Whether you’re seeking sun and a sea breeze or a Ferris wheel and midway games, put a historic pier at the center of your family travel plan. Here are five to consider:
Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica, Calif.
This SoCal landmark has been a festive and fun family destination for more than a century. Wander beyond the iconic entrance gate and make your way to the historic Ferris wheel for long views of the Pacific Ocean, test your skills in the arcade and prepare for thrills on the roller coaster. Don’t miss the vintage carousel that pairs well with a stop for treats in the adjacent, old-school soda fountain. The adventuresome in your clan will want to inquire about flying trapeze classes that enable students to sample the exhilaration of this circus art at the pier.
Historic Pleasure Pier
Galveston Island, Texas
The original pier was destroyed when a hurricane battered the Texas coast in the 1960s. So, in 2012, when the new pier opened, it was to the delight of locals and visitors. Today, with 16 rides such as the Pier Pileup, the Sky Shooter and the Iron Shark roller coaster, there is plenty of waterfront fun to be had by every member of the family. The Texas Flyer, a towering swing, suspended more than 230 feet above sea level, offers thrill seekers a panoramic view of the pier and the Gulf of Mexico. Test your skills at the Pirate Striker, Lucky Duck, The Balloon Pop and other Midway games before sampling the flavors at Sweet Scoops or other family-friendly dining spots.
Built in 1888, the pier played an important part in the development of this Florida resort town. There have been multiple rebuilds after hurricanes took their toll, but today the 1,000-foot-long structure is the ideal place to enjoy a sea breeze, fish or watch others reel in their catch. After a long day at the beach, grab an ice cream cone and stroll toward the sea to capture the pastel hues of a stunning sunset over the Gulf waters.
This lakeside, not-for-profit landmark is one of the most popular attractions in the Midwest and ranks at the top of the list for visitors to the Windy City. Families can explore the botanical garden, the children’s museum, and visit Pier Park where the Centennial Wheel, Pepsi Wave Swinger and an iconic carousel engage kids of all ages. Challenge family members to find their way through the Funhouse Maze before catching the fireworks during the summer months. Completed in 1916, Navy Pier is evolving into a year-round centerpiece for Chicago’s diverse arts and cultural treasures.
This classic seaside fun zone was named Park of the Year in 2019 by Amusement Today, honoring the family- owned and operated establishment for providing families who live or vacation along the Jersey Shore with an innovative and creative variety of entertainment. With more than 100 rides and attractions expanding through 18 acres and along six beach blocks, visitors can explore three amusement piers and two waterparks. To celebrate their 50th anniversary, Morey’s Piers unveiled a new ride. The Runaway Tram, a family-friendly roller coaster, pays homage to the Wildwood Sightseer Tramcar, an icon of the Wildwood Boardwalk. Breakfast in the Sky on the Morey’s Piers Ferris wheel, available from mid-July through mid-August, is one for the summer bucket list.