Built in 1909, it is one of the most famous places of Los Angeles, and marks the end of Route 66 (which connects Chicago to LA).
What to do in Santa Monica? The most obvious answer is to enjoy the attractions (or just admire the retro look) of Pacific Park, a small amusement park set up on the pier. A giant wheel and an old-style roller coaster are the main attractions of the park, but there you will also find other toys, buggy type strollers and arcades. It is possible to pay for attraction or buy a bracelet that gives unlimited access to toys for a day. You find also a trapeze school, a classic carousel and an aquarium with about 100 species of aquatic animals in the pier. On the weekends, there is a free tour that tells the story of the pier, including curious facts involving Hollywood personalities. There are also a few restaurants there, especially for the tourist Bubba Gump Shrimp, inspired by the Forrest movie.
Santa Monica is also nice besides the waterfront, and walking through its streets you will bump into some nice cafes and shops. If you like shopping, I suggest you go to 3rd Street Promenade, a pedestrian street four blocks from the beach. In addition to famous stores as Forever 21, Victorias’ Secret, Urban Outfitters, H & M, Apple and Carlo’s Bake Shop, you’ll find some original places. It has some very touristy restaurants, but also has some nice bars and is even a good place to enjoy the night, going from bar to bar. If your idea is to shop, it is worthwhile also walk to the mall Santa Monica Place. If you are hungry for “real food” and do not want to spend a lot, I suggest going to Bibibopp Asian Grill, but if you want a hamburger it’s worth to go to the delicious HiHo.
Despite all these “attractions”, my favorite part is the view from the pier at sunset. The huge sand strip gives an interesting face to the landscape, the big wheel looks wonderful at dusk and when the lights come on, everything is even more beautiful. You can get there by bike, on foot, by subway, bus or car, and it has several relatively inexpensive parking lots in and around the pier itself.