It’s the perfect family getaway: a sandy beach, mouthwatering food and coasters of all shapes and sizes. Boardwalks are an iconic part of summer vacations and a step back in time to quintessential family fun.

East Coast classic

Located on the Delaware Shores, Rehoboth Beach is known for its charming boardwalk and pristine beaches. It’s the perfect place for families who want to escape the carnival-esque atmosphere of places like Atlantic City. The boardwalk’s mile-long, oak-beamed planks are lined with eclectic boutiques, restaurants and family amusement.

Funland, the boardwalk’s amusement park by the sea, ranks No. 2 on TripAdvisor’s list of 68 things to do in Rehoboth. Its vintage rides and arcade games provide hours of entertainment for both the young and young at heart. Fourteen of the 20 rides in the park have been around since 1962, offering the chance for multiple generations to make the same memories.

Families can indulge in boardwalk favorites at Dolles Candyland, Thrasher’s French Fries and Grotto’s Pizza. Nearby Dewey Beach hosts free Monday-night movies and Tuesday and Wednesday night bonfires on the beach during the summer.

Natural beauty

For a vastly different boardwalk adventure, check out the half-mile wooden boardwalk along the beach at Long Beach, Wash. An ideal location for spotting bald eagles and other native wildlife, this boardwalk takes visitors across grassy dunes, boasting panoramic views of the North Head lighthouse and Pacific Ocean. It’s also a storm-watcher’s dream. If you travel during the winter months, embrace the foul weather and watch the pounding waves from the beach.

Retrace a moment in history by walking or biking the 8.5-mile Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail that leads you through sand dunes to several places Clark and his men reached on their exploration of the area. The trail also leads you past a woodcarving of a pod of whales that marks the same spot where a juvenile gray whale washed up dead on shore in May 2000. The real skeleton was on display for many years until its decay in 2013.

During the third full week in August, tens of thousands of tourists from all over the world “fly” to Long Beach for a week-long kite celebration and competition. The International Kite Festival is organized by the World Kite Museum, which is open to guests year-round.

The inventor of fun

The Coney Island Boardwalk in Brooklyn, N.Y., is worth mentioning, as it’s the birthplace for many American favorites. The earliest carousel (as we know them today) was created at Coney Island, and what is widely considered the first modern roller coaster – the Gravity Switchback Railway -- hit the tracks in 1884. Coney Island also is the home of the hot dog, and there is no shortage of places to indulge in the classic food. Nathan’s Famous and Tom’s Coney Island are fan favorites. While the boardwalk has undergone many facelifts since opening in 1923, families can always rely on the classics.  

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