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Archives for July 2013

Carnival by the Sea: Pacific Park, Santa Monica

Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier offers free admission, just pay for the rides. It's a fun way to spend a few hours at the beach.

Admission is free at Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier, just pay for the rides.

If you’re looking for an amusement park adventure you can enjoy in just a few hours on a summer afternoon or evening, check out Pacific Park in Santa Monica.  Located on the Santa Monica pier, there is no admission fee. You only pay for the rides you wish to enjoy, or purchase a wrist band for unlimited thrills.

The Pacific Wheel Ferris wheel and West Coaster roller coaster are located along the edge of the pier, so you can look down right into the Pacific ocean, and maybe even catch a glimpse of dolphins.  So Cal locals who have ever been stuck in a traffic jam will appreciate the Sig Alert EV Bumper Cars (or at least the attraction’s catchy name!). There are a dozen rides in all, along with a Kid’s Cove and midway games.  If you’re daring, you might want to test your aerobatic skills in a trapeze class.

Also Read: Malibu Drive Pacific Coast Highway

The Sig Alert EV bumper cars at Pacific Park. The term "Sig Alert" is So Cal traffic jargon for a major traffic jam!

There are a few restaurants on the pier, including Mariasol and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co..  There are plenty more restaurant choices steps away, along Ocean Boulevard, at the nearby Third Street Promenade, and on Main Street south of the pier.

Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier bills itself as the 'west coast's only amusement park on a pier.' It's a cool place to spend a few hours!

Parking for your trip to Pacific Park can be a pain. Free parking in Santa Monica is limited, many neighborhoods require residential parking permits, so be sure to read all of the posted signs. There’s parking at the pier, but if you’re looking for a more economical alternative check out the lots just north of the pier on 2nd and 4th Streets, near the 3rd Street Promenade & adjacent Santa Monica Place mall.

Related: Parking in Santa Monica

There are also several reasonably priced lots south of the pier between Ocean or Main Street and Neilson way.  If you’re up for a walk, park in one of the paid lots on Neilson Way near  Hill or Kinney. Cross Neilson to the beach and walk the boardwalk to the pier.  It’s an easy walk, but you’ll be sharing the sidewalk with skaters and cyclists, so pay attention.

If you purchase time in a paid lot or meter be sure to keep an eye on the time! The meter maids in Santa Monica are very good at their jobs, so you want to be sure that your parking time does not expire, a parking ticket will set you back at least $63.

Related: Santa Monica Daycations

Pacific Park bills itself as ‘the West Coast’s only amusement park located on a pier.’ It’s a fun scene for people of all ages, even if you don’t get on the rides. It’s also a fun outing if you have an hours long layover at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). It’s about a 20 minute taxi ride from LAX, just give yourself plenty of time to get back to the airport (it could take 40 minutes  during rush hour)  so you don’t miss your flight.

Traffic411 Insider Tip:  There’s some fun people-watching ops along the boardwalk just south of Pacific Park at International Chess Park.  Or, test your strength and coordination at the grown up jungle gym, Swings, Rings and Ropes.

Distance from LAX: 14 miles


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Gaviota Coast, Santa Barbara

Tajiguas, looking toward Refugio State Beach, along Santa Barbara’s Gaviota Coast (Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411 Photo)

Here’s a gem of a drive, only 30 minutes north of Santa Barbara. The Gaviota Coast offers beautiful beaches, breathtaking views, great surfing spots, and what might just be the most beautiful coastal campgrounds in California.

Santa Barbara photographer Ken Pfeiffer describes some of the fun things to see and do along this gorgeous stretch of  Central California coastline:

Santa Barbara and Gaviota  State Park are about 30 miles apart. Toward the middle is Refugio State Beach.  One mile to the right of Refugio is El Capitan State Beach.  One mile to the left of Refugio is one of my favorite beaches, TajiguasThen another mile left is Arroyo Quemada, a cool funky little community right on the beach, and then another mile to the left is Arroyo Hondo nature preserve. Just to the left of Gaviota is (the private community of ) Hollister Ranch, but the road is not on the map. The beach is REALLY cool between Isla Vista and Gaviota. 

Watching waves at Tajiguas beach on Santa Barbara’s Gaviota Coast (Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411 Photo)

Radio personality Melody Morgan is a huge fan of the campgrounds at El Capitan State Beach.  “My favorite place on the planet! Just north of Santa Barbara on a bluff overlooking the ocean. You walk down a wooden staircase to the beach. Beatuful views plus lots of trees for shade, nice facilities (showers, wood for sale). Book early, it sells out fast.”

Related: Wine Lovers – Santa Ynez Valley

“The Gaviota Coast has recently been threatened by development,” said Pfeiffer. “The more the public is aware of this precious gem the more likely it will continue to be protected as a natural resource we can all enjoy together.”  Read more on the efforts to protect this gorgeous stretch of California coastline.

Gaviota Coast, Santa Barbara

Located just north of Santa Barbara, California's Gaviota Coast might offers beautiful beaches, breathtaking views, great surfing spots, and what might be the most beautiful coastal campgrounds in California. (Photos by Ken Pfeiffer for Traffic411)

[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/gaviota-coast-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_tajiguas-5_pfeiffer_traffic411.jpg]7260Tajiguas Beach, looking toward Refugio State Beach. Santa Barbara County, CA (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
Tajiguas Beach, Santa Barbara County, CA (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/gaviota-coast-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_tajiguas-4_pfeiffer_traffic411.jpg]340Tajiguas Beach, Santa Barbara County, CA (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
Tajiguas Beach, Santa Barbara County, CA (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/gaviota-coast-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_tajiguas-6_pfeiffer_traffic411.jpg]300Tajiguas Beach, Santa Barbara County, CA (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
Tajiguas Beach, Santa Barbara County, CA (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/gaviota-coast-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_tajiguas_pfeiffer_traffic411.jpg]310Tajiguas Beach, Santa Barbara County, CA (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
Tajiguas Beach, Santa Barbara County, CA (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/gaviota-coast-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_tajiguas_snail_pfeiffer_traffic411.jpg]410Snail on Tajiguas Beach, Santa Barbara's Gaviota Coast (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
Snail on Tajiguas Beach, Santa Barbara's Gaviota Coast (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/gaviota-coast-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_tajiguas-2_pfeiffer_traffic411.jpg]240Tajiguas Beach, Santa Barbara County, CA (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
Tajiguas Beach, Santa Barbara County, CA (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/gaviota-coast-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_tajiguas-3_pfeiffer_traffic411.jpg]250Tajiguas Beach, Santa Barbara County, CA (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
Tajiguas Beach, Santa Barbara County, CA (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/gaviota-coast-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_toward-refugio_pfeiffer_traffic411.jpg]220Tajiguas Beach, looking toward Refugio State Beach. Santa Barbara County, CA (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
Tajiguas Beach, looking toward Refugio State Beach. Santa Barbara County, CA (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/gaviota-coast-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_kenpfeiffer_headshot.jpg]270Santa Barbara photographer Ken Pfeiffer.
Santa Barbara photographer Ken Pfeiffer.
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/gaviota-coast-santa-barbara/thumbs/thumbs_gaviota-coast.jpg]150

 

Other nearby sites to see include Lake Cachuma and the Danish themed city of Solvang.

For more information on exploring the Central California coast, from Santa Barbara to Big Sur and places in between, take a look at this from the Los Angeles Times.

Traffic411 Insider Tip: Do a day trip from Santa Barbara, or take Highway 101 on your next drive to Northern California to enjoy this breathtaking scenery.

Distance from LAX: 121 miles


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