What is a Boardwalk?

Phil Shepley

A boardwalk is any of a variety of walkways that run along a coastal area and can serve many different purposes for the pedestrians who utilize it. The typical example is made of wood and is found alongside a beach, but the composition and location is definitely not constrained to these specifications. Its length can be as small as several hundred feet (or meters) and as long as several miles (or kilometers).

Slot machines in a boardwalk arcade.
Slot machines in a boardwalk arcade.

Some boardwalks are designed to simply give people a nice place to walk along the water and enjoy the view, and others are built for more specific purposes such as fishing or to be used as a bridge over a beach or water. It can be used to elevate a walkway above a swamp in a park, or it can be a path that runs along storefronts in the area of a beach. Primarily, a boardwalk is usually surrounded by attractions that are used to draw tourists to an area.

Caramel popcorn is a popular treat enjoyed by boardwalk tourists.
Caramel popcorn is a popular treat enjoyed by boardwalk tourists.

There are many historically famous boardwalks in the United States alone, and many of these reside on the East Coast. Of these, the most popular is in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and happens to be one of the oldest and longest in the United States. Along its 4-plus mile (6.4 km) length, there are many activities including gambling, amusement rides, concerts, shopping and many more tourist attractions. While not every boardwalk contains as many things to do along the same walkway, most contain a little of each.

One of the most famous uses of the walkway in popular culture is in the board game Monopoly, where the Boardwalk property is the most expensive to purchase. Another example in popular culture is the song “Under the Boardwalk” that was performed by The Drifters in 1964. Known for their aesthetic value, they have also been featured in many films, and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in California, for example, has been featured in many films and music videos.

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