The iconic and historic Santa Monica Pier was fairly quiet when my son and I made a quick visit on a Saturday morning this past January.
We were in Los Angeles for a father / son weekend to celebrate his 16th birthday. We visited the Santa Monica Pier multiple times when he was younger and we lived in L.A. - so it was fun for him to come back and walk around.
We walked to the end of the pier and back. As it was 10am, the ferris wheel, like all the other rides, weren't opened yet. There were a lot of other things we wanted to see and do in Los Angeles - so I time at the Pier was pretty short.
Parking costs, but otherwise the pier is free. The little amusement area is called "Pacific Park." The individual rides can get pricey - it's a much better value to buy their unlimited ride wristband and make a day (or at least an afternoon or evening) of it.
Years ago my wife and I took our kids there for the day, went home to have dinner, and then came back again for the evening. The ferris wheel, as well as the little roller coaster, offers some outstanding views of Santa Monica and the Pacific Ocean.
Here's a vintage photo of my wife, kids and me - plus our extended family - back in 2004. This was in late December, a couple days before Christmas. Except perhaps summer weekends (especially in the afternoon when trying to find a place to park is nearly impossible) there's really no bad time to visit the Pier.
My son was five back in 2004 - twelve years later he's starting to apply to college. The time really has gone by quickly ...
This is the historic welcome sign at the entrance to the Pier. Yes, at one time there really was a "yacht harbor" - but the winter storms of 1982-1983 put an end to that. In fact, those same storms ended up destroying about a third of the Pier. Fortunately, the Pier was eventually rebuilt .... and continues to be a draw for locals and visitors. Including my son and me. Next stop: Third Street Promenade.
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