Santa Monica, CA

Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience

by and

Santa Monica was the site of my first job in the Computer Software Industry, I worked there for Scientific Data Systems (SDS) just prior to the Xerox purchase of SDS - who turned the company into Xerox Data Systems (XDS). Santa Monica had not originally been one of our "Trip Destinations", but with the fires burning in Sequoia National Park, we were forced to change our Trip Itinerary.

The northern sections of the city of Santa Monica once belonged to Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica and Rancho Boca de Santa Monica (prior to 1848 when California became a U.S. possession). The Sepulveda family sold 38,409 acres of Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica for $54,000 in 1872 to Colonel Robert S. Baker and his wife, Arcadia Bandini de Stearns Baker. They then subdivided part of their joint holdings in 1875 and created the town of Santa Monica. The town site fronted on the ocean and was bounded on the northwest by Montana Avenue, on the southeast by Colorado Avenue and on the northeast by 26th Street. The avenues were all named after the states of the West, the streets being simply numbered. The first lots in Santa Monica were sold on July 15, 1875. Click here to read the full Wikipedia Article on Santa Monica.

Due to the fires that were taking place in the Sequoia National Park (our Three Rivers cabin reservation was cancelled due to its proximity to the fire), the opportunity arose for us to spend some time near Santa Monica (and Agoura Hills, CA), I realized that Celeste and I would be able to visit the Santa Monica Pier area, and I could show her some of my old stomping grounds.

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Santa Monica Pier Area       Map
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience

The Santa Monica Pier opened in 1909 with the seemingly mundane purpose of sanitation. The long, narrow Municipal Pier was built to extend sewage pipes far from the shore. However, its stunning ocean views made it a popular spot for strolling and fishing. This unexpected popularity caught the eye of amusement entrepreneur Charles Looff. Looff, who built Coney Island's first carousel, saw the pier's potential and constructed his own Pleasure Pier in 1916 right next door. This pier, featuring the iconic Looff Hippodrome with its merry-go-rounds, Wurlitzer organs, and thrilling rides, became a magnet for fun seekers. The two piers eventually merged, forming the Santa Monica Pier we know today.

The pier went through various stages from those early days until the 1970's when the Santa Monica City Council slated the pier for destruction & replacement, and the citizens of the city reacted vigorously and defeated the attempt. Three of the council members were eventually defeated during elections !

In 1983 the pier was badly damaged by a storm, and the city created the Pier Restoration and Development Task Force to oversee the pier's reconstruction. The reconstruction work took until April 1990 to complete and once again, the pier was a popular destination. The pier's real evival came in 1996 with the opening of Pacific Park, the first permanent amusement park on the pier since the 1930s. Anchored by the world-famous Pacific Wheel Ferris wheel, the park brought back the spirit of fun and frivolity.

The pier now draws over four million visitors annually, and it remains a popular recreation area. As you can see in our images, the beaches on both sides of the pier are very large and are popular with swimmers & surfers alike.

When I worked in Santa Monica, we would occasionally come over to the Pier area to eat lunch, or to hang out after work. Venice Beach is only a couple of miles south of the Pier, so there were a number of places to hang out along the beach.

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Malibu Beach Area       Map
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience

After a morning of exploring the pier & watching a bunch of kids surfing, we got back onto the highway and drove north on 101. Santa Barbara is 84 miles from the Pier and along the way we traversed Malibu Beach, which is one of the prettiest and uncrowded beaches anywhere near Los Angeles County.

As you can see in these images, we stopped at various locations along the coast for several reasons; one was that our hotel check-in in Santa Barbara was not until 3PM, and secondly was because the beaches we passed going north were just so pretty. Yet just about every beach we passed would be deserted ?

The last 3 images above were taken at Sycamore Canyon Campground, which was so pretty that we decided to stop and explore. This park is still 52 miles south of Santa Barbara, but as I pointed out previously, we had to delay our arrival in order to be able to check-in to our hotel room. Sycamore Canyon contains hiking trails and picnic spots - click here to go to the California Parks page for Sycamore Canyon Campground amenities and a full description of what you can find there.

In image # 4 above, you can see a video crew is filming either an advertisement or location scenes for some other purpose. They were busy the entire time we were there, taping, moving position and taping again.

Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
Trip Overview
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
San Francisco
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
Bonita Point
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
Santa Rosa
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
Muir Woods
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
Rush Creek Lodge
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
Yosemite National Park
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
Forestiere Gardens
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
Santa Monica
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
Santa Barbara
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
Pacific Coast Highway
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
Monterey
Beaches & Boardwalks - Discover the Santa Monica Pier Experience
Carmel-by-the-Sea
 
Trip Itinerary & Overview Map

As you can see in this static map, we had a number of destinations (as well as a number of side trips) that would require a considerable amount of driving. Each of the itinerary stops is linked to our content (or page) to allow you to view our content.

Locations / Start & End points are both San Francisco International Airport
  1. San Francisco Hilton Financial District.
  2. Bonita Point Lighthouse and Fort Baker area.
  3. Sausalito, CA.
  4. Santa Rosa, CA in the heart of the Sonoma County Wine District.
  5. Salida, CA - overnight rest stop along the way to Yosemite.
  6. Yosemite National Park, CA where we stayed at the Rush Creek Lodge.
  7. Frontieres Underground Garden Fresno, CA - this was an entertainment side stop, as we had read about this place and also wanted to get lunch.
  8. Santa Barbara, CA
  9. Morro Bay, CA.
  10. Monterey Bay, CA to explore the Monterey Bay and Carmel by the Sea areas.
 
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