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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Santa Monica's Pier and Park

Am I the only one who is dying for winter to be over? Every time we have a warmish day and I start to get excited for spring, the next day is always cold and/or rainy. I'm not one to complain about the weather usually, because I live in a beautiful city and without the rain it wouldn't be as green and lovely. Truth be told, I'm just sick of boots and jackets and want to wear a pair of flip flops out of the house. Until then, I decided I will smile and look back on a great California day from October the weather was gorge and I took my shoes off and walked on the beach!

Of all the times we have visited L.A., we have never actually gone to the beach. This seemed like something that needed to be remedied and we had some free days that we weren't spending at theme parks, so we set aside a whole day for beach-hopping. We stopped at Long Beach, Venice and Santa Monica. It just seemed wrong to not hit Pacific Park. It's iconic. It's got the longest steel roller coaster on the beach and the only solar-powered Ferris wheel. Obviously, these were on the top of our list when we visited.

We had Los Angeles Go Cards from Smart Destinations, so we ended up with unlimited ride bracelets. The pier is not all that busy in the middle of the week in the fall, so we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves. The downside to this is that we had to ride rides all alone or with only a few other people and 90% of the food kiosks were closed. That made me sad and made me really want an elephant ear and popcorn. 

Frowny face
Since we barely had to wait in line for anything - stopping only briefly to get our bracelets scanned - we rode that little roller coaster three times and enjoyed the view from the top of the ferris wheel for much longer than the usual 5 minutes. We also found our favorite pirate ship ride there and then terrified ourselves with a whopping four other people on the gondola. Eric sat on one end and I sat on the very other. I do not suggest it, because then you fear more for your life than if you had a hand to hold. Obviously, we lived to tell the tale though.

This ride is SO fun!
As much as I enjoy cheesy attractions, Pacific Park tops the list of cheeseball amusement parks. On a slow day, you can pretty much do all the rides in an hour and go back for more. The roller coaster is creaky and may make you pray that you make it to the end. So, if you are just doing it just for the sake of doing it and saying you were there, buy your tickets online ahead of time and save almost $3 per wristband. It's cheaper than paying for each ride individually, unless your only goal is to ride the Ferris wheel and then shop the pier and run on the beach. If you travel with little kids, they will definitely think Paradise Park is crazy fun even before Dippin' Dots are involved!

There are plenty of other things to do in Santa Monica and nearby - like the Venice Canals - so Paradise Park is not the last thing in amusement in the area. In fact, you may want to visit the tiny and affordable aquarium. If you choose to buy Go Cards and find yourself at the coast, then the pier is a good way to spend a few hours before lunch or shopping - you can even jump on the hop-on, hop-off bus here, which is included in your card activities.

Have you been to Santa Monica? What was your favorite thing there?

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