passes: $68.95 + tax
Popular Weeknight Discounts begin June 22 and continue through September 3:

· 1907 Nights, Monday & Tuesday after 5pm all rides are 75 cents.
Pepsi Nights, Wednesday & Thursday after 5pm Unlimited Ride Wristbands are $9.95.


Recently, the boardwalk announced a boatload of freebies for the 2009 season. If you have ever seen Cirque du Soleil, you may have paid $100 a ticket, but watching the Cirque Magnifique is free July 12 through August 20.
A professional band concert can cost you plenty of bucks for stadium seats, but you have your choice of going to up to twelve concerts on Friday nights starting June 19 for nothing at the "Free Friday Night Bands on the Beach" concerts this summer.

Last, you don’t have to wait until the Fourth of July to enjoy fireworks. A spectacular fireworks show celebrating the Giant Dipper’s 85th anniversary, will occur on June 13. One of the oldest wooden coasters in the world, the 1924 Giant Dipper is a National Historic Landmark and the park’s most popular ride.

Cirque Magnifique

Continuing a long-standing tradition of free entertainment on the beach, the Boardwalk presents Cirque Magnifique on the Beach Bandstand from July 12 through August 20. The talented troupe of French Canadian acrobats delivers a fast-paced show in spectacular cirque style. The high-energy performers will hit the beach stage with spinning German wheels, bicycle stunts, trampoline tricks, colorful clowns, and gravity-defying acrobatic feats. Cirque Magnifique will perform two free shows a day every Sunday through Thursday at Noon and 3pm on weekdays, and Noon and 6pm on Sundays.

Friday Night Bands

This summer, hit bands making their Boardwalk debut on the Beach Bandstand include The Knack, Patty Smyth and Scandal, Loverboy, Ray Parker Jr., and The Sweet. Returning fan favorites include Eddie Money, Papa Doo Run Run, The Tubes, The Fixx, Santana original lead singer Gregg Rolie, Greg Kihn Band, and Starship starring Mickey Thomas. This truly unique California beach experience gets underway with the Fixx on  Friday, June 19.  Bands perform free concerts on the Boardwalk’s Beach Bandstand at 6:30 and 8:30pm every Friday night June 19 through September 4.  For the complete schedule and band bios visit .

New Ride Lifts Off

Sea Swings lifted off earlier this year with sneak previews for cool-weather visitors.  The shiny new carousel swing is a beautiful sight, invoking the dreamy nostalgia of a classic amusement park ride.  Custom designed and hand-painted in Italy, Sea Swings boasts delightful scenes from the Boardwalk’s storied past. Feel like a kid as you swing out over the beach with feet dangling and Monterey Bay glistening as far as the eye can see.

An A-mazing New Attraction

Opened May 23, Laser Maze is a challenging new attraction opening near the Haunted Castle. You’ll be twisting and turning to avoid touching laser beams as you pick your way under, over, and through the tricky maze.

Pulling out All the Stops

Inside the Carousel Building, the antique Ruth band organ received a major restoration and smashing new façade in 2009. The unbelievable instrument has played alongside the Looff Carousel at the Boardwalk since 1911. The carousel building also features a rare Wurlitzer 165 band organ, another collector’s piece in full working order.  The new display includes informational signs about each organ.



The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
400 Beach Street, Santa Cruz   


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