Located 12 miles west of Hollywood, the Santa Monica Pier is pier that extends out from the shores of Santa Monica deep into the Pacific Ocean. The pier has a legendary history that dates back over 100 years when the Hollywood movie moguls and elites would seek a quick getaway from Hollywood and travel to the beaches of Santa Monica to enjoy the pier. Today the pier is home to a variety of restaurants, fishing, an amusement park and cultural events to name a few. Above all the Santa Monica Pier is the place to go in Santa Monica for 360 views of the ocean, the beaches and shoreline. On clear days Malibu is easily visible to the north while Venice Beach can been to the south with Catalina Island in the distance. Every year the Pier attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to get some fresh air, enjoy the nonstop circus of performers and fun. The Santa Monica Pier consistently maintains a healthy mix of crowds that are divided between local LA visitors and tourists from Hollywood. The Santa Monica Pier is an ideal stopping point for visitors with kids as there are many activities geared towards families and children. If anything else the pier allows visitors a visual navigation point to help them know where there are at all times whether its in relation to Santa Monica or if in Santa Monica and on the beaches where there are on the shoreline.
The Santa Monica Pier is a great place to visit all year round although it is the summer time when the crowds are at their highest. When Hollywood and Los Angeles has days with higher than normal temperatures, it is the pier that a lot of the locals seek refuge on for the cool Pacific breeze. Walking on the pier is a cacophony of activity that will push the senses. There are a constant line up of pier performers that do every thing from dance to sing to pet shows. Every 20 feet or so are kiosks offering a variety of sweet treats from fresh Carmel popcorn to cotton candy. Standing at the very end of the pier visitors will witness dozens of people with their fishing lines deep into the water below. It is at this point that visitors can get a feel of the fresh ocean breeze and take in amazing views of the ocean.
Pacific Park is the amusement park that is on the south side of the Santa Monica Pier. It is its iconic Ferris wheel, that is now over 100 years that at night when lit up can be seen up and down the southern California shoreline from LAX to Malibu. The park is home to several game booths, a roller coaster and other thrill type rides. All of which afford riders spectacular views of the ocean and beaches. There is no admission price to enter the park, rather guests buy tickets that are exchanged by a set amount at each ride's entrance. Visitors who run out of tickets that want to enjoy a further ride experience can buy additional tickets.
The Santa Monica Pier is home to a variety of rolling exhibits all throughout the year that range from a variety of art shows to a trapeze school. Its the trapeze school where visitors can learn and test their skill at tight rope walking to hanging 20 feet above a net and trying their hand at aerial acrobatics-all under the guide of an instructor of course. The art shows include a variety of art exhibits and in the past have featured wildlife art such as a dramatic whale exhibit to the stacking of hundreds of railroad box cars outside the pier's entrance.
At the base of the Santa Monica Pier is an aquarium. The aquarium has a variety of fish on display that are indigenous to the Pacific Ocean beyond. The aquarium also includes a variety of kelp forests, plant life and exhibits that educate the public on the different species of sea life that live near the Santa Monica Pier as well as suggestions on conservation.
Visitors to the pier looking to explore the coast line will find bike and roller blade rentals. From there an adventure awaits either north or south of the pier along the Santa Monica bike path that runs along the beach. To the north the path takes a more scenic route and ends in the Pacific Palisades, while to the south the path winds its way through Venice Beach. In addition the Santa Monica Pier is surrounded by miles of white sand that include volleyball pits and other athletic beach activities. It is this beach surrounding the Santa Monica Pier that scenes from the hit TV show "Bay Watch" were filmed.The Santa Monica Pier has also been featured in countless Hollywood movies and TV shows including Forest Gump and later episodes of Hannah Montana starring Miley Cyrus.
Dining on Santa Monica Pier
There is a broad choice in dining options for those looking to eat on the pier. Bubba Gump's has a presence on the pier (those in the know are aware this type of restaurant is geared more towards the travel/tourist crowd). Eating choices range from high end seafood to a Coffee Bean and cotton candy. One of the newest dining arrivals to the Santa Monica Pier is Soda Jerks. Located at the base of the pier, Soda Jerks serves up a variety of 1950s style milkshakes and banana splits.