Piers have been a defining part of Southern California’s coastline for years. Stretching far out over the ocean, they provide the most beautiful setting for fishing, shopping, restaurants, and some like Santa Monica’s even have attractions like a ferris wheel. Combine these historic seaside structures with the bright colors of a California sunset and you’ll be at no end of perfect photo opportunities. These are just 12 of the many gorgeous piers along the coast where you’ll love watching the sun go down.
1. Huntington Beach Pier
Let’s just get this out of the way – it would be impossible to list California’s great piers (especially ones at sunset) without mentioning the legendary Huntington Beach Pier. Established in 1904, and rebuilt after storms in the ’80s, this pier stretches past the sandy beach for 1,850 feet over the ocean with great shopping, fishing and photo ops. After sunset, you can also walk down the pier and grab a burger & milkshake for dinner from Ruby’s Diner.
2. San Clemente Pier
San Clemente has a classic California beach vibe that is just all too perfect in the evenings. There’s a pier that stretches out over the water, palm tree-lined shores, and lovely sandy beach to walk along in both directions.
3. Manhattan Beach Pier
Manhattan Beach is like something from a dream at sunset. Between the fiery sky, palm trees, local restaurants, and 928-foot pier over the beautiful Pacific Ocean, what more could you ask for?
4. Oceanside Pier
The Oceanside Pier is one of the longest wooden piers on the West Coast. It stretches 1,942 feet out over the ocean, and like many of California’s piers, has a Ruby’s Diner sitting at the end. Many fisherman, surfers, families, and people from all walks of life come here for a quiet, peaceful stroll and to see the warm sunset colors by night.
5. Ventura Pier
Ventura Pier will give you perfect sunset views over the coastline and Channel Islands. While you’re here, take a stroll on the pier, have a picnic, go fishing, and walk down the Ventura Promenade pathway to also see the beautiful views at Surfers Point Park.
6. Santa Monica Pier
The radiant colors at sunset and bright lights of Santa Monica’s ferris wheel are absolutely breathtaking together. You can lay on the beach by the north side of the pier, or walk around the landmark and check out the many local shops and restaurants. (Our recommendation for dinner? Pier Burger. Their crispy fries and frozen custard are to-die-for.)
7. Balboa Pier (and Newport Beach Pier)
Balboa Pier is open to fishing, but even for non-anglers it’s a marvelous place to watch marine life and vibrant sunsets. Lay back in the sand and watch whales, dolphins and sea lions, or walk out on the pier, get photos, and grab burgers & fries from Ruby’s Diner at the end. From here, you can also go for about a 2-mile walk or bike ride just north to the Newport Beach Pier.
8. Hermosa Beach Pier
The Hermosa Beach Pier juts out into the sea with ocean views as far as you can imagine. It has plenty of benches where you can sit and just think about life, as well as a gorgeous beach surrounding the pier where you can lay back and dig your toes into the sand. After the sun goes down, walk over to the palm-tree lined Pier Avenue and try some of the amazing grub from the many local restaurants.
9. Malibu Pier
Malibu Pier stretches out from Surfrider Beach with painting-like sunsets and crashing waves that are popular with local surfers. The pier is more simple than most, and isn’t crammed with a ton of touristy attractions – just a small gift shop and restaurant. It makes for a peaceful setting to watch the sunset, and gives fisherman a much more quiet place to cast a line.
10. Scripps Pier
Scripps Pier – near La Jolla – has an extraordinary photo opportunity that you can only see twice a year. Visit on your lucky day and you can catch the sunset perfectly aligned between the posts of this concrete pier. The exact dates always vary but they’re said to happen every early May and August. But to be fair, even if you come on any of the other 363 days of the year, the sunset here will never disappoint.
11. Redondo Beach Pier
The Redondo Beach Pier has been rebuilt a few times over the years due to storms, but it still stands out over the ocean today and remains open to the public 24/7. The pier’s lined with a range of great dining options and gift shops, many with panoramic views from the windows.
12. Crystal Pier
Crystal Pier isn’t one of the biggest or most popular piers in California, but it sure does have incredible views, especially when the sun is setting over the horizon. The pier overlooks the ocean from Pacific Beach and offers a prime spot for quality fishing. On the pier there are also cozy cottages from the Crystal Pier Hotel you can rent for a few nights, but due to their popularity, you will want to plan way ahead.