increase font use small font sizeuse medium font sizeuse large font size

Santa Monica: Pier, State Beach, & Ocean Front Walk

The Santa Monica shore draws throngs of people year-round to its many attractions. On any given day, the two-mile-long Santa Monica State Beach ––complete with pier and amusement park––is crowded with families, fishermen, street performers, tourists, surfers, and sunbathers. Among the many attractions are the Marvin Braude Bicycle Trail, Ocean Front Walk (promenade) along the backside of the...
The Santa Monica shore draws throngs of people year-round to its many attractions. On any given day, the two-mile-long Santa Monica State Beach ––complete with pier and amusement park––is crowded with families, fishermen, street performers, tourists, surfers, and sunbathers. Among the many attractions are the Marvin Braude Bicycle Trail, Ocean Front Walk (promenade) along the backside of the beach, Muscle Beach, several pocket parks with picnic tables, an aquarium, and, at the northernmost end of the beach, Annenberg Beach House, a public recreation facility that offers a beachside pool with a lift, cultural programs, classes, free tours of the Marion Davies Guest House, and gallery exhibits.

The 1,600-foot-long Santa Monica Pier, which dates to the early 1900s, has two distinct sections. At the foot of the pier is an amusement park with a turn-of-the-century carousel, ferris wheel, arcade games, cafes, and souvenir shops. This section is surfaced with wooden boards and is very bumpy. Beyond it is a long fishing pier with a smooth asphalt surface. Handrails on the fishing pier are too high for fishing from a wheelchair. Although accessible from Colorado Avenue, the walkway is steep and often crowded; upcoast a short distance, at Moomat Ahiko Way, is a gentler path down a switchback ramp.

The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium is located at beach level just below the carousel. This marine education center, operated by Heal the Bay, is home to more than 100 species of Santa Monica Bay marine animals and plants. You can watch a shark feeding, examine microscopic sea life, explore critters in touch tanks, or attend Saturday story time. Youth under 12 get in free; for others, a $5 donation is suggested.

For a change of scenery and excellent dining and shopping, venture uphill from the beach to Third Street Promenade, a popular outdoor pedestrian-only mall that stretches for several blocks.

Trail/Pathway Details

Ocean Front Walk

Trailhead: Northern end of Venice Beach Ocean Front Walk

Length: Over 4 total miles

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Level

Routes to Ocean Ave. from Ocean Front Walk are steep; the least steep alternatives are to travel in the road on Pico St. or take the switchback ramp just north of the pier, between Appian Way and Moomat Ahiko Way (see map).

Terrain: Hard

Description

On a slightly hazy day I took what I thought would be a 20-minute stroll along the promenade; instead, it turned into a two-hour exploration of all the fun this area has to offer. The stretch was busy with people riding scooters, walking their dogs, jogging, or just taking in the sights, and a flurry of cyclists of...
view full description

Accessibility Details

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

Beach Wheelchair: Yes

Pick up at Perry’s Café (2400 Ocean Front Walk). Rentals are limited to an hour on busy days. Spaces on the pier and at several beach-level lots are free with a valid disabled placard. There is street parking along Ocean Ave., but the route to the beach is steeply downhill. The numerous restroom stations that line Ocean Front Walk are named according to the street they are closest to. All those we checked south of the pier are accessible, although they don't display the international accessibility symbol. Look for the stalls with the widest doors. Restrooms north of the pier had no space for a lateral transfer, except for the family restroom at California Ave. All three restrooms on the pier are accessible.
At South Beach Park, Ocean View Park, and Crescent Bay Park

Other Things of Interest

Open to travelers of all ages, the Santa Monica Hostel offers affordable accessible accommodations and a quiet retreat just two blocks from the beach. The dorm rooms have plenty of space to maneuver, the restrooms also have good access, and roll-in showers have a fold-down wooden seat, grab bars, and a hand-held shower. There’s a lovely courtyard with a fountain, trees, tables and chairs, and a barbecue; a large community kitchen; a game room; a library with travel information; and a laundry room. It is one of the nicest hostels I’ve seen.

Palisades Park is a linear park that runs along Ocean Avenue on a bluff overlooking Santa Monica Beach. A two-mile paved path weaves among the palm trees, with plenty of benches and shady places to rest along the way. Most of the park is wheelchair accessible, but there are steep slopes where California Avenue bisects the park, and occasional cross-slopes throughout. Overpasses across the Pacific Coast Highway to the beach have stairs at each end.
Looking north from Ocean Front Walk
Looking north from Ocean Front Walk (Bonnie Lewkowicz)

Have a photo to add? Login to upload

Features icon key

  • Beach Wheelchairs Available
  • bicycling
  • fishing
  • particularly good for families
  • swimming

Additional Information

View Map  
Website: www.smgov.net/Portals/Beach/
Managing Agency: City of Santa Monica
Address: Foot of Colorado Blvd. (pier)
Nearest City: Santa Monica
Phone: (310) 458-8411
Hours: Aquarium: Tues.-Fri., 2-5 pm; Sat.-Sun., 12:30-5 pm. Pier: Always open.
Fees: Aquarium
Dogs: In restricted areas
Allowed on promenade but not on the beach
Public Transportation: LA Metro
Useful Links: Santa Monica Pier, Annenberg Beach House,Santa Monica Beach map
Reviewed by Bonnie Lewkowicz, May 22, 2013
Access Norhtern California This web guide is a project of Access Northern California.  
California Coastal Conservancy Thanks to our partner the California Coastal Conservancy

DISCLAIMER: Although the information contained in this web-guide was believed to be correct at the time of publication, neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy shall be held responsible or liable for any inaccuracies, errors, or omissions, nor for information that changes or becomes outdated. Neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy assume any liability for any injury or damage arising out of, or in connection with, any use of this guide or the sites described in it.

close
Accessible Wheelchair Icon looks like a wheelchair with balloon wheelsBeach Accessible
Wheelchairs Available
  Hiking icon is silhouette of a hikerHiking & Trails
Biking icon looks like person riding a bikeBicycling   Good for Familis icon is a child on a swing'Particularly Good for Families
Boating Icon is a boatBoating   Picnic Area Icon is a picnic tablePicnic
Camping icon is a tentCamping   Swimming Icon is a person swimmingSwimming
Fishing Icon is a fish biting a hookFishing   Wildlife Viewing Icon is a pair of binocularsWildlife Viewing
close