The Santa Monica Pier is an iconic part of the city’s coastline, and its Pacific Park amusement park features rides, games, and food that’ll make you feel like you’re at a county fair in the 1950s.
The park is a terrific stop for families with young kids (there’s an abundance of kid-friendly rides and games), but it’s also an amusing adventure when the kids are older, and you’re looking for some nostalgia and old-fashioned Santa Monica fun.
Check out our helpful guide for visiting Pacific Park at Santa Monica Pier, packed full of ways to save on admission, tips for visiting, other nearby attractions, and much more.
Looking for Pacific Park – Santa Monica Pier Discount Tickets?
We’ve got you covered – Pacific Park – Santa Monica Pier admission is available with the below money saving options, so you can choose the attraction pass that’s right for you:
1. All-Inclusive Pass – All you can do. Includes admission to dozens of attractions.
2. Build Your Own Pass – Select the attractions you want to visit prior to visiting.
Your Pass is valid for the Pacific Park All-Day Unlimited-Ride wristband.
Tips for Visiting Pacific Park at Santa Monica Pier
- Park adjacent to the Pier. Convenient and affordable parking is available through the City of Santa Monica’s beach parking lots located on and adjacent to the Pier. Hours vary seasonally; call to verify operating hours.
- Walk the entire length of the pier. Pacific Park sits on one side of the Santa Monica Pier, and you can stroll all the way to the end to see idyllic views of the Pacific Ocean. You’ll also see local artists and musicians along the way.
- Don’t bring a big bag if you can help it. Enjoying amusement rides is easier when you’re not lugging around a big bag. If you have an infant and need to carry a diaper bag, parking is steps away from the entrance, and you may enter and exit as many times as you wish.
- Bring a phone with a strap. Don’t accidentally drop that expensive smartphone when you’re at the top of the Ferris wheel! Bring a point-and-shoot camera or a smartphone case with a strap, so you can snap some great pictures at the top of the ride.
- Don’t skip anything. Pacific Park is the perfect size for an afternoon of fun, and you can ride everything that’s appropriate for your age group in a single visit without missing a thing. If you have a favorite ride, you can even ride it twice and have time to spare.
- Visit in the evening if operating hours allow. If your vacation occurs when the park offers visiting hours into the evening, you’ll want to visit after dark. One of the most amazing sights in Santa Monica is the pier’s mind boggling number of LEDs, and the Ferris wheel is spectacular.
- Note the location of the restrooms. The front of the pier (closest to land) has a large number of toilets, but additional facilities also sit at the west end of Pacific Park.
What You Should Bring
Here are a few things you might want to have on hand as you visit the pier:
- A jacket is a good idea if you’re visiting later in the day or during the colder months. Sure, California has awesome weather, but the winds do get going on the coast, and the winter months may get chilly during the day (50s and 60s on the coolest days).
- A fanny pack or a small purse that hugs your body is an excellent way to carry your money and other small essentials when you’re boarding rides and flying through the air on the “Sea Dragon”.
- Good walking shoes are a must, even if you don’t plan on strolling around too much. If you look down while you walk along the pier, you’ll notice it’s made of massive, uneven planks of ancient wood. Even if you wear flip flops when you visit the beach, you’ll want sneakers for the pier.
- Wear sunblock and a hat while you’re walking the Pier. Even in the winter months, the sun can be stronger than you think.
What to Do There
The main draw of Pacific Park is the classic amusement rides. One of the most unique features of the park is that almost every adult-sized ride has a kid-sized version right next to it. It’s fun for the whole family!
For the adults and kids over 42 inches tall, you can ride the huge “Sea Dragon”, which is essentially a giant swing painted like a dragon. For those under the height requirement, Inkie’s Pirate Ship sits right next door and is perfect for the little folks in the family. Likewise, adults and taller kids will ride the Pacific Plunge zero-gravity drop, and the little guys will get on the pint-sized Frog Hopper drop.
Here are some of the most famous and favorite rides at the park
This giant solar-powered Ferris wheel takes you 130 feet above the pier for spectacular views of the park and Santa Monica beach beyond. At night, the wheel transforms into a neon light show for visitors. It’s the largest Ferris wheel of its kind in all of the United States.
Inkie’s Wave Jumper
This surf simulator is perfect for smaller children. It rotates the riders, allowing them to jump up and down like they’re riding a real wave.
Inkie’s Pirate Ship
Known as a “picaroon” ride, the ship swings back and forth as if rolling along the ocean’s waves. It’s the perfect mini-version of the larger Sea Dragon ride.
Sig Alert EV
There’s nothing like a classic game of bumper cars. These vehicles are safe and easy to use, and they even offer smaller version for kids ages 3-9 years old.
Float up, down, and around the pier in crop-duster style planes. Families can fly high together as you float above the pier deck.
This fast-paced swirling ride will have you rotating at top-speed. You’ll be so scrambled up after the ride, you’ll need a moment to get your bearings.
This swinging wooden ship is the adult version of Inkie’s Pirate Ship, and it offers some of the best “stomach flips” at Pacific Park. Painted like a life-like dragon, you’ll seemingly ride on the creatures back reaching heights that allow for views of the entire coast.
Riders are lifted about nine stories into the air before being dropped swiftly back down to Earth. You’ll have the feeling of weightlessness, if only for a quick moment.
This is the only West Coast, oceanfront steel roller coaster. You’ll be so close to the ocean as you zip by, you may even get a quick spray from the water. As you travel at 35 MPH, look out and enjoy the views of Santa Monica Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
In addition to the amusement rides, Pacific Park also features classic carnival-style games where prizes include giant stuffed animals. Think favorite oldies like “Wac-A-Mole,” “Goblet Toss,” “Riptide Ring Toss,” “Balloon Bust,” and several more.
You’ll also find some fair food within the park, as well as several delicious places to eat along the rest of the pier. Enjoy burgers, pizza, tacos, ice cream, and funnel cake, available throughout the park.
There are also some shops in the park where you can find fun souvenirs and unique gifts, ranging from the beach essentials at Pier Gear to the quirky stash at the Route 66 Shop.
Santa Monica is a hub of food, shopping, and entertainment, and it’s virtually always busy because it’s just as popular with the locals as it is for tourists.
Los Angeles natives frequent Santa Monica hangouts like the 3rd Street Promenade, as well as the long stretches of beach that extend northward toward Malibu and south to the Beach Cities like Manhattan Beach.
When you’re done having fun at Pacific Park, here are a few things you may want to do while you’re in Santa Monica.\
This aquarium is home to over 100 different species and is a short walk from Pacific Park. Exhibits include impressive touch tanks, tanks full of local sea creatures, shark-themed Sunday events, and more.
Getting in: Santa Monica Pier Aquarium tickets are included on Go Los Angeles Card.
Bike or Roller Skate the Pier
Renting a bike or roller skates is perfect for a gorgeous day on the pier. You’ll be to zip up and down the boardwalk, pier, and paths and cover all the must-see spots in Santa Monica.
Getting in: Perry’s Beach Cafe and Rentals – Mountain Bike or Roller-Skates All Day Rental tickets are included on Go Los Angeles Card.
Visit the 3rd Street Promenade
You’ll see several familiar retailers like Apple along the promenade, as well as tons of places to eat and drink. The official start of the promenade is northeast of the pier. Head north for a few blocks on Ocean Avenue and then turn right. The promenade is just a few streets inland.
Visit the Venice Boardwalk
Things get a little funky south of the pier as the Santa Monica bike path turns into the Venice Boardwalk. Loads of street performers, artists, and kooky tourist shops line this iconic stretch of sand.
Visit the beach
With so many activities in Santa Monica, you might forget the world class beach right in front of you. Even if you’re not brave enough to catch a wave, you’ll want to feel the sand under your feet at least once while you’re in California.
Places to Eat Nearby
Californians love to eat out, and Santa Monica is full of places to eat, particularly along the coast and right at the pier. The best way to approach dinner is to think about what kind of food you want, and head to the appropriate area.
For casual eats and fast food, the pier has at least a dozen places that sell food like funnel cakes, ice cream, and cheeseburgers. You might try Pier Burger or Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. if you’d like to find something super easy and delicious that’s right next door to Pacific Park.
The 3rd Street Promenade and the open-air Santa Monica mall (just east of the pier) have many mid-price places to eat, as well as a few trendy spots with higher price tags. You’ve got Stefano’s Pizzeria and Steak ‘n Shake for basic fare on the promenade, as well as the Water Grill on Ocean Avenue for something with a trendy atmosphere and view of the ocean.
Save on Tickets with a Go Los Angeles Card
Remember, the Go Los Angeles® is the best choice for maximum savings and flexibility, which includes Pacific Park Santa Monica Pier tickets, plus admission to your choice of other top attractions.
Save up to 55% on top museums, tours, and activities vs. paying at the gate. Visit multiple L.A area attractions for one low price.