SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KGO) --Huge crowds are expected this weekend at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Admission is free to the beach and boardwalk. Management says they never saw a decline in attendance during the recession. Now, with a bustling Bay Area economy, Santa Cruz officials expect to get slammed with tourists this summer.
Whether you want to twist, turn, fall or fly, there will be something at the boardwalk that will make you smile.
For most families, Memorial Day weekend means camping and a leisurely stroll through the boardwalk.
"We love the water, we love just kicking off the summer the right way, with a little sand, a little surf and a little boardwalk," one woman said.
It's a tradition many guests share, helping attendance soar in recent years.
"We have been having lots of really great years since our centennial in 2007 and we really expect this to be a continuation of that, so we're optimistic this will be a strong year for us," Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk spokesperson Kris Reyes said.
The boardwalk's management credits a lot of its recent success to families wanting to get away from the TV screen and onto rides.
ABC7 News spoke with some East Coast college friends that have fallen in love with Santa Cruz's style.
"All we have is the Jersey Shore, but Santa Cruz is much better," one woman said.
"I really like it, I can't believe we've never been before," visitor Kate Dougherty said.
Even though it was too much excitement for her baby, Dougherty plans on coming back.
"Yeah I'm going to bring my husband," she said.
Out on the pier, vendors also anticipate crowds.
"Memorial Day weekend is going to be awesome, so we have our ice cream cart set up, we're making iced coffees and mochas," Santa Cruz boat rentals spokesperson Allyssa Jensen said.
Woodies Caf expects the three-day weekend will mean three times the customers.
"Now that schools are getting out and the boardwalk is going to be open full time, it's nothing but business, we're ready to go," Woodie's Cafe manager Mark Pike said.
Relatively insulated from the recession and spoiled by a winter that wasn't, Santa Cruz expects this weekend will kickoff summer with a splash.