This Saturday is the annual Clam Chowder Cookoff at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. If you like Chowder, the ocean or what is arguably the best wooden coaster in California, this is the place to be.
I went for the first time last year, arriving 10-15 minutes before the rides opened and, wow..........I couldn't believe the line for the parking lot. The Boardwalk was more crowded than I've ever seen it. What quickly became clear, though, was that these were people ready to eat, not there for riding. Despite running only one train, plus some rides being down for construction work, it was never more than a couple of cycles to get on the Giant Dipper for the first few hours. In fact, with our unlimited ride wristband, they gave us a coupon for a free ride wristband on a future visit (don't know if that's typical) since not everything was open.
As to the chowder, tasting starts at 1 PM and lasts a couple of hours. For $7 you get a cup, spoon and 5 tickets good for a taste. Winners are announced for white and red chowder, as decided by judges or the public. There were well over 50 cooks lining the boardwalk last year. Despite all this, the highlight for the boy was building with driftwood. This winter hasn't had as many storms, but he and a couple of other kids built a multiroom structure; it was quite impressive. Get there if you can.