Santa Monica Pier - by Matthew Field - WikipediaWhen I think about Santa Monica, I usually remember the boardwalk at the Pier with all the rides and the food vendors. But this beach town has so much more to offer. 
Santa Monica is also famous for the long stretches of beach, great parks, an Aquarium, and the Museum of Flying.

The Pier

Santa Monica PierThe Santa Monica Pier is a large double-jointed pier at the foot of Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica, California. It contains a small amusement park, concession stands, and areas for viewing and fishing.

Pacific Park is the only amusement park in the west located on a pier. Entry to the park area is free, but you need to buy tickets to enjoy the rides.  

Santa Monica PierFor unlimited rides, you can buy a wristband for $45. Single ride tickets cost between 6 and 9 dollars.

Pacific Park is also home to 14 midway games and over-the-ocean food and retail outlets. It has appeared in over 500 movies and television shows such as Fat Albert, Hannah Montana, and Kid Songs. 

Check the website for operating times and the latest rates.  

Palisades Park

Santa Monica - Palisades ParkThis 26.4-acre stretch of landscaped park sits between Ocean Ave and Pacific Coast Hwy in Santa Monica, California, and extends for 1.6-mile. 

The park extends from the Santa Monica Pier in the south to Adelaide Drive in the north and sits on a bluff overlooking PCH and the beach. 

This long linear park contains public art, a rose garden, historic structures, benches, picnic areas, restrooms, and the historic Santa Monica Camera Obscura.

Santa Monica - Palisades ParkWhile walking through this beautiful park, you can enjoy great views of the ocean, mountains, the Pier, and you will encounter a few street performers. 

When you feel hungry, you can cross Ocean Ave, and walk a few blocks to the Third Street Promenade.

3rd street promenade

Santa Monica - 3rd street promenadeThe Third Street Promenade is a pedestrian mall with shopping, dining, and entertainment in the downtown area of Santa Monica, California.

It is considered a premier shopping and dining district on the Westside and draws crowds from all over the Greater Los Angeles area. 

The promenade is a short walk away from the famous Pacific Park at the Pier and a metro ride from Downtown LA. 

Santa Monica - 3rd street promenade - Johnny RocketsThe three blocks long pedestrian-only street has fountains, art displays, 20 movie theater screens, hundreds of stores, restaurants, and street entertainers.

On a recent visit, we walked from the Pier, browsed the shops, listened to a lady sign in a beautiful voice, and settled for lunch at Johnny Rockets. The burgers and milkshakes were awesome, and the outdoor seating allowed us to enjoy the sunny California day and do some people-watching. 

Biking

Santa Monica and several cities to the north and south are connected via a long two-and-a-half-mile bike trail.
This trail runs along the beach, starting from Marina Del Rey in the south, passes through Venice Beach, Santa Monica, and ends at Malibu. 

If you don’t have your own bike, you can rent one at the many rental places along the way. 

On a recent visit, we walked from Venice Beach to the Santa Monica Pier, then rented bikes to go back to Venice.

You can take a side trip to the Venice Canals in Venice Beach to extend your ride and admire the houses and beautiful landscaping.