The Santa Cruz Boardwalk hosted the annual Clam Chowder Cook-Off once again!

Now in it’s 36th year, it has become so popular that the hosts could no longer cram the event into one day. This year, it was divided into 2 days: Saturday was the amateur chefs competition, and Sunday was for the professionals (ie. caterers, restaurants, etc).

2016 was the last year they had the event in one day. I remember it being super packed. We arrived around 12PM and it took us almost an hour to find parking a mile away from the Boardwalk. By the time we got there, there were only a couple of tasting kits left.

It was a lot of fun to go around and sample people’s different takes on the clam chowder recipes of clam chowder, both the New England (creamy) and the Manhattan (tomato-based). This year, my siblings attended again but were much more prepared. Luckily also, it was a perfect sunny day in Santa Cruz so they were able to explore and take some photos beforehand. Below are the shots courtesy of my sister.

waves gently lapping over Santa Cruz Main beach with the perfectly lined palm trees

An adorable group of sea lions basking in the sun!

view of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk from the pier

The Giant Dipper. I am a wimp when it comes to rides but perhaps one of you will enjoy this roller coaster.

Finally, it was time for the tasting. Here’s how it works. You purchase a tasting kit for $10, which includes 6 taste tickets, spoon, cup, and a ballot. There are pre-selected judges that decides on the Best Boston and Best Manhattan categories. The clam chowder attendees get to decide the winners for the People’s Choice category by casting their ballot on the best Boston and Manhattan chowders. Here is the list of the 2017 Winners.


This was one of my sister’s favorites. It is a New England clam chowder that is creamy topped with some bacon and green onions.

And these were the ones who made it.

The event is a fundraiser for the City Parks and Recreation Department. This is the largest and longest running clam chowder cook-off in the nation. It is also a fun time out with the family and friends. Being that it is on the boardwalk itself is another plus as you have access to the games, rides, and arcade as well as some delicious ice cream and other boardwalk food favorites!

Location:  Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk – 400 Beach St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Event website: