Although the origins of the pier itself are less than savory, the Santa Monica Pier has grown to be a family-friendly landmark on the shores of the Pacific. A favorite of tourist and natives alike, I thought we could take a closer look at all the Santa Monica Pier has to offer.
The carousel was one of the first attractions built on what has now come to be known as the Santa Monica Pier. Built in 1922, the wooden carousel includes 44 hand-carved horses, no two of which are alike. The carousel was rebuilt inside of the pier's Hippodrome in 1990 and now delights thousands of visitors a year.
Test your skill at the Playland Arcade. The arcade is home to more than 200 games, with classics like Skee-ball and pinball featured alongside today's more modern video games.
Add some educational value to your fun by visiting the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. The aquarium is home to more than 100 species of marine animals and plants, all of which are native to the Santa Monica Bay. The aquarium hopes visitors will leave inspired to be better stewards of the wonderful natural resources in Santa Monica Bay. The aquarium is a great outing for families on a budget, since children under the age of 12 are FREE!
Any brave souls over the age of six can attend the Trapeze School on the pier. Daredevils can sign up for a one time class or intensive workshops on the flying trapeze or aerial silks.
Head to Pacific Park for thrill rides like the West Coaster, Pacific Plunge and the Sea Dragon or for games such as Wac-A-Mole, Roller Derby, and Fire Ball. The most recognizable attraction at Pacific Park is also the most famous landmark on the pier, the Pacific Wheel. It is the world's first solar-powered Ferris wheel, and it is illuminated each night by over 160,000 LED lights.
There is also plenty to eat on the pier, from food trucks to sit down restaurants. Head to Ristorante al Mare for some delicious Italian fare or Rusty's Surf Ranch for seafood, cocktails, and live music. For dessert, share an ice cream sundae or hand pumped soda from Soda Jerks located inside the carousel building.
Whether you are visiting the Santa Monica Pier for the first time or the hundredth, you are sure to find something to bring out the kid in you again!