Another fun tourist spot we have already checked off our to do list in Southern California is the Santa Monica Pier.
We picked a holiday weekend to drive up to the Santa Monica Pier, which made for a few more crowds than we preferred, but still had a fun day. The weather was perfect, which I am now realizing is a pretty common thing here in Southern California.
There are a few things that make the Santa Monica Pier a special tourist destination. The first and most obvious thing is the ocean, which is enough in itself. But the location is perfect. You can see miles of shore line in each direction, waves crashing up on beaches and people dot the sand with different colors as they sunbathe, swim and play. Beautiful and worth the drive alone, but it is just one piece of the fun.
The next thing to notice at the Pier is the mini-theme park set up on the boards of the pier. There is a small roller coaster, Ferris Wheel and a number of other small rides to make for a fun day.
Even if you have no interest in roller coasters there is still plenty to do. There is an old merry-go-round (1920s) near the entrance of the pier along with a number of shops and restaurants that line the length of the pier.
Another fun thing that was neat about the pier was the “free” shows by local artists. We saw people doing magic tricks, others singing songs and a guy had a bunch of parrots that you could pay money to have your picture taken with. And if you want to fish, there are plenty of places where you can drop a line.
Something interesting about the Santa Monica Pier is that it is the start (or end) of Route 66. It is a fun historic landmark. Since we have driven on parts of Route 66 it was fun to see where it all started.
The main tip I can give you to make the day more fun is on parking. Parking is sometimes difficult, especially if it is busy. We learned the hard way to steer clear of the hotels. They charge insane hourly rates or flat rates more than double of the pier parking. Some days the pier parking lots near the pier fill up and are closed until new spots open up. There are a number of lots farther away along the beach that offers great day rates. Depending on how much walking you want to do and if you plan to spend time at the beach. It is definitely worth parking a little farther away to save some money.