Santa Monica CA 90401
- Mon: 12pm-7pm
- Tue: 12pm-7pm
- Wed: 12pm-7pm
- Thu: 12pm-7pm
- Fri: 12pm-12am
- Sat: 11am-12am
- Sun: 11am-9pm
Pacific Park in Santa Monica is the West Coast's only amusement park on a pier. This smallish park has 12 rides and 21 midway games, most of which can be enjoyed by the entire family.
Admission to Pacific Park is free, but rides and games require tickets that range from about $4 to $8; all-day wristbands are available for about $17 to $29.
Three must-see attractions at Pacific Park
Pacific Wheel: Visitors of all ages will enjoy the breathtaking views of the Santa Monica Bay from this 130-foot-tall, solar-powered ferris wheel.
West Coaster: For those not too scared to open their eyes, this steel roller coaster offers ocean views (and sea spray) as it zips along the track. Riders must be at least 42 inches tall.
Beach Bounce: This attraction features a bungee and trampoline that allows both adults and kids to flip and bounce up to 24 feet high.
Where to stay near Pacific Park
Everything from no-frills chain motels to deluxe five-star hotels can be found in Santa Monica. Room rates always increase during the summer. One of the most famous (but expensive) places to stay is the historic Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows (rates average around $400 per night), which is less than a mile from Pacific Park.
Best and worst time to go to Pacific Park
The best times to go are in September, when the crowds have thinned but the weather is still warm, and in the late afternoon when the sun is setting.
The worst time is June, when it's crowded with tourists and the weather tends to be gloomy, and also on rainy or windy days, since most of the rides are closed.
Discounts at Pacific Park
Discount coupons are usually available on the Pacific Park website. Visitors planning to enjoy more than a couple of rides or games will save a lot of money by purchasing an all-day wristband.
Food at Pacific Park
A food court offers fast food and sweet treats, mostly under about $10. For the same prices, a better option is to grab a bite and a fresh-squeezed lemonade at Hot Dog on a Stick, located next to the Santa Monica Pier.
Parking at Pacific Park
Parking is available in the Santa Monica Pier parking lot. The lot quickly fills up on summer weekends, so it's best to get there early to get a spot. Depending on the season, the rates range from about $2 to $3 per hour, with a maximum parking fee of around $15.
Transportation Alternatives at Pacific Park
Santa Monica's main form of transportation is the Big Blue Bus line; fares average around $1. The Tide Shuttle takes riders from Venice Beach to the Santa Monica Pier for only about 25 cents.
Author's bio: Laura Goldman is a freelance writer and lifelong Angeleno. Follow her on Twitter and visit her blog, i Still Love Dogs.