A long Ocean Avenue, alfresco dining spots, pastel-hued hotels, palm-lined Palisades Park and the distinctive Tongva Park provide enviable beachfront hangouts. Ocean Front Walk, home of the Original Muscle Beach, still flexes its charm with a collection of rings, parallel bars and balance bars plied by bodybuilders, yogis and other assorted sun-worshippers. Bikes and skateboards drift down the Marvin Braude Bike Trail in an aimless procession of fun. Perched over the Pacific, the 110-year-old Santa Monica Pier, featuring the world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel, the century-old Looff Hippodrome and the aquarium, attracts families, couples and friends each reveling in a delectable slice of West Coast nostalgia.
With a stunning selection of East Coast-style shellfish and a sunset-over-the-Pacific view to match, Blue Plate Oysterette has been a local favorite since its launch in 2009. The late famed food critic Jonathan Gold hailed its oysters as “impeccably fresh,” but no one will argue if you opt for the classic fish and chips or decadent lobster tacos.
Del Frisco's Grille is a modern American grill overlooking the Pier that has endeared itself to discriminating diners with its creative twists on comfort foods from bagels and lox to steak and potatoes, its stylish atmosphere and its unique selection of premium wines served by the glass.
Seaside On The Pier recently opened their restaurant/rooftop bar and sandwich shop and has quickly gained popularity among Pier guests, thanks to its fare of breakfast, lunch and dinner favorites; customized ice cream offerings; and evening option for conversation over cocktails and Ferris wheel views.
Inside the environs of Santa Monica’s historic Carousel Building you can find the delicious and historical Soda Jerks. Journey back to the 1920s and ’30s, when folks of all ages gathered at the local sweet spot for a handmade ice cream soda, sundae, shake or malt, concocted and served up by a bona fide, bowtie-clad “soda jerk.”
A Pier staple since 1965 Oatman Rock Shop is stocked with beautiful rocks, crystals and
shells holds an irresistible lure for nature-loving shoppers. Light-catching jewelry and whimsical trinkets help make this local treasure a true gift bonanza.
Gather all of the information you need to plan a perfect visit with a stop at the Santa Monica Pier Shop & Visitor Center. Peruse the Pier Shop, which features official Pier apparel and other gift-worthy goodies, and you can’t help but get into the Santa Monica spirit.
Stocked from top to bottom with made-in-the-USA merchandise, 66 To Cali is a favorite stop for travelers, locals and history aficionados. Bring a bit (or a lot!) of this iconic highway home via vintage signs, maps, books, photos, clothing and more.
What was a lush, private oceanside estate in the 1920s, Annenberg Community Beach House is now a five-acre public playground offering classes and tours, art exhibits, annual community events and a range of amenities available to the public, such as the vintage, marble-decked swimming pool, beach courts and game room, all just a step from the beach.
Witness where the physical fitness movement of the 20th century began here at the Original Muscle Beach launched back in the 1930s. Feats of athleticism are still celebrated at here and workout apparatus remains available to the public.
Hours of old-fashioned fun await at Pacific Park located right on the Pier. A dozen rides, including the famous Pacific (Ferris) Wheel, roller coaster and classic bumper cars—plus plenty of carnival games and specialty eateries—are made even more memorable by their beachside setting.
Fueled by Heal the Bay’s dedication to preserving the local waters and aquatic life, Santa Monica Pier Aquarium encourages marine life education and conservation. Featuring 100-plus Santa Monica Bay species, special exhibits and touch tanks, the aquarium is as fun as it is important.
If you long to get air-bound, check out Trapeze School New York (TSNY) - Los Angeles founded in 2001. Get fit as you learn to master the static or flying trapeze, trampoline, aerial hoop (“lyra”) or aerial fabric (“silks”). Embrace TSNY’s motto: “Break barriers. Find the new.®”
In honor of the people, places and experiences that make Santa Monica the premier beach destination it is, we’ve made a mini video series highlighting a sampling of Santa Monica’s small business community and the stories behind the storefronts. Here, we visit Playland Arcade and The Albright restaurant in the Santa Monica Pier Area/Ocean Avenue.