$4-$8 / ride
Unlimited Wristbands Available
Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica Beach is one of the “Weird California” beaches. You’re likely to spot colorful characters along the beach, and for the full experience take a walk down 3rd Street Promenade to view the street performers. If you want to relax on the beach, head to Malibu or Huntington…but if you want a LA Beach cultural experience, start at the world famous Santa Monica Pier.
We arrived early, while the day was fresh and parking spots still available. We did the Pier first, getting enough tickets for the essential rides. You could easily spend a fortune, but we slimmed it down to bumper cars, roller coaster, and Ferris Wheel.
Afterwards, we walked three blocks to 3rd Street to see the street performers. There are the Regulars…core characters you’re almost guaranteed to see. It’s how they make they’re living…so they’re there all day, every day, for eons. So as you meander down the promenade, be handy with a few extra bucks if you want to shake a monkey’s hand or watch the plate juggler flip the teapot onto his head or get a photo with the silver robot guy. If you need a laugh there are even $1 jokes.
The whole experience was so impactful that J went home, took out a toy guitar and Curious George plush and started soliciting tips every time I walked by.
Afterwards we went down to the beach and had our picnic and let the boys play in the waves until the sun went down. Once it was dark EVERYONE started leaving simultaneously. The traffic leaving the parking lot was so bad that we went back to the Pier and put our names on a 45 minute waiting list for Bubba Gumps. We fed the boys a $7 hot dog while we waited for our table and for the parking lot to empty out.
All-in-all, our kids had fun at the beach and enjoyed the carnival rides…but we’d prefer something more relaxing.
Santa Monica is crowded. Lots of people. Parking fills up. Crowded beaches. Pot scented bathroom stalls. It’s not really a relaxing destination.
Despite the presence of street performers, 3rd Street is high-end retail and has two cops on the end of every block to ensure nothing is amiss in a famous tourist spot.
There aren’t a lot of cheap little food spots for kids on 3rd Street. Pack meals accordingly…unless you don’t mind spending $20 on a plate of noodles.