California has all kinds of boardwalks to explore, including wooden ones through meadows and concrete paths that stretch along the beach. All of them will give you amazing views, and some by the coast are also lined with shops and local restaurants. They’re perfect if you just want to get out for awhile, and these eight routes will especially show you some of the best scenery the Golden State has to offer.
1. Cook’s Meadow Loop, Yosemite National Park
Cook’s Meadow Loop is an easy, underrated path in Yosemite National Park. The one-mile jaunt leads through lovely open meadows with views of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Sentinel Rock and the Royal Arches. The loop is open for visitors year-round, but we recommend visiting in the spring, when the snow’s cleared, the meadows are green and wildflowers are blooming.
2. Bumpass Hell Trail, Lassen National Park
The Bumpass Trail (pronounced bump-uss, not bump-ass) offers a safe way to see Lassen National Park’s incredible hydrothermal features. It kicks off at the parking lot, spanning about 2.6 miles RT and following along Bumpass Mountain. About a mile in you’ll reach an overlook with views of an eroded volcano rim, but if you continue the route drops in elevation and comes to a boardwalk that leads around the steaming pools and boiling mudpots.
3. Moonstone Beach Boardwalk, Cambria
Cambria’s Moonstone Beach Boardwalk provides a gentle, relaxing walk by the ocean that’s perfect on the weekends or after work. It spans for about two miles, and is open to visitors – and their leashed pets – all year round.
4. Venice Beach Boardwalk
Venice Beach won’t give you peace and quiet, but it is a prime spot to people watch, shop and walk along the sandy coast. There are several vendors lined up selling a wide assortment of arts and gifts, and you can usually catch live entertainment and sidewalk performances.
5. Hermosa Beach Boardwalk (aka The Strand)
Spanning along Hermosa Beach, The Strand is popular with pedestrians, joggers, bikers, dog-walkers, rollerbladers and skateboarders. Come for a relaxing oceanside walk, or just lay back and watch the sunset (or sunrise) over the beautiful pier.
6. Salt Creek Interpretive Trail, Death Valley National Park
Death Valley’s Salt Creek Trail is short and easy, following this wooden ADA-accessible boardwalk for only a half-mile round trip. The trail’s open year round, but the best time to visit is in the spring when Salt Creek Pupfish are in spawn. It’s also an interpretative route, so there are many signs along the way that will give you more info.
7. Santa Monica Boardwalk
The Santa Monica Boardwalk runs along the sandy beach and paved biking route by their iconic pier. It’s a lovely spot for a long romantic walk by the ocean, and there are loads of amazing local restaurants within a close distance.
8. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Unlike the other boardwalks on this list, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is actually an amusement park set on a mile-long stretch of sandy coastline. Admission is free, but if you have some cash to spend you can enjoy a range of carnival rides, games and food options. Go for a round of mini golf, play in the Casino Arcade, or shop around for a variety of souvenirs.
So have you been to any of these boardwalks before? What are some of the most amazing paths you’ve taken in California?