There’s so much emphasis these days on getting off the beaten track, and authentic travel, which I enjoy as much as the next person, but it is definitely fun to be a tourist sometimes too! We recognise places and want to visit them because they’re iconic, because we see famous locations in films and on TV, and we see beautiful places on social media. It’s those places that attracted people to all these destinations in the first place, and apart from anything are you really going to visit places like Paris and not see the Eiffel Tower, Sydney and not see the Sydney Opera House, New York and not see the Empire State? No, you’re not, especially if it’s your first time. So I think it’s perfectly fine to be a tourist. For this post I’m giving you ten touristy things to do at Santa Monica pier.
Find the famous Route 66 ‘end of the trail’ sign that marks the end of the great American highway, simply because it runs straight into the sea. As you get on the Santa Monica pier it’s pretty early on, just outside the police station.
Sample the pier food. In true American style there’s fast food everywhere, including a Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant. The restaurants are always busy, so be prepared to wait, or instead grab some sweet treats that are everywhere! Candy floss, sweets, even frozen custard?
Have a chat to the local fishermen, fishing off the pier. They’ll happily tell you about their catch, and they even offered us some clams and mussels. I’m a fan of seafood, but these ones straight out the sea were a bit too fresh even for me. The fishermen were real characters though, and great fun to chat to.
Go on the fairground rides, it was actually quite big for being on a pier, but fits a couple of rollercoasters and the famous ferris wheel to name a couple.
Go surfing. Not one for me, but there were lessons available for beginners right through to the pros, and boards available to rent.
Spot the Baywatch lifeguard hut. It was very surreal seeing this in real life, and actually in use. Red costumes, red shorts and red lifeguard floats. Being such a popular surf spot, they were all along the quieter side of the beach. (Tip: a walk along here was a lot more pleasant than the other side of the pier where it was heaving with people!)
Watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. It was very beautiful over the pier and the beach.
Cycle or rollerblade along the palm tree lined promenade that runs along the Pacific Coast.
Even just walking the promenade is hot work, and we did it in the evening. There’s an amazing frozen yoghurt place just before you get to Venice beach, and I definitely recommend sampling some of the many flavours and toppings.
The promenade itself is a spectacle, and a walk along it will show you some of the strangest scenes. There’s street art everywhere, musicians, performers…all sorts of characters! Great for people watching.
So if you want to be a tourist, and you want to get that selfie you have to stand in a queue to get after travelling thousands of miles, then just go for it.. 🙂
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