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America's Best Boardwalks for Those Over 50

Where the good times roll this summer

Venice Beach boardwalk

Mitch Diamond/Getty Images

California's Venice Beach is a popular tourist attraction, known for its eclectic boutiques, fabulous food and colorful murals.

En español | There’s just something about a boardwalk that brings good friends, good times and the great outdoors together in the best way. And it’s not just the surf, sun, snow cones, sub shops and seaside amusements. Boardwalks are great at the beach, and just as fun at a nature reserve, at a national park or lining the shore of a lake. They let us lace up our kicks — and get our nature fix — with friends and family of varying mobility needs. Pushing the new grandbaby in a stroller? Let’s go. Use a walker for balance? Happy trails. Mom’s on a scooter? A boardwalk will suit her. You’ll want to call the park or recreation area ahead if you’re a wheelchair user, to get details on things like how close parking and restroom facilities are; whether wheelchairs are available for rent; what specific areas are ADA compliant, and whether a beach has accessibility mats leading to the water. Accessibility at and around the boardwalks below varies. Now for the fun stuff.

Alabama: Discover biodiversity on the Bayou at Bellingrath Gardens. Wind your way through the Fowl River Watershed, where fish, turtles and other waterfowl and wildlife are plentiful.

Alaska: Hoof happy trails at Glacier Bay National Park. The boardwalk trail to Blackwater Pond is a favorite of day-trippers from cruise ships. The lodge and visitor center are accessible.

Arizona: Seek Sonoran splendor at Saguaro National Park. Stroll or roll at sunset through the Desert Discovery Trail  that meanders through a forest of saguaro cactus. Bring the grandkids, who might spot a lizard, rabbit or even a rattlesnake. One thing you won’t spot are actual boards. This is a paved trail. Go anyway!  

Arkansas: Hike through history and a headwater swamp at Louisiana Purchase Boardwalk. The boardwalk spans 950 feet and leads to the beginning point from which the Louisiana Purchase was surveyed. (Yes, present-day Arkansas, along with all or part of 12 other states, was part of the Louisiana Territory, which stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada.

aerial view of Santa Monica Pier

Mark Williamson/Getty Images

If you enjoy sightseeing, you'll love visiting Santa Monica Pier.

California: Get those good, good, good vibrations on the Venice Beach and Santa Monica Boardwalks. On the Santa Monica end, you’ve got the iconic pier and a boardwalk that runs parallel to the bike lane, meaning walkers don’t have to share the road with riders. Venice Beach is a primo spot for people-watching and street performers.

Colorado: Earn your black belt in shopping and beachy-keen fun at Grand Lake Boardwalk. It’s actually the town’s main street and features over 60 shops, restaurants, bars and galleries. One end of the boardwalk leads to the lake. If you prefer to take in nature, you’ll love accessible Wilderness on Wheels. 

Connecticut: Grab a meal (and maybe spot a seal) at Niantic Bay Boardwalk in East Lyme. The 1.1-mile walk fronts a lovely white sand public beach that welcomes bathers, picnickers and fishing enthusiasts.

Delaware: Soak up the sun and family fun at Rehoboth Beach boardwalk. Voted one of the top East Coast beaches for kids, its shops, amusements, festivals and events make it a great vacation spot for all ages.

Florida: Follow the yellow (and red and brown) brick road at Hollywood Beach Broadwalk (that’s not a typo), which stretches 2½ miles along the Atlantic. The unique, palm-studded promenade is dotted with mom-and-pop shops and quaint little inns, adding to its vintage vacation appeal.

Georgia: Ramble by the historic riverfront on Savannah's River Street. Shops, ships, eats and sips. Make a day of it.

Hawaii: Swim, stroll at sunset and sightsee at Maui's Wailea Coastal Walk. The 1½-mile walk traverses four beaches on the south coast. You might spot a sea turtle or a humpback whale. On a clear day, you can view four other islands.

Idaho: Walk on water at the Coeur d'Alene Resort Floating Boardwalk. It offers gorgeous views of the lake and marina. One section has an elevated overpass to allow boats to pass. But there’s a strollable stretch before the stairs here. For wheelchair access to the water’s edge, head to City Beach.

Tourists along Chicago's Navy Pier

Westend61/Getty Images

Chicago's Navy Pier is an iconic landmark that's open year-round.

Indiana: Look out for birds at Dunes National Lakeshore. The Portage Lakefront  and Riverwalk includes an accessible loop trail

Iowa: Meander along the mighty Mississippi in downtown Davenport. LeClaire Park, with 9 acres of green space, is home to major summer music festivals.

Kansas: Walk through the wetlands at Great Plains Nature Center in Wichita.

Kentucky: Take a subterranean stroll that’s wheelchair accessible, and Outlaw Cave's boardwalk may become your family’s fave!

Louisiana: Don’t feed the alligators at Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge, a short drive from New Orleans.

Maine: Amble through Acadia National Park. Check out the Sieur de Monts area, especially the Jesup boardwalk through a beautiful boggy forest filled with white birches and hemlocks.

Maryland: Stroll down memory lane in nostalgia-filled Ocean Cityvoted one of the best boardwalks in the country by National Geographic magazine. Complete with antique rides, it’s the archetypical Atlantic amusement.

Massachusetts: Meander for miles at Boston Harborwalk — 43 of them to be exact. Along the way, you’ll find museums, plus aquarium, shops, restaurants and historic sites.

Michigan: Tour the St. Ignace Huron Boardwalk. At the south end of the lakefront boardwalk, check out the Wawatam Lighthouse.

Minnesota: Visit bobcats, bald eagles and 299 other species of birds at Big Bog State Recreation Area.

Mississippi: Romp in the Swamp among 1,000-year-old Cypress trees at Sky Lake Wildlife Boardwalk. Everything but the observation tower is accessible.

Missouri: Walk among the wildflowers toward Whispering Dell Overlook at Ha Ha Tonka State Park.

Montana: Check out the spout on Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park.

New Jersey: Amble before you gamble in Atlantic City. The world-famous boardwalk, which the city began constructing in 1870, boasts high-end retail shops as well as views of the surf and sunset. Shows, casinos, gourmet dining, windsurfing, fishing and more are a short walk away.

people walking along Coney Island boardwalk at dusk

Barry Winiker/Getty Images

From Nathan's famous hot dogs to breathtaking roller coasters, Coney Island in Brooklyn offers comfort food and action-packed activities for the whole family.

New York: Check out marine life at Coney Island. This iconic boardwalk fronts 3 miles of sandy beaches. Besides swimming, sunbathing and amusement rides, there’s fun to be had at the New York Aquarium and MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones baseball team.

Texas: Amuse yourself at Galveston’s Pleasure Pier. A historic waterfront rebuilt after the 2008 hurricane, it’s known for its amusement rides and games, shopping and dining. Capture your visit with an antique photo session, featuring themes from the Roaring '20s to the Old West.

Virginia: Roll and Stroll at Virginia Beach. Adjacent to the waterside walking path lined with hotels, restaurants, sculptures, historic sites and museums, there is also a path for people on bikes, trikes and skates. Accessibility ramps are spaced one block apart and lead down to the Atlantic.

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