This 'Endless' Pier On California's Coast With Pretty Ocean Views Is Full Of Fun And Food

When we think of a pier, perhaps the first thing that springs to mind is a forest of pilings carrying a good old-fashioned boardwalk stretching out to sea. Maybe you picture a pavilion or attractions, like a funfair with a Ferris wheel and rollercoaster, as you'll find at the historic piers at the world-famous Santa Monica beach in California, or Galveston, Texas. If you're into fishing rather than rides and cotton candy, you're still probably imagining the same basic structure: a bridge to nowhere striking out in a perpendicular line from the shore. However, not all piers follow this trend. Redondo Beach Pier in Southern California earns its nickname not from its length but its unusual layout.

Officially known as the Municipal Pier, the Redondo Beach tourist attraction is also called the Endless Pier by locals. Not because its end point vanishes into the distance like some of the world's longest pleasure piers, but because the busy loop of boardwalks can potentially keep a visitor walking around in circles forever. The unusual structure, like a right-angle triangle grated onto the side of a larger isosceles one, gives it the appearance of a wharf rather than a traditional pier. 

This belies its origins in the late 19th Century as a workhorse for the Pacific Northwest lumber trade. Its array of disconnected wharves and jetties gradually merged over the decades to create the unusual horseshoe shape we see today. Now, it attracts millions of fun-seekers and fishing enthusiasts every year.

Redondo Beach Pier today

The current structure of Redondo Beach Pier is relatively modern. It was rebuilt in 1995 after the original was battered by two big storms and razed to the waterline by an electrical fire seven years earlier. The $95 million restoration project replaced the old wooden pilings with concrete and steel ones capable of withstanding earthquakes and heavy seas with 27-foot waves. The planners also incorporated some cosmetic changes, reducing the amount of buildings and striving to emulate the feeling of standing aboard a sailing ship rather than a ramshackle jetty, which the pier had come to resemble when it fell on hard times in the early '80s. The new pier, following the distinctive horseshoe shape of the original back in the 1920s, is still connected to the surviving 300-foot stretch of the wooden Monstad Pier, initially built as a private fishing spot around the same time. The centerpiece is the renovated Redondo Landing building, which serves as a focal point and an entrance to the pier.

The pier still attracts anglers around the clock, drawn by the plentiful species of fish that make Redondo Submarine Canyon its home — it is known as one of the best piers for mackerel in the vicinity of Los Angeles. Larger catch like sharks, rays, and barracuda are not uncommon. The fishing types jostle for space with the large and diverse crowds who come for the amusements, restaurants, outdoor activities, or just stroll along enjoying the sea air.

Things to see and do on Redondo Beach Pier

For many visitors, simply walking around, browsing the shops, and sampling the atmosphere is a big part of the charm at Redondo Beach Pier. For the more active-minded, it is a great jumping-off point for getting out on the water. There are plenty of rental shacks loaning out kayaks, paddle boards, and pedal boats nearby, and larger vessels take groups out to sea for fishing trips and whale-watching expeditions. Kids will love a journey on Redondo Beach's glass bottom boat with its large viewing chamber beneath the surface of the water.

A visit to the seaside wouldn't be the same without tasty things to eat. There are plenty of options on or around the pier, ranging from Mexican, Korean, and Japanese to boardwalk classics like hot dogs, pizza, and ice cream. As you might expect, seafood is a major draw right next to the ocean. Check out the fresh catch at Quality Seafood, a family-run establishment dating back to 1953, or try out some Cajun or Thai-inspired fast food at The Shrimp Lover. If you want more crustacean delicacies, head to Redondo Beach Crab House for their specialty Dungeness crab and other critters. For more of a sit-down meal, grab a table at Tony's on the Pier, an establishment first opened in 1952. Live music and special offers are available most days. In short, Redondo Beach is a fantastic off-the-beaten-track alternative when visiting Los Angeles.