Beautiful beachfront boardwalk in California
Central Coast,  Central Valley,  Sierras

13 Of The Most Scenic Boardwalks In California

If you’re looking for a unique outdoor adventure, California is home to many scenic boardwalks with plenty of fun and photo opportunities for everyone! Most of these boardwalks are located next to the ocean offering beautiful scenery and easy hiking paths along the way.

From the mountains to the sea, I have compiled a list of the best boardwalks in California. I have personally visited all of these locations so you’ll be getting insider information and tips to help you plan your trips there.

These 13 California boardwalks will spark your travel wanderlust and simply leave you in awe!

13 Of The Best Boardwalks In California:

1. Moonstone Beach Boardwalk

Moonstone Beach Boardwalk in Cambria.

Moonstone Beach Boardwalk is a scenic pathway in Cambria that travels next to the Pacific Ocean. This wooden boardwalk is fairly flat making it a popular outdoor activity when visiting Cambria or San Simeon.

The boardwalk is only 2.6 miles long round trip so it’s the perfect place to go for a leisurely afternoon walk. From the boardwalk, you can easily access Moonstone Beach where you can explore tidepools, marine life, and the rocky shoreline.

Moonstone Beach Boardwalk does allow dogs so you can bring your four-legged friends along. The boardwalk travels parallel to the Moonstone Beach Drive with plenty of access points along the way.

Read Next: 13 Incredible Things To Do In Cambria, California

2. Yosemite National Park

This picturesque California boardwalk is located at the center of Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite National Park is home to some of the most incredible views in the world! To make it even better, Yosemite’s wooden boardwalk captures the perfect frame of Cook’s Meadow with Yosemite Falls as the backdrop.

The Yosemite boardwalk is located along Southside Drive near Yosemite Valley Chapel. This is a very busy location so I recommend coming here early in the morning or late in the evening if you wish to capture photos of the boardwalk without the big crowds in the background.

The boardwalk was originally built for meadow preservation and now has become one of the most popular places for photography within the park. It was created to make a pathway for visitors to explore Yosemite Valley without stepping on the sensitive grasses, shrubs, and bushes.

3. Fiscalini Ranch Preserve

Fiscalini Ranch Preserve features one of the best wooden boardwalks in California.

Fiscalini Ranch Preserve is another beautiful outdoor area in Cambria with scenic wooden boardwalks along the rugged ocean bluffs. This nature preserve is one of my favorite places on the Central California Coast to escape into nature, observe wildlife, and hike a variety of trails.

The wooden boardwalk is located along the Bluff Trail that travels next to the shoreline. From this pathway, you can take access points down to the beach to explore tide pools and various sea life.

Bluff Trail can be reached from the residential neighborhoods that surround Fiscalini Ranch Preserve. The closest entrances are located along Windsor Blvd north and south of the nature preserve.  

4. Meadow Creek Trail

Meadow Creek Trail in Pismo Beach

Meadow Creek Trail is one of my favorite beachside trails in Pismo Beach. This wooden boardwalk starts by the Fin’s Bar & Grill parking lot and travels through beachside dunes toward North Beach Campground.

Along this wooden pathway, you can enjoy stunning views of the ocean, wildflowers, and surrounding ocean dunes. On a previous trip, we even spotted a group of whales in the ocean so be on the lookout!

The trail ends at the Pismo Monarch Butterfly Grove. During the winter months, this is one of the largest monarch butterfly preserves in California where you can see thousands of butterflies clustering in the fragrant eucalyptus trees.

Read Next: 10 Top Places To See Monarch Butterflies In California

5. Elephant Seal Vista Point

Elephant Seal Vista Point in Big Sur.

Elephant Seal Vista Point is a must-see while traveling along Highway 1 in southern Big Sur. This vista point offers a close look at the elephant seals lounging on the sandy beach.

This vista point is free and open to visitors year-round. There are wooden boardwalks and viewing platforms set up on top of the bluffs so visitors can observe the elephant seals safely from a distance.

Along the way, you can read information signs to learn more about the elephant seals, take photos, or stop to chat with one of the volunteers. Here you can learn more about the ongoing preservation efforts to bring the elephant seals back from near extinction.

Read Next: 15 Best Places For Viewing Wildlife In California

6. Redwood Deck At Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Redwood Deck.

Although this is one of the shortest wooden boardwalks that I have visited in California, it’s easy to argue that it’s one of the most scenic ones!

The Redwood Deck is located within Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campground and features a short wooden pathway surrounded by towering redwood trees. From this location, you can also head on other trails including the River Path that runs next to the Big Sur River.

You don’t need to stay at the lodge or the campground to explore this park. Day visitors are allowed with a small fee of $10 per vehicle.

7. Elfin Forest Natural Area

El Moro Elfin Forest in Los Osos, California.

Elfin Forest Natural Area is one of the best-hidden gems in Los Osos town just a short drive south of Morro Bay. Situated next to the Morro Bay Estuary, Elfin Forest consists of 90 acres of wilderness trails and boardwalks that are great for walking, hiking, and wildlife viewing.

To explore the Elfin Forest you can follow a mile-long wooden boardwalk that stops at two viewpoints overlooking the Pacific Ocean. My favorite part of this boardwalk is the Pygmy Oak forest with twisting, eerie-looking trees.

There isn’t a designated visitor parking lot so you’ll need to park in the residential neighborhood south of it and enter through one of the access points. This boardwalk is wheelchair accessible but there is one slightly steep section that can be a bit challenging.

8. Morro Bay State Park Boardwalk

Morro Bay State Park Boardwalk

Morro Bay State Park Boardwalk is another scenic, but lesser-known boardwalk in California. This pathway is located next to the Morro Bay State Park Campground so it’s a wonderful place to explore for those camping nearby or visiting Morro Bay for the day.

The boardwalk is only 0.7 miles long and follows an easy trail between Morro Bay Estuary and the local marina. If you enjoy bird watching, this estuary is home to over 200 bird species that you can observe from the boardwalk.

Read Next: 20 Best Things To Do In Morro Bay, California

9. Pismo Beach Boardwalk

Pismo Beach is one of the best beaches with boardwalks in California.

Pismo Beach has a wooden promenade in the downtown area that follows next to the ocean. This promenade is walkable and connects many of the beachfront hotels, restaurants, and the Pismo Beach Pier.

This boardwalk is a wonderful place to go for a stroll, stop to watch the surfers at the pier, and snap a photo by the iconic Pismo Beach sign.

From the promenade, you can walk down to the beach to dip your toes in the water or head out to dine at one of the local seafood spots. A few of my favorite restaurants in Pismo Beach include Wooly’s Grill, Splash Café, and Pismo Fish and Chips.

10. Morro Bay Embarcadero

Morro Bay’s Harbor and T Pier

Morro Bay is a small town on the Central Coast with a promenade also referred to as ‘Embarcadero’. Here you can go for a walk along a boardwalk to see views of the harbor, towering Moro Rock in the distance, and enjoy a meal at one of the seafood restaurants.

On your visit to Moro Bay don’t miss the Morro Bay T Pier where you can observe sea otters swimming and playing in the bay! The views from this pier are just breathtaking, especially during sunset.

11. Big Trees Loop Trail In Yosemite National Park

Wooden boardwalk along the Big Trees Loop Trail in Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is home to one of the largest sequoia groves in California. Within this grove, you can explore the Big Trees Loop Trail, an easy hike that takes you to some of the biggest sequoia trees at the park.

This hike can be accessible from the Big Trees Loop Trailhead at the end of Mariposa Grove Road. The Big Trees Loop Trail is only 0.3 miles long so it’s a great option for families and little kids.

The trail starts off on a paved path that turns into a wooden boardwalk to let the water flow freely underneath and nourish the growing sequoia trees.

12. Big Trees Trail At Sequoia National Park

Big Trees Trail at Sequoia National Park.

Similarly to Yosemite, Sequoia National Park has a scenic wooden boardwalk built amongst towering sequoia trees. This boardwalk is located along the Big Trees Trail which you can reach from the Giant Forest Museum parking lot.

Big Trees Trail is a scenic hike that weaves through the Round Meadow. Keeping foot traffic off meadows like this is essential for Sequoia trees to grow as they provide much-needed water for their enormous roots.

13. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Situated next to the sandy shoreline, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a California classic and a ‘must-do’ for those visiting Santa Cruz. This boardwalk features plenty of fun for the entire family including rollercoaster rides, arcade games, bowling, mini golf and so much more!

Along the boardwalk, you can stop at the souvenir shops or walk down to the Santa Cruz Wharf for a meal at a restaurant overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

I hope you have discovered a new, exciting destination to add to your California bucket list!

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This post is written by Laura Sausina. Hi, I’m a California local and the founder of the California Wanderland travel blog. I currently live in Ventura County and help 30,000 readers a month discover things to do in Central California! Read more about me here.

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