It wasn’t until Hurricane Sandy wrought its terror on the Northeast shoreline that we realized just how precious establishments like a beach boardwalk are. While the damage that this super storm created was far more devastating than a destroyed boardwalk, when it happened the Jersey shore all of the vacationers who made a pilgrimage here every year realized how many of their happy memories were tied to those boards.
Those who have a boardwalk in traveling distance know that it isn’t simply a beach town gimmick with tourist t-shirts and overpriced rides. It was where some families watched their child’s face light up at the joy of riding a carousel for the first time. It is where a little boy won his first arcade game, where a little girl got her face painted for the first time. It is where high school seniors went after prom or for senior week, where they got their first kisses, and where they dreamed of returning with their own families someday.
Boardwalks are living nostalgia, and the memories families and friends make on them are ones that last a lifetime. And while the rides and the kitschy shops are all part of the necessary experience, so is the food. Maybe it is the beautiful scenery or something in the air, but sipping on lemonade while munching on your favorite fries along a beloved boardwalk is just a special experience. But good fries and super sweet drinks aren’t enough to make a boardwalk a great spot for food. So what does?
To help us determine this, we categorized popular American boardwalk vacation spots into five separate categories. Our social category not only took into consideration the amount of followers they had on Twitter and Facebook, it noted how often they posted about the food scene on their boardwalks, and how many “deals” they post. Next we looked at the actual quantity of restaurants on or just off of the boards. The more locations, the better! But it isn’t all quantity over quality here at The Daily Meal: they had to be highly rated places, and there had to be a wide variety of eateries (it can’t all be a potato on a stick, people!). We also considered the atmosphere surrounding the boardwalk and eateries, as well as the fun-factor of it being bustling with fun people. Our final category was editorial judgment, where we considered all of this elements, plus commentary that floated around the social sites surrounding these beach institutions.
While many shore points are still recovering from natural damage, and some of them aren’t your typical “boardwalk” establishments, we feel we rounded up some of the best waterside hangout spots with the best food you can find.
Additional reporting by Erica Rivera.
31. Old Orchard Beach Pier, Old Orchard Beach, Maine
While this beloved vacation spot for Maine folks may not be bustling with typical boardwalk activity, the establishments around it cannot be missed — especially for seafood lovers! Bayley’s Lobster Pound has plenty of seafood on the menu to entice you, but it’s the lobster roll that locals and tourists alike rave about. Dig in on their deck overlooking the water or get it to go — and don’t forget to add a slice of Maine blueberry pie to your order.
30. Louisiana Boardwalk, Bossier, LA
Definitely not a conventional boardwalk, the Louisiana Boardwalk is more about the shopping than it is about the beach life. This boardwalk does have a lot of chain establishments on it, but also hosts a few gems like Sushiko Sushi & Grill and Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro with hearty menus any diner would enjoy.