Things to Do at Santa Monica Pier 

The iconic neon Santa Monica Pier sign.The iconic neon sign at the Pier's entrance.

The iconic Santa Monica Pier - featured in Hollywood movies like Titanic, Forrest Gump, and They Shoot Horses Don't They? - is living history and modern seaside family fun at its finest. Today it is home to some of Santa Monica's most popular attractions:

  • Pacific Park, the West Coast's only amusement park on a pier
  • Heal the Bay  Aquarium
  • A 1930s-era carousel
  • A variety of entertainers, restaurants, and shops

You can also play more than 200 games at the Playland Arcade; fly over the Pier with the greatest of ease at a trapeze school; even go fish with local anglers at the Pier's western end. It's easy to spend an entire day exploring the westernmost terminus of Route 66: Santa Monica Pier.

Santa Monica Pier History

Located at the foot of Colorado Avenue, the Pier was built in 1909 and quickly gained a reputation as the best fishing spot in Santa Monica. It was designated a historic Santa Monica landmark in 1976.

The Pier is home to the 1922 Looff Hippodrome Carousel, where Paul Newman worked in The Sting.  The Loof Hippodrome today is a designated National Historic Landmark.

Fishing from the Santa Monica Pier is a popular pastime with local residents, and is also open to visitors. Pier Bait and Tackle offers gear, poles, and bait for fishing.

The iconic neon Santa Monica Yacht Harbor sign gracing the entrance to the Pier is a slice of Santa Monica's living history, unveiled in 1941. 

Pacific Park

Pacific Park is the only admission-free amusement park in Los Angeles, and is the West Coast's only family amusement park physically on an oceanfront pier.  Santa Monica's amusement park on the Pier is open daily; rides, attractions, restaurants, and shops have all reopened for your enjoyment.

While getting into Pacific Park is free, you'll pay $3 - $20 a ride if you want to do more than look. All-day access wristbands with unlimited rides are a lot more cost-effective if you'll be making an afternoon of it here. The rides, however, are just the beginning.

The amusement park is also home to the Playland Arcade, packed with more than 200 games, from the classic to the contemporary. Play PacMan while the kids try out Dance-Dance Revolution. Or vice versa. 

Go Fish at Heal the Bay Aquarium

If watching fish is more your style, check out Heal the Bay Aquarium.

You'll find the private-public aquarium beneath the Santa Monica Pier. Weekends, Shark Feedings are Sundays at 1:30pm and 3:30pm.

Trapeze School of New York 

For a workout you won't forget sign up for a 60- or 90-minute flying trapeze class at Trapeze School New York (TSNY).

Trapeze-School of New York at the Santa Monica PierTrapeze-School of New York at the Santa Monica Pier.

From the thrill-seeker to the fear-facer, athlete to couch potato, casual flyer to serious aerialist - all are welcome at TSNY.

Classes are two hours long and are taught in groups of up to 10 people. No prior experience is necessary. Adventure seekers over the age of 6 are welcome to swing and soar like Superman.

Pier Restaurants

You definitely won't go hungry here - and you don't even have to leave the Pier to refuel. The restaurants on Santa Monica Pier serve up incredible views up and down the Pacific coast, along with top-notch eats.

The longest-running restaurant on the Pier, The Albright, is a family-run business committed to sustainably caught seafood.

If you're looking for food with a side of fun, head to Rusty's Surf Ranch, a laid-back beach bar with casual eats, including freshly caught options for seafood lovers. There's also a large dance floor and live music on weekends. 

Soak in stellar views from Seaside On The Pier's rooftop bar while enjoying fresh salads and seafood dishes. Drink in unobstructed coastline views and a margarita or aqua fresca on Mariasol's ocean patio, home to some of the city's best Mexican cuisine.

Inspired by the film Forrest Gump, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. has a fun, family atmosphere. Shrimp is a specialty, but the menu has something for everyone. 

Ocean Front Walk

This wide, paved footpath extends south from the Pier and is line with shops and restaurants. The kids will love the stone-walled sandbox with a concrete Viking ship docked in the center.  An interactive dragon's head looming in the grass nearby rounds out this alfresco children's attraction. 

A row of volleyball courts are found on the Pier's south side, available on a first-come, first served basis. 

Parking at the Pier

Get a Santa Monica parking map here. Parking on the Pier deck is accessible via the Ocean Avenue and Colorado ramp. There are also two lower lots accessible via Appian Way. Fees vary depending on the season and the location of the lot.

Find information on current parking fees here. You can also get  ParkMe's Santa Monica Pier parking app that allows you to check and reserve parking in advance.

Pier Details

The Santa Monica Pier opens at 6 am and closes nightly at 10 pm.

  • Pier Address: 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
  • Directions: Go west. If your shoes are wet, you've gone too far.  The ramp at the Ocean Avenue and Colorado intersection is the most direct route by car, bike, or on foot.

Get more information on Parking in Santa Monica here.