Summer at the beach is like winter on the slopes, a no brainer. In Santa Cruz of course, the beach is fronted by Monterey Bay, and backed by the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. There are several summer traditions at the Boardwalk, so let’s take a close look at a few of them

Everyone loves discounts, right? Sure you do. On any day one can save a few bucks by purchasing a Rides + Attractions Combo online ($42.95 vs $48.95) that includes 15 points for attractions (Fright Walk, etc) games and arcades. Rides only for the day are $36.95, or you can buy any number of points for a dollar each good for rides, attractions, games or arcade play. The points are loaded on a free MyBoardwalk Card, never expire and can be shared. Points replaced individual tickets, whose price had gradually risen to a dollar each a few years ago, and the Boardwalk seems unwilling to pass that barrier yet. Therefore, some rides now require more points, notably the Giant Dipper that has risen from 6 to 7, but there are even cheaper ways to ride.

For as long as I can remember, Mondays and Tuesdays at the Boardwalk mean all rides are the same price after 5PM. In this case, they haven’t been deterred by cracking the $1 ceiling, and this summer’s price is $1.50 each; still a great deal. Wednesday and Thursday are still Pepsi nights, with unlimited ride wristbands only $14.95 plus a Pepsi product after 5PM. Wednesday is also the day for free movies on the beach after dark beginning June 21. The complete schedule is below, and it all starts with the partially filmed on the Boardwalk flick The Lost Boys. Sure, the tale of youthful vampires is scary, but it’s the mullet haircuts on kids named Corey that really frightens.


June 21 The Lost Boys • 30th Anniversary The Lost Boys
June 28 Back to the Future Back to the Future
July 5 Grease Grease
July 12 Gremlins Gremlins
July 19 Clueless Clueless
July 26 Shrek Shrek
Aug 2 Ghostbusters (1984) Ghostbusters
Aug 9 The Little Rascals Little Rascals
Aug 16 The Princess Bride The Princess Bride


.And on Friday? The long standing tradition of bands on the beach is going strong. And the aging of various Hermits, Raiders and Monkees has meant the lineup has gotten a lot less predictable over the last few years.Here’s what’s up for 2017.

June 16 Eddie Money
“Two Tickets to Paradise”
June 23 Bad Company former lead singer Brian Howe
“Can’t Get Enough”
June 30 Great White
“Once Bitten, Twice Shy”
July 7 Quiet Riot
“Bang Your Head (Metal Health)”
July 14 Blue Öyster Cult
“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”
July 21 Eric Burdon And The Animals
“The House Of The Rising Sun”
July 28 Los Lobos
“La Bamba”
Aug 4 Y & T
“Summertime Girls”
Aug 11 Pablo Cruise
“Love Will Find A Way”
Aug 18 Gin Blossoms
“Hey Jealousy”
Aug 25 Band To Be Announced 6/18
Sept 1 Papa Doo Run Run
“(Santa Cruz) Beach Party”


Late last year a rather good band from East LA, Los Lobos, made their Boardwalk debut (and as can be seen above, are returning this year, too). That seemed like a good time to spend a day on the Central Coast, and also an opportunity to observe the concert procedure for the benefit of your good selves reading MiceChat. Let’s take a look at the situation when your humble narrator established an HQ at a table around noon o’clock on an overcast day way back in 2016.

The empty space on the sand in front of the stage consists of the prime area, which opens at 4PM, and the standing/dancing area directly in front that opens 15-30 minutes before the show. A few were staking out sites at the edge of the prime area. And the stage is very high, so my advice for anybody going for the standing area is to be at the back rail for better views of the performers.

An accessible area is located along the edge of the Boardwalk. There is also a designated area for the hearing impaired with a good view of the person signing onstage; in this case a person that had to be trilingual (English, Spanish, American Sign Language).

Here it is all at once, with the accessible area in the lower right below.

By 3:30PM, a line had developed on the beach for entry into the prime territory. Although only low chairs are allowed there, higher ones can be used elsewhere, and spots were claimed along both levels. Chairs aren’t allowed on the ramp to the upper level, still empty at this time.

Rope drop finally hit at 4.

It was controlled chaos, with a few people allowed through at a time. In less than 10 minutes it was over, the line was depleted and everyone relaxed with the most desirable spots claimed.

As we hit 5:30, an hour before the first set, the ramp was no longer empty.

No line formed for the dance zone, (You know why dance floors aren’t covered in deep sand? I do.) but it did reach capacity. By showtime standees were filling most of the gaps on the beach and Boardwalk. Even the stairs were jammed, well, mostly.

And then the music started, and all was well in the world. Whether one was playing bass on stage or dancing on the sand with one’s sweetie, there were smiles all around.

Each set lasts about an hour, and a few of the less hearty packed up after the first. That may make sense at times; I have seen bands play the same songs twice, maybe in a different order. But Los Lobos isn’t like that; I was a bit surprised that even two songs were repeated.

There may have been a chill in the air, but the music was caliente. With focus, you may even make a post show ride on the Giant Dipper. So bring your sunscreen, and your jacket, plus an appetite for hand dipped corn dogs, chocolate dipped ice cream cones plus rides and entertainment, maybe even a splash or two in Monterey Bay, and make a day of it in Santa Cruz. And I’ll see y’all again in the future for our next Day By The Bay.


  • By Marc Ricketts