< pier sunsets >
There's a reason
they call The OC "Orange County". Why?
Because the sunsets are orange and are
shaped round like an orange.
The orange and
yellow sunsets that grace the Orange County piers
offer one more reason to justify calling the county
"orange." Initially named for the orange groves that
abounded, those have largely disappeared (except in
people's back yards, mostly.) But nothing beats
seeing the brilliant oranges that treat travelers to
Southern California's bodacious pier sunsets.
share a number of activities and interests though
the first piers were established as wharfs for
commercial trade as California began growing,
exporting and importing foods, goods and products.
California Pier photos.
as docks for the boats and ships coming into port,
they became popular for recreational activities.
Early in the 1900s many coastal piers were built as
amusements with thrill rides, games, restaurants and
fun. At the same time, fishermen used the piers as
fantastic vantage points for angling.
Piers continue to maintain free fishing policies
under the California Department of Fish and Game.
While you must purchase a license to fish at
beaches, mountains and streams, you can fish from
any California pier for free.
As the world wars
approached, the amusements fell to the sea, many of
them, and some piers were even taken by the U.S.
military as vantage points to watch for enemy
Today, there are
but a few piers offering the amusements and thrills
once enjoyed along the coast. If you visit Santa
Monica Pier, you can experience the thrill of a
Ferris wheel, roller coaster, other rides and games.
In Santa Cruz
there's Santa Cruz Beach
Boardwalk, a pier of sorts, where the original
rides still exist. This totally fun amusement
attraction is on of the top theme parks in
California. You can ride on an old-fashioned
roller coaster overlooking the famous surfing waves
and also look down at the arrival of the beach train
from the Redwood forests. If you've never been
to Santa Cruz to experience the fun, you must make
it one of your next vacation stops.
In San Diego at
Belmont Park there's an old-fashioned amusement
center overlooking the beach. Though no pier or
wharf are apparent, the thrill rides and amusement
games are close enough to see and feel the Pacific
Pier 39 is perhaps the most famous of all piers. It
also includes games, shops and docks where the Blue
& Gold fleet or the Red fleet boats take passengers
on tour rides under the Golden Gate Bridge and
around Alcatraz, formerly a high security prison.
Piers along the
coast are fun to stroll on, dine on, shop on and
watch the waves on. Some that we've visited and
enjoyed from south to north include Imperial Beach.
IB Pier features a fantastic fish restaurant. From
the pier you can often view dolphins. Next, we've
visited San Diego's Ocean Beach Pier, one of the
local favorite hangouts. The odd-shaped pier wraps
around, almost in a square. It includes restaurants
and lots of fisherman. Heading north, there's a
unique walkway at LaJolla where the ocean waves
splash close to you. This pier of sorts overlooks a
beach where sea lions rest.
Our next pier comes
in Oceanside, then San Clemente. Both offer
strolling, fishing and dining. Newport Beach is the
queen of piers with two to its name. There's Balboa
Pier and Newport Pier also known as McFadden's Wharf
in the old days. Both feature lovely strolls and
restaurants. Huntington Beach claims it has one of
the longest piers in the nation. It features one
restaurant, a bait shop and two gift shops.
Seal Beach has a fun pier to
walk on. It provides a vantage point for the kite
surfing launched from a beach nearby. There's also a
restaurant on that pier.
In Long Beach,
Belmont Shore only
allowed itself to be annexed into the City of Long
Beach so it could get a pier. The Belmont Shore Pier
is located next to some great restaurants in a
vibrant area filled with sports activities, shopping
and dining. North to Redondo Beach you'll find one
of the best "character" piers. It has a fantastic
atmosphere of that's genuine through and through.
Hermosa and Manhattan Beach have piers with
Manhattan's offering a really neat Roundhouse
Aquarium for families and kids. Definitely visit
that attraction when you are in the area.
Venice Beach and
Santa Monica have piers. We mentioned Santa Monica's
with its amusement rides. There are also piers
in Port Hueneme, Ventura, Santa Barbara (wharf), and
further north you'll find Pismo Beach Pier. Avila
Beach has three piers with two open to the public.
San Simeon has a pier as does Monterey (wharf).
Capitola and Seacliff Beach both have piers. At
Seacliff the Cement Ship is an old, abandoned
pleasure boat that once served as an amusement. It
is one of the few cement ships in existence. Santa
Cruz has a wharf that's a busy attraction with lots
of dining to enjoy. Like many of the northern
California piers, you can watch sea lions hanging
Pacific has a pier
south of San Francisco. Lots of fishermen enjoy this
spot to cast a line. Then you get to San Francisco
with commercial piers, shopping piers and an entire
complex of piers and wharfs.
There are several
books written about California piers. They make for
fun vantage points to look at the ocean, watch a
sunset and dine, shop, fish or just enjoy the change
in climate as breezes and temperatures change from
the coastline to locations perched above the water.