Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Things to Do: Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, California


Santa Monica Pier  At end of Colorado Blvd./Ocean Ave., (310) 260-8744.  Free access. 
Dating from 1909, this wooden wharf, now known as a “pleasure pier,” holds a variety of restaurants and attractions.  A wide, paved footpath leading onto the Pier extends west from Ocean Ave.  The pier juts out over beautiful Santa Monica State Beach and on over the ocean and is lined with attractions, restaurants, and shops
pier map

entrance to Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California
entrance to Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California


overview of Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California
overview of Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California


Free Historical Walking Tours are scheduled on Saturday and Sunday at 11am and noon.  They last an hour and depart from the Pier Shop in the carousel building. 

Webcam View the action before and after you visit.

Parking: 
     ●A lot is adjacent down on the beach.  $6-$15.
     ●An inexpensive city lot, Garage 8, is at 4th St./Colorado Ave..  First 90 minutes are free, then $1.25/hour. 
     ●map 

oceanfront parking lot at Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California
oceanfront parking lot at Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California

●At the start of the pier is an antique 1922 Philadelphia Toboggan Company carousel with its original Wurlitzer organ plus 740 lights, 2 hand-carved chariots, and 44 original hand-painted hand-carved wooden horses--not to mention a pig and ram.  It is completely enclosed in a 1916 Looff Hippodrome building, making it the perfect rainy day destination as well.  Parts of “The Sting” with Paul Newman were filmed here.  $2, children $1.

antique carousel at Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California
antique carousel at Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California


●On the level below the carousel, the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium exhibits more than 100 local marine animals and plants (my favorite are the moray eels in the tall Kelp Forest tank).  Run by nonprofit Heal the Bay, it offers three touch tanks where kids can handle sea stars, sea cucumbers, urchins, hermit crabs, and several kinds of sea snails, plus a popular shark nursery where newborn pups are on display and egg cases can be viewed.  Educational activities and special events such as Sea Star Feeding on Tuesdays and Fridays at 2:30 p.m. and Storytime Saturdays at 2 p.m. are also scheduled.  The Aquarium is a part of Santa Monica’s own “Heal the Bay” program, an initiative to educate, inspire, and empower its visitors to be stewards of the environment.  Tu-F 2-5pm, Sat-Sun 12-5pm; in summer to 6pm.  $5, children under 13 with paying adult are free.

moray eel at Santa Monica Pier Aquarium at Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California
moray eel at Santa Monica Pier Aquarium at Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California


The Trapeze School of New York offers a fun-filled experience for everyone.  Classes are 2 hours long, and no prior experience is necessary.

trapeze school at Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California
trapeze school at Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California


66 To Cali sells American-made souvenirs near the spot where the iconic Route 66 ends at the ocean.  Nearby is an official sign indicating you’re at the end of the road--the perfect spot to capture a photo--but the actual end of the route is a little farther away at the intersection of Lincoln Boulevard and Olympic Boulevard on Highway 101. 

tour group from Wenzhou, China at the Route 66 sign on the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California
tour group from Wenzhou, China at the Route 66 sign on the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California



●The Playland Arcade has more than 200 games from the classic to the contemporary. 

Pacific Park--the West Coast’s only amusement park on an oceanfront pier--has a variety of rides, including the 9-story-high solar-powered Pacific Wheel Ferris wheel (the largest on the West Coast and the world’s first solar-powered) and a unique 5-story-high column-suspended roller coaster.  An assortment of midway games round out the fun.  Daily in summer.  Rides $5-$10; wristbands age 8+ $32.95, online $29.65, 7 &under $17.95, online $16.15.

solar-powered Ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California
solar-powered Ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California


●You can fish off the pier.  No license is required, and Pier Bait and Tackle offers gear, poles, and bait. 

●The pier has 7 restaurants, ranging from fine seafood to classic American.  Among them, The Lobster has been a favorite with locals since 1923 and features traditional American seafood and whole lobsters plus ocean views.  Bubba Gump appears mid-pier, and the Food Court is in Pac Park. 

war memorial:  Each Sunday from sunrise to sunset, a temporary memorial of crosses appears in the sand below the pier.

war memorial in the sand beside the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California
war memorial in the sand beside the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California


●The Original Muscle Beach is along the Ocean Front Walk about a block south of the pier.  There await muscle-building equipment, volleyball courts, and a children’s playground featuring a stone-walled sandbox with a concrete Viking ship and an interactive dragon’s head.


More things to do in Santa Monica
 
More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.


images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers