The world is filled with beautiful poems, quotes, songs, and images of the ocean. Nothing anyone says, nothing anyone sings, will ever capture the wild and true beauty of the sea. The way the air fills your lungs, salty, cleansing. The way the sand feels in your toes, soft and rough, smooth and sinking. The water when it rolls over you, washing away life and replacing it with infinity. There is nothing so marvelous, so captivating, so healing as the ocean.
If you have never been to an ocean, please – if you go on no other adventures in this life – go to the ocean. Go to the beach. Sit in the sand. Let the tide roll over your toes. It will roll right into your very core, and you will be forever changed.
The Duo needed an ocean fix, so they headed to one of the most famous beaches in the world, Santa Monica!
Granted, this is VERY touristy, so if you are looking for something that is a lot more beach, and a lot less people, WORRY NOT! One of our stops was at Carlsbad Beach, and it was glorious. A long stretch of beach, not a lot of people, and very impressive waves. There is parking near the beach, and an easy path to walk down to get close to the water. This is an excellent beach for having a relax, going surfing, or going for a gorgeous beachfront walk.
During our stay in Southern California, or SoCal, we went to Santa Monica twice, and both times were AWESOME! The Santa Monica Pier is one of the most famous spots in the world, featuring roller coasters, live performers, incredible food, fun shops, an aquarium, fishing, swimming, surfing, the LAST STOP of Route 66… the list goes on and on! One of the shops, the Oatman Rock Shop, claims to be the oldest shop on the pier! Worth a look sea…er…see if you want to pick up some fun 60’s style stuffs. On both our trips, we ate lunch at the delectable Albright. It was soooo good the first time, we went back on our second trip. If you love clam chowder you NEED to try the bread bowl they have. A delicious delectable delight, you won’t be disappointed! The prices were reasonable, the beers were cold, and the atmosphere was awesome!
Walking along the pier is an experience in itself. You never know who, or what, you are going to see performing on the pier! While we were there we saw face painters, jugglers, temporary tattoos, a singing goth 60’s gigolo, and “Rock and Roll Jesus” singing Sublime songs, just to name a few. The acts change periodically throughout the day, and no two days are the same!
Taking up a large section in the middle of the pier is Pacific Park, featuring roller coasters, a full boardwalk, and Awesome K’s favorite – funnel cake. Funnel cake as large as your head. Seriously. While we did enjoy the funnel cake, we did not get a chance to ride any of the rides, or play any of the games. However, if you are looking for a boardwalk adventure, this is the place!
Just a short walk away from the Pier is one of the most well known beaches in the world, Muscle Beach! This is where anyone who was anyone went to work out. Today you can still find plenty of outdoor exercise areas, as well as volleyball pits, bicycle rentals, and some of the best people watching out there! There were a handful of people working on their fitness, which was neat to watch. We would have joined them, but we were still sticky from the funnel cake – which that statement alone should tell you how often we would work out on the beach.
Do you love Geocaching? Of course you do! So does Saucy G (poor Awesome K can’t seem to get into it)! While cruising the beach, there were some super sweet caches to be had. One that bumped it’s way into her Top Five Favorite Caches was “Lord of the Rings.” Not only is this a fun play on words – as the exercise rings are close by, but this was the first one involving a secret code! If you are a geocacher, and are looking for a fun – albeit easy – cache, be sure to check out the caches around Santa Monica and Muscle Beach. “What is Geocaching” you ask?! Oh adventurer, you are in for a real treat now! Geocaching is an adventure all of its own! Our words won’t do it justice, but the basics are that there are real hidden “caches” all over the world, and one in space, that are hidden for you to find. They are EVERYWHERE, and range in difficulty from 1 to 5 based on the terrain, and the type of container it is. All the caches have a log book for you to sign, and some have hidden treasures in them! If you have a smartphone, you can download a free app that helps you on your hunt – turning it into a GPS as well as your traveling log book. If you have questions, feel free to ask us, or check out these fun videos on YouTube “Geocaching Basics” and “Etiquette“, but like we said – your best resource for your new favorite hobby will be the website. Best of all, it is completely free!
Other not to be missed attractions on/near the Pier is the Loof Hippodrome Carousel, and the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. The Carousel is located inside, near the Soda Jerks, and is said to be one of the oldest around. We can’t back that statement up with facts, but it sounds cool. It IS on the National Registry of Historic Places, and is the #3 Historic Landmark in Santa Monica. The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium can be found sort of under the pier, just follow the signs. It is NOT in the Soda Jerks hall, which one might be lead to believe. Just head down the stairs behind the Jerks, and you should see signs for the Aquarium. It is pretty neat inside, with lots of interactive areas letting you pet and love on Santa Monica sea life! Just be gentle, and listen to the guides as they help you meet some of the locals. The main goal of the Aquarium is to Save the Bay, and help bring awareness to what trash, water wasting, and other nasties can do to our sea friends. While we were there we met some other fun Santa Monica locals, animals! A local wildlife rescue was visiting, and brought with them some of their friends to help bring awareness to who, and what, live around us! It is a neat little aquarium, and worth a visit, and help us all HEAL THE BAY!
One of our beach days was dedicated to hanging out on the beach and swimming. No sight seeing, no stress, just beach. It was exactly what we needed! We packed up some waters, a couple little snacks, our towels, and we were off! There may be no better way to unwind than by sitting by the waves. It was a little crowded, even for a Tuesday, but we did go in July, so there’s that. It was still really easy to find a spot, even getting there at noon! We were right near the water, no one in front of us, and we had plenty of room to relax. There seem to be “two beaches” at Santa Monica, one to the left of the pier, and one to the right. It seemed like to the right of the pier was WAY busier than the left side, so we opted to relax on the left.
Our relax day was so wonderful! Everyone, at least once in their lives (but hopefully A LOT more then just once) gets a relaxing beach day. Awesome K brought along his own castle building kit, but opted to give it to a little girl instead. He sat, read, and relaxed in his chair while Saucy G spent pretty much the entire day in the water. One of her most favorite things is to swim, although she is no Simone Manuel! Saucy G did her best to stay afloat, and even rode a small wave or two! One of her next goals is to become a certified diver, like her Old Man before her (the Incredible Old Man was one of the first ever certified diving instructors in Los Angeles!), or at least be able to go diving. The Old Man was, in fact, a Super Hero, so diving like him might be impossible – but that is a totally different EPIC story!
If you are in Southern California, be ready to spend at least one day, if not two, at Santa Monica Pier and the surrounding beaches. There is a reason they are some of the most famous beaches in the world! Enjoy your walk on the Pier, get some great food, stick your toes in the ocean, and breathe in that wonderful ocean air. Take a minute to look, really LOOK at the ocean. Hear the waves. Feel the salt in the air. You’ll be glad you did!
Adventure Pro Tips:
1. Never go outside without sunscreen! This is especially true at the beach. Whether or not you get in the water (although if you are not at least wading in the water you are a silly person), reapply the sunscreen throughout the day. Nothing ruins a great day at the beach like finding out you look like one of the lobsters!
2. BRING PLENTY OF WATER! It is easy to get dehydrated while playing, and swimming in the salt can suck a lot of moisture out. Be sure to keep your insides as wet as your outsides get.
3. Forgot your umbrella? While we were there, we saw a few people walking the beaches selling umbrellas, sand castle kits, and body boards. The prices seemed reasonable, so we bought an umbrella for the day. Whether you buy one there, or bring one with, a beach umbrella is a must! That little bit of extra shade keeps you cool, and keeps you from burning. Please still follow tip number 1, though.
4. While we didn’t see any nefarious business, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Make sure to keep you purse/wallet/monies someplace safe. Our chairs came with hidden pockets for wallets, which was handy. We recommend either leaving valuables at home, or only bringing enough with you for beach day. No need to be swimming with stacks of cash, fish don’t accept that, or credit cards. Just keep it safely secured, and you should be fine. This article has some great ideas for keeping your valuables safe while you build your tribute to Game of Thrones out of sand!
5. Going to Santa Monica Pier and can’t find parking? Pier parking full, and the only other advertised parking is for $40? Don’t get sand in your socks, we found the spot for you! This site helps you find the parking, and lets you know the costs up front…but if you are like Saucy G that info means nothing to you without a picture, so here ya go!
If you take Ocean Ave south east-ish (middle bottom on the right of the picture), past The Lobster, you can turn right onto a road that takes you to the huge parking lot. The parking is cheap, and it is right on the beach! Don’t get scammed! You can also turn right on Seaside Terrace, turn right on Appian way, and that will get you there. The two times we went we parked here, saving us time, money, and a lot of hassle.
6. While walking the Pier it may be tempting to hunt for Poke` whatevers, or to stare at your phone in some other fashion. You are at the BEACH! There are wild and crazy things happening around you! Please look up and look around, it’s worth it! Yes, there are Pokes to be caught, and eggs to be hatched, but try not to walk into or over other people in the process.
7. Bring two pairs of shoes. Flip flops and sneakers. That way you don’t get sand in your sneakers, and you don’t get burns from your flip flops. Or just wear sandals, but make sure they are comfortable. Walking in warm sands can be difficult, and hot! The $15 flip flops sold on the pier are worth it in a pinch, but not very comfortable.
8. The beach on the south side of the pier, or left of the pier, is the less crowded for a beach day. You are not as close to the parking lot, but it is a VERY easy walk under the pier, and there is a lot more room!
9. Did we mention sunscreen?
10. Funnel. Cake. One serving is enough for at least two people, so save your pennies and just get the one. Did we mention bringing water? Anything and everything on the pier will be priced for tourists, so plan ahead and bring your own bottle of water.
AwesomeSauce Rating: Full House. There was a distinct lack of kittens, and we are pretty sure that Santa Monica beaches are not animal friendly, so no swimming puppies either. The prices can be a bit high, and it can be a wee crowded, but what does one expect of a main tourist spot in the middle of summer? Honestly, this place is amazing, and everyone should check it out at least once, maybe twice. Muscle Beach is a sand dollar throws away, and if you play your cards right, your trip could be free! Nothing beats the ocean, and walking on the sand in the surf. THIS needs to be done by everyone as much as possible.
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