The Coolest Piers in California, From Santa Monica to Santa Barbara

The Santa Monica Pier
The Santa Monica Pier | © Tony Hisgett / Flickr
Photo of Juliet Bennett Rylah
4 January 2018

With 840 miles of coastline, California is rife with stunning piers, ranging from family-friendly promenades with arcades and amusement parks to quiet viewing areas. Here are six not to miss.

Santa Monica Pier

The Santa Monica Pier is the ending point of Route 66, and a popular tourist destination containing fishing, shopping, restaurants, bars and the Pacific Park amusement park. The ferris wheel, which lights up at night, can be visible from a considerable distance. The pier has featured in numerous films and TV shows, including American Horror Story: Hotel, Her, and The Sting.

Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA, USA

Crystal Pier

San Diego’s picturesque Crystal Pier, located in Pacific Beach, dates back to the 1920s, but is a much quieter experience now than it was back then. Today, it’s home to the Crystal Pier Hotel, which consists of several cottages where guests can enjoy the gorgeous seaside views.

Crystal Pier, 4500 Ocean Boulevard, San Diego, CA, USA


Crystal Pier|©John Pastor/Flickr

San Simeon Pier

The San Simeon Pier is accessible via the William R. Heart Memorial State Beach in San Simeon, and boast views of the Pacific Ocean, marine life and the Heart Castle. It’s a popular spot for sightseeing, fishing and kayaking.

San Simeon Pier, San Simeon, CA, USA


San Simeon Pier|©Prayitno/Flickr

Venice Pier

One could first visit the Santa Monica Pier, then walk or bike along the famed Venice Boardwalk to the Venice Pier. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Los Angeles, Venice is typically busy year-round, with plenty of options for dining, shopping, people-watching and nightlife.

Venice Pier | ©Giuseppe Milo/Flickr

Stearns Wharf

Stearns Wharf, located in Santa Barbara, was built in 1872 for passenger ships and freighters. Today, visitors will find restaurants, stores, a marine museum and education facility, an ice cream parlor and a candy shop.

217 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA, USA


Stearns Wharf|©Damian Gadal/Flickr

Manhattan Beach Pier

Built in 1920, the Manhattan Beach Pier features a free aquarium, fishing and the Volleyball Walk of Fame. It is the oldest concrete pier in the state, and is often featured in photographs.