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Tinged with nostalgia, a visit to the Santa Monica Pier is a trip to the ocean from yesteryear where sodas were hand-pumped, classic arcade games amused, the rollercoaster was the scariest and most thrilling ride there was, and you could get your fortune told by a psychic! You can even run away to the circus at L.A.'s pleasure pier.

For good old-fashioned fun, Santa Monica Pier has it in spades. Established in 1909, this truncated pier boasts rides, an amusement park, a hands-on aquarium, shops, restaurants, arcade games, bait and tackle stores, souvenirs and much more.

Kids and the young at heart will squeal over the rollercoaster and Ferris wheel that looms over the pier from the free-entry Pacific Park amusement park. Located inside the pier, the iconic 46-horse Looff carousel, built in 1922, is vintage charm come to life in a musical ride. Next door is Soda Jerks, a classic, full-service soda fountain harking back to the '20s and '30s with sundaes, malts, egg creams and hand-pumped sodas. Soda Jerks runs behind-the-scenes Fountain Tours daily for adults (US$8) and kids (US$5) which includes sweet treats.

If you ever dreamed of joining the circus, Trapeze School will fulfil your flight fantasies where you can swing over the pier on a trapeze. For hands-on fun, get touchy-feely with over 100 species of local marine life within the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium located below the carousel. Entry for kids under 13 is free with a suggested minimum donation of US$3 for all other visitors. Throughout the year there's live music and other events at the pier to add to the festive outdoor atmosphere.

To visit Santa Monica Pier from downtown Los Angeles, walk to the Cesar E Chavez/Alameda stop and take the 733 bus towards Santa Monica. Alight at Ocean/Colorado stop and walk five minutes down Colorado Avenue to the Santa Monica Pier. The total journey will take 75 minutes.