Lined with arcades, food stands and kitsch souvenir shops, yesteryear’s beach boardwalks provided another dimension to a fun day at the beach. Today, while the boarded walkways may have given away to pavement, they still provide abundant options to enhance your beach vibe. From Daytona Beach with its nostalgic beach-side amusement park, gift shops and eateries, to the favorably rated restaurants, chic hotels and hot nightspots at Hollywood Beach Boardwalk, you’ll find that Florida’s beach promenades are as varied as the people who go there.
Daytona Beach Boardwalk
If you’re looking for a traditional boardwalk, with entertainers, dizzying rides, garish arcades and an old-fashioned pier jutting out to sea, Daytona Beach Boardwalk is your scream dream and souvenir machine. Don’t miss the ice cream. You’ll recall your childhood with all the saltwater-taffy selections, interrupted only by wafts of pizza and hot dogs. Should you tire of nostalgia, return to the present with shopping and restaurants at nearby Ocean Walk Shoppes or Oceanfront Park, which has a myriad of activities, including open-air concerts.
Hollywood Beach Boardwalk
Attracting beachgoers since the roaring '20s, Hollywood Beach Boardwalk extends about 2 1/2 miles along the Atlantic between Fort Lauderdale and Miami. This brick-paved promenade serves as a magnet for walkers, joggers, bicyclists and roller-bladers, and was named by Travel Channel as among America’s Best Beach Boardwalks. The boardwalk is more than a promenade and access to the beach: There are boutique inns and name hotels, marque restaurants, nightlife, parks and even a farmers' market on the weekends. This boardwalk could be the epitome of all your active fun in the sun in Hollywood. For a change of pace, catch a trolley; it links the promenade with Hollywood’s historic downtown.
Clearwater Beach’s Beach Walk
With a newer beach promenade, dubbed Beach Walk, two "USA Today" Reader’s Choice polls named Clearwater Beach in 2013 as “The Best Place to Watch a Sunset” and “Florida’s Best Beach Town.” Spanning both sides of South Gulfview Boulevard, the beach walkway begins at historic Pier 60 and winds south for 1/2 mile, where you can dine at beachside restaurants, shop or enjoy the surf and sand. A short causeway away from Clearwater, the Clearwater Beach community keeps its sugar-white-sand beach clean and entertainers G-rated to attract families to the pier and promenade.
John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk
Touted as having more than 100 shops, attractions and restaurants with an emphasis on seafood, this smaller boardwalk in Maderia Beach near St. Petersburg is themed like a New England fishing village. The waterfront walkway consists of wooden planks and is located next to Village Boulevard, where the eateries, shops and water-sports rentals are located. The nearest beach is across Gulf Boulevard. The maritime-themed boardwalk draws boats, including a pirate ship with water cannon volleys you’ll welcome on a hot day. You can hop on the ship and pretend you’re Black Bart heading for a buried treasure on a secret island. Don’t stay too long, as you won’t want to miss one of those highly regarded seafood restaurants back at the boardwalk.
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