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  • Avery Zimmer
  • "Is the Santa Monica Pier worth seeing?"

Avery Zimmer

Berkeley, California

Is the Santa Monica Pier worth seeing?

Or is it just a tourist trap? Is it good for young kids? My husband and I are thinking of taking our kids when we go there, but I don't want to go if it's just going to be a zoo!

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  • JR Johnson

    top answer by

    Hey Avery. Not to be the debbie downer here, but the Santa Monica Pier is pretty much the quintessential tourist trap in Los Angeles. It would be comparable to going to Mann's Chinese Theater or the Venice Beach and Boardwalk. It's a lot of cheap touristy souvenir vendors, fair food, and the crowds that are drawn to that type of stuff. Also, if your kids are in strollers, the boards of the pier make for a very bumpy ride. But... there are some rides that your kids would like if they are a bit older and the carousel actually has some historical significance as it was built in 1916 and it's one a small number of all wooden carousels still in operation.

    If you're looking for beautiful beaches in LA, I don't find Santa Monica to one of the best. I would suggest going to Malibu and hiking around Point Dume State Beach or grabbing a bite to eat at Paradise Cove Cafe which has a low key small beach and pier. Or for some serious beach time, I would come down to my neck of the woods and check out Manhattan Beach. The kids can enjoy the free aquarium at the end of the Manhattan Beach Pier.

    Have fun!

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    • Avery Z.

      Avery Z.

      This is good to know! Maybe we'll do a drive by or quick stroll of the Santa Monica Pier and make our way to spend more time at the other places. Thank you for your recommendations JR! · (1 likelikes)

    • Gordon T.

      Gordon T.

      I couldn't agree more with just about all of this. Especially great idea to head up to Malibu to enjoy the beach. · (0 likelikes)

    • Trevor M.

      Trevor M.

      Hi Avery, I'm an LA local and I agree with JR's answer. If your visiting LA and the pier is something you've always wanted to see, by all means, swing by for a quick stroll to enjoy the ocean air and the views -- but like JR said, there are some amazing places worth spending more time at not too far away. Have a great time in LA! · (0 likelikes)

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  • Megan Owczarski

    answered by

    It is definitely a place for the tourist but it is still a nice place to go. I went a few times while living there. The sunsets are great and the view is nice. The kids may like the rides but I am sure they are expensive. As is the food. I would second what JR said and say go to Point Dume State Beach if you are looking for a beach with great views. It is one of my favorite places in the whole state. Go at low tide and you will experience TONS of starfish covering the beach. I made the mistake of going at High Tide and the beach pretty much disappears so make sure to plan around the tides so you can see the pools.

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    • JR J.

      JR J.

      great low tide tip. at low tide you can walk all the way from Paradise Cove to Pt Dume · (1 likelikes)

    • Avery Z.

      Avery Z.

      Point Dume sounds great! I think what we'll do is at least walk around the pier and feel it out and we'll definitely check out Point Dume. Thanks so much Megan! · (0 likelikes)

    • Brew J.

      Brew J.

      I would also add that Point Dume combined with Paradise Cove Cafe (as JR recommended) above is a great combo, as they are very close. Paradise Cove is a really great spot and one of the few places in LA where you can eat and drink right on a beautiful beach. · (0 likelikes)

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  • Pala Hadassah Dan

    answered by

    Yes! It's beautiful especially at sunset. Make sure you check out The Lobster at the pier entrance. A nice place to spend some time inside the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium . Lots to see and do. Then make your way over the Third Street Promenade to shop and people watch - there are musicians and artist performing. Lots of nice restaurants and hangouts. There is also the Santa Monica Place with even more shopping. Best time to go is on a weeknight. Friday, Saturday, and Sundays are super busy. Make sure to park at the Santa Monica Place parking lot (less expensive) then walk across the street to the pier.

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    • Avery Z.

      Avery Z.

      Thanks for the tip on parking and everything else Pala! Sounds like we've got tons to do there! · (0 likelikes)

    • JR J.

      JR J.

      +1 for stopping at the Lobster to take in the view and have a drink. If you're pressed in time, you could just check out the view and pass on the pier craziness. Not a real kid centric restaurant to hang out but a quick drink or bite it's great. · (0 likelikes)

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  • Suz Ro

    answered by

    Santa Monica Pier Ferris Wheel is run on solar and has nice lights at night - great to go on and see all the surrounding sites.

    The parks adjacent to the Pier are very pleasant t have a picnic.

    You could also rent some roller blades or bikes and ride up and down the boardwalk. Check out Venice Beach - shops, too.

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    • Debbie L.

      Debbie L.

      Sounds like fun, Suz! Great recommendations! By the way, I'm a community manager around here, so I helped you highlight the places that you recommended by geo-tagging them so that they appear on a map alongside your answer. For future reference, you can do this yourself by typing the @-symbol and then the name of the place. Take a look at the map next to your answer and give a try with the next answer that you share! :) · (0 likelikes)

    • Avery Z.

      Avery Z.

      Thank you Suz! These sound like fun and I'm sure my kids will enjoy the parks! · (0 likelikes)

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  • Peter Pham

    answered by

    Yes, it's fun, but it's also maybe a 45 min thing to see. You are then only a 10 min walk to 3rd Street Promenade as well. It's a pier with food, carnival like games, rides & just good people watching.

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  • George McNee

    answered by

    Yes for a photo, but it's very crowded. Don't plan to stay long it's very touristy. Nearby, 3rd Street Promenade would be more enjoyable.

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    • Avery Z.

      Avery Z.

      Oh, that is a good insider tip. I'm glad I asked here. Thank you George! · (0 likelikes)

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  • joe smith

    answered by

    Its okay. It's somewhat dirty and the rides feel a little unsafe. If you want rides, plenty of other options like Knott's Berry Farm or Universal Studios Hollywood. If you want SM pier, go for the Santa Monica State Beach.

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  • Danielle Smith

    answered first by

    Avery,

    Locals and Tourist go to the Santa Monica Pier. It is great for kids...think of the Carnival and thats the Santa Monica Pier. The beach is great and the sunset is beautiful! I would definitely recommend if you want to keep the kids entertained for a few hours. Please note that you need to pay for parking (i believe $8) and you have to pay to get on any of the rides.

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    • Avery Z.

      Avery Z.

      Thanks for sharing Danielle! That's great that both locals and tourists alike visit! · (0 likelikes)

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  • Vicky Iskandar

    answered by

    Santa Monica Pier itself is fun only for a short time but the areas surrounding it are worth visiting. I love watching the sunset along Ocean Avenue north of the pier. For something different that your family will enjoy, check out the Annenberg Community Beach House nearby.

    The oceanfront beach house is open year round except for the gorgeous pool (open only during summer time and occasionally on warm days). Originally built in 1920s by William Randolph Hearst for actress Marion Davies, the whole place feels like a private club, but with no membership fees.. you just have to pay for parking (and for pool access, which you may want to reserve in advance during busy summer time)

    Annenberg Community Beach House

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  • Nicole Kent

    answered by

    It is a fun place to visit but it is a total tourist attraction is just like any other fair except for over looking the beautiful pacific. If you have the patience for people then I say go for it. Depending on what time of year you intend on going also plays a role in the craziness of amount of people there, for example summer I would definitely avoid as well as spring break time frame.

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    • Avery Z.

      Avery Z.

      Thanks for your insight Nicole! Fortunately not going during spring break or summer, so I hope we've avoided the major crowds! · (1 likelikes)

    • Nicole K.

      Nicole K.

      Awesome, then you should be good to go. The kiddos will love it, especially since it's on the beautiful beach. · (2 likelikes)

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  • Breanna Wilson

    Trippy Ambassadors are elite members of the community, hand picked to help you travel better! Interested? E-mail us at ambassadors@trippy.com.

    answered by

    Hi Avery!

    From a travelers perspective - if you're there and it's easy to get to, do it! But I say don't go out of your way to experience it. There are plllllleeeeeenty of other great things to see and experience in LA for half the hassle and prices!

    What I would personally do instead is pack a picnic and spend the day The Getty Center ($15 to park, no entrance fee) - the lawn just above the gardens (below) is the absolute best!

    The Getty Centerimage from socaldailyphoto.com

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  • Kelly Weiss

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    answered by

    It's worth going to go on the solar powered Santa Monica Pier Ferris Wheel. You get a whole view of the beach towards Pacific Palisades and on the other side towards Venice Beach. I take all my out of friends there. IT's good to go on both night and day time.

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