Well, here’s a confession: until today, I had never walked on the actual pier at Santa Monica. I’ve walked on the beach, along the walking trail, to the sign at the top of the pier… Today = first time, on pier. Don’t tell anyone.
It was every bit the tourist trap I thought it would be. Of course, I loved it. If you can get past the tourists moving at what I perceived to be the pace of afflicted snails and wade through the sea of selfie sticks, you might also love it. I couldn’t help but think that, from a distance, the number of selfie sticks in use made the entire pier look like a wharf with tiny fisherman using only tiny fishing poles (haha).
Hoards of movies have used the Santa Monica Pier and Ferris Wheel as background icons (not the least of which includes Sharknado, a personal favorite):
Wandering parallel to the ferris wheel, you can see all of Santa Monica stretching to Malibu. The pier boasts all of the carnival-esque things every county fair might have: rides, ice cream, caricature portraits, fried food. Pier-goers are eating up every ounce of it, wooden plank by wooden plank (the entire pier is constructed of these – wearing sandals may pose a slight challenge).
For me, I enjoyed watching those most who might be using the pier beyond tourism and sans the draw of having their name written on a grain of rice (this is a real thing) or getting a serving of cotton candy the size of a small dog: the fishermen.