Only a few blocks from the Miramar, the iconic Santa Monica Pier juts out into the sprawling bay. On its storied wood-plank surface is a vibrant smorgasbord of knickknack shops, food stands, pubs, restaurants, and a video arcade packed with more than 200 games. Entertainers along the pier also showcase all types of music, magic, and bizarre abilities.
On the Santa Monica pier’s left side is Pacific Park, a miniature amusement park boasting various rides for all ages, including the world’s first solar-powered Ferris wheel, an ideal vantage to catch a Santa Monica sunset from 130 feet up. While you’re there, take a ride on the West Coaster, a roller coaster winding along a 1,300-foot-long track that’s raised 55 feet above the deck.
Steps away, at the entrance of the pier is the Looff Hippodrome, the oldest building on the pier and a national historic landmark. There, you’ll find a carousel that’s been turning since 1922 – to this day, kids can climb onto one of its 44 hand-carved wooden horses for an old -time merry-go-round experience.
Trapeze School New York
Nearby, the Trapeze School New York’s elevated course offers visitors 6 and up the ability to try their hand at aerial artistry, just like real-life acrobats do in the circus. Check their schedule for a listing of day – and week – long classes, complete with an on-site photographer to immortalize the action.
Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
Just outside of the Hippodrome, follow the splashy murals on the pier’s east side and head down a staircase to find the Heal The Bay Aquarium, which is operated by environmental nonprofit Heal the Bay and provides plenty of fun and educational hands-on activities.