If you live in Southern California, your summer won’t be complete without a trip to the Santa Monica Pier. Enjoy a quick getaway in early summer before the peak season or come later in the summer to feel the bustling energy of LA’s ocean-side amusement park to let the sea breeze cool you off during the hot summer months. Here are some tips and tricks for planning your visit to the Santa Monica Pier for Summer:
The World-Famous Santa Monica Pier
The Santa Monica Pier was built in 1909 and is home to the Looff Hippodrome, Pacific Park amusement park, and several restaurants/retail stores. Often lauded as one of the top tourist attractions in Southern California, the Pier is a place where locals and out-of-towners alike gather to enjoy a meal, ride on the iconic Santa Monica Pier Ferris wheel, and watch the beautiful sunsets. The Pier attracts over 9 million visitors per year, most of whom live in Southern California and visit the iconic destination for its ample parking and unparalleled range of beach and amusement activities.
Getting There and Away
Santa Monica is only a few hours drive away from San Diego, the San Bernardino Valley, Riverside, and Santa Barbara making an excellent day trip or quick weekend get away. We see a lot of guests from Freseno and Bakersfield who make the drive early in the morning before traffic builds on the 5. The Pier is reached from all points East via I-10. If you’re planning to spend the whole day in Santa Monica, head straight for the beach parking at Lot 1 North for all-day flat rate parking.
To find the beach parking lot, use the address:
1550 Appian Way
Santa Monica, CA 90401
This all day lot is located right next to the Pier on the beach and in short walking distance from Downtown Santa Monica. Rates vary depending on the time of year, but during the peak months the rates are usually less than $20. Please note all parking is controlled by the City of Santa Monica. Read here for more parking options and rates.
Unlimited Rides at Pacific Park
Pacific Park is the amusement park located on the Santa Monica Pier. It is LA’s only admission-free amusement park, so anyone is free to walk around and check out the fun. Once you’re ready to go on the rides yourself, you can either purchase single ride cards (prices vary between $5-$10 per ride) or enjoy everything with an all day Unlimited Ride Wristband. Save even more time and money when you purchase the wristbands online ahead of time at www.pacpark.com/tickets. Pacific Park operating hours vary by day, please confirm hours prior to visiting at www.pacpark.com/hours. The Unlimited Ride Wristbands can be used all day, so once you arrive you can pick up your wristband and take a ride on the Ferris Wheel to take get yourself oriented in the City. You can then go for lunch, shop at 3rd street, or spend some time on the sand. You can return to the amusement park anytime to try out more rides. The experience on the Ferris Wheel is completely different in the evening once all of the lights are on, so be sure to check that out at the end of your day.
There are plenty of options for meals, treats, and snacks on the Santa Monica Pier that can please just about anyone. Get an amusement park classic like the cotton candy or a funnel cake inside Pacific Park or enjoy a fresh seafood meal at The Albright or The Lobster. Hang out with the locals at Big Dean’s Cafe and refuel with a beverage from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on the Pier when you’re ready to play on the beach or go on the rides again.
Santa Monica’s 8 miles of pristine white-sand coastline is known throughout he world as the idyllic Southern California beach and has been featured in films and TV shows for a 100 years. The beach is huge so don’t expect to step onto the sand then into the water. From Lot 1 North to the actual high tide line is about 50 yeards. Make sure you bring sunscreen, even if the sun’s not out! The marine layer can be prominent in the early hours of the day in May and June but the sun’s rays are still strong. Those ocean breezes can kick up in the late afternoon, so also be sure to pack a hoodie. If you forget anything, you can always buy a souvineer hoodie, beach towel, or stylish sun hat from Pier Gear.
Stay and Play at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel
If you’re planning on staying the night in Santa Monica, you have plenty of options of hotels to choose from within a few block radius of the Santa Monica Pier. Each hotel has something different and unique to offer guests, whether it’s different views of the ocean or amenities like a great spa and pool. Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel is currently offering a Pacific Park Stay and Play package, where you get complimentary parking, a waived resort fee and two Unlimited Ride Wristbands with your room package.
Stay in the Loop
If you’d like to stay up-to-date with the latest news and happenings around Santa Monica and the Santa Monica Pier, sign up for The Loop on the right side of the page. You’ll receive a monthly e-mail with news and an exclusive discount to Pacific Park. New subscribers also get an offer for a $2 Ferris wheel ride upon signing up!