5 Reasons to Visit the Santa Monica Pier
On our recent vacation to California, we made a point to visit the Santa Monica Pier, a spot that we had only glimpsed from afar on a previous trip.
Before, we thought the pier to be only an overpriced amusement park, but we learned by visiting that the pier has a lot to offer besides a Ferris wheel!
Years ago, while visiting the Southern California area, we made a trip to the beach at Santa Monica. Mark is way more of a beach person than I am and enjoys relaxing while soaking in the sun and views.
While it was a great day, we never made our way over to the Santa Monica Pier, though we could see the Ferris wheel from our spot on the beach.
I suppose we thought it was too touristy and that all small amusement parks are the same. But, how many can say they are the birthplace of Popeye or the official end of the most famous road in America?
See Related: 46 Things To Do in Los Angeles
Now, we share with you our five experiences that made us love the Santa Monica Pier so that you can add this historic gem (it’s over 100 years old!) to your travel list!
1. The End of Route 66
The Santa Monica Pier is the spot where Route 66 ends, meeting the Pacific Ocean.
A sign marking the end as well as a small souvenir shop stand on the pier, perfect places for photo ops and for picking up an official Route 66 Completion Certificate if you’ve completed the Route 66 road trip.
See Related: Our 5 Favorite Souvenirs from Southern California
Taking a road trip across the United States was a travel experience that was definitely on our bucket list. In 2011, we made the drive from Oklahoma City all the way out to Arizona before going off-course to the Grand Canyon and then to Las Vegas. We visited the midpoint of Route 66 in Adrian, Texas and were eager to finally see the end of The Mother Road at the Santa Monica Pier.
2. The Beautiful Views
The beaches on the Southern California coast are gorgeous!
Santa Monica Pier offers great views of the beach, the ocean, and the amusement park on the pier with its bright colors and large Ferris wheel.
3. The Wildlife
Seeing wild animals was totally unexpected for us at the Santa Monica Pier.
We walked to the end of the pier, window-shopping and snapping photos, and were stunned to find not just the usual seagull, but a pair of sea lions playing near the local fishermen.
I’ve only ever seen sea lions in captivity, so to see them swimming and playing in the ocean absolutely thrilled me. Of course, I took tons of photos and began baby-talking to them immediately.
While my attention was on the sea lions, a fisherman a few feet down from us caught an octopus.
The fisherman explained that he would keep it for food, showed us where the mouth is located and how it bit the hook, and then proceeded to drop the wriggly, squishy thing right in my hand!
4. The People-Watching
Sometimes, people-watching will lift my spirits. While meandering up and down the pier, we saw so many people playing with excited children, kind-hearted travelers offering to take photos for other people, a few amazing musicians playing instruments and singing for tips, and even a man with a pink limo and a chihuahua in sunglasses.
Everyone seemed happy. Positive. Optimistic on such a pretty day.
The people definitely put smiles on our faces, and we have continued to talk about the genuine, nice people we encountered in Southern California.
Speaking of amazing people, a sailor and fisherman based at the Santa Monica Pier named Olaf C. Olsen was the inspiration for Elzie Segar’s character Popeye.
Why? Because he was seen as a hero of the time. He fought to keep net fishing out of the area and offered families in need part of his catch during the time of the Great Depression.
For more history on the Santa Monica Pier, visit SantaMonicaPier.org.
See Related: Venice Beach Freakshow: Amazement and Acceptance
5. The Fair Food
Last but not least, we have to talk about the food. As you may expect on a pier with its own amusement park, the food counters offer yummy fair food.
All of it good, and none of it good for you!
Funnel cakes and hot dogs (Nathan’s brand!) were at the top of our list. Luckily, we don’t visit fairs very often!
See Related: Randy’s Donuts: An Iconic Los Angeles Treat
What are some of your favorite places to visit in Southern California? What’s your favorite part of the Santa Monica Pier? Let us know in the comments below!
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Jennifer is the founder of Just Chasing Rabbits travel blog. She lives in Mississippi with husband/travel companion, Mark, and doggie-daughter, Gizmo. After obtaining a BA degree in studio art and working in the field of photography for years, Jenni has combined her love of travel and photography to form this blog. Mark and Jenni share their experiences in hopes of inspiring others to have wonderful adventures and see the world.
You can follow Jenni on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.