Pacific Park

Best Neighborhood Amusement Park, August 2010

Splendid seaside pleasure parks once dotted Los Angeles County. The sole remaining site, Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier, is a time-warp combination of beach-town grit and childlike escapism. The Ferris wheel, the only one in the country to run on solar power, affords a spectacular view of the coastline. Rides range from barely scary (for the littlest kids) to sorta frightening (the swinging Sea Dragon). Carny-style games abound for those who desire to toss, shoot, and squirt their way to winning any number of vibrantly colored stuffed animals. Once you’ve screamed on the park’s rides, move on to pier’s end and watch the amateur anglers or head to the historic carousel for one more whirl.