America's Best Beach Boardwalks

From the honky-tonk hilarity of New York’s Coney Island to skateboarders and sea views in San Diego, these icons are freeways to fun.

Coney Island
Photographer: Ryan McVay/Getty Images

Coney Island, New York

We’re madly in love with the sweet charm of small coastal towns, but we’d be lying if we said a weekend fling with Coney Island on the side didn’t give us a thrill. Fair warning: Like the big city of New York that it is a part of, you have to take the good with the tawdry. From hot dog–eating contests to snake charmers and fire eaters, this boardwalk is a little bit sideshow, a little bit burlesque, and a whole lot of fun. You come here to raise your arms into the air and scream on the 86-year-old Cyclone roller coaster and act out childhood fantasies like dressing up in “tails” for the annual Mermaid Parade. And if you look closely enough, you can even see behind the frills and the makeup: Sunrise over the ocean is utterly breathtaking and living proof that natural beauty is still here—buried beneath a few layers of honky tonk, maybe, but here nonetheless.

STAY AT HOTEL BPM BROOKLYN: This hipster haven embodies the Brooklyn renaissance with edgy decor and Frette linens;

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