People, people, and more people. A few weeks back I did a story on the Belmont Shore Veterans Memorial Pier. In that story I mentioned that when I was strolling on that pier, it was if I had gone back in time. The design of the pier seemed reminiscent of a time long ago with old lanterns that subtly lit the walkway and an unusual lack of crowds. It felt like something from the 1950’s.
Two weeks later it was feeling more like the 21st century as we stepped on to the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles County, California. Unlike the Belmont Pier, we were now sharing it not with a handful of people, but with thousands!! It was bumper to bumper people as far as you can see.
So what attracts so many to the Santa Monica Pier and not the Belmont Pier?
The Belmont Pier has a snack bar, fishing, plenty of bathrooms and a great view, what more could you ask? In comparison, the Santa Monica Pier also has those features but with a few wee minor additions, such as, a roller coaster, a Ferris wheel, a carousel, a two story restaurant, a flying trapeze, shops, carnival games and rides, vendors, music, and much more. It is an amusement park sitting on top of a pier and that is why it is so crowded!
The Santa Monica pier is where you go to play, eat, drink, and have fun. We went on the Saturday after the Thanksgiving holiday so I am sure it was more crowded than normal, although I can’t be sure of that fact. Summer is probably even more crowded and I also overheard someone say it was busier at night. So with that in mind, plan to to spend the day here as you would any amusement park or fair.
The Santa Monica Pier was built in 1909 and strangely its purpose at the time was to carry sewage out to sea,via pipes. Obviously through the years it has been re-built to house and to hold the weight of the amusement park type rides and structures. I stood in awe as I watched the waves crash against the pilings wondering how they could possibly hold up all of those rides.
Looking north you can see Malibu in the distance and Venice Beach to the south. With its close proximity to Hollywood, the pier has been used in many films and TV shows. Some scenes from Forrest Gump were filmed at the pier and not surprisingly a Bubba Gump’s restaurant still sits at the entrance. I’m told it is owned by some of the producers of the film.
Standing tall like a beacon for Margarita lovers, the two stories of the Marisol Mexican restaurant are positioned at the end of the pier for your dining and drinking pleasure. Directly behind it you will find a set of bleachers perfect for relaxing and viewing the stunning Pacific Ocean to the west. At the absolute end of the pier there is a second level for anglers to reel in their prizes without contending with the crowds.
Scattered about are small street vendors as well as the sweet sounds of performing local musicians. Bathrooms are aplenty much to my relief after guzzling two large iced teas.
Santa Monica Pier is a floating party, a carnival, a street fair, and an amusement park all wrapped up in one. Staycations California recommends it as a fun place to visit for the day and enjoy the rides, games, food, and shops. Or people watch, there are plenty of them.
However, if you want mellow there is always the San Simeon Pier some 200 miles up the coast or the peace and quiet of above mentioned Belmont Pier.
Wherever your mood takes you, nothing beats taking a stroll on a pier, even if it means sharing it with a thousand of your closest friends.