In November of 2017, I made my first-ever trip to Los Angeles, California. Since I’d never been, I wasn’t sure what to expect. To clarify, I wasn’t headed to LA for vacation but to attend a Multiple Sclerosis-related event. My schedule during the day was jam-packed with meetings and discussions but my evenings were free (two evenings to be exact).
The first night I headed to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and I wasn’t that impressed. It was okay to look at but there wasn’t much to do. The next day, I decided to head to the Santa Monica Pier. I’d seen it featured in tv shows, movies, and in print but I wanted to see it for myself. Would this iconic place disappoint me too?
After my driver picked me up, the view outside my window was mainly cars and buses, run-down buildings, alleyways, and bright neon signs. As the driver got closer to Santa Monica, the view morphed into more traffic, fancy buildings, and pedestrians everywhere. When I exited the car at the entrance to the pier, I immediately felt like I stepped into another world. The smog and heat of LA gave way to cool, crisp, and clean air. The sounds of traffic were gone and the replacement was the mesmerizing sounds of music, seagulls, and people talking and laughing. I was instantly smitten and in love with the Santa Monica Pier.
5 Cheap Or Free Things To Do At The Santa Monica Pier
- Visit the iconic Route 66.
The Santa Monica Pier is the official end of Route 66 (designated by the sign above). How cool is that? To commemorate, have someone take a picture of you in front of the sign and then pick up a cheap souvenir at the Route 66 gift shop. Whenever I travel, I always pick up a magnet for my growing collection of “places I’ve been” display.
2. Live Entertainment
On any given day, the pier is full of people who showcase their talents for free (tips welcome). There are singers, comedians, dancers, and my personal favorite, Oliver Bohler the drummer.
3. Family Entertainment
Connected to the pier is the Pacific Park® amusement park. Admission is free but you’ll have to pay $5-10 for each ride. If you’re on a tight budget, I highly recommend going on the Pacific Rim ferris wheel.
The world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel gives visitors a panoramic view of the Southern California coastline from more than 130 feet above the Santa Monica Pier. Measuring 85 feet, the wheel moves at 2.5 revolutions per minute with intermittent stops to pick up passengers. Features more than 174,000 energy-efficient LED lights that display dynamic, eye-popping computer-generated lighting entertainment in the evenings.
It was freezing (and very windy) that day so I opted to stay on land but according to the locals, it’s a must-do.
Hungry yet? Grab a burger and fries at Pier Burger and sit on one of the many benches at the end of the pier. You’ll be tempted, but don’t do it—->feed the seagulls that is. They’re everywhere and all it takes is one fry feeder for the seagulls to start dropping their poopy white mess. 😉 Don’t be that person, lol.
Pier Burger is rated four stars on Google and 4.9/5 on Facebook. I could only eat a small portion of my burger and fries (see why here) but I really enjoyed its fresh taste, nostalgic atmosphere, and reasonable prices.
5. Gorgeous Sunsets
You can’t go to the Santa Monica Pier and not stay for the sunset. You just can’t.
Take plenty of photos because you’re going to want to remember your visit and the beauty of it all.
Seagull photo bomb 😉
The sun looks like it’s melting into the ocean, doesn’t it?
I got lucky with this shot ^^. It totally captures the vibe of the pier.
I had so much fun at the pier that I really didn’t want to leave. The sights, the sounds, and the experience were well worth the mild dent to my wallet. It’s definitely a place you should visit if you’re in the area.
I hope to see you again Santa Monica!
Have you ever been to the Santa Monica Pier? What’s your favorite thing to do there?