Fun at Santa Monica Pier…

SantaMonicaPierSignZac Efron should have been having fun at the Santa Monica Pier rather than hanging in downtown LA. He could have gotten a natural high from the views and the rides rather than having a fist fight with the transients on sketchy skid row.

No one was charged, but the incident was declared “mutual combat”…Efron and his bodyguard supposedly ran out of gas. Seriously, if you have ever purposely driven through the third world ambiance of LA’s skid row, your primary concern is a full tank of gas, securely locked windows and doors.

Pier Repairs
Pier Repairs

I digress…Talking safer ‘hoods, I shall attempt to expose you to the devilishly, old fashioned fun at the always open Santa Monica Pier.

Presently, the city is actively reinforcing the original pier so that a tsunami, earthquake or tragically devastating storm doesn’t destroy the century old landmark.

The pier is at its’ most regal in the early morning hours. I often take the dogs on the wooden boardwalk before 8am when the tourists have not descended. It is still thrilling to walk out on the pier, suspended over the roaring Pacific Ocean.

At sunrise, the anglers are active and the scene is tranquil although when you witness what washes up on LA beaches, I would not want to ingest the fresh catch of the day.

roller coaster

The restaurants are not gourmet although The Lobster Restaurant at the top was recently transformed and after 4 years in the making, Italian restaurant, Al Mare, has opened. There is a new Coffee Bean so you can savor a good cup of coffee, cappuccino or Blended and sweets abound.

Pacific Park, the amusement park on The Santa Monica Pier, is a haven for the child in all of us. You can gleefully partake in a vintage carousel and Ferris wheel, bumper cars, roller coaster, arcades, experience the high flying options at Trapeze School New York (open daily 8:30am-10pm) and take in fabulous views. They also have events space for celebrations. Times vary for the rides, depending on the time of year.

Another interesting attraction is the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. It is Heal the Bay’s public marine-education center located beach level, just below the Carousel. The facility is home to more than 100 species of marine animals and plants which are all found in the Santa Monica Bay.


The Carousel was built in 1922 and consists of 44 hand crafted horses. It was rebuilt in 1990.

The pier was privately owned until it was acquired by the city in 1974. During the 1960’s and 1970’s, various plans were proposed that would have entailed removal of the pier. The strangest one called for the construction of an artificial island with a 1500-room hotel. It was approved by the City Council, but citizens formed “Save Santa Monica Bay” to preserve the pier. The outstanding order to raze the pier was triumphantly revoked by the city council.

pier at night

Nighttime, the pier looks magical, aglow in colorful lights. It is best to dine at BOA or Blue Plate Oysterette on Ocean Avenue and take in the majestic view from their outdoor patios. A different viewpoint can be had from the Coast Restaurant, located on the beach in Shutters Hotel.

beach view from pier
View of Santa Monica Beach From Pier

During the summer and on weekends, the traffic is lined up for 10 blocks to get to the pier. Park at the Promenade or downtown parking structures and walk. Best to go early in the morning or during the week for optimal enjoyment, unless crowds do not bother you.

Every July, the pier hosts free Thursday night concerts, filling the summer evening with music from 7-10 pm.

The Santa Monica Pier is a great place to jog, walk the dog, relive your childhood, inhale sumptuous views or contemplate conscious uncoupling.


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