One of my very favorite things to do when visiting a beach community is always checking out the pier, especially if it’s a California pier. Whether it’s a wooden pier or a concrete pier, whether it’s long or short, whether there’s fishing or there’s a cafe, I always like to see the characteristics of a pier.
There’s something very calming about walking on a pier. You closely hear the sound of the waves and the birds. You’ll maybe see fish, seals, sea lions or even if you’re lucky, a dolphin and it’s right under you. You see a surfer’s expression as they ride a wave. You get a view that’s different from the people who are sitting on the beach. It makes you feel like you’re a seagull and you’re flying over the ocean, checking out the water.
Sometimes the pier is super busy. You’ll feel like you’re in an amusement park on water. You just might be! Sometimes you’re the only one on the pier and it’s cold and windy. Sometimes you stop in a cafe, have drinks and forget you’re on a pier. Sometimes you see signs on the pier that say “no swimming by the pier, sharks have been sighted” Yikes!
Regardless of what your experience is on a pier, its always memorable and sometimes it’s special. You should always stop to check out a pier. It’s good for the soul. Here are some of my favorite piers in California…
Santa Monica Pier – Built in 1909, this pier is a landmark in Santa Monica. Part of the pier is an amusement park, called Pacific Park. Also located on the pier is the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium which is operated by Heal The Bay. Many schools visit for field trips. There’s also an arcade, restaurants and shops. Many things to do on this pier. One of the busiest piers in the world.
Manhattan Beach Pier – There’s a recognizable octagon Meditteranean style building at the end of this 928 foot long pier. The Roundhouse Marine Studies Lab & Aquarium resides in the buidling. This pier is one of my favorite spots to watch surfers riding the waves. It’s a popular pier for fishing and artists.
Huntington Beach Pier – This pier, located in Surf City USA, is a very special place for me. I grew up sunbathing right by this pier, every summer, when I was a teen. To me, this pier is the epitome of Southern California. Surfing events are always held here every year. Everyone around is tan and athletic. Hmmm, I haven’t even described the pier, itself. Trust me, it’s an awesome pier! It’s the main attraction of Huntington Beach..period.
Crystal Pier, Pacific Beach – Such a cool pier at Pacific Beach in San Diego, with a small hotel located right on the pier. The hotel consists of 26 cottages sitting on the pier. All have a living room, kitchen and a patio overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Awesome! You’ll find fishermen at the end of this pier, busy at work.
Santa Cruz wharf – Located in Northern California, this pier is more of a long wharf and is a great place for a family excursion. Other than fishing, there’s a fish market and you can catch a boat tour here. There’s dining, shopping and sea lion viewing, as well. There’s a nice beach nearby. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, which is a seaside amusement park is right there, too. Santa Cruz is one of the most chill, new age beach towns in California. Definitely worth a visit.
Stearns Wharf – Stearns Wharf is a large pier in beautiful Santa Barbara. This pier is considered to be the longest deep water pier between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Stearns whart got the name after it’s builder, who was a local, named John P. Stearns. For a quarter of a century, this pier served passengers, freight and cargo. Today, there’s a well known restaurant, The Harbor Restaurant that opened in 1941. That’s when shipping and transportation ended for this pier.
There are some restaurants, mostly seafood, that are pretty amazing on Stearns Wharf. There are great shops, as well. One being a very good ice cream shop. Stearns Wharf is a popular landmark in Santa Barbara. Great pier for a nice walk with great views.