From one end of Route 66 to the other – that was our summer adventure one year. My husband and I were engaged and married on Rt. 66 so I thought it would be a BLAST for our kids to party at Santa Monica Pier which is at the end (or beginning?!) or Route 66. Below are some tips on how to save money at Santa Monica Pier.
Arriving at Santa Monica Pier after driving to California from Chicago on our 9000 mile road trip had built up SO MUCH excitement in our van! Especially since my kids had no idea we were ending our day having fun at the pier!
We knew it would be a little pricey (especially considering how many adventures we were having to squeeze in our budget) so I had planned ahead to make sure to save money at Santa Monica Pier as much as possible.
What is there to do at the Santa Monica Pier?:
The cool thing is there’s plenty to see and do at Santa Monica Pier. You literally drive right up on the pier and park. From there you can walk right down to the beach, head to the ferris wheel and rides, visit the aquarium, play at the arcades, shop, fish or walk around enjoying the view!
Since our family had chosen Route 66 as our special pilgrimage that summer we were going ALL OUT and had pre-purchased unlimited wristbands for the kids at Pacific Park – the rides at the pier. It was our big WOW factor to surprise the kids with!
(Please check on open hours and attractions before visiting as parts of the pier and park have been closed during the pandemic.)
How we Saved the MOST Money at Santa Monica Pier:
Things have changed a bit due to what’s open due to Covid but at the time we visited we combined savings for the Santa Monica Pier, La Brea Tar Pits, and California Academy of Sciences.
If you’re also looking to maximize savings during your trip to the pier I HIGHLY recommend packing in your own food. The restaurants can add up quickly with a large family and you won’t be able to easily find more reasonably priced food once you’re at the pier.
What to Bring with you at Santa Monica Pier:
In addition to any pre-paid tickets you’ve purchased, I recommend bringing the following items depending on what you will be doing during your day there:
water / drinks plus food
any fishing gear/bait needed
One thing that was notably difficult was access to the bathrooms on the pier. They were ALWAYS busy and became quite the chore to get an open stall. So don’t wait until you HAVE to go to the bathroom to look for one – be a little more proactive about this!
And if you’re changing from the beach it might be worth sharing a stall with others in the family or just changing in the car discreetly.
Where to Park at Santa Monica Pier:
Being from the Chicago area I expected parking to be difficult and outrageously expensive at Santa Monica Pier – but it wasn’t! You can read more about where to park at the Santa Monica Pier here, but honestly we paid under $20 to park right on the pier for the entire day so that’s definitely what I would recommend.
You’re literally steps away from both the beach and the rides which is great if you’re toting beach gear or fishing gear around. Plus when it gets dark at night it is SO NICE to hop right in your car on the pier! It’s a great place to spend the whole day if you utilize everything there is to do there!