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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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Los Angeles Filming Locations

The Hollywood sign has been featured in countless movies and TV shows.

The Hollywood sign has been featured in countless movies and TV shows.

Sites around the greater Los Angeles area have been the backdrop for countless movies and TV shows. From the beaches of Santa Monica and Malibu, to the rolling hills of the West San Fernando and Conejo Valleys, location scouts in years past didn’t have to go far to find the ideal place for filming.

Malibu’s Paradise Cove beach was almost as  big a star as Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon in Beach Blanket Bingo and other ’60s surf movies.  Harry Medved, author of  several books on Hollywood history, says these same beaches were also used to portray Polynesian and Mexican shores.

About 20 miles inland from Malibu, over the rolling hills of Kanan Road, Medved says The Agoura Ranch in Oak Park was the site of several westerns and other films.

Pacific Park in Santa Monica is one of the few pier-based amusement parks. It's also a location of TV shows and movies.

Pacific Park in Santa Monica is one of the few pier-based amusement parks. It's also a location of TV shows and movies.

A lot of actors called the West San Fernando Valley area home, according to Medved.  The sprawling hills and blue skies were a peaceful alternative to living in the city, yet not to far away from the Hollywood studios.  As I child growing up in the Conejo Valley, it wasn’t unusual to see celebrities from time to time.  I recall my mother pointing out the actor who portrayed Marcus Welby M.D (Robert Young) reading a book on the grass at a Westlake Village strip mall.

The original Bat Cave from the Batman TV series is located in the hills near LA's Griffith Park.

The original Bat Cave from the Batman TV series is located in the hills near LA's Griffith Park.

Click here to listen as Harry Medved shares stories of location filming in the West San Fernando Valley and Oak Park area with my colleague and buddy Pete Demetriou of KNX Radio, for KNX On Your Corner.

 

For more on the history on filming in the greater Los Angeles area, check out Harry Medved’s books Location Filming in Los Angeles and Oak Park.

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