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Santa Monica Pier, just west of Los Angeles, has been around since 1909. Originally built as a way to mask the treated water being pumped into the Pacific Ocean, the pier was the first concrete pier on the west coast of the United States. Santa Monica Pier opened on September 9, 1909, to great fan fare, including swimming and boating competitions.

The pier immediately became a favorite fishing spot for locals and visitors. A few years later, in 1916, amusement park rides were constructed on the pier, which began the tradition of using the pier as an entertainment venue. As of 1920, the pier ceased to be used for the unpleasant task of covering the used water pipes, and became strictly a place for people to congregate and enjoy the food and entertainment offered.

A variety of opportunities for fun and food make their home on the pier. From shrimp restaurants to Mexican fare, visitors can choose different cuisine. Dining establishments are littered throughout the pier, some of them on land, and some on the portion of the pier that juts out into the Pacific Ocean.

Visitors to the pier who want to remain active during their visit can stop by the trapeze school or bike rental shop. A bike path runs north and south directly from the pier, running along the nearby beach. For the young — or just young at heart — the original carousel still makes its home on the pier, and can even be rented out for private parties. Other amusement rides dating back many decades include the pier roller coaster and Ferris wheel. The pier arcade is also a good way for pier visitors of all ages to engage in some fun and a little friendly competition.

Because the pier hovers over the ocean, it also serves as a gateway to the Pacific. The pier bait shop can supply any fishing poles or tackle, and an aquarium at the beginning of the pier shows off a variety of sea life. Of course, during a sunrise or sunset, the pier makes an excellent place to visit for photography opportunities.

The beach adjacent to the pier is prime for walking, lying out, or stepping into the Pacific Ocean. Shops on the pier sell every accessory that one could need for a day on the sand, from mats and towels to sunglasses and sunscreen. Other items for sale on the pier include novelty sweatshirts and shorts, swim suits, candy, shells, and crystals.

Visitors who want the Santa Monica Pier all to themselves can rent out space on the pier for weddings, parties, birthdays, and other special events. Some events require special permits, especially if food and drink will be served, and insurance must also be obtained. Permission for events can be organized through the Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corporation.

Santa Monica Pier is open all year round, but individual businesses and vendors create their own business hours.