If you’re anything like us, we love to explore our favorite outdoor destinations during this pleasant time of year. One must-visit destination is the Santa Monica Pier, which was built in 1909 and is a family-favorite for many Los Angelenos. Even if you aren’t impressed by its history, you’ll still pass an easy afternoon at this beachfront amusement park with plenty of activities and the blue Pacific at your fingertips. Your kids can kick in the sand, search for dolphins or hit the nearby playground, located just south of the pier with plenty of swings, monkey bars, balance beams and more. Plus, there are always plenty of characters to watch—jugglers, roller skaters and more.
You could easily pass the afternoon being entertained by its a carnival-like atmosphere. Traipse down the pier past stands brimming with cotton candy makers, funnel cakes, face-painting, caricature drawings where you’ll find an old-fashioned arcade boasting everything from Dance Dance Revolution to Skeeball and air hockey. There are also plenty of games where kids can win stuffed animals and other fun goodies. Older kids will dig the Ferris wheel and five story rollercoaster located at the end of the pier, and won’t hesitate to join you when you hop on the 1920’s carousel with the younger ones.
Also fun for the family are the bike rentals available for touring the beachfront walk. Visitors can peddle tandem bikes, scooters, and even chariots to hook onto your bike.
Approximate travel time: Depends on where you live and the traffic conditions on the 10. Peak rush hours are best avoided for ease of travel. Santa Monica is approximately 8 miles from Hollywood area and about 15 from Downtown.
What to see: The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium is perfect for a short visit. Located under the carousel towards the beginning of the pier, the aquarium has interactive exhibits and fun craft projects that help teach tykes about the ocean and its inhabitants.
Possible lunch spots: Kids love Hot Dog on a Stick, which is located just below the pier on the beach. Take your corndogs and lemonade and sit on the beach for an impromptu picnic. There are tons of other lunch destinations in the area, from the pricey Lobster to an old-school soda fountain called Soda Jerks the kids will love. At the end of the pier is the conveniently located Marisol restaurant, not the best food, but the view is unbeatable.
How to dress: Temperatures are usually a bit cooler with the marine breeze, in winter months you will want a warm sweater or jacket; on some summer days, a light sweater. Santa Monica can be 15 degrees cooler than Downtown/Hollywood, so keep that in mind before heading out. Most important? Sunscreen.
Need to know: While parking at the pier is convenient, it costs $7 weekdays and $8 on the weekend. Just a few blocks away, parking is free for the first 2 hours at Santa Monica Place.
Cost of trip: Inexpensive.